Interviewee: Katalin Andai
Title: Kati Andai´s maternal family
Place and Date: Kassa, Slovakia - 1906
This is one of the very rare photos about my mother´s family. Mother is the middle girl, on her left is her sister Olga and her right Bella.
My mother's family lived in Oberland [today in Slovakia]. I don't know anything about them, nobody survived the Holocaust. My grandparents lived in Kassa [today: Kosice]. They were not orthodox (nobody was in the family), no, they weren't religious at all. My opinion is that they spoke German more easily than Hungarian. They talked to me in Hungarian, but not to my mother. My mother knew German like a native speaker, and she wrote letters in German.
My grandfather tried all kind of things. He had a pawn-shop, then a hotel, then he was a book-keeper. I think they went a bit bankrupt. When I was born there was a private house, and it seems that they sold it, because when I went there in the summer they only had a flat that opened onto a yard. The toilet was inside. There was a wash-hand stand in the kitchen, where one could wash oneself. [This was] in a one-storey house; the sun shone into the yard, and there was an oleander in a pail. Grandmother didn't work, she raised her three daughters, kept the house. When I was born they had a servant, and moreover she was always a Slovak, or as they used to say, a Tot. Later [in the '30s] they had no servant any more. Grandmother wasn't jolly, she was always timorous. She was afraid of everything, and she always saw the dark side. She couldn't really show her feelings; she probably loved me as a grandchild, but I didn't really feel that. She could cook splendidly, and the house was pristine all the time. I went there for the last time when I was 15 years old, never after that.
Interviewee: Otto Simko
Title: Artur Simko with a group of soldiers
Place and Date: Slovakia - 1914
Artur Simko with a group of soldiers
This is my father with a group of soldiers during World War II. My father Arthur is the one on the left with the newspaper.
My father was born in 1892 in Dolne Chlebany, a village in western Slovakia, which belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time. He served in the army during World War I. He made a lot of good friends in the army, but many of those fine young men died on some cruel and senseless front, somewhere in Europe. My father survived, thank God.
He studied in Budapest. That's also this little curiosity. Jews were usually faithful to the regime that was in power at the time. Back then it was Austro-Hungary. My father was somewhat of an exception, he didn't fit into the usual Jewish stereotype. He got into Slovak society, and was a pan-Slavist. Sometimes he even had problems because of it, as my grandma, his mother told me that once some people came to see her and said to her: 'If you don't do something about that Artur of yours, if you don't rein him in, we'll have to put him in jail.' Actually, he was a dissident even back than. A Slovak against Hungarians. That's really quite atypical among Jews.
As I've mentioned, my father was already a pan-Slavist during the time of Austro-Hungary. Then after the front, after World War I, also atypical for a Jew in Topolcany, in Koruna, he founded the Slovak National Council [Slovak National Council: the name of several high-level organs of various types during the history of Slovakia. See also - Editor's note]. Koruna was the most elegant place there, a café. There were lots of Jews and Hungarians in high functions in Hungary, who were saying goodbye to Austro-Hungary and were still singing the Hungarian anthem. In the 'next room over' my father was founding the Slovak National Council. My father's entire tendency was pro-Slovak, I'd say. For example, when during the war they wanted us to save ourselves from the Holocaust in Hungary, my father was against it. That was one line. The second line was social democracy [Czechoslovak Socially Democratic Labor Party - Editor's note]. He was on good terms with the minister of justice, Deder. My father was probably the only leftist judge in the region. It wasn't usual for judges. They were all national socialists, in short they were in the 'butcher parties', they weren't in leftist parties. My father was this solo player, this black sheep. During the First Republic the Social Democrats were very active.
Interviewee: Abraham Pressburger
Title: Committee of the Orthodox Jewish religious community in Galanta
Place and Date: Galanta, Slovakia - 1920
This photograph shows the committee of the Orthodox Jewish religious community in Galanta in the year 1920. My grandpa Moshe Cvi Pressburger is in the first row, second from left. Besides him, his son Max Pressburger is also in the photo. He's the tall man in the back row, sixth from the right.
