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In Hiding – Slovakia

We jumped out of the beds. My mother took one cooled chicken from the pot prepared for lunch & some bread & we were in a few minutes on the road into the hills. We knew the hills very well. My father loved to walk there. So beautiful & close. The streets were still empty. Very early - 7 o’clock. So we went. On the top of the hill was a hut. We were close to it, sitting in the wood, under the trees, thinking ‘What are we going to do now?’ ‘Where do we go?’ Sitting there until the evening, walking to see where we are & if there is a chance maybe a bungalow to stay overnight!

My mother never lost her temper to speak, not Slovak, not German. Very good because for the next 2 years we needed not to speak German if we met somebody & not to say immediately something. Think first & don’t trust anybody. This was so important. This is how we survived!

They came around 10 o’clock. They knocked at the door, very loud. Uncle said: 'We have no options. We stay sitting where we are. Everybody in his room on the bed. And don’t move. Don’t say anything when they bang on the door'. But what if the child cries? Talking about it, what to do, give him to drink or I don’t know what. They were banging & the reaction of this banging, to know, this is your… end, if they get in. The heart was so, hop, hop… Strong…beating. Horrible. I felt it here in my neck. Then we could hear a voice, telling this man to 'Stop it! This is his house, & I’m a German', he said: 'you must trust me. I have seen these people very early in the morning go away with luggage. They are not at home.' "Can you imagine? The owner of the house, who lived in a villa next door. He said 'I won’t let you ruin…' Because they said “You must break up this house, the door, the entrance. They are on the list!' He said 'You will pay for it. It’s my house. I won’t let you ruin this.' We could hear it. Word for word. Word for…every word. I remember it. And… they left. They left. And this was how we survived this horrible time. Only, only and we said, thank you to him.

[In a railway station waiting room, using false IDs] Then we turned & what was there? Five SS were playing cards at the table & above was a wardrobe with rifles & automatic machine guns. Horrible. So we sit down. My mother was holding my hand; she nearly broke my fingers, she was so upset. What now? One of them looked at us. Got up & came to us! Luckily my father hadn't come in. Because if they suspected him, they'd tear down his trousers" [to check if he was circumcised].

"He came & shouted to my sister, 'Come here. Closer. Where do you go? Who are you? What are you doing here? What do you want?' My mother was holding so horrible my hand. Then he said a very important thing. This was the alarm for me. He walked around her, looking from her shoes to the top. He said 'You are not a Partisan? Hmmm? You are not a Partisan?' She said “No!” He said 'You know what we do with Partisans? Puf-Puf!' He was showing it. Puf-Puf-Puf. This was the signal for me. I jumped immediately. I pulled my hand out of Mum’s hands, went to my sister & started as a crazy person to dance around her & sing “Edita! Ha-ha-ha! Partisan, Buchni ma.' 'Buchni ma' meant ‘hit me’. She understood, because as children, we were fighting. She started to hit me. 'Stop it! You’ll scare the gentleman!' In Slovak, you know? I was ‘Ha-ha-ha! Tra-la-la!’ - dancing as crazy. He was looking, walking around again. He didn’t believe it. But then one of them, playing the cards, was screaming, 'Come here Paul!' or whatever was the name. "'Come here! Let the stupid girls there! What are you doing? We want to play!” So, he went, so slowly… this distracted him & my sister could be silent. I played the crazy girl. Horrible. This was the worst thing that happened to me, during the Holocaust. ‘Puf-Puf’.

But it was terrible to leave her [mother] there actually [in a Gestapo prison]. That was a terrible decision. And I did- I was sort of doubting whether it’s the right thing. But then I remember, I went to the window to shake out the dust- dust or something. And there was outside there, and there was life there. I couldn’t resist it. So I jumped out of that window.

Well, we went to- this was again arranged by my uncle. We went to a village that was close to the border. And we had a guide… that took us in the evening when it got dark. And it was April so there were very short nights. And he took us when it got dark, and we walked across the border. He was showing us what to do. And he- we had to- while we were in the Slovak part of the- of the side of the border, we had to wait for the guards to pass. And then there was a time interval bet- between the guards changing that he knew about. And he took us across at that interval. And then we came to the Hungarian part. And there, we waited till it bec- became light. And I remember mother and I we went to a church. And then we took a- a train or something. And I had an aunt that lived in a village or in a small town near the border so we went to this aunt’s house. And then we had a rest. And then we took a train to Budapest...And in Budapest my uncle had a big American car that picked us up from the railway station and then we were treated very well. And then we- my uncle rented a flat for us. And that’s where we then stayed...We had to have forged papers and they could be bought by- for money, by people. And so, yes, I had to become somebody else and learn very well what I was. And who I was.

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