Yuri Dojč

* 1946

  • "So you went to high school already," or did you visit the Kitchen or meet the Jewish youth? Yes, yes, I went there, I met them there. I didn't go there very often, but then, you know, a man was as old as he was fifteen or sixteen, so he looked most at girls. That was far more important than anything else. And where… Where did you meet in that Kitchen? So the kitchen was on… there was then a restaurant when communism fell. There you just came there and talked to people, I say it was such a social center. And did you celebrate there like Purim and others, Chanuka? You know what - later when we left yes - after the sixty-eight. And many of those holidays were led by my father. What is the biggest surprise to me is that my father finally taught Hebrew in the Kitchen and he taught the youth Jewish customs that he did not teach me, so it's fascinating about it all. I told him once… I don't know, something I wanted to upset him. He was a very calm man, and I said to him: "You know what my father ... he said something bad to me - I will never marry a Jew, I will marry a Christian." And he just looked at me so sadly and said, "You don't know what you're saying." And that was all he said - you don't know what you're saying. And what he wanted to say was that there were all sorts of things that happened during the wars, and there were all sorts of cases where many women protected their men. In Germany, for example, they reported… there were millions of these situations, not millions, but thousands. And my father thought that if I married a Jew, it would be a certain safety. For them, normally everything after that war was a question… Security. Safety, surviving. I don't understand why they didn't leave, but it's already in heaven. "

  • "Is it possible to go back to your parents, that they will meet in Michalovce at school and get married ? They met in Michalovce and when serious transports started running, in the forties or I don't know how it went, so my father decided to run away. So, I don't know - I don't even know exactly if the school fell apart or what, but my parents decided - my father had a lot of acquaintances, a lot of acquaintances, because he was a very friendly man and he had a lot of Christian friends who helped him. And he got through them, mostly through the woods, he got… I don't know, unfortunately ,God never asked him this part how they got out of Humenné, because the last place through the war where they were… was in the woods near Bánovce nad Bebravou near Uhrovec. There is one settlement called Uhrovské podhradie. And that's what I found out when I came back or maybe sometime in the nineties, my father told me that they were hiding in a settlement, Uhrovské… Uhrovské Podhradie. And I told my father then that you know what, I want to see it… and he says no, no, no, it's far and I won't find it anymore. And I say who was hiding you. He says there was one family, we still keep in touch with them, but we have never met in that village, we met in Piešťany or something. And he kept in touch with that family until they all died out. I say, I want to meet them who've left that family. And my father says no - but I rented a car, let's go. He really didn't want to go, but in the end we went there. That was how many… in the nineties. We came to that settlement, we got out of the car, there was no one in that settlement and my father said that… he saw a little boy there… where she is, do you know where Anička is? There everyone knows everyone, there are ten houses in that settlement. And he says he's in the woods picking strawberries. Could you call her? So the boy went to the forest. And after a while we saw one aunt… and you know, she had an apron with flowers and a scarf, a big smile, excited to see my parents, because they kept in touch all the time. So it was nothing new for them, but for me - I was deeply impressed. "

  • “How did your mom survive the war? Mother and father were already there, and I forgot to say that. They do not know if you know, but under the Slovak state, Jewish schools were established because Jews could not go to normal schools. And at that Jewish school it was said for a while - so they knew because the transports went in the fortieth second - they also took their father's parents and mother's parents. And then it was called "catchers" that they caught young Jewish boys like my uncle and went to concentration camps. And these old ones, unfortunately, probably killed them in a second when they arrived. My uncle was young and strong, so he survived. And at that Jewish school, it was said that maybe married couples would not take. So the three schoolmen married three schoolmadams. I don't know if they knew each other - I can't tell you how well they knew each other. I finally met all three of them, which is interesting. One couple after the war went to Israel - they eventually ended up in Masaryk's kibbutz - he was there, I think he also led. The other couple… went to Mexico and I met them when I was in Mexico. And the third couple were my parents who stayed in Slovakia, but as I say, it was fate. And maybe it really was that… I will sometimes go back to the past and sometimes to the future, okay? That I will not say it consistently. About seven years ago I had an exhibition in Rome and the exhibition was in the National Library in Italy. And we had a great lesson there, there were three hundred children… They came to the opening and there was the main… as the librarian says… the main librarian in Italy, a very nice gentleman. And he came to me and said, "Sinor Dojč, what led you - what led you to this job?" And I tell him I'll tell you the truth, it was a coincidence… which is true. And he looked at me and said that there was no such thing as a coincidence. And what exists… and says: "We Italians call it e tutto scritto." Do you understand? Not. E tutto… is everything e scritto… is written. Everything is written… and since many things I look at in the past, I say that this scritto that my parents stayed after the war, despite the fact that their parents were killed, and that it was basically that they did it at home… that some didn't do it, the Germans didn't, and they stayed there anyway. "

