Annemarie describes when her home was stormed by Gestapo officers, how her father was nearly arrested and how she helped her husband escape.
Annemarie (Anka) Voticky (née Kanturek) was born on July 5, 1913, in Brandýs nad Labem, Czechoslovakia (presently Brandýs nad Labem, Czech Republic) to Hedwiga and Max Kanteurek. She had two older brothers and one younger sister. Her mother was very religious and raised Annemarie and her siblings that way. Annemarie attended regular school and played roles in the theatre until she was 14. Her childhood was filled with music and language lessons, going skiing and playing tennis. She married Arnold Voticky on April 23, 1933, had her son Milan on April 23, 1934, and her daughter Vera on January 19, 1937.
By January 1939 Annemarie and her family were trying to find ways to leave Czechoslovakia with increasing restrictions being placed on Jews and Arnold having to sell his store after it was targeted on Kristallnacht in December of 1938. Annemarie was able to get an exit passport from the Gestapo and leave Czechoslovakia in April of 1939 by pretending to be Christian. Arnold was unable to leave at this point because of restrictions placed on Jewish men between the ages of 18-40, and a plan to get a fake Christian baptismal certificate not working. Annemarie and her children went to San Remo, Italy where they stayed in a hotel for two months before returning to Prague.
When she returned to Prague, Annemarie started to complete papers to immigrate to England and was supposed to go in September of that year but was unable to go. In February of 1940 her brother had found a way to get both their families to China. By late April of 1940 Annemarie, her brother, Arnold, their children, and some of their friends (a group of ten) were on a boat headed to Shanghai. They arrived in May 1940 after a 30-day trip that took them through Austria, Italy, the Suez Canal, Singapore, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. They stayed with a friend from their district in Czechoslovakia for their first night. The next day they got a hotel on Joffre Street in the French Concession and had found an apartment one week later. Arnold opened a custom jewelry business, and Milan and Vera attended a private American school. A few months after the group arrived, Annemarie’s parents and sister joined them in Shanghai
In December 1941 Japanese forces occupied the French Concession and a proclamation was made stating that all Jews who had arrived in Shanghai after 1937 had to go to the Hongkew ghetto in Shanghai. While in the ghetto Annemarie and her family faced a cholera epidemic, Arnold got dysentery, Annemarie got worms in her liver, and her father died. Annemarie and her family found out the war in Japan was over on August 12, 1945, and the ghetto was liberated by American forces.
In 1946 Annemarie and her family took a boat to Toulouse, France, then a train back to Prague where they stayed for three years. They moved to Canada in 1948 and settled in Montreal. In Canada, Annemarie worked with Czech refugees fleeing the Soviet invasion after 1968 and volunteered with seniors. In 2011, she published a memoir of her experience during the Holocaust titled Knocking on Every Door.
Annemarie Voticky died in 2014, and her full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library.
I took a chair… and I smashed it over the room at one of [the Gestapo officers].
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