Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 9 - Trsice

Today we checked out of our hotel in Olomouc and our bus took us to the small town of Trsice which has become such an important and integral part of the Holocaust Study Tour in recent years.  We first made the connection on our Holocaust Study Tour in 2008 that Olomouc and Trsice were the towns Otto Wolf refers to in his diary which is one of the diaries in Salvaged Pages that we all study in our Holocaust classes.   The town of Trsice hid the family of Otto Wolf for three years during World War II,
bringing them food to their forest hideouts in the spring and summer and sheltering them in their homes and other buildings during the winter months.  Milos Dobry, whose grave we visited yesterday, first showed us the hideouts in the forest and introduced us to the mayor of Trsice, Leona Stejskalova. 

As we arrived in Trsice and walked into the Town Hall,  a former castle dating back to the 15th century, we were greeted at the entry, as we have always been, by Mayor Leona and her staff who offered us the traditional Czech greeting:  bread dipped in salt.   Sisters Zedenka and Ludmilla Ohera as well as several members of the Scout troop we had met in 2012 when the forest memorial was dedicated and have joined us every year since, were also there to greet us.

Inside the building we were officially greeted by Mayor Leona who presented each of the students with a special Trsice notebook.   Dr. Brezina, who was 5 when the Wolfs went into hiding and never knew Otto Wolf, but met the surviving Wolfs after the war and had been to the hideouts, told his story, and then Mrs. Zedenka Ohera, whose family had provided food and shelter for the Wolfs told of her memories.  Her father was one of the 19 men who, along with her uncle and Otto Wolf, were arrested in a random round up by the Nazis in April 1945 because of increased partisan activity in the area.  Mrs. Ohera described how they were all tortured, shot and then their bodies burned in a neighboring forest.  As she told her story, it was apparent to all, how emotionally devastating this event was for her and her sister, and how it remains so fresh in their memory. 

Mayor Leona then told the students that one of the projects the town had been working on in the past year was a book about the town of Trsice, including the story of the Otto Wolf family, and she then gave a copy to each of the teachers.  Before leaving for lunch at the restaurant across the street, Mrs. Tambuscio had a gift for Mayor Leona.  In 2012 the three high schools on the Holocaust Study Tour, New Milford [New Jersey], Bishop O’Dowd [California] and St. Thomas Aquinas [Kansas] had donated a memorial in the forest to memorialize the location of the Wolf family hideout.  Gayle Bart, was a participant on the Holocaust Study Tour last year as a junior, and this year, as a student in AP Studio Art, she created an original artwork which depicted the memorial.  Mrs. Tambuscio presented the framed artwork to Mayor Leone and the town of Trsice for the Otto Wolf Museum on behalf of the students on the Holocaust Study Tour.

After lunch with Mayor Leona, Dr. Brezina, the Oheras and the Czech scouts and their leader, we visited the memorial in the town’s central park,  which had been dedicated in 2013 to the people of the town of Trsice for their rescue efforts on behalf of the Wolf family, sponsored by Dr. Joan Silber of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

Next we climbed on the bus to take us to the entry point into the forest to visit the memorial we had dedicated 3 years ago.   Accompanied by the Czech Scouts, we all followed Shalmi as he led us through the forest to the Wolf family hideout caves and the memorial.  Arriving at the memorial we told the students the story of the caves and the memorial.  Maria, one of the Czech scouts read some passages from the Otto Wolf’s diary.

We had a long drive to our next stop, Dabrowa Tarnoska in Poland, so we hiked out of the forest, made a quick stop in Zakřov to say goodbye to Mrs. Ohera who had made some pastries for us, say goodbye to our friends Mayor Leona and the Czech scouts, as well as our Czech local guide Ilona, and then headed east towards Poland.

Arriving at our hotel, Cristal Park in Dabrowa Tarnoska we shared a dinner with the three teachers we had met last year who restored a Jewish synagogue as an educational center, as well as the Principal of their high school and the Superintendent.  The mayor of Dabrowa Tarnoska joined us and officially  and warmly welcomed our group to the town and gave each of the students a gift bag.   Tomorrow we will be spending time at the high school and synagogue with the teachers and students from the school.


  1. These pictures are bringing back so many memories of our own trip. It's great that the local scouts came out and supported the group as guides again. I hope nobody made the mistake I did when you tried the salted bread, a mouth full of salt is not very pleasant!

  2. It is so wondeful that Gayle's artwork will be in the Otto Wolf Museum! Can't wait to hear all about the high school and synagogue. Keep learning and sharing all the fantastic things you are all experiencing.

  3. It was the time of the poor and I can see everybody getting manipulated by hitler because they were hungry they did not have the money to buy food and hitler said it was the Jewish fault because they charge so much money that why people that are Jewish started dying I can see people get manipulated by just one person I see that happening why did that had to happen hitler was just so bad he should had be punish instead of him killing himself.

  4. That's really cool that you guys were able to visit the town that Otto was hiding out in. I would love for the chance to do that, I would also love for the chance to go on this trip, it seems like a lot of fun and seems to very informative.

  5. In Mrs. Tambuscio's History class today we watched several of the You Tube videos. We had a great discussion with the students who enjoyed seeing the videos. Mrs. Tambuscio you are enriching the lives of the the students that are on the trip and the students that are back home in your classroom. The student are learning so much from the blog and the videos. We are all eagerly waiting for you to return and share your experience with us. Thank you for all that you do and the knowledge you share. We miss you!

  6. Everyday I read the blog posts and everyday I see the rollercoaster of emotion that all of the students and chaperones must experience. Today for instance, you find yourselves walking through a former 15th century castle (which sounds amazing and is older then anything I have ever been in) then you hear a story told by Mrs. Ohera about her father and Uncle who were arrested, kidnapped, tortured and burned "and how it remains so fresh in her memory." Then regroup to eat in a restaurant only to go to the Wolf family hideout and memorial which brings you right back into the reality of the holocaust. The ebb and flow of what you are learning and how your minds are constantly wrapping around tragedy and then unraveling again must be exhausting and I commend you for your resilience. However, it is better anyway, to be exhausted and enlightened then full of energy and unknowing. Continue to keep you eyes and minds open.