Koloman Gajan

1941 he worked on a farm, spent time in the underground from 1942 until arrested in December 1944, January 1945 to Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen, April 1945 to Launingen-Landsberg, death march to Kaufering, Allach/Dachau until 25th May 1945;

Two brothers and a cousin survived.

We were nine brothers and sisters. We were a family of orthodox Jews, and we owned a general store. Like my brothers I was sent to attend the Talmudtora-School in Presov. Two years later my brother wanted me to go to the Jewish grammar school in Brno. I was a poor student. My professor referred me to a respected family, whose only son I was to teach and tutor. After school I spent my free time with him.

In 1940 the Gestapo arrested this family and me. After three interviews they let me go, because I was a Slovak citizen. After that I worked on an agricultural domain in Mice, where in March 1942 I received the order to join the transport to Terezin. Instead of doing this, I decided to go illegally to Presov in Slovakia, where my sister lived. I already knew something about National Socialism, and I had made up my mind not to surrender to the Nazis voluntarily. Before we reached the border I left the train and was met by a contact man who I had paid, and who showed me the way to the other side. koloman-gajan At a train station I saw the first transport of Jewish girls, and thought of my sisters. When I reached my sister’s home, I knocked on the window in the middle of the night, but nobody opened. They waited until the morning. They were afraid of the guards. Her husband had hidden the two children of his first marriage in the attic. I could stay for some time, then I had to leave again. My sister bought counterfeit documents for me, issued for the name of Jan Gajan. Those documents made it possible for me to get work in a company for wood processing.

I wanted to see my mother and my other brothers and sisters in my home village of Hamborek. My father had already died. Our house in Hamborek was near the village square. When I arrived, there were many people in the square, and whenever a stranger came they stared. From the other side two Slovak policemen were approaching. My mother stood at the window, nervous and in great fear when she saw that they were checking me. With a clever excuse I escaped. In the night I crossed the gardens and ran to my mother’s house. My sisters had already been taken away. Deeply touched I returned to Presov to work, and my boss recruited me for a secret resistance organization. When the uprising in Slovakia had been suppressed we had to find a new orientation. We hid our weapons and left the city. When we heard that the Germans had left we returned to withdraw money from the bank to pay the employees. From behind we were stopped by two Gestapo men. The last Gestapo truck had not yet left and a snitch had noticed us. I reminded myself that so far I had managed to escape, and I would not give up. While they were checking my boss, I ran away. A Hungarian soldier caught me and took me back to the two Gestapo men. They beat me up terribly. But in spite of all the beating I did not tell them my real name, Koloman Edelmann.

PhD, Dr.Sc, historian born 1918 in Hamborek/Slovakia, widower.

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