Testimony of Count Joachim von Zedtwitz, 8 April 1994
I first met Mrs. Milean Jesenska in the spring of 1939. A Jewish acquaintance whose name I forgot facilitated the contact to four English nationals….who worked in Prague as English teachers. After the occupation of the remaining parts of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939 they helped find escape routes for anti-Fascists and Jews….I met many people in her apartment in Kourmska 6. There they found shelter and were preparing for their flight over the border to Poland. For conspiratorial reasons I never knew their names, and I may have forgotten some. Milena and I soon agreed that I could help her with this activity. Usually I would take people with my car, an Aero two-seater, from Milena's apartment and drive them to Moravská Ostrava near the Polish border, where they would be lead to Poland with locals who knew the area, such as Sliva, Marencak and others. The English had a transit station in Katovice, from where the refugees would continue to England. I can remember the names of Rudolf Keller, the chief editor of the Prager Tagblatt, Evzen Klinger, Willi Kraus, the brothers Rabl, the niece of the banker Petschek and her small child, Rudolf Steiner, Markievic (he had a different name before), Hollos, the editor of the Prager Mittag, Dr. Behrend from the Danzig area. The escape of Hollos failed, because we missed the meeting point because of the snow. Hollos took the train back to Prague, and I don’t know what happened to him afterwards. Keller managed to cross the border the following day. Steiner and Behrend were caught by the Polish guards and were returned. Steiner stayed with Milena and was sent on another route. The above-mentioned persons were all Jews….
Milena impressed me as a most intelligent woman, who had great political wisdom, and was incredibly courageous. In those days I was too young and not mature enough to fully appreciate her, but I knew that she definitely was extraordinary.
When the Second World War broke out on 1 September 1939, the possibility to take people over the Polish border was no longer valid. I continued my contact with Milena. In November 1939 we were supposed to be together at a lunch with the Meier family. She didn’t show up and we learned that she had been arrested. Some letters from me were found in her apartment, relating to my intention to leave for England. Therefore I was arrested on 27 March 1940 in Bromberg. During my interrogation I was only asked about Milena. The Gestapo knew nothing about our work helping people escape. I feigned a mental illness and was released without trial after fifteen months.