Viola Rozalia Fischerova
Interviewer: Barbora Pokreis
Date of interview: March - April 2007
The following text will lead us through the moving and difficult life of Mrs. Viola Rozalia Fischerova. Immediately upon her birth, she was faced with problems caused by her mother’s serious illness. This is why she spent the first years of her life being raised by her aunt. She was barely an adult when she was struck by another cruel stroke of fate. Almost her entire family was murdered during the Holocaust. After the war, she started studying medicine in Prague, but she had to give up her dream because of a lack of money and poor health.
She married an excellent person, Juraj Fischer. Mr. Fischer is one of four people in Slovakia who were awarded the highest French award: the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur [the National Order of the Legion of Honor]. He earned this award during Operation Dynamo at Dunkerque in 1940, and Operation Overlord, or the landing at Normandy, in 1944. Their mutual happiness did not last long, however. During the era of the totalitarian regime that was in power in Czechoslovakia, her husband was falsely accused of “sabotage” and sentenced to death. The sentence was later reduced, and so for long years he ended up as a prisoner in the Jachymov uranium mines. His suffering was magnified by the fact that he also shared a cell with German Nazi criminals who’d been sentenced in Czechoslovakia after the war. With precisely those criminals who had participated in the murder of Jews in Bohemia and Slovakia. During her husband’s stay in prison, Mrs. Viola was subjected to incessant degradation. She even had to put up with vulgar remarks regarding Jews at her work.
The greatest joy of her life are her daughters and grandchildren. In her free time, she devoted herself to poetry, among other things. We have included one of her poems in the interview. She wasn’t the only one in the family to inherit a talent for poetry and prose. Besides her, there were also two young authors in her family, her cousins Imrich Haasz and Sandor Berko. Imrich was beaten to death in Lucenec at the end of the 1940s, and the life of the more famous of the two, Sandor, came to an end in a concentration camp. Sandor Berko is heretofore considered by literary critics to be one of the best Slovak writers who wrote in the Hungarian language.
At Mrs. Fischerova’s request, we had to shorten the interview. This is because she was devoting all her time to her very ill husband, with which her grandson Peter was also helping her. She also started weeping while reminiscing about her closest family members, whom she’d lost during the fury of the Holocaust. Alas, several weeks after the end of the interview, her husband died. Many Slovak and foreign politicians and ambassadors came to pay homage to the memory to a great person in Slovak history.
My name is Viola Rozalia Fischerova. I was born into a Neolog Jewish family in Lucenec in 1922, as Ibolya Rozsa Stern. During my life I’ve always followed the slogan: ‘Én nem ezt a lovat választottam, de ez van ezt kell szeretni!’ [Editor’s note: the literal translation from Hungarian is: “I didn’t pick this horse, but I’ve got him, and I’ve got to like him.” The equivalent saying in English would be: “You’ve got to play the hand you’ve been dealt.”] This is my life story:
I can’t tell you any details about my grandparents. I only remember my father’s mother. Her name was Roza Stern. She was born in 1856, as Roza Reiner. She died when I was still very young. Around 1926, or something like that. I was still very small; they didn’t even take me to the funeral. My grandma had high blood pressure, and back then they didn’t treat that yet. The only treatment was just the application of leeches. Up to when I was six, I was raised by my mother’s sister, Aunt Irena Ambrozs, née Braun. My mother [Ilona Stern, née Braun] was very ill. They removed one of her kidneys. She wasn’t able to take care of all three children, and so her sister helped raise us. We had a hard life already from childhood.
My father’s parents, Mor Stern and Roza Stern, originally lived in the town of Kiskovesd [in Slovak: Maly Kamenec, a town in eastern Slovakia]. From what I heard I know that my grandfather was a businessman. I don’t know anything more about him. After Grandfather died, my grandma moved to Lucenec to live with us. My father [Andor Stern] was one of six children. Three boys: Ignac, Sandor and Andor, and three girls: Blanka, Regina and Jozefina.
Ignac Stern was married twice. I didn’t know his first wife. The second one was named Licike Stern, née Braun. Aunt Licike was my mother’s sister. Uncle Ignac had three children from his first marriage. They all lived together in the Hungarian town of Miskolc. The boys were named Bela and Jozsef. In our family we called Jozsef Jozska. The daughter’s name was Ilona, or familiarly Ilonka. Before the war [World War II] the boys graduated from university. Both of them worked as engineers. Ilonka was a secretary. He [Uncle Ignac] didn’t have any children with his second wife. Uncle Ignac had a workshop where they sewed bedding and things like that. He was my father’s oldest brother. He was a beautiful person with white, curly hair. They murdered this entire family during the Holocaust. None of them survived.
