…At the end of the 1920’s my sister Olga, now Houskova, and I met Eva Beerova’s father, Kurt Konrad Beer, a journalist and reporter for the Communist press, through a well-known journalist, Milena Jesenska, who was a friend of our mother Stasa Jilovska. Kurt and Milena were very close at the time. In 1938 Kurt married Vlasta Pechnikova and in the same year the couple had a daughter, Eva. Kurt was a Jew and Vlasta came from a non-Jewish family in Opava. After the occupation of what remained of the Republic on 15 March 1939, the Beers were registered as a mixed-marriage family and according the Nuremberg Laws Eva was considered to be a Jew….
Kurt Beer was arrested in the spring of 1941 for his work in the resistance. He was transferred from Prague to Zwickau, and in the autumn of 1941 he was subjected to further interrogation in Dresden. At the same time one of his comrades was placed under arrest. Kurt feared that he would not be able to stand the torture and that he would betray other contacts. That is why he committed suicide on 26 September 1941.
Little Eva’s mother was also arrested in the spring of 1941. However she was released some 10 days later. Without informing the relatives, the Gestapo had placed Eva in one of the hospitals. Her mother finally found her there in a completely traumatized state. I recounted the situation of the Beer family to my aunt Milena Herbenova. Milena herself proposed that should Vlasta be arrested again, she would take Eva to live with her. She was then living on her own with her son, Milan, who was of secondary school age. Her husband, Ivan Herben, editor in chief of the newspaper Lidove Noviny had already been arrested at the end of 1939 and at that time was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. I pointed out to Milena how dangerous it was to help a child who was considered Jewish. She was aware of the Beer family’s political convictions.
Vlasta Beerova was arrested in the summer of 1942. Little Eva already knew Milena and Milan at the time, because I used to take her to visit them so that if the necessity arose, she would not come into a strange environment. As it turned out, the child was not spared the trauma of being placed with strangers. Vlasta’s sister, Libuse Pechnikova, handed Eva over to Jrmila Prokopova who, because she too was in danger, placed her with Mr. and Mrs. Losan in Nova Paka.
Little Eva came to Milena before Christmas 1942. Milena and I feared that the Czechs would denounce us. The child did not receive ration cards, was not registered with the police and there was the danger of the neighbors noticing the long stay of a little girl with the wife of a well-known editor imprisoned in a concentration camp. Milena promised me that if there were any trouble, she would declare that I had handed over the child to her and that Vlasta’s sister had entrusted her to me. Fortunately the neighbors did not display any undue curiosity and Eva stayed with Milena, who treated her like a princess, until her mother’s return in May 1945. Her mother survived Auschwitz and subsequent imprisonment in a penitentiary to where she was moved after the arrest of her comrade in the resistance.
Finally, one more recollection: After Kurt’s death, Vlasta, who was still at liberty, received a message from Dresden that the prison would send her an urn with her husband’s ashes if she paid a certain sum of money. I no longer remember how much. Vlasta did not have the money, and neither did I. So I approached my father, Rudolf Jilovsky, and asked him for help. He gave me the money. Although he was a member of a resistance organization with a different political orientation, he was of the opinion that resistance has a single goal: to get rid of the occupier. So thank to my father Kurt Konrad-Beer’s urn lies in the urn repository of the Prague cemetery in Strasnice.