We Mourn the Loss of Dagmar Lieblová

Our friend Dagmar Lieblová is dead. She died on 22 March 2018 in Prague at the age of 88.

We greatly valued Dagmar as a wise, warm, tolerant and urbane partner and a pillar of our work here at the Memorial. A few years ago, she published the story of her family and her persecution at the hands of the Nazis in a small volume which was translated into several languages. The English edition is entitled Someone Made a Mistake, So I Am Here Now. The Dagmar Lieblová Story.

Born in 1929 in Kutna Hora, Dagmar and her younger sister Rita grew up in the Czech-Jewish Fantl family. Following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, the family suffered discrimination and persecution. Eventually, they were deported to Auschwitz via the Theresienstadt ghetto. Dagmar’s parents and her sister Rita were murdered in Auschwitz. Because of a mistake, the papers Dagmar had with her gave her year of birth as 1925, which would have made her over 16 at the time of her arrival in Auschwitz. She was therefore the only member of her family to be judged fit for work, selected for slave labour and taken to Germany. This saved her life. Dagmar was then imprisoned in the Dessauer Ufer, Neugraben and Tiefstack satellite camps of Neuengamme before being transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where she was liberated on 15 April 1945. She then returned to Czechoslovakia and took several years to recover from her ordeal.

Dagmar went on to get a degree in German, got married and had children. Her oldest daughter was named Rita in memory of her murdered sister. Dagmar and her husband Petr lived in various countries and on several continents. Everybody who knew her was deeply impressed with her cosmopolitanism and tolerance. She initially worked as a schoolteacher in Prague and later taught at the university there. In 1990, she founded the Theresienstadt Initiative, an organisation she chaired for a long time. Until her death, she tirelessly travelled all over Europe to speak about her experiences in the camps.

Whenever she could make time, Dagmar Lieblová came to Hamburg, either on invitation from the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial or the Harburg Commemorative Initiative, which runs a memorial at the site of the Neugraben satellite camp. She attended commemorative ceremonies, gave public talks about her experiences and, along with her daughter Rita, attended the conference “Survivors of the Camps Talk to their Children” at the Neuengamme Memorial. She was always ready to talk to young people and make sure what happened is not forgotten.

We are with Dagmar’s family in mourning her passing. The Neuengamme Memorial has lost a great friend whose passing leaves a void which will be felt for a very long time.