The wife of my father’s second brother, Sandor Stern, was named Gizella Stern, née Sacher. They were childless. Sandor was a partner in the Sachers’ store in Lucenec. Both were murdered during the Holocaust.
The next boy in line was my father, Andor Stern. His wife, that is, my mother, was named Ilonka Stern, née Braun. My father was the deputy director of a distillery named ‘Trecséni borovicska és likőrgyár.’ We lived on just his salary, as my mother was very ill and couldn't work. During the war, the distillery for which he worked fell to the Slovak State 1 and our town to Hungary 2. So when Lucenec fell to Hungary, my father had to leave his work. He opened a small store where he sold enameled pots. When we fell to the Hungarians, our situation in life got much worse. During the time of the first Czechoslovak Republic 3 life for people in our town had been better. Hungary was poor compared to Czechoslovakia.
My father’s oldest sister was named Blanka Haasz, née Stern. She married Mr. Haasz, who owned a glass shop. They had a son, Imrich [Imre]. Around 1940 or 1941, Imrich was beaten up in the street by Nyilasovites 4. They sent him home, all beaten up, but he died as a result of his wounds. Imrich Haasz made a living as a writer. He wrote in Hungarian. When he was dying, the only one he allowed to be by his side was my older brother [Sandor Stern]. My brother was holding his hand when he died.
Another of my father’s sisters was named Regina Frank, née Stern. She and her husband lived in the Hungarian town of Miskolc. They had one son together. His name was Bela Frank. He was a lawyer. They murdered them all during the Holocaust.
The last of my father’s sisters was Jozefina Berko. Her husband died at the front during World War I. Aunt Jozefina was supported by my father. She earned money by sewing aprons at home. She also embroidered and crocheted. She had three daughters: Bozsi [Erzsebet], Magda, Lili and one son: Sandor. Sandor Berko worked as a writer and translator. He translated Czech poets into Hungarian, for example Jiri Wolker [Wolker, Jiri (1900 – 1924): Czech poet]. He wrote several books, like for example: ‘Az ördög köpenyében’ [‘In The Devil’s Frock’]. Even today, literary critics rank this work among the top Hungarian works of authors writing in the Hungarian language living in Slovakia. Sandor was murdered during the Holocaust along with the rest of his family.
Only Lili survived the war. She was saved by the fact that she was married to a Christian. After the war she got diabetes. I don’t even know anymore what year she died. She’s got one son, whose name is Tomas Lukac. That boy didn’t turn out well at all. When he sees a Jew nearby, he walks the other way.
My grandparents on my mother’s side were named the Brauns. My grandfather’s name was Bertalan Braun. Friends and family called him Berci. He was a butcher. He died of cancer. They weren’t rich, but weren’t poor either. They lived in the village of Heves. That’s somewhere in Hungary. I don’t even know my grandmother’s name. My grandparents died before I was born.
My mother was one of six children. There were five girls in the family: Gizella, Iren [in Hungarian; in Slovak: Irena, nickname: Irenka], Licike, my mother Ilonka, and one other girl whose name I don’t know. Her only brother was named Imre. Irenka was married to Mr. Aladar Ambrozs. He was a Jew from Romania. They lived in the village of Heves. Aunt Irenka didn’t have children. As I’ve already mentioned, my mother was very ill, and Aunt Irenka raised me up to the age of six. Aunt Irenka and her husband Aladar were murdered during the Holocaust.
Aunt Gizella married Mr. Molnar. They had one son, Lacika [Laszlo], who was a lawyer. My aunt became a widow relatively early on, so my father had to support her as well. Gizela didn’t survive the war; she was murdered. Only her son Laszlo survived, who after the war had an outright negative attitude towards Jews. He lived in Budapest after the war. I’ve already mentioned Aunt Licike when talking about my father’s siblings. She married my father’s brother, Ignac Stern. My mother’s brother Imre and her sister whose name I don’t remember died while they were still children.
