My father believed in communism. He thought, after the War – it was the Soviet soldiers that liberated him, it was the Soviet soldiers that liberated Auschwitz, and so, my mother wasn’t involved at all, but my father was a member of the Party. And he believed that this is the right way to go. And now, bang, his brother gets arrested and he says, ‘No, this is not possible, this is wrong.’
We couldn’t visit parks, we couldn’t go to the movies, we couldn’t travel without a permit, and we had to wear the Star of David. So you had to be marked. And that was not a very pleasant thing, and not necessarily because of the fact that you had to deliver your sporting equipment.
On August 21, when the Soviets came around, I don’t know how it even happened, but my dad said I had to come home and so one of the officers called me to his office and said ‘There is a letter from your dad, and you need to come home,’ which under normal circumstances was absolutely unheard of.
My cousin was actually telling me about the concentration camp and only much, much later I found out that I was probably the only person she told, and I suppose she told only me because she thought I didn’t understand – I was little. I knew the word ‘camp’ for summer camps, because bigger children spoke about summer camps, so I thought she went to one of these. And when she was telling me about things that happened, I thought they were games.
Three weeks after the victory, I went to a bookshop and the owner said ‘You were talking German. I’m calling the police.’ I said ‘Yes, I was talking German to an anti-fascist German soldier.’ ‘No, no. You were talking German. I have to tell the police.’ Fortunately, I had my identity card at that time which said ‘Prisoner in so-and-so [labor camp]’ and so I showed it and he said ‘Well, I must have made a mistake.’
I think my mother was quite ambitious for me and then I adopted that ambition as well, and once I entered the conservatory the fascination with all things musical I was able to do all the time was too strong to even think about a different career or a different direction in my life. It was just very straight and very clear to me that there is nothing else I want to do.
I experienced the first ripples of the Holocaust. I lived under Hitler six months so I saw what was going on and I understood the evil of the Nazi regime, but I saved my life by leaving with the last transport. If I wouldn’t have done that I would be dead by now and I couldn’t do this interview.
Ludmila Anderko, born 1949 Ludmila Anderko was born in the small mountain town of Kolačkov, northeastern Slovakia, in 1949. Her mother stayed at home and raised Ludmila and her three sisters, while her father worked in a textile factory in nearby Kežmarok during the week,…
So anyway, this is what we did to prepare to go, and because of this terrible experience of flying from England after the War, I developed a very high fever and they had to postpone the trip to the last plane that left Czechoslovakia for Israel. The plane that we were supposed to go on was one that was shot at, and it fell over, I think, Bulgaria. So that forever was kind of a shock to us that we could have been on that plane.