Judita Zuzana Grossmanová (1930)
“I can’t believe that I am still alive even though I underwent all those horrible things …”
Judita Grossmanová was born in 1930 in the village of Bátovce. Her father was a noted doctor who devoted everything to his patients. She had a happy and tranquil childhood when suddenly anti-Jewish laws changed the whole family life. The first measures affected also her father: he lost his job, they were forced to move away and their property was expropriated. For a long time they had lived only on the charitable gifts from patients. The period full of dodging followed. Although her father was granted presidential dispensation and though a lot of good-hearted people – father’s former patients – tried to help them, they were still living on the edge. Family was separated for a long time and they even didn’t hope that they would meet each other again. However, they belonged to the handful of people who managed to survive. After the liberation they didn’t notice any changes. Constant fights, sanctions, persecution and oppression continued. After finishing her studies and getting married, the whole family decided to emigrate, but their desire for better life remained unfulfilled. In Germany they experienced even worse torture than in Slovakia. After all those experiences Judita Grossmanová uses only one criterion to judge people: their humanity.
Lull before the Storm
“You know, we used to gather there. There were children, young people, university students or those who were dismissed from grammar school, who weren’t allowed to attend school [because of anti-Jewish regulations]. We usually met in our kitchen, we published our newspaper, discussed, read history books. I would say we maintained it at high level, I mean those meetings. We often sang there or we went hiking to Malý Kriváň hill, it’s near Turany, maybe you know it, it’s called Malý Kriváň and we were used to go there to discover the beauties of nature. And we still observed animals. Thus it happened that we compared our destinies with animals. You know, they weren’t chased the way we were. That Darwinian fight is stronger with the younger and we, we had no chance to defend ourselves. It was what we had discussed a lot.”
Family and Its Fate
“My cousin was sixteen or almost seventeen years old. She was really attractive girl. During the way to the concentration camp so many guardsmen raped her that she died right there, on the way. People told me about it later. And another of my cousins, he was an athlete. He found a mate in the concentration camp and they organised an uprising. It was only a few days before the end of war. As they organised the uprising in the camp, they got killed.”
“In every transport there was one doctor. My father didn’t know whether there was also his son or whether we were there, so he was knocked sideways. When they came to Nováky camp, Polhora acted as a commander there. Oh, he was a failed medico thus he treated all the doctors very cruelly. He didn’t give them any food or water; he didn’t allow them to have a wash because there was no place for it. He tortured them. Some of them were battered and their teeth fell out completely. He treated them the way that they even appealed to his humanity, so two weeks later he allowed them to have a wash in the brook. Although it was winter and water was icy, nobody refused. And somewhere there they got some jam. There was a factory producing jam nearby and it belonged to one Jew. He secretly sent it to them through the fence to prevent their teeth from falling out, to give them something to eat. Actually they lived only on that jam.”
Good Should Be Recompensed Only with Good
“When people saw my father, they followed him in a crowd. We came to those empty rooms, because they expropriated and took everything we had previously had. They let us have only what we were wearing at that time. And as we were coming back home, a crowd of people followed us. They brought us some food. They brought shirts to my father to have something to wear. And my father said: ‘Look, this way they want to thank me because I have helped them once.’”
Hiding in a Monastery - Facing the Enemies
“Sisters usually baked some bread or delicious pastry or even some meat for us. And every week I was sent to bring it home. Sometimes I went two or three times there, it wasn’t either far or near our village, actually it was the presbytery in Modra. The head of it was Štefanec and every Saturday Jozef Tiso used to go there. When Tiso came, they ate, drank and enjoyed themselves. I knew my classmate’s mother who was a kind of lady of easy virtue, you know what I mean. She was always there and also other women enjoyed themselves with priests. And Štefanec partied all the night as well and then every Sunday morning he went to Bátovce to celebrate the holy mass. Well, you can probably imagine the state of my mind and how I felt when I saw all those people who were my biggest enemies.”
“I went into difficulties there [in Germany], because as they founded out that I came from Israel, they didn’t want to work with microscopes or do anything else in one room with me. Well, there was one older woman who wrote down the results. We had to send them to doctors and it was her task. She had only a half-time job there but she wore a lot of rings. She told me: ‘This one is from Jewess from Poland; this one is from Czechoslovakia, this one from Hungary…’ Simply said, she was a guard in concentration camp. And this woman, she didn’t want to sit with me at one table when she had realized it about me. And then the others did everything to get me out of there.”
The story and videoclips of this witness were put together and published thanks to the financial support of EU within the programme Europe for Citizens – Active European Remembrance.