Up until I was six, I was raised by Aunt Irenka in the Hungarian village of Heves. After my sixth birthday, I returned to be with my parents in Lucenec. There was a very large Jewish community in Lucenec before the war. I’d estimate that there were more than two thousand Jews living in the town. [Editor’s note: the number of Jews in Lucenec in 1939 exceeded 2000, of which up to 90% died during the Holocaust.] Most Jews belonged amongst the Neologs 5, despite that, the Orthodox 6 minority dominated almost all important Jewish institutions and associations in the town. The Orthodox group had Rabbi Salamon Undorfer. They murdered him in Auschwitz in 1944. The Neolog rabbi was Dr. Artur Reschovsky. The Neolog rabbi was married to a Christian woman, and his brother-in-law was a catholic priest. They were childless. His brother-in-law, the priest, wanted to save him during the war. Reschovsky told him: ‘My sheep are going away, so the shepherd has to go, too!’ He didn’t survive the war. Only a little over a hundred Jews returned to Lucenec after the war.
The Jews in the town were wealthy; after all, we had a beautiful Neolog synagogue. They built it in 1925 according to plans by the architect Baumhorn. Jews in the town kept together, but were separated into castes. That means that the wealthier ones didn’t worry too much about the poorer ones. Most of the Jews weren’t poor, but of course there were poorer ones to be found as well. There were in fact three synagogues in Lucenec: two Neolog ones and one Orthodox one.
There was also a Sephardic 7 community in the town, who’d arrived there mainly from Poland, after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. They didn’t have a separate synagogue, just a prayer hall. We didn’t associate much with them, because they were mostly dirty and lice-ridden. No one concerned themselves with them. They differed from the rest of the Jewish population in that they wore large hats and also large payes 8. They were different, and then the rest of us were judged according to them, too. We belonged among the Neologs. My mother observed the holidays, but not a kosher 9 diet. We didn’t have separate dishes, and even ate pork.
I didn’t associate with other people very much. I felt very good at home. I didn’t even go anywhere. I spent my spare time with my mother. I took care of her. We were like two girlfriends. I loved her very much, and she me as well. I of course loved my brothers very much, too. My parents didn’t address me otherwise than ‘kislany’ [‘little girl’ in Hungarian]. I was brought up honestly, justly, modestly and to respect my parents. I appreciated everything at home very much. Life is very hard for me now, I never felt better anywhere than at home. I had a very nice family. Our parents gave us everything in the world. Never ever in my life did I get a whipping from my parents. Never. When our father came home, we’d greet him: ‘Kezit csókolom!’ [from Hungarian: ‘I kiss your hand’] and we’d even kiss him. He didn’t call my mother by any other name than Ilonka [a diminutive, affectionate form of Ilona]. A very nice family we were.
I can’t brag that we lived God knows what sort of lifestyle. We couldn’t throw money around because we were living on only my father’s salary. On top of that my mother was very ill, too. There were three of us children at home, but our father gave all three of us as much as he could. All three of us graduated from high school. My oldest brother, Sandor Stern, even attended medicine in Prague, but then when the bad times came he couldn’t study anymore 10, and so he apprenticed as an auto mechanic. My other brother, Gyula [Gyuszika, Jiri, Juraj] Stern was an artistic carpenter by trade. Gyuszika was also in a concentration camp, and it hounded him his whole life. After the war he graduated from university and for the rest of his life he worked as an aeronautical engineer.
At home we spoke exclusively Hungarian, because my parents were Hungarians. After the war I had a hard time with Slovak. I don’t even call them anything else but Tótok [Tot: the Hungarian name for a Slovak. Tótok is the plural of Tot.] I don’t have good memories of Slovaks. Most of them embittered my entire life, and many of them lied to me. They hounded me my whole life for being born a Jew. They wouldn’t even let us live. I’ll jump ahead a bit. My husband, Juraj Fischer, participated in the invasion of Normandy 11 as a soldier. He is one of the four Slovaks in history to hold the highest French award, the Legion of Honor. Before him, this award was received for example by Milan Rastislav Stefanik 12 as well. Before he accepted this award, he experienced utter hell. The Communists accused him of sabotage and jailed him as a spy and Zionist 13. They even wanted to execute him. The fact that he was a Jew and that the Slansky trials 14 were in full swing made it worse for him. I’ll return to these events. I just want to say that as a result of this, they didn’t accept our older daughter Helena at university. When the same was waiting for our younger daughter Viera, I dug in my heels and began making a fuss. I told them that we’d never done anything to anyone, so why are you persecuting us like this our whole lives? My daughter wants to go study! She’s got the brains, so let her! Finally we succeeded and Viera graduated from mathematics.
