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Hans Shramer

Country of Birth:

Czech Republic

Year of birth: 1910

Places of Residence:

Czechoslovakia, USSR, Romania

Profession: Clothing store owner

Hans Shramer was a friend of my husband, Emil, and mine for many years. I have many memories from him. We became friends in Chernovitz, Romania, and our friendship developed in Levovka, Siberia. After 30 years with no communication we met up again in Israel.

Our first encounter was in 1938 in Main Street of Chernovitz. Emil and I were shopping, browsing at all the lavish shops. We went into an elegant store that had a big sign saying "Czechoslovakia". The store sold haute couture men's clothing fashioned in Czechoslovakia. It stocked everything from ties to socks. We walked in and Frau Shramer greeted us. She was a very elegant lady of about 60 years of age, neatly dressed and with the most modern hairdo of the time- curls in a light blue color. She was very pleasant and introduced us to her son Hans who worked in the store as well.

Two years later, in 1940, the Soviets took over Chernovitz. Hans Shramer showed up one evening at our home and told us he saw a great deal of turmoil in town. Many empty wagons had arrived at the train station and there was a rumor that the population would be deported. He suggested that we hide that night in our yard; - he wanted to bring his mother to hide too.
I laughed at him and said "Dear Hans, you are reading too many detective stories. I am not going to take my 2 month old baby and sleep in the shed."
The following morning, three Russian soldiers appeared at our door and told us to pack and be ready to move in 2 hours. We had to give away the keys to our Electric appliance store, and our whole family was taken to the train station, where they loaded us in the empty cattle wagons and sent us to Siberia.

Two hellish months of a journey in this train. I will skip those memories... we were brought to a small number of sheds, called the settlement of Levovka, in the Taiga (Siberian Forest). The place had been inhabited by previous exiles. Each family of new exiles was placed in someone's house, for in the former USSR your house belongs to the authorities and if they order you to take more people in you simply have to obey.
Hans Shramer and his mother were deported to the same village. We were positive at that stage and thought- okay, the war will be over soon and the Soviets will release us from our exile. Hans didn't think so; He thought that we were to be sent to those regions for a long time. He decided to buy an old cabin in the settlement, instead of living with someone.
We thought the man was crazy- who buys a place in this god forsaken place? But he did, and one day Emil and I went to see his recent purchase. The shed was dilapidated and looked like it was about to collapse. It was built in the rural Russian style: in the middle of the single room there was a Russian Oven. Let me explain, a Russian oven is a huge oven with a bonfire inside, where the cooking is done, and on top of the oven - people sleep- usually the old people and the babies. The Oven is essential for surviving the winters, but it fills the room with soot and filth. All the walls of the cabin were black from soot and cinder. Frau Shramer came to greet us. It was the second time I saw her. After the impression she left in our first meeting in Chernovitz, the difference was shocking. Her clothes were torn, her hair was messy and full of soot.
She smiled and said, "Welcome to our new place. Isn't it lovely?"
Emil and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. We could hardly contain our emotions, and only after leaving the cabin to I burst into tears.

In 1942 we got a permission to leave Levovka and we moved to another village- Chuzik. The next time we saw Hans Shramer was 30 years later, in 1972, in Israel. Emil was looking for friends and he discovered Hans living in Haifa. We went to visit him; He had a nice apartment in the Carmel and a wife and a daughter. We brought up old memories. He told what had happened to him since that last time when we said goodbye.

He had miraculously survived Siberia because of a Czech woman (she was not Jewish) that lived in Levovka and had a house and a cow. She took Hans and his mother to live with her where they helped her with her household chores.
In 1943, and the war was still unbridled, they heard that a legion of Czechs was organized. Frau Shramer wrote to the authorities requesting that Hans join the fighting. They were released to Novosibirsk, where the legion was situated. Hans fought towards the end of the war. He was amongst the forces that liberated Prague.
A while later Frau Shramer passed away and Hans immigrated to Israel.
In Israel he was worked as a hunter and a taxidermist, stuffing animals for museums. He travelled to Africa with other hunters, bringing back animals to stuff.
After Emil's death I lost contact with Hans. I think he has passed away, but I assume his daughter still lives in Israel.
End chapter 1