Galanta was a very Jewish town, I don't know if it's true, but my father used to tell me that up to World War I, Jews made up more than half of the town's population. When I was a child there were two Orthodox communities - kehilot there. One had a head rabbi by the name of Buxbaum, the second a head rabbi named Seidl. Each of them had a large, beautiful synagogue and courtyard with Jewish and educational institutions. Both of them placed an emphasis on religious education. There were three levels of education. The basic level, which was named Yesoide Toire, an intermediate level, which was named Talmud Torah, and advanced education, which was named Yeshivah. I think that Seidl was a little more progressive, and my family belonged to him. Buxbaum was the bigger, recognized theological expert, according to my father.
Max Pressburger, whose Jewish name was Mordechai ben Moshe Cvi, was born in the year 1879. He lived his whole life in Galanta. He was the town's chazzan, shochet, plus he was also on the board of a large insurance company. He had a very beautiful and richly furnished house.
Interviewee: Otto Simko
Title: Wedding photo of Artur Simko and Irena Braunova
Place and Date: Nitra, Slovakia - 1922
This is a wedding photo of my parents, Artur and Irena Simko, nee Braun. It was taken in Nitra.
In 1922 my father Artur married my mother Irena, nee Braunova. How they met and where the marriage took place, that I don't know anything about.
After their marriage, my father and mother moved to Topolcany. After Grandpa died, Grandma moved in with us, and became a matter-of-fact part of our family. At first my father made a living as a lawyer, but this profession didn't make him very much, as a barrister he want bankrupt. And mainly because others were charging fifty crowns an hour, and he charged ten. He was also an extremely fair person. Not very suited for the world as it was back then. Well, because he didn't succeed as a lawyer, he became a judge. They then transferred him in this job from place to place. When I was 3 years old we had to move from Topolcany to Nove Zamky. So as a three-year-old I moved to Nove Zamky. But after three years we again moved. This time to Nitra. They'd transferred my father there, and our entire family, including Grandma, had to move again. In Nitra my father worked as a judicial advisor. I don't remember much from Topolcany or Nove Zamky any more. But Nitra was my entire childhood. My mother liked to dress nicely and fashionably, and I've even got photos. My father was a judge and also dressed well.
Interviewee: Katarina Lofflerova
Title: Katarina Lofflerova and class mates
Place and Date: Bratislava, Slovakia - 1925
This is me and my class mates in the 5th grade of gymnasium. The photo was taken in Bratislava in 1925.
Several years ago, I attended a reunion of all my former classmates. We met in Budapest. I went there with Doctor Ciky, who was a urologist in Bratislava. Another doctor joined us as well. When we arrived, I recognized hardly anybody. I was surprised to see so many old men. I never went to school with old men. But they didn't know who I was, either. They thought I was the wife of one of their classmates. I recalled only one person from Bratislava; he came from the Palugzay family. They had to leave. It is a well-known family, one daughter married a certain Vermes, Laci Vermes. I recognized him but he didn't recognize me. So I told him, 'You don't seem to know me. I'm Kata Vidor, don't you remember me?' And he said nothing, and I knew what he was thinking: She used to be such a cute girl, and now here is this ugly old woman. That, I'm afraid, is how life turns out. Only pictures remain.
Interviewee: Ota Gubic
Title: Jewish public school outing in Piestany
Place and Date: Piestany, Slovakia - 1929
This is a photo of children from the Jewish school, in Piestany. The photo was taken in 1929.
The man standing on the right is the school principal, Julius Ungvar, and his wife, who participated in all our trips. But I can't identify them all. Next in the row of those standing is Mr. Ungvar's youngest daughter, Sarika; I don't know her fate. I don't recognize the two women on the left. The boys standing: from the left, Janko Weisz, who died during World War II, beside him Lacko Mokry, one of the school's non-Jewish students, then Eugen, Eno Fischer - didn't survive the war. The boy with buttons on his coat is my brother Ervin, he survived the war but died in Prievidza in 1994. Beside him is Karol Handler, then Dezko Steiner, the tailor's son, and standing beside him am I, Ota Gubic. My brother and I are wearing identical coats. Beside me is another non-Jewish student of the Jewish school, and my friend, Vladko Kuhr, the forest warden's son. All the Kuhr kids attended the Jewish school, because Mr. Kuhr didn't want his children attend a Hlinka Catholic school.