My mother was born in the Hungarian village of Heves. Her maiden name was Braun. My father was born in the town of Kiskoves in 1888. After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, this town fell to Czechoslovakia. In Slovak it’s called Maly Kamenec. I don’t know anything about their youth. We never spoke about it. Neither do I know how they met and where they were married. All I know is that after finishing high school, my mother worked as a bookkeeper for one of my uncles. I’ve already talked about my father’s work.
I was born in 1922 as Stern Ibolya Rozsa, but after the war the Tótok renamed me to Viola Rozalia Sternova. Up to the age of six, I was brought up by my aunt Irenka in Heves. She and her husband had a large six-room house. They lived very well. I grew up in a very nice family. When one of my parents’ siblings was in need, all the others would help him. Once, when I was already a little bigger, I saw these very nice shoes. I showed them to my father. They were relatively expensive. My father told me: ‘Little girl, I can’t buy them, because I’ve got obligations towards my sisters. They’ve got children that I’ve got to take care of!’
I started attending school in Lucenec, I and my brothers, too. My entire family was intellectually inclined. All my male cousins had a university education. There were lawyers, engineers and writers among them. When I was already in high school, I met one boy, a Jew. His name was Alojz Markovics. He fell very much in love with me. He used to walk with me to school. He even bribed the school principal to call me out of the class during a period, so he could talk to me. At that time in school they called me ‘Stern Ibolya Rozsa and the whole flower garden.’ [Editor’s note: in Hungarian, ibolya is a violet, and rozsa is a rose.] The principal came into the classroom, and said: ‘Stern Ibolya Rozsa, your cousin is here again.’ We were going out together, but then those bad times began... After the war we ran into each other in Prague on Wenceslaus Square. He walked over to me and said that tomorrow he was flying to the USA. He wanted us to get married and fly away together. That evening he came to see me, and brought me a bouquet of red roses. He was trying to convince me to go with him.
I had three brothers. My oldest brother was born sometime in 1917, but died at birth. My second brother was born on 17th May 1919. His name was Sandor [Alexander, Sanyi] Stern. After high school, he began studying medicine in Prague. Sanyi was studying medicine, but when the anti-Jewish laws 15 were enacted, they expelled him. At one school they said that they’d take him for law, but I don’t know how much money would have had to been paid, and my parents didn’t have the money for that. When he returned home, he apprenticed as an auto mechanic. But soon the Hungarians took him away for ‘munkaszolgalat’ [forced labor] 16. He died very early on, even before they deported us. He was injured, and they had to amputate his leg. He got some sort of mental illness from that. We didn’t even tell my mother about it, she wouldn’t have been able to bear it. We learned what had happened from the brother of a girlfriend of mine. Her name was Kleinova. Her oldest brother, Zoli Klein, was with him on ‘munkaszolgalat.’ After they amputated his leg, his friends were carrying him around on a stretcher. But he didn’t want to let them do that, so in the winter he sat down on the ground and said that he’d die there. He died, too, he froze to death.
My other brother, Jiri Stern, or Juraj Stern, was born in 1921. He died in 1999. After the war he graduated as a mechanical engineer. He was an excellent student. Back then the Letnany airport in Prague had announced a competition, because they needed a mechanical engineer, who they’d then put through aeronautical engineering school. My brother applied and they took him, too. He devoted himself only to math and some calculations. He wrote books and had all sorts of professional articles published. His wife worked as a secretary at CKD Sokolov. They were childless.
During the war we were at home until 1944. In 1944 the deportations began 17. In Lucenec they created a ghetto; they allocated several streets for it. They kept us there for a certain time. Then they deported us to Auschwitz. That’s how my story began. I got off the wagon, and right away there was a selection. The left side was the side of death, and the other side was the side of life. During the selection I stayed by my mother’s side. But they sent my mother to the side of death. They pushed her so hard that she fell down. She went to the side of death, and I to the side of life. It was a horrible life I had. I can’t any more...
