She got beaten quite a bit in the camps, because you had all this quota that you had to fulfill. Since she was a professional seamstress she was really very good. And she worked very hard, and of course they were on starvation food – they got watered-down beet soup, watered-down oatmeal – that was kind of the food of the day.
Cultural traditions Tag
1924, the year, the people who were born in 1924 were given as a gift to the Third Reich. And everybody had to be shipped to work for whatever they needed. And I had the papers already to Kassel or Essen, and that was bombarded by Americans, so I already had my friend, and he said ‘How about we get married?’
When I was younger I didn’t want to speak Slovakian. I thought it was a dumb language and I didn’t need and why would I use it. There’s not a lot of Slovakians… There’s no real use for the Slovak language in America, but there are communities that you can get along with. But now I am so thankful that I know Slovak
My neighbor was lent a dream book, and then his daughter gave me this dream book – I have it at home. In it was written that Pisces, which is my sign, not being close to the sea, will go to the other side of the world in search of the sea later on in life. And already then I thought: America!
When I was a teacher I could not go to church in my town. So if I wanted to go to church I went to Prague because nobody knew me. If I would go into my town church, I would not be able to be a teacher because religion was something which was not favorable to the communists.
I said ‘I’m not going to leave. I’m going to fight for the freedom and I’m staying here.’ I did not want to leave. When we got occupied by the Russians, I was involved in it and [when] I went back, second day, to the hospital, we put posters there and we all wore black because we did that at midnight when the Russian tanks were all around the streets. So I was involved in it and I was hoping that the Prague Spring, nobody is going to kill it because we were going to win.
You know, yes of course, you have those memories and associations, but is it some kind of an idealized, background-music, lots of violins [experience] standing looking at your house, and immediate flashbacks? No, it’s not. It’s in a way awkward, because you really realize that time goes by and your life is someplace else – that’s only part of you, that’s only what you lived through, that’s only where you went to school or whatever. But whatever you took from there, you have. Going back is not going to change it.
I don’t think it’s really where you grew up, I think it’s more your attitude. I’m sure I could have kept up the Slovak culture and felt more Slovak than American myself. I think it’s more of a personal decision – what you want to be, that’s what you’ll be. If you feel like being more Slovak, you’ll be more Slovak, if you feel like being more American, you can go that way.
We were washing dishes and the soldiers showed up and told my mother and my father that we need to pack up something that we can carry on our backs and we are going to leave. So we were taken to the camp in – the concentration camp – in Žilina. You know the difference, there is a concentration camp and there is an extermination camp, so we were just taken to the first place.
Mother actually pressed charges, and the trail went all the way to court, to the High Court in Vienna, and the man was found guilty. And I believe he was sent to the eastern front. I think it was a very brave thing of mom to do and I was very proud of her because, had she lost, the consequences would have been very dire.