The girls sitting, bottom row, from left: Jarmila Reichmanova, beside her Paula - died in Auschwitz, beside her the younger Weis girl, I don't know her fate. Katka Kohnova, survived and married Palo Knöpffelmahler, and lived in Prague after the war. Beside her is Rota Rosenthalova, a big communist, died in Auschwitz, and Olga Weisova, died in Auschwitz. Second row, from the left: Weisova, I don't know her fate, beside her is Aliska Markova-Comrova, she survived the war in freedom by converting and marrying Comr. Another Weisova, whose fate I also don't know, and Edita Diamantova apparently lives in Israel.
Interviewee: Eva Meislová
Title: Eva Meislova´s father Alois Bohm
Place and Date: Slovakia - 1930s
This picture was taken when my father went on a trip to Slovakia with his friend in the 1930s.
Once a year my dad and his friend Svehla, who was the director of a school in Borotin, went on a longer trip, for instance to Slovakia. They spent a week hiking in the mountains. They had canes on which they put stickers of the places they had visited.
My father was a businessman. He got his business license and became my grandfather's partner in the drapery shop. He wasn't religious. He didn't go to the synagogue except for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. My mother said that he actually withdrew from the Jewish community because they asked him for too much community tax. He smoked a lot and drank a lot of coffee, but he didn't drink alcohol. My dad was this kind of sociable Jew, his 'sport activity' was limited to visiting the coffee shop and meeting people there. I used to go for a walk on a very beautiful, long pathway through the wood on Sundays with my mum. My dad always said to my mum that he would go to the coffee shop to meet people instead and asked her to join him later. So we were walking until four o'clock in the afternoon, and afterwards she met him in the coffee shop.
Our family belonged to the middle class; we were neither rich nor poor. My dad was officially the head of the family, but it was my mum who managed the house and family matters. She got a monthly salary from my dad and organized everything at home and everything concerning us, children. We lived on the first floor in an old house. We had a large apartment, three big rooms and a small one for the maid. We had a living room and a dining room with black furniture. My parents slept in the bedroom, and my brother and I in the living room. We had electricity at home and cold running water. We warmed the water in a high-tile stove, which we used for heating. There was a coal stove for cooking in the kitchen. My dad was always cold, and I recall him reading the Prager Tagblatt leaning against the stove and warming up. During the winter we only heated one room. The apartment was rented because my mum never wanted her own apartment.
We had a car, a Cabriolet Tatra. [Editor's note: Before 1939 many car factories existed in the Czech lands, the best-known were Laurin & Klement, Tatra, Jawa, Praga and Aero. Cabriolet Tatra was a car for the higher middle class.] We went on trips very often. My most favorite places were Orlik and Zvikov, where we could swim in the summer. [Orlik and Zvikov are resorts situated on the river Vltava, about 50 kilometers from Tabor.] Although my dad was born near the river he couldn't swim, and he was always running along the shore warning us to be careful not to drown.
Neither my dad nor my granddad cared much about politics, and they weren't politically involved at all. My father voted for the Zivnostenska Party, but he used to say that the best 'party' is the relationship between a man and a woman.
In 1939 the Germans organized raids and arrested a lot of Czech people, mainly Jews, including my dad. At first he was a prisoner in Dresden and then he was sent to Oranienburg. He was used to smoke, drink good coffee and have a good meal, so he just couldn't bear it. They were also torturing people. My dad died in Oranienburg in 1940. What was interesting was that they sent us his urn from Oranienburg along with his clothes and all his other things including his denture with a gold palate. We also got the death certificate. There was still a Jewish cemetery in Tabor so we took his remains there. Then the cemetery was liquidated and since the urn hadn't been there for a long time we were allowed to remove it and take it to a catholic cemetery. They had made a space for Jews near the cemetery wall there, and my dad's has remained there ever since.
Interviewee: Ota Gubic
Title: Hashomer Hatzair summer camp in Prievidza
Place and Date: Prievidza, Slovakia - 1937
This photograph was taken at the Hashomer Hatzair summer camp in Prievidza, probably in 1937. There are local young people in the photo, but unfortunately I don't recognize any of them anymore.