In Auschwitz they performed medical experiments on me. They ruined my red blood cells. After the war I was being treated in Prague at a hematological clinic. As a result of the experiments, my medical results gradually got worse. It deteriorated to the point that they had to remove everything in my gynecological area. Luckily I managed to give birth to two daughters [prior to that]. In the concentration camp they beat me with a stick so hard that I’m deaf. When I take off my hearing aid, I don’t hear a thing. I don’t hear anything at all. We had a hard life. There were days when I had to kneel the whole day. Other times they gave us bricks to hold, and let us stand there with them until we fell down from exhaustion.
They then transported us away from Auschwitz. For some time I worked in a factory for the Siemens company. When there was an air raid, they’d herd us into the cellar. We had to sit there in water. I suffer the consequences of that to this day. Liberation arrived in the Ravensbrück concentration camp 18.
After the war, my brother Juraj and I settled in Prague. Before the war we spoke Hungarian, and so our parents had named him Gyula, familiarly Gyuszika. In Czech he changed his name to Jiri, and in Slovakia they called him Juraj. After the war both of us wanted to study. I applied for medicine, and got in, too, but fell ill. At that time Joint 19 was working. We were getting a terribly small amount of support. They didn’t even put us up in a dormitory, we had to rent from someone. One support payment went right for rent, and we hadn’t even eaten yet. It was necessary to decide who’d study, I or my brother. We decided for my brother. I said to myself that I’d get married. My future husband, Juraj Fischer, was already courting me. So I got married. We supported my brother, and he also graduated.
My husband, Juraj Fischer, was from Lucenec, from a prominent Jewish family. They owned a wholesale business that sold steel, paints, stoves and gasoline. His parents were named Gyula Fischer and Sara Fischer, née Sacher. Sara died very young, when my husband was still a small child. My husband had another two brothers; Zigmund [Zsigmond] and Juraj [Gyula]. One of the brothers, who was a lawyer, had his little daughter die on him. He lost his mind as a result. He used to go to her grave every Sunday. Once the Nyilasites caught him. They said to him that they were going to take him in. He answered them: ‘Don’t take me in yet, I don’t have an umbrella! I’ll go home for an umbrella, and I’ll return, on my honor.’ He returned.
My husband left the country as a nineteen-year-old when the persecution of Jews 20 was just beginning. In later years, he gave only one longer interview, in 2004, to the weekly Domino forum [a weekly Slovak magazine featuring political and social issues]. In it he described his life story. The story of the escape of a Jewish boy at the start of the war from his hometown of Lucenec, the story of a journey filled with hardships through the Balkans and the Middle East to France, where he took part in Operation Dynamo by the French harbor town of Dunkerque 21. From there he went to England, where he joined the Czechoslovak Army. After the landing at Normandy, on 6th June 1944 he took part in Operation Overlord. [Operation Overlord: the name of the landing in Normandy on 6th June 1944. It was one of the largest military operations of World War II.]
After returning home, when he found out that his loved ones had died in concentration camps, he ended up at the beginning of the 1950s as an accused ‘saboteur’ of the Communist regime in the uranium mines at Jachymov. He survived it all. He also survived the fact that after 1989 22 the courts of a democratic country weren’t capable of seeing justice done, and compensate him for the fact that their family’s home in the center of Lucenec had been confiscated during the war on the basis of race laws of Szalasi’s fascist 23 government. The work of the Nazis was topped off by the Communists with an unbelievably shameless act, when they applied a decree on the confiscation of the property of Nazis and their collaborators against a hero of the anti-Fascist resistance!
As if it wasn’t enough, in 1996 the District Court in Lucenec refused his request for compensation with the argument that he wasn’t the owner of the house: according to the laws of the Fascist Szalasi regime. But the fate of their house had come to an absurd end long before – when in 1975 they tore it down and on its property built the building of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Slovakia. Somehow too many symbolic events!
People liked listening to him, because each time there was a story hidden in there somewhere: ‘I lived through absolute freedom, pain, joy and despair,’ he used to say. At the close of the summer of 1944, the largest operation in history took place on the coast of Normandy, France. They battled on land as well as on the sea. ‘I was in an American Sherman tank. It was a good machine, but it had one fault. It was very slow. When we were driving by Caen, I counted as many as 200 destroyed tanks. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. They were in flames. Lying around them were dead bodies. Those that hadn’t been shot had burned alive in their tank. We were given the task of occupying important bridges. We were determined to obey the order at all costs. Though we surprised and confused the Germans, they responded very readily. They were shooting at everything that moved. Fighters, bombers, grenades, bullets, swamps and thousands of dead. A friend threw himself on a mine to save us. There was no time to mourn him. Thick machine-gun fire pinned us to the ground. We found out that Hitler was still in doubt whether this was the true invasion. We were lying in a stream. The Germans were already less than 5 meters away from us. We were tired. Our commander’s submachine gun slipped from his shoulder. It clanked against his helmet, which he had placed on the ground beside him. The Germans heard it. At that moment, I realized only one thing – that they can’t kill the commander. I jumped up from the stream and bellowed for them to surrender, that there were mines everywhere here. They surrendered! We were saved. We kept advancing. The Germans were putting up resistance mainly by the seashore. At the beginning of August, the Allies had the road to Paris along the Seine open.’
