born October 27, 1919
František Wretzl, ca. 1941 (private collection)
František Wretzl was born in the Prague district of Žižkov. After finishing his training at a commercial academy, he worked for a business belonging to a Jewish family. From his early youth, Wretzl participated in scouting in his leisure time. When the Germans banned Czech scout organizations after the invasion, he took part with his scouting troop in resistance activities.
On July 10, 1944, Wretzl was arrested by the Prague Gestapo. He was interrogated and tortured, but did not reveal the names of other resistance fighters. He was then transferred to the Small Fortress in Theresienstadt. Wretzl arrived at Flossenbürg in late September 1944. The twenty-five-year old was selected as “capable of work” by the camp physician and transferred to the Lengenfeld subcamp. The SS evacuated the subcamp in mid-April 1945. On the death march through western Bohemia, Wretzl managed to escape. He made his way to Prague, where he actively participated in the uprising against the German occupiers shortly before the end of the war.
František Wretzl (left) and another member of the Czech resistance, 1942 (private collection)
After the war, František Wretzl completed a university degree and worked at a research institute. Even among his closest family, he did not discuss his experiences in the camp for decades. He also could not bear to attend historical exhibits on the period.
Secret message from František Wretzl, undated (private collection)
František Wretzl was imprisoned in the Lengenfeld subcamp beginning in October 1944. With the help of a Czech forced laborer, he managed to send this secret message to his mother. He asked her to send him a package of food every week.