“We received a notice that we were supposed to come to Sokol hall at 9 a.m. Of course, we didn´t know what to expect and we were allowed to take only twenty-kilo luggage per person with us. All other stuff stayed in our flat. Our keys, everything. We went with our backpacks to the hall, where we should have met with other families from Topoľčany that went to Nováky. We went to live with our father. And you know what? I as a child was settled for that and we were even glad we left from the house in Topoľčany, as the situation wasn´t very good there. The truth is there were many Jewish stores and there was big anti-Semitism as well.”
“One morning we woke up and the camp was open and almost empty. We didn´t even know about that. Afterwards, of course, we grabbed everything we had, those few things we took and we went. There was a village Koš next to the camp. Where were we supposed to go? We didn´t want to return to Topoľčany as the people there weren´t nice. They were quite anti-Jewish, although I´m not surprised as that market and everything was just Jewish there. We were afraid to go there and moreover, there were Germans in Topoľčany already. So with other two families we decided to set off to Banská Bystrica. We too such a carriage from the camp, because there were also some cows and horses bred. When we arrived to Banská Bystrica, we settled in a Jewish school. It was all prepared there, there was straw covered by sheets, and there we lived. Because, where else would we have gone? It wasn´t just us, though. Many more left from the camp to this place.”
“The pogrom broke out in September in Topoľčany. It was just horrible. They made up that one Jewish doctor, Dr. Berger, vaccinated children in a monastery that was there, and two children had died already. So they trashed him and all of the Jews who stayed there. Anyone whom they met in Topoľčany streets they trashed helter-skelter. My mom, my brother and I ran to hide to one old Jewish cemetery, which wasn´t open anymore. I guess we would have rather buried ourselves under those stones. There we just squatted down.”
Nobody asks to be born; whether you are a Jew or a Non-Jew, we all are people
Alžbeta Steinitzová was born on March 14, 1929 in Krušovce. Later she moved with her family to nearby Topoľčany, where she lived with her parents, younger brother and older sister. Here she also attended elementary school. Her life as well as life of the whole Jewish community in Slovakia was fatefully struck by founding of the independent Slovak Republic in 1939. In the spring 1942 she had to leave with her family to the labor camp in Nováky, where her father had already worked for several months. Since the end of 1942 there was a provisional school, later on an elementary school with three grades at the camp. Alžbeta attended this school until the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising in 1944. It was the time when the camp in Nováky was closed and Alžbeta´s family escaped to Banská Bystrica. Before defeat of the Uprising, in October 1944 they were forced to leave its centre and run to Staré Hory. With a group of Jewish families they wandered in the mountains for a long time, until one farmer from a nearby village helped them in a critical situation. For a longer time they were allowed to stay in a small shepherd´s hut. However, almost at the end of the war they had to face the most tragic moments of their lives. Alžbeta´s father didn´t handle suffering and exhaustion of the previous weeks. After the liberation Alžbeta, her mom and brother set out on a foot journey to Topoľčany, where they arrived totally fatigued and without money. They had to start from the very beginning. Alžbeta worked as a shop assistant and her mother as a dressmaker. In September 1945 they happened to be witnesses of the local pogrom of Jews in Topoľčany. They rode it out hiding in a cemetery. In 1948 she definitely left from this town and moved with her friend to Bratislava. She got employed in a weekly Tribúna as a secretary, and gradually she got also to other tasks; she learned to runaround the newspaper. After two years she left to the editorial department of Pravda daily and with the exception of several months she worked there for 38 years, which she delights to recall until today.