I attended Hashomer Hatzair from the age of ten. My father tolerated it, but I'd say more that he tried to ignore it. We used to meet once a week, and then at summer camp. One was even in Prievidza, but as luck would have it, they didn't cook kosher there. The camp was about three kilometers out of Prievidza. My parents went out for a walk and came to see me. When they saw where we were, that was my last time at camp. It wasn't until 1938 that I managed to get to a camp in Povazska Bystrica, and that was only with my grandma's agreement. First I arrived in Banska Bystrica for summer holidays, and talked my grandmother into letting me go. Finally my father found out about it anyways, and after a week took me back home.
Interviewee: Magdalena Seborova
Title: Julius Weisz at work
Place and Date: Kokosova, Slovakia - 1939
In the photograph you can see my grandfather Julius Weisz, on the left, in front of a threshing machine. The picture was taken in 1939 on the farm in Kokosova.
My grandparents on my mother's side were named Julius and Hedviga Weisz. I knew my grandfather, as he survived the Holocaust. He married my grandmother in Vienna, I think she was named Hedviga. My grandmother's maiden name was Quittner. He died in Bratislava in 1954, where he's also buried. I was 14 years old when he died. Grandpa was a great person, everyone liked him. He used to tell me that he had been a painter by trade. He didn't like it at all, and so he later studied to be a master distiller. He never actually worked in his trades, because he became the superintendent of a farm in Kokosova.
After their wedding, Grandpa and Grandma Weisz settled down in Vienna. My mother was also born there. My mother had one sister, Hedviga, who died in a concentration camp. Still during the time of Austro-Hungary they moved to Slovakia, that wasn't a problem. They settled on a farm in Kokosova. Kokosova was part of the municipality of Tesare. Like most women back then, my grandmother was a housewife. I've personally never been on that farm. My grandparents certainly belonged among the more well to do class of the population. During the First Republic, being a farm superintendent was like being a head doctor at a hospital. It was something at about the same level.
My grandfather also knew how to speak Gypsy. When we lived in Mocenok, Gypsy women would often come begging at our door, and he'd normally be able to talk to them. He knew Hungarian and German, and my father even spoke Serbian and Croatian. During the time of Austro-Hungary it was necessary. I don't know which language my grandfather considered to be his native one. My father and grandfather spoke German with each other so that I wouldn't understand them, but his Slovak was absolutely without fault. It was perfect.
My mother's father probably wasn't Orthodox. I don't know about before the war, but after the concentration camp he definitely wasn't Orthodox. He didn't pray every day with a tefillin anymore, like my father. I don't know whether he'd done it before and then stopped, we didn't discuss this subject matter very much. I only know what I saw. I don't know how often Grandpa used to go to the prayer hall. It's impossible for me to remember prewar times, and after the war in Mocenok, they took the prayer hall away from us.
Interviewee: Matilda Hrabovecka
Title: Anna Halmos with Hashomer Hatzair group
Place and Date: Slovakia - 1940
This is a picture of our Hashomer Hatzair group, taken in 1939/40
Hashomer Hatzair was very important to everyone in our group of youngsters. My youngest sister Alzbeta would go there with me, and the Kamenski brothers, Pali and Lori, also came. Lori was really smart and quite talented in school. He didn't survive the camps. Except for Rosenberg Imrich, who was in Theresienstadt during World War II, all the others from our Hashomer Hatzair group were killed during the Holocaust.
At the top is my youngest sister Alzbeta, underneath her is Halmos Nusi, who went with me to Auschwitz.
While I was in Auschwitz, I found out that my friend from Hashomer Hatzair, Halmos Nusi, was there. Halmos came from a rather wealthy family. Her parents had divorced years ago; she was an only child, and, I would say, she was spoiled. She was sick as soon as she arrived in this hell, and was taken to see a doctor because she was complaining about a sore throat. Poor Halmos was dead even before they took the rest of her group to Birkenau, but I don't know exactly what happened. I mentioned her in my book, where I described how beaten up I was when I went to visit her in the infirmatory and forgot about going to ?Apel Platz? to report this.
