Anton Felber (1923)

Photo: Anton Felber

Biography

“Because he was Hungarian, I asked in Hungarian: “Doctor, what’s the matter?“ No reply. Then I realized that he had died. For two more days I was leaning against the dead body sitting there. A dead body in winter is very cold and I was sitting there and leaning against it for two more days.”

Anton Felber was born in Rudňany in 1923. His father worked as a serviceman in the mine and his mother was a dressmaker. He grew up in Košice at his grandparents'. Later on he studied in Levoča where he met his wife Anna. Together they had three sons. During the Second World War he worked in a building company in Košice. He was accused of being absent for obligatory brigade work and from 1945 until 1948 he was in the labour camp Nuzal in Vladykaukaz. After he returned home, the State Security /ŠtB/ sent him to a labour camp in the Czech Republic for two years for the purpose of re-education.

Disappearing Friends

Anton Felber - Disappearing Friends (data format Flash Video)

“About two days later we found that our acquaintances and friends were disappearing. “Comrades” were taking them somewhere. The same happened to me on the fourth or fifth day. We were in Košice, when a Lieutenant Colonel and a Major visited me and asked me what my family name was. I answered: “Felber.“ They told me it was necessary to go out and have a talk with them for about an hour.”

Interrogation

Anton Felber - Interrogation (data format Flash Video)

“They forced me to sign one Russian document. I said: “I won’t sign it. Firstly, I can’t read Russian and secondly you are accusing me of shooting one hundred Russians, so maybe it’s written there that I actually shot a hundred or a thousand Russian – in spite of the fact that I have never held a weapon“. Therefore, I refused to sign. There was a large room that had a big stove and next to it were some pokers. He grabbed a poker and hit my neck with it. It was such a severe hit that he bent the poker! He shouted. The door opened and they dragged me into a cell.”

Way and Arrival to Gulag

Anton Felber - Way and Arrival to Gulag (data format Flash Video)

“A truck stopped nearby Prešov. I was sitting down in the second car. Three Russians with submachine guns were sitting down by the back door guarding us. Truck stopped at 6 am as one railwayman was returning home by bicycle from night work in Košice. He was riding his bicycle in the snow and wanted to get to his village. They grabbed him and threw him in the car with us on the way to Russia.”

Anton Felber - Way and Arrival to Gulag (data format Flash Video)

“One could not sleep at night and even less during the day, because the coldness was much worse. I was a neighbour of a gentleman, 60 years old. He had been the director of the State hospital in Košice before. So I was there with him. But maybe on the seventh day I was very cold and we were just sitting down. Because he was Hungarian, I asked in Hungarian: “Doctor, what’s the matter?“ No reply. Then I realized that he had died. For two more days I was leaning against the dead body sitting there. A dead body in winter is very cold and I was sitting there and leaning against it for two more days.”

Anton Felber - Way and Arrival to Gulag (data format Flash Video)

“On the 9th day our train stopped in Ordzonikidze. It was in Vladykavkaz, today it’s Chechnya. Soldiers took us; 17-18 year old Russian lads holding loaded guns. Most of them had slanted eyes. Of course, in the wagons about 30 percent of the people were frozen, they were almost falling out. Soldiers were tearing them out like pieces of wood and throwing them next to the wagons. And so in one hour we moved on. We should go 20 miles. I got to a mining settlement called Nuzal, which is 20 miles away from Ordžonikize. There are lead mines there. We were about 300 going to Nuzal. On the way the people were exhausted, and you wouldn’t believe it, but these young soldiers shot to death 15-20 of them. If somebody was lying on the ground, the soldiers kicked him saying: “Stand up!“ If he didn’t, they shot him to death. And so they left our friends there.”

“So there we were lodged...”

Anton Felber - “So there we were lodged...” (data format Flash Video)

“There was a triple fence. Two fences had barbed wire and about every 30 yards there was a sentry with two guards. If somebody came within about three yards close to the fence, he was shot to death. When some of us were going near there, the rest of us knew it was wrong. We drew them away. People were losing sense of reason. So there we were lodged. I was lucky to get a place on the upper plank-bed. Because there were so many lice that when men were getting up in the morning, they were throwing lice down like poppy seeds. And those who were sleeping on the lower floor had double the amount of lice.”

Sanitary Conditions in Nuzal Labour Camp

Anton Felber - Sanitary Conditions in Nuzal Labour Camp (data format Flash Video)

“The situation with toilets was even worse. Actually Russians did not even know what a toilet was, however, they had outhouses. That was a hole dug about seven yards in depth. And over it a round log to sit on. Early in the morning or at night it was frozen. People who had diarrhoea for a week weighed less than 45 kilograms. One man went, slipped and fell there. He drowned in that human excrement. I will never forget a team of older Hungarians that were pooling out our friends in the morning with long hooks. They were pooling them out and they were carrying them behind the fence. At nights the wolves were coming to eat the dead bodies. Only bitten bonds and shoes left, if somebody had not taken them off.”

Working in the Lead Mines

Anton Felber - Working in the Lead Mines (data format Flash Video)

“And they, those Russians, selected the younger men. I was 23 years old. The younger men were sent down into the shaft, so I got to the ninth horizon; it was 1050 yards under the ground. I was fortunate, because it was warm there. The water was quite warm there. However, where there is lead there is also a lot of water. So we were standing in it up to our knees and mining the lead. We had shovels like half of a bed. Since lead is a heavy ore, some people had not enough strength even to handle the big shovel, not speaking about picking up the lead. The labour norm was to load one cart during the shift. There were also old men with us. So we younger ones tried to help them to load their carts, after all we suffered together.”

Returning to Slovakia

Anton Felber - Returning to Slovakia (data format Flash Video)

“At the beginning of February we had been travelling for 22 days to Chop. We stopped twice to get some food supplies. During a journey that lasted 22 days, 311 dead from our train were unloaded. I put together a list of those 311 dead and gave it to the Red Cross to let them know where the bodies were left. There were two places.”

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