After the war, my husband worked for a wholesale company in Lucenec. He was the deputy director. The wholesale company distributed various goods to other stores. They distributed motorcycles, furniture, and dishes, for example. All sorts of things. My husband knew the director very well, as they’d served together as soldiers of the Czechoslovak army abroad during the war. Once some new motorcycles arrived. It was on Saturday, and they couldn’t put them into the warehouse, because there was simply no room for them there. They left them out in the courtyard and carefully covered them with tarpaulins. Then the StB 24 came for his director. They arrested him for purposefully damaging state property, meaning those motorcycles. My husband went to get him out of there, and that's how it all started...
During the Slansky trials they arrested him and accused him of sabotage. It took place as follows. When I came home from work, the house was full of members of the StB. They’d come in two cars and throw everyone out of the house. This was in February, and I began feeling very ill. They went into the kitchen, brought a pot full of cold water, and poured it on me. What more can I say to that? At that time they confiscated my husband’s house and summoned us to the local National Committee offices in Lucenec. They dealt with us in a Gestapo-like manner. It’s a good thing that they didn’t put us up against the wall! It was horrible.
I don’t even know anymore how many years he got. They wanted to hang him. They convicted him in such a manner that they even changed his personal data. In the court records it’s written that he was born in the district of Filakovo, when in reality he was born in Lucenec. He did his time in Jachymov, where the prisoners were drying radioactive material. I received permission to visit him, but my brother went there because I had no money.
When they convicted my husband, I had a nervous breakdown. I wanted to kill the prosecutor in Banska Bystrica. When they pronounced the verdict, I stood up. I walked and walked and was pushing a table in front of me. I wanted to pin him against the wall. When they saw this, they took him out the other set of doors. In Jachymov he was among Germans that had been convicted of war crimes. There were bunks there, but there were less of them than convicts. They wouldn’t let them lay down. I sent my husband a photo of me. One German asked him: ‘That’s your wife? But she’s not Jewish?’ He answered: ‘No.’ So they let him lay down.
After the war they persecuted me too, and wouldn’t even give me a proper job. For 29 years I worked as an economist for an agricultural company in Lucenec. At work they didn’t call me anything else but a dirty old Jew. We had a very hard life. I’m very worn out; while my husband was in jail, I had to take care of the family. Because he was in jail, they gave me the lowest wages. During the day I worked, and at night I sewed, in order to support the family.
After the Velvet Revolution, various travails regarding the return of our property began. We didn’t succeed in this either. One of the more joyous occasions came in 2004, when my husband was awarded the Legion of Honor in France. He was given the award by President Jacques Chirac. [Chirac, Jacques (b. 1932): French politician and from 1995 – 2007 president of the French Republic.] The Slovak president also accompanied him on the trip. But a year later his health began to deteriorate rapidly. When I was with him in the hospital in Lucenec, they among other things told me: ‘You know what, Mrs. Fischerova, you can stick that award you know where...’
My husband died on 9th May 2007. During the toughest times, our grandson Peter Cizmarik helped us. He even moved us from Lucenec to live with him in Bratislava. After his death, everyone suddenly remembered my husband. The funeral took place at the Jewish cemetery in Lucenec, and was arranged by our grandson Peter. Before the funeral, he was getting phone calls from the Office of the President and from the French, British and Israeli embassies. Peter took to the funeral his grandpa's uniform, awards, and also a gift-wrapped bottle of calvados that my husband had received on the 60th anniversary of the Allied landing in Normandy in June 2004.
