Over the last few weeks, the actress Veronika Hyks has been bringing us extracts from Jaroslava Skleničková’s memoirs, “If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…”. The book tells the moving story of how Jaroslava was sent with the other women from her home village of Lidice to the Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin, after the Nazis razed the entire village to the ground in June 1942. The men of the village were shot in cold blood, and nearly all the children were gassed in Poland, but throughout their stay in Ravensbrück, the women had no idea of their fate. As the end of the war drew close, Jaroslava, together with her mother and sister, were marched out of the camp, together with hundreds of other women. David Vaughan brings the story up to date.
For several days the women are made to march under guard and with nothing but wooden clogs on their feet. They cover 40 kilometres a day. On the way they encounter large groups of civilians, retreating as the eastern front approaches. At one point they are attacked by an Allied plane that mistakes them for a German convoy. One day, quite suddenly, all the guards disappear, and the women realize that they free. But, from now on, they must survive on their own, amid the chaos of the German retreat. Veronika Hyks reads.