Katarina's story shows us what middle-class life looked like in interwar Czechoslovakia with a fascinating collection of snapshots taken in sports clubs and Jewish day schools, skiing in the Tatra mountains, swimming in Lake Balaton and water skiing on the coast of Dalmatia.
A woman of great energy and a strong, optimistic nature, Katarina only mentions the dark days of the Holocaust briefly, when she was the only one from her family to return alive. Katarina remarried after the war, gave birth to a daughter and granddaughter, and remained ever active in the Bratislava community until her death in 2005 at the age of ninety-five.
Less than a century ago Slovakia was one small part of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, it is an independent democratic country. An overview of 20th century Slovak history provides a glimpse of the dramatic events that shaped the modern Slovak state and the lives of citizens such as Katarina Loefflerova.
Katarina Loefflerova was born in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
Katarina was born around the turn of the century, when Slovakia was a small part of the multiethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Empire covered much of Central Europe, including today's Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Transylvania (now in Romania.
Among the still-frames in the film is one of Emperor Franz Joseph I, the longest-serving ruler in the history of Austria’s Habsburg Monarchy. Among his many political accomplishments was presiding over the transformation of Habsburg Austria into the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867.
In 1918 after the disbandment of the Austro-Hungarian state Czechoslovakia was founded.
The Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia marked a dark period in the lives of its citizens, particularly Katarina Loefflerova. Learn more about this dramatic period in Czechoslovak history (alternative link: click here).
Katarina mentions the name of Klement Gottwald—pictured in the film—a former President of Czechoslovakia, who helped leading the country’s transfer from democracy to communist dictatorship shortly after the Second World War.
It was not until 1989 that Czechoslovakia rid itself of communism. Shortly thereafter, in 1993, the country split in two, forming the states of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’—so-called because of its bloodless nature—ushered in the modern era of Slovak politics.
An overview of the history of Jews in Slovakia, provided by the Slovak Jewish Heritage Center.
A brief History of Slovak Jewry by Yehoshua Robert Büchler and Gila Fatran.
See pictures of Chatam Sofer´s Mausoleum, one of Slovakia´s most famous Rabbis: the Mausoleum is located in Slovakia´s capital and Katarina Loefflerova´s birthplace, Bratislava.
US Holocaust Museum's essay on the Holocaust in Slovakia.
The Jewish World and the Holocaust - An article by Yad Vashem.
Learn more about the Jerusalem Holocaust remembrance memorial "Yad Va-shem," and find out about the original meaning of the museum´s name.
Even before being deported to Auschwitz, Katarina Loefflerova had heard about the infamous concentration camp. Read how she knew about Auschwitz.
Katarina Loefflerova recollects her childhood memories of Bratislava and her grandmother.
Katarina Loefflerova went to an Orthodox grammar school. Read about her experience.
Read the part of the Centropa interview where Katarina Loefflerova talks about Jewish life in Bratislava.
Katarina Loefflerova saved her father from the deportation to Auschwitz.
Katarina grew up in Bratislava, the capital of what is now Slovakia. View a map of the city.
Click here to see a sample of photos from the Centropa archive in Slovakia.
In her story, Katarina tells us about going on holiday in Abazzia, which is now called Opatija in Croatia on the Adriatic coast. Find Abazzia on a map.
Click here to see photos our Centropa interviewees made in Abazzia/Opatija over the years.
Polish artist Jan Komski is a Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz. This website shows his paintings and drawings depicting life at this most infamous concentration camp.