He also brought three copies of an older edition of the novel ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ [by French novelist and dramatist Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)]. After my husband had taken a ship from Beirut to Marseille during the war, he ended up on the famous island of If. On the same one where they’d once held Count Monte Cristo prisoner. In his interview for Domino forum in 2004, my husband said with an undisguised sense of humor: ‘After three days on the island of If, we went to the town of Agde, where the Czechoslovak army was located. There I got an army ID number, and they assigned me to the anti-tank artillery. To be more exact, they assigned me to one mare mule that was supposed to pull a cannon. The mule was such a bastard – excuse the expression – that the more energy you expended on her, the more odious she was. Then one farmer gave me some advice: my boy, you’ve got to be gentle with her, pet her, say come little mule, and she’ll go herself. And it really worked.’
During the first 20 minutes of the service, our grandson showed the beginning of Spielberg’s film ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ Those that have seen it know that the scenes in it are naturalistic. Maybe too much so. Like the reality on the beaches of Omaha on 6th June 1944, and many days afterwards. After representatives of the town, the Ministry of Defense and telegrams from the Office of the President, the chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of Great Britain, Tom Carter expressed his condolences in person. He spoke of how his country immensely values and respects people like Juraj Fischer. After all, from year to year there are less of them. The first secretary of the French Embassy, Xavier Rouard, spoke in a similar spirit, in Slovak and without notes. The merits and works of the deceased, were also praised by the consul of the Israeli Embassy, Chaim Levy. He then also participated as the only one of the diplomats present in the second part of the funeral at the Jewish cemetery.
I can’t talk about my trials and tribulations anymore. That’s why I’d like to end our interview with a poem that I wrote for future generations. So that they don’t forget that I was also here, that I also lived...
“Elmúlt egy év, elmúlt egy nap és huszonnégy óra.
Elmúlt egy hét, elmúlt egy élet. Egy élet és mindennapi élet.
Jöjj vissza nyár, hozd vissza a fiatalságom már!
Tudom, hogy ez mind csak álom!
Hozdd vissza a beteg férjem, nekem ő még így is kell...
Én majd meggyógyítom. Meggyógyítom a szeretetemmel.
Ó, jöjj vissza nyár! Add vissza a fiatalságom már.
Ó gyere vissza, ne hagyj itt! Még mi együtt fogunk menni a vasúton.
Kéz a kézben, nevetve fogjuk a gyerekeink kezét, és megyünk előre.
És megyünk. És megyünk a dombtetőre, hogy megmutassam a gyerekeimnek a szép világot. Ott fogtok élni boldogan, együtt az egész család.
Ne nézzetek hátra! Ott csak a szeretet vár. Nektek előre kell menni a dombtetőre.
Ott minden szép, nincs hazugság. Ott csak egyetértés van. És megyünk, és megyünk.
Én már nem tudok menni, fáradt a testem, és a testemmel elfáradt a lelkem is.
De akkor is megyek. Az út szélén majd lesz egy gödör, ott majd eltemetnek.
Lehet, hogy ott tesznek valami sírkövet és ráírjátok
„Itt nyugszik a drága jó édesanyánk, nagymama,
aki még a széltől is féltett minket.
Úgy nevelt felt és már nagyon várta a nyugalmat!”
Most nyugalma lesz neki. Aludd örök álmadat, drága jó nagymamám,
örök békében. Te vagy a mindenünk, aludd örök álmodat. Így is fogom csinálni.
One year, one day and twenty four hours passed.
A week passed, my life passed. One everyday life.
Come back summer, return me my youth!
I know that this is but a dream!
Return me my ill husband, I need him even so...
I'll make him well. I'll heal him with my love.
Oh, summer, come back! Return me my youth!
Oh, come back, don't leave me here alone! We'll still travel together by train.
Hand in hand, smiling, we hold our children by the hand and so stride forward.
And go. We go to the top of a hill, so I can show our children this beautiful world.
There we'll live happily, the whole family together.
Don't look around! Only love awaits you there. You just have to keep going forward, up to the hill.
There everything's beautiful, there's no lie there. There's only understanding there. And we're going, still going.
I can no longer go on, my body's tired, and my soul has become tired too.
But despite my tiredness I walk on. On the edge of the road there will be a pit where they'll bury me.
Maybe they'll even build a monument there, where you'll write:
"Here lies our dear mother, grandmother,
Who protected us even from the wind.
She brought us up and greatly desired rest!
Now she'll be in peace. Dream your eternal dream, my dear grandma,
In eternal peace. You're everything for us, just dream your eternal dream." And I'll do that.