There is another girl on the photo, her family name was Sumanova. She was very pretty.
Interviewee: Ota Gubic
Title: Cartonnage workshop at the Novaky labor camp
Place and Date: Novaky, Slovakia - 1942
This photo is from the Novaky labor camp. The picture was taken between the years 1942 - 1944. It was taken by the Novaky concentration camp photo workshop.
My brother arrived at the Novaky camp in 1942. As he was the son of a book printer, they assigned him to the cartonnage workshop, and it was in the cartonnage shop that an interesting incident took place. In 1943, after the Battle of Stalingrad, a delegation from the Ministry of the Interior came from Bratislava. The delegation was composed of members of the Ministry of the Interior, and the head of the delegation was named Pecuch. They probably came to sniff out what Jews thought about the solution to the Jewish question. Pecuch came up to my brother, and asked, 'What will happen to us after the war?' At that moment my brother was working on a machine that was processing cardboard. He didn't answer him, but drew a hammer and sickle on the cardboard. Pecuch asked him again, 'Well, and what will you do with us?' My brother answered him, 'You'll hang!'
Well, that caused a big uproar in the camp, everyone thought that they'd grab my brother and hang him, but nothing happened. He had a tendency to act the hero. In that sense my brother became the hero of the Novaky camp. That was already in 1943, after Stalingrad. After the camp's liberation, he also joined a partisan unit, and returned home after the war. We weren't in the same unit, and didn't know anything about each other until after the war.
Interviewee: Alica Gazikova
Title: Rabbi Izidor Katz saying blessings at Alica Gazikova´s wedding
Place and Date: Bratislava, Slovakia - 1954
The photograph shows Rabbi Izidor Katz (the man on the right) as he is saying the blessings during our wedding. Standing beside the rabbi, on the left-hand side, is my husband, Albert Gazik.
We had our wedding in Bratislava in an Orthodox synagogue on Heydukova Street on 9th September 1954. At that time there was still this one rabbi here, by the name of Izidor Katz. He later left to go abroad somewhere. The way it was in those days was that you first had to have a civil wedding, which was at the Town Hall, and then on the same day in the synagogue, the clerical wedding. Our wedding reception was at the Carlton Hotel. There weren't a lot of guests, 21 I think.
In my husband's family Jewish traditions were kept up quite a bit, as my husband's parents were from devout families. My father-in-law came from around Komarno and my husband's mother was from Topolciany. Before the war Topolciany had a very strong, devout Jewish community. After the war, though, they abandoned keeping kosher, but they observed all the holidays.
Interviewee: Agnesa Urbanova
Title: Agnesa Urbanova with her classmates after a 1st May parade
Place and Date: Slovakia - 1955
This is a photo of me and my classmates after a May Day parade and demonstration. The photo was taken on 1st May 1955. When I was a little older, I had hobbies. I did quite a bit of hiking, went to the gym, we used to play basketball, volleyball, do gymnastics and so on. We used to ride bikes, go hiking, on trips, we went skiing and in the summer swimming. We attended sports meets, and also had a choir. Later, in Ruzomberok, I had many, many such activities.
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Interviewee: Marta Gyori
Title: Alexander Grossman´s bar mitzvah
Place and Date: Kosice, Slovakia - 1961
This is a picture from the bar mitzvah in 1961 of my brother, Alexander Grossman. After the war, we had a strong Orthodox community in Kosice. My father was a baker, and baked challah. Every Friday he would be busy at home baking, but he had another bakery help out and they would prepare around 200 challahs. My father was one of the last of the Hevrah Kadishah. Up to the end, he would get on a bus or a train and travel to some small town in Slovakia to prepare the dead for burial.
We had a great deal of trouble from the Communist government here. In the 1960s, the Jewish community received medicines donated by a Swiss charity, and the Party made all sorts of problems. But still, for all the holidays, children my age would attend synagogue and we had community seders as well. For the holidays, our big synagogue, the old Orthodox one, was always full. We continued to have services there, even though the crowds got smaller and smaller, until five years ago.
