Eva Landová, from a Jewish family in Prague, was deported at the age of eleven with her parents to the Terezín ghetto and then to Auschwitz. Her mother and her ended up in the Stutthof camp (today Gutowo in northern Poland), where the Nazis sent the impoverished Auschwitz prisoners to dig trenches against the advancing Soviet army.

“My mother became terribly weak and died on 22 November 22 1944. I was left alone,” says the witness.

Her older friends took her in. She was at risk of having her feet amputated due to frostbite. “I couldn’t walk, I was lying down, eating what anyone gave me or nothing at all. Around 21 January 1945, the door of our block opened and a young man in a Red Army uniform stood there. He greeted us in Russian, he said: Zdravstvujtie! We didn’t know what it meant, but we understood that we were free.”

After the war, she was the only one left of the whole family, all the had others perished. The fourteen-year-old girl was adopted by a Soviet Jewish doctor, Moshe Ionovich Mer. Eva Landová became Evelina Merová, and her new home was in what was then Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). She says she encountered anti-Semitism in the postwar Soviet Union as well, and believes that only Stalin’s death in 1953 saved Soviet Jews from accusations of conspiracy and widespread repression. She started a family in her new homeland. She returned to her native Prague in the 1990s.

“The Germans were better organized, with such precision, but the Russians also killed an awful lot of totally innocent people. At least the Russians didn’t talk about it openly,” Evelina Merová says of her experience with 20th century dictatorships. “There were camps in Russia even earlier than in Germany, so I don’t know who learned from whom. Both were terrible.”


Nazi Germany was defeated in the Second World War by the determination, bravery, and combat deployment of soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Poland, France, the Soviet Union, and other countries and nations. But the Soviet Union, led by the dictator Stalin, did not join the Allies until it itself was attacked by the Nazis in June 1941. Until then, the USSR had acted as a partner of Nazi Germany in the spirit of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact concluded shortly before the outbreak of the war. At that time, when tens of thousands of Czechoslovaks fled from the Nazis to the USSR, they often ended up in gulag labor camps. The Red Army did not enter the war until the summer of 1941 after Nazi Germany had invaded.

The Soviet Union deployed over six million soldiers to the Eastern Front. We can speak of great heroism and huge losses. The Red Army, with great effort, defeated the better armed and trained German Wehrmacht, and with it the prestige of the “land of the Soviets” logically grew. However, when we talk about the liberation of Czechoslovakia, we must mention, besides the Soviet victims (up to 140,000 Red Army soldiers are said to have died), the tens of thousands of our soldiers fighting alongside the Allies on the Eastern and Western fronts, the brave Slovak insurgents, the paratroopers, partisans and thousands of their helpers, the insurgents from the barricades of Czech towns at the end of the war, and last but not least the soldiers of the American Army who liberated part of the Czechoslovak territory from the west, as well as the forgotten Romanian soldiers advancing with the Soviets from the east. On 8 May 1945, after six long years, peace reigned in Europe and Czechoslovakia became a liberated country. But not free.