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We mourn the loss of our friend Eva Smolková-Keulemansová

[Translate to English:] Eine alte Frau steht in der Mitte, ihr hören Menschen zu.
Eva Smolková-Keulemansová at a contemporary witness talk in 2016.

Today we received the news that our friend Eva Smolková-Keulemansová passed away in Prague on 28 February 2024 at the age of 96.

She was born Eva Weil in Prague in 1927 to Jewish parents. In March 1943, her family was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto and passed through several concentration camps. Eva and her mother were first sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and later to satellite camps of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp in Hamburg, where her mother died. Eva was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp by British troops in April 1945.

After recovering in Sweden, Eva returned to Prague, where she was the sole survivor of her immediate family, her father had not survived his imprisonment in a concentration camp. Her grandmother and an aunt, however, manged to survive. She completed secondary school and discovered her love of chemistry, which she began to study. "I wanted to show what you can still do if you have survived," she told the Jüdische Allgemeine in an interview in January 2024. She married several times, had two children, Eva and Petr, became extraordinarily successful as a chemist, and was called "the first lady of Chromatography" in many professional circles. She taught at the Charles University in Prague into her old age.

Eva was successful at home and abroad - but remained silent for decades about her time in German concentration camps, even to her family. It was only her granddaughter who persuaded her to break her silence and tell her school class about her persecution. From then on, Eva wanted to tell the world what she had experienced. On the occasion of her son Petr's 40th birthday, she wrote down the story of her life and sufferings. She was also a guest at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial several times, gave interviews and discussions with contemporary witnesses, and, among other things, sat on stage in 2016 in an intergenerational discussion together with her daughter Eva, her son Petr, her granddaughter Lenka, and Lenka’s young daughter - four generations of a family that the National Socialists did not want to exist. A triumph, as Eva put it. The family spoke openly about the decades-long silence of their mother and grandmother as well as about the persecution and murder of their relatives and about passing on the memory within the family today.

We were always delighted when Eva Smolková-Keulemansovà visited us in Hamburg. Some of us also travelled to Prague to visit her in recent years. In an interview she gave with us in 2011, she summarised in retrospect: "It was a good life and I was lucky."

Together with her partner František Gilar, her children Eva Teserová and Petr Smolka, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, and her friends, we mourn the loss of a warm-hearted and intelligent woman who meant a lot to us.

[Translate to English:] Eine alte Frau, die in ein Mikrofon spricht, neben ihr eine Frau, die ein Baby auf dem Arm hält.
Eva Smolková-Keulemansová in 2016 at a contemporary witness talk attended by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.