My family had been preparing to leave Czechoslovakia, and we had our papers signed and even our furniture was shipped off. Everything was packed, and then my brother came down with diphtheria. The doctor told my parents: 'Your brother's life or Israel, take your choice.'
My father was not allowed to emigrate, and he said, 'So I'll piss on the Communists; I'll stay a religious Jew.' He tried to emigrate in 1948 and then again in 1962. My brother studied for a year in the rabbinical seminary in Budapest. In 1969, he traveled to London and he stayed there for a month, then moved to Israel.
My father kept geese and chickens at home so that during the Communist period, he could always have kosher meat, which he would ritually slaughter himself. There was usually kosher meat available; it came from a shochet who would come through here when he was in eastern Hungary. But you couldn't depend on it, so my father made his own preparations.
Back when I was growing up, it was very difficult. We went to school six days a week then, and my father made a shaygitz carry my books on Saturday. We had a soup kitchen here in Kosice all during the Communist times, but we called it a restaurant. It was kosher, and up to 100 people ate there every day.
In 1971, we made plans in secret to visit my brother in Romania. This was the only Communist country that didn't break its ties to Israel, and as Czechoslovaks, it was one of the very few countries we could travel to. We planned to say that we would be meeting a medical specialist for a problem in the family, and we fixed the location and place. It was done well, we thought. But the day we returned to Kosice, the police were waiting in front of our door. They knew when we left, where we went, who we met and when we would return. They took our passports away; we didn't see them again for six years.
When I married a non-Jew in 1965, my father sat shiva for me. When he saw me on the street with my first son, he would cross to the other side. It killed me to see this. One day, after my first son was born, I realized that if I didn't act, I would lose my father forever. I went to him and knocked on his door. I said, 'This is your grandson.' He said, 'He will be my grandson when he has a brit milah.' I said, 'So make the arrangement.'
Interviewee: Magdalena Seborova
Title: Purim at the Jewish community in Bratislava
Place and Date: Bratislava, Slovakia - 1960s
This photo was taken in the 1960s at the Bratislava Jewish community. I'm in the bottom row, the first on the left. In the second row, second from the left, is my first husband, Pavol Fuska. In the top row, second from the left, is Professor Traubner. The photo was probably taken at Purim. Before my wedding I used to go to the community every week, afterwards no longer.
I didn't observe holidays in Bratislava. I was glad to not have to. Back then we didn't have Saturdays off, and besides that we had only two weeks of vacation. I was very careful with my days off, and didn't want to take time off and go sit in a synagogue for Yom Kippur. My father's and my opinion differed in this. Even before we didn't agree much, but he was supporting me and I had to listen. My father didn't agree with me working on Saturday either.
I was married twice. My first husband was a Jew, but not the second one. The first was named Pavol Fuska. I'd known him since I was small. He was a native of Bratislava. He lived near me. My first husband changed his name, I don't know if it was his idea, but he took a name that someone in the family had used as a partisan cover name. I think it was from his uncle. He took the name at the age of 15. After getting married I was automatically Fuskova. I think he was originally named Feldmar. At the post office, where I worked, as if on purpose they wrote Fuchsova anyways. [Editor's note: in Slovakia most Jews had German-sounding names.]
My first husband's family wasn't religious. They were secular. His mother was secular, as well as his second father. He was a sympathetic person. It was a case of a widow marrying a widower. We didn't observe Sabbath at home. I'd go to the synagogue, but not because of religion, but because I knew that my former landlady, Mrs. Feldmarova, would be there, so I'd go say hello to her. Otherwise I didn't go to visit them at home, we weren't again as close as all that.
Interviewee: Alica Gazikova
Title: Eva Salamonova and Viera Gazikova in Demanovska Dolina
Place and Date: Chopok, Slovakia - 1970s
This photograph shows my daughters, on the left is Eva and on the right Viera, during one of our vacations in Demanovska Dolina, under Mt. Chopok. The picture was taken in the 1970s.
