Eli Stahl

* 1934

  • “Yom Kippur is the most sacred day of the Jewish faith. The Slovaks, however, made a fould trick on us, they posed as nice, polite and they gave Jews a single house to turn into a synagogue. And the Jews were given a day off. My mum was not given a day off, as they needed her. She had a lot of work, worked from six to six. I had a flu, high temperature, I almost lay unconscious, 39 to 40°. Someone gave me a dirty pill of aspirin. After the pill I somehow regained my consciousness and heard terrible screaming, weeping and similar things. On this Yom Kippur, September 22, 1942, they took people directly from the synagogue, put them in cars and trains… and drove them to gas chambers.”

  • “The Slovaks realized the Germans were not like they imagined them to be and sometime after the defeat at Stalingrad they switched the guard for the police. This was something completely different, it is difficult to put in words. The police saw us as people, citizens. The guards had special buttons, rubber hammers, and when they hit someone, it swelled immediately. I was never once hit. The police behaved quite differently. The camp commander, the police offer, told us, ‘Go and take care.’ I still remember this.”

  • “I can’t remember this but Jozef Tiso was invited for my circumcision. My mother knew him quite well. I was a large boy and she such as small woman. I weighed four kilos when I was born. My mother met him and he knew her as the notary’s daughter. When the hard times came and Jews were prosecuted, my grandfather, the father of my mother, wrote him a letter, saying, ‘You are now in a significant position. I beseech you, if you can, please do something for us Jews to live better.’ To this he received a reply, it was written in Tiso’s hand, not by a secretary. My grandfather could tell Tiso’s handwriting. ‘My dear Maxim,’ my grandfather’s name, ‘I can do nothing to help you’. I no longer have the letter, my mother’s brother, who was with the partisans, gave it to Antonín Rašl. He was a good friend of his, he served with him among the soldiers who looked for guard members and fascists. This letter was one of the proofs at Jozef Tiso’s trial.”

  • „There were several forced-labor camps, two big ones in Nováky and one in Sereď. It was a concentration/forced-labor camp. The aim of the game was staying in the camp and not being deported to Poland. We didn’t know what was happening in Poland but we somehow felt it was worse. My mother worked twelve hours a day, she was sewing caps. A girlfriend of her told her it would be better if she said she could sow. My mother came from a well-to-do family, they were quite wealthy, until then she was a madam, she didn’t even know how a needle looks like, she didn’t have to know. So her friend showed her how to sow caps and she was sewing caps for the German army.” “Up to 1943 were the transports, that was the Hlinka guard. Then the police took it over, it was better. The guards were terrible, they did what they wanted. If you had liquor you could buy them but those who didn’t have the money for liquor… They exploited young women and so on… After 1943 the police took over the administration of the camp and the commander of the camp became a certain Švitler, who was a decent man. After the war, they wanted to try him for collaboration, the Jews from the camp, however, stood behind him and pledged that he treated them well. He just did his job and executed his orders. The camp was closed, nobody would get away, but he wouldn’t allow that anyone gets beaten unnecessarily.”

  • „In the beginning of 1946 I joined the ranks of the Zionist youth Hašomer Ha-tsair and in February 1949 I went to Israel. I was barely fifteen at that time, in fact only fourteen years and six months. We learned Hebrew, history and the Bible, which is the foundation of modern Jewish history, I mean the modern perception of history. In 1952 I enrolled in the army and I served for two and a half years. In 1955 I got married. My wife was in the same educational group, she also served with me in the army. Interviewer: Was she also from Slovakia? Answer: No, she was from France, she was born in Paris. We had three children, three sons, one died in 1993. Two and a half years ago, my wife died in a car accident. It was a serious accident with three dead and my wife was one of them.”

  • „Bánovce was renowned for being the hive of the Fascists. My father was engaged in the transport business. In 1938 he had nine motor vehicles, four trucks, four taxis and one vehicle for the needs of the family. My grandfather was a municipal notary, we were a well known and respected family. In 1942 my father was transported to Lublin, Poland, there he spent a couple of months. He was a skilled mechanic, he was very skillful, so the Germans employed him in the army’s garages. In November 1943 there was an uprising of the prisoners in Lublin and he was murdered. From May 1942 till the Slovak national uprising, my mother and I were imprisoned in a concentration/forced-labor camp in Nováky. Then the gates of the camp opened and we went to Bánská Bystrice and then we lived with the partisans in the mountains.”

  • „I was in Bánovce and it was hard for me. It was hard to see it, it was hard to tell the children and my wife – here lived one uncle, here one grandfather, there another grandfather and so on. These were all families… Only two brothers from my father’s side were unmarried. All the others had families, children. Speaking about all of this… All these images, they keep coming back. Even now I have no interest in going back to Bánovce. I don’t want my blood pressure to go up. I’ve got nothing to do there.”

  • „A message? I’m an atheist. An absolute atheist. What I would say to future generations? When I was young I thought I could change the world. Today I’ve come to realize that the world is not to be changed like this. At least it would take a lot of years. The songs by Voskovec and Werich – We’ll change the world... they gave us a certain hope that the world could be changed, but it’s not true. It can not be changed. Money was, is and always will be the decisive factor. You either have it, or you don’t. Interviewer: Have you been disappointed that the idea of the Kibbutz failed? Not just the idea of the Kibbutz, but more generally the world. Was I disappointed? Yes and no. What I’ve learned from my seventy years? That’s what I’ve learned.”

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I survived because we were a small family. Families with more members went to Poland

Igor (Eli) Stahl, 1948
Igor (Eli) Stahl, 1948
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka - dodala Jitka Radkovičová

Igor Eli Stahl was born in 1934 in Slovakia in Bánovce nad Bebravou. His father owned a freight company, he belonged to a very renowned and respected Jewish family in Bánovce. In 1942 - in the era of the Slovak state - he and his mother were placed into a forced labor camp in Nováky, where they stayed until the beginning of the Slovak national uprising. His father was deported to the Lublin ghetto, where he died. The last war winter, he and his mother had to hide with the partisans in the mountains near Donovaly. After the war, he became the sole owner of all the property of his murdered relatives - up to 1948 he thus became one of the wealthiest people in Bánovce. In February 1949 he left Czechoslovakia and settled in Israel, since the fifties, he lives in the Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk. In the Israeli-Palestinian wars, he served as a tank-mechanic. He has two sons, his wife died in a car accident three years ago.