Ruth Bondy was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1923. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, she was forced to work in agricultural labor. Later she was interned in the Terezin ghetto, and in 1943 she was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she looked after young children who were later sent to their deaths. In July 1944 she was transferred to a number of different labor camps in the Hamburg district. With her liberation in the spring of 1945 at Bergen-Belsen, Ruth weighed just 35 kilograms (77 pounds), and was sick with typhus. He parents had died during the Shoah.
After liberation, Ruth returned to Prague. With the establishment of the State of Israel, she joined “Gahal” (Recruitment in the Diaspora) and immigrated to Israel. “On 31 December 1948, in the afternoon, a low mountain range came in to view on the horizon, behind which I expected to see the Carmel Mountains. Only when we entered Haifa port did I realize that it was Mount Carmel itself, and that the State of Israel would actually be very different from the Land of Israel I envisioned in the Diaspora…. On the way to the Sarafand Base the driver stopped, after hearing our cries of amazement, next to the orchard, and allowed us to gather the fruits that had been left behind: golden oranges rolling on the ground and nobody had bothered to pick them up! All of us, future IDF soldiers, filled our pockets with oranges, and on the bus we peeled them, inhaled their scent and ate them very slowly: they had the taste of the yearned-for Land of Israel, as I had imagined it during the years of darkness” (Shvarim Shlemim – “Whole Fractures”, p.89).
In Israel, Ruth became involved in journalism, writing and translation. For 30 years she worked in the field, and her books include a research study dealing with Czech Jewry as well as four biographies: Elder of the Jews: Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt , about the head of the Theresienstadt ghetto Judenrat; The Emissary: The Life and Death of Enzo Sereni (for which she became the first female author to win the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize for Military Literature); Felix: Pinhas Rosen and his Time; and Sheba: Physician for All People, about Dr. Chaim Sheba.
Bondy is counted among the founders of Beit Terezin. She has published historical research works and won many prizes. She was the first woman to be awarded the Sokolov Prize for Journalism and also won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Hebrew authors, the Buchman Prize for Holocaust Research and the Minister for Education and the Art’s Prize for her translation of Bohumil Hrabal’s I Served the King of England from the original Czech. Bondy has also translated books authored by Carl Capek, Jaroslav Hašek and Milan Kundera.
Ruth Bondy was married to the journalist Rafael Bashan. Their daughter is the journalist Tal Bashan, and she has a grandson and granddaughter, both serving in the IDF.