  • "And then I met a Czechoslovak who was looking for a roommate, so we moved to one apartment together. So I said goodbye to the hippies and went… I stayed with him until I enrolled in school. When was that? It was in the seventy-first… I started going to school. And have you started working in art? No, I didn't even know it was about art. I was just looking for a job and somehow I… this guy who was my roommate says, “you know what, you'd be good at photography,” even though I haven't photographed or had a camera in my life. I had a Russian "Smena" and I don't know why he told me so I… or someone else told me, I don't know anymore. Because now I have a friend here, she is a former Slovak figure skater and we have been friends for a while and she says that "I suggested it to you." So I don't know. The bottom line is that they accepted me to school and they accepted me there purely by luck, because I was in the hallway and a guy came there and told me what I was doing here. I say I'm looking at photos. He says where you're from. I'm from Czechoslovakia, so come with me. So I let you know a man still had that fear when he saw another, different authority. So he called me to the office - I thought he would call the police, that there was a thief, because there were devices everywhere. And he tells me that you are from Czechoslovakia, what it was like under Dubček. I, under Dubček… So I said what I knew. It fascinated him. He was a Scot and with my luck it turned out that he was a dean of the faculty. And he accepted me, based on a conversation with him about Dubček. At the same time, I did not have any qualifications to get into that school, but zero! It was very difficult to get to that school at that time, you had to have a portfolio for that, you had to go through exams too and he accepted me without exams, without everything, just because he liked that I was from Czechoslovakia. "

  • “And how it was, or what the opportunity meant… trip to go to England. It was a part time job, a full time job or just a trip. No, my friend's sister had been in England before, it was already open at 67 and 65, and everyone could go. So she told me how, where I am… I'll tell you the truth that I still don't understand, I can't even get into the situation that I went to England alone, that I didn't know anyone there, and that I got into that village at all. What I have to say today was that it was a small miracle, because I didn't know a word of English… I knew yes and no, and a few words, but very little. I flew from Prague to London. I don't know how I got from the train station from London, I just don't know… and how I got on the train to a small town called Wisbech and from that small town by bus to the camp where we were. In that camp there were already Czechoslovaks, French… no… Spaniards, in Spain there was still Franco, so the Spaniards were relaxed in England, they felt revolutionary and then there were Swedes, only women, Swedes. And it was all divided… girls and boys and there was a Czech there, called Jirka Borský, so I sat down with them… such a group were Czechoslovaks. And the only thing I remember was that everyone had something hidden… When we ate, everyone had something under the table. And I say, "Jirka, what do you have under the table," I won't tell you unless you say you don't want to. I don't know what to want when I don't know what it is. He says, "Okay, let me tell you, we all have mustard hidden under the table. Because the food is so awful that the only thing that will save the food is mustard, but don't ask for mustard from me, because mustard still has a lot of money and you go and buy mustard from the first salary. ” That's how it happened. From the first salary, when we went to that city, I bought mustard so I could eat the awful food they put there. "

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Dojč Yuri

    délka: 03:21:13
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

„I learned to be a photographer and that photo gave me some opportunities to beautify the world, or I don‘t want to say a warning, because it‘s too big a word, but basically such a small one… to make such a small souvenir of these people… that‘s all what I can do. ”

The witness of history Yuri Dojč, a professional photographer, was born on May 12, 1946 in Humenné, into a family of Jewish origin. Both parents worked in the school surrounding, father (originally from Michalovce) as a principal and mother (originally from Nové Mesto nad Váhom) as a teacher. Two years later, a second child, daughter Eva, joined the family. Yuri‘s parents became Holocaust survivors. They met at a Jewish school in Michalovce, where they were placed as teachers. As the beginnings of deportations to concentration camps focused on the elderly and young Jewish boys, it was assumed that married couples would avoid hell. There were six teachers at the school, who did not hesitate after this information and formed couples who got married quickly. It was one of these couples that was Yuri‘s parents. Since this was not true, they had to flee. With the help of Christian friends, they reached Bánovce nad Bebravou, the village Uhrovské Podhradie. The Králiková family gave them shelter there and they survived. Yuri lived in Humenné for eight years, which is why those early childhood memories come from there, from his birthplace. In the third year of primary school, his family moved to Bratislava. The main reason was anti-semitism and the father‘s discomfort as headmaster. The beginnings in Bratislava were not easy, but his father again became the director of a vocational school and so the family got a comfortable apartment. In 1960, Yuri joined the Mechanical Engineering School, which he successfully completed. He was also accepted to the University of Mechanical Engineering, but left it after a year of study. The math was more than challenging and it wasn‘t for him. He worked as a draftsman, later a worker at a welding institute. In 1968, he enrolled at Comenius University, Department of Psychology, but did not join there as he emigrated. After a trip and job in England, he decided not to return home, due to the arrival of the Russians in their homeland. He spent a year in London (learning the language) and in 1969 emigrated again, to Canada (Toronto). After two years, he enrolled at university, where he studied photography and accepted a job in a school newspaper. In the same year, he married a Canadian woman who was originally from Hungary. They had a Jewish wedding and in time they had two sons. As a professional photographer, Yuri stood on his own two feet and opened a studio in Toronto. He devoted himself to advertising photographs, which in 1989 were replaced by artistic ones. At present, his home is still in Canada. Unfortunately, his wife suffers from Alzheimer‘s, so he faces a difficult life situation. Photography is no longer just his job, but also a hobby or relaxation after many years.