"I no longer have to be afraid of my neighbours": the life of Ivana Beranová (Fantlová) and her family
"I'm glad I've had this opportunity to recall my parents in this way. By remembering them, I think I've prolonged their lives, and the lives of their parents. They will not be forgotten. I'm happy that you're preserving the memory of them." Ivana Beranová's words introduce this archival materials presentation, which comprises excerpts from a biographical interview she provided to the Jewish Museum in Prague, along with unique photographs and documents from her family archive. Personal accounts from both Ivana and her mother, Marta Fantlová (whose testimony was recorded 16 years earlier) appear in the texts that accompany the photographs and documents. Her mother's words are cited in quotation marks.
By focusing on Ivana Beranová's life, the online presentation "I no longer have to be afraid of my neighbours" intends to highlight the impact of major historical events of the 20th century on Jewish families living under the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes. Based on interviews with two generations of a single family, the presentation seeks to outline how Shoah survivors and their children (the second generation) have dealt with their traumas. It also draws attention to life in the Jewish community as a locus of common experience, sharing and close relations, as well as something that is more or less compelled to identify itself against the wider society. Despite the horrific attempt to liquidate the Jews and its traumatic impact on survivors and the next generations, the story of Ivana Beranová's family points to the continuity of Jewish life in the Czech Republic, to the sense of belonging in the Jewish community and to the preservation of Jewish traditions.
The online presentation also highlights the work of the Jewish Museum's Shoah History Department and its Oral History Collection, in this case reflecting the importance of testimonies from several generations of a single family. The Jewish Museum's oral history collection has been carefully put together since 1990 and is one of the largest and most diverse of its kind in the Czech Republic. At present, it includes more than 1,300 testimonies. The collection also contains valuable material from family archives that has been provided by the interviewees. Through oral history, we aim to document the lives of Jews in this country throughout the 20th century. Our focus is not only on recollections of the Shoah period, but also on the post-war experience of the first and second generations of Jewish survivors. We therefore welcome other testimonies and related material.