Both of our daughters did very well at school. There were no problems with them. Both of them were straight-A students. The older one, Eva, began to take accordion lessons while still in Zvolen, but as they say, she didn't become a virtuoso, which she later regretted. Both had a talent for languages. After elementary school Eva attended high school and then graduated from medicine with honors. The second daughter, Viera, also went to high school and then studied Economics at university. She became an engineer. She graduated at the age of 22, because in those days economics was a four year program. After university she devoted herself to the English language. For three months she studied in America. She then left to study for seven months in Melbourne, Australia and did two months of work experience with one renowned American company located in Sydney. That was far from all. For a certain time the University of Pittsburgh had a distance study program in Bratislava. Professors from Pittsburgh would come every second week to Slovakia to lecture, in English of course. She finished this school and was awarded an MBA degree. The graduation ceremonies took place at the City Hall in Bratislava.
Interviewee: Abraham Pressburger
Title: The graves of Abraham Pressburger´s grandparents in Galanta
Place and Date: Galanta, Slovakia - 1972
This photograph was taken in 1972 at the Galanta cemetery. In it you can see the graves of my grandparents, Moshe Cvi Pressburger and his wife Frida Pressburger, nee Weiss. Standing by their graves is Mrs. Messingerova, a relative from my grandmother's side of the family.
Interviewee: Gertrúda Milchová
Title: Gertrúda Milchová at work
Place and Date: Bratislava, Slovakia - 1989
This photograph was taken in 1989 at my work place in Bratislava, where I'm sitting on the left and am interpreting a lecture by a foreign colleague. I was used to interpreting at work, mainly from English and German into the Slovak language.
The first thing I had to do upon my return was graduate from high school. I couldn't finish my last year anymore. They were organizing courses in Bratislava. I used to commute from Trnava. First I graduated, and then I wanted to study. But what I had friends that had gone to study languages, but one of the shomers wanted to study chemistry at an engineering school. So I went with him and took engineering, specializing in paper and cellulose. For 27 years I worked at a paper and cellulose research institute. From there I retired.
Interviewee: Jana Teserova
Title: Judita Schvalbova´s friend Janka Teserova
Place and Date: Presov, Slovakia - 2004
In this photo you can see our friend Janka Teserova from Kosice. In the background you can see the interior of the Presov synagogue. The photo was taken in 2004 during the 10th anniversary of the renewal of the Lodge's activities. Guests also came from Budapest and Prague. Part of the program was in Kosice and then we invited them to our beautiful synagogue.
The synagogue to this day serves Jewish purposes, but also serves for various cultural activities such as a concert for the synagogue's 100th anniversary. There was also a concert of old music held here, and Yehuda Lahav introduced his book here. Part of the synagogue serves for religious services. The gallery, which one time was the area reserved for women, houses the Barkany Collection.
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Interviewee: Abraham Pressburger
Title: The Pressburgers in the Chatam Sofer Memorial
Place and Date: Bratislava, Slovakia - 2005
This photograph was taken in the crypt of Chatam Sofer (Chatam Sofer Memorial) in Bratislava, in the year 2005. The picture shows me and my son Yoram, inspecting the grave of Rabbi Pressburger.
We've been to Bratislava only once, about a year after the regime changed. It was quite a difficult encounter for me. Bratislava, which I left fifty years ago, as I've reminisced, was different. Petrzalka is different, Zidovska Street disappeared, the main synagogue was torn down. The stores also functioned in a very communist fashion, they were dark. I got a very unpleasant feeling, though I tried to show my wife a little of Bratislava's beauty. We were at the castle, where I could never go in the past. During the First Republic, the first Czechoslovak Republic, the castle was closed. It wasn't open to the public. So after such a difficult impression nothing draws me to Bratislava any more. I really didn't have anyone in Bratislava, no one remained there, while in Prague there were relatives that accepted us warmly. Bratislava doesn't really entice me.
I'm giving this interview right after making good on my intentions to show Bratislava and Slovakia to my son and his family. It was an interesting and moving visit. Especially encounters with remnants of Jewish life there and outings in that beautiful countryside and a visit to the region of my partisanship. Bratislava is very different from my Bratislava. Somehow I didn't fall in love with the new one. Even the beautifully restored old town with countless restaurants failed to enthuse me. I think that everyone of my generation, when it comes to the question how Bratislava should have evolved to have stayed beautiful, pleasant and express its spirit, would agree that it should have been different.