Ruzena Erdelyiova’s release paper from the Zilina camp

In 1942 my parents were deported to the collection camp in Zilina, despite the fact that my father, as a pharmacist, had an exception. This is a photo of a release document that I succeeded in arranging for them. This particular document is for my mother, Ruzena Erdelyiova, and it says:

Release paper

Jew (Jewess) Erdelyiova Ruzena, Piestany, born 2 November 1892, on the basis of a phonogram from the Ministry of the Interior dated 17 September 1942, personally verified by councilman Dr. Vasek, was

released on 17 September 1942 from the Jewish concentration center in Zilina.

Zilina, 19 September 1942.

During the time of the Slovak State, as a pharmacist, my father had a presidential exception. Despite that, they took him to the collection camp in Zilina. At that time I was living in Michalovce. I got a telegram that my parents were in the Zilina sanatorium. The hidden meaning behind sanatorium was collection camp. You couldn’t write it openly. We automatically knew what that meant.

I know that it was on Saturday, but travel permits weren’t issued during the weekend. I traveled illegally to Zilina. My mother’s sister, Aunt Frida, lived in Zilina. She explained to me what was actually happening. She said that we needed a phonogram from the Ministry of Health, so that they’d release him, he being a pharmacist.

I took her advice. I asked someone as to whom I should go see. I went to Bratislava to the ministry. There I was greeted right at the door with a sign: ‘No Jews or dogs allowed!’ I didn’t let that discourage me, and I found some friends who referred me to Topolcany, because a pharmacist lived there, a non-Jew of course, who was in charge of the pharmacy resort. I went to see him, and told him what the problem was. He said that even though he didn’t know my father personally, he knew that he was a well-known expert and that he owned several patents on drugs manufactured by the company Fragner Praha. He told me that if I brought him the recipe for Arneumylen and the necessary know-how, he’d help him. I had no choice, as I had no money.

With bated breath we watched transports leave for Auschwitz. One such transport was composed of up to a thousand people. I heard that dirty deals were being made there. I began searching, until I got to that group of people. I asked what had happened, why was my father still here, when they’d already sent a phonogram from Bratislava regarding his release. I had of course made this up. They looked at each other and said: ‘Hey, it’s already been here for ages!’ It was really there!

Photos from this interviewee