Valerie Slezaková

In March 1942 sent to the collecting camp in Bratislava, after that to Auschwitz, in January 1945 death march to Ravensbrück, camp Retzow near Rechlin, escape during evacuation of the camp; her father was shot dead in January 1945.

In Slovakia Jewish girls were requested to join an agricultural Brigade. A guardsman met me, and my father accompanied me to the station. Never before had I seen him cry. He would be shot dead in front of my mother and sister on 5th January 1945. They were with the partisans, whom he treated as a dentist. My train left for the collecting camp in Bratislava. Meanwhile my father, as a Jew of economic importance, had received exemption with his family, and we were allowed to stay. But I was already being transported to Auschwitz; and when someone called my name, it was already too late.

The summer was very hot, and I worked in the gardening brigade. The sun burned my legs, and I developed a huge blister. One of the overseers, my friend’s cousin, told me: “Stay at home, I will hide you, and you will go and see someone in the clinic.” She took me to a straw cottage, shifted some of the bales, and we got into a small cozy room, where she and Erika, another overseer, lived as lovers. When I had had my medical treatment I went back to my block and waited for my cousin. It was late already, and I asked the guard: “Where is the children’s brigade?“ He just pointed to the chimney, from where black smoke was emerging.

I found work in the administration. We registered the arriving transports and tattooed the prisoners. One day there was a special selection. Behind the fence, there was a big hole that we had to jump over. Those who fell in were sent to the crematorium. I said farewell to my friends, because I was certain that I would never make it, even if I were perfectly healthy. valerie-slezakova It was like a miracle that made it. My work in the administration was secured. There was a transport from Hungary, in it were three of my mother’s cousins from Kosice. I went to officer Erber and asked him to send the three women away from Auschwitz. Infuriated and wildly stomping his feet he shouted: “What does that mean, you want to give orders. Are you mad, what do you want this for!” I pointed to the chimney. He sent the three of them to Germany, and away from the camp.

Towards the end of the death march I succeeded to escape together with six friends. When we thought that the Germans had left, we left our hiding place and went through empty streets to a castle. In the basement there was a kitchen, and on the stove soup was boiling in big pots. This frightened us. From upstairs we heard the voices of soldiers: Take everything, evacuation. After three days we went outside. A farmer lent us his hay-wagon with two horses. We left, not knowing where to go. The bridge at Lake Müritz was bombed and could not be crossed with the wagon. There were two fishing boats on the shore. We dismantled the wagon and with the boats ferried the parts to the other side. Exhausted we finally walked across the damaged bridge and dragged the horses along through the ice-cold water.

I came home. My mother was not there and I knocked at our neighbor’s door. The door opened, and she was just adjusting her stockings, when she fainted. Nobody had believed that I was still alive.

Journalist, born July 1, 1923 in Nové Zámky / Slovakia, married.

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