The Simko family

The Simko family
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  • Photo taken in:
    Nitra
    Country name at time of photo:
    Czechoslovakia, 1918-1938
    Country name today:
    Slovakia
This is our family: my mother Irena Simkova, nee Braunova, my father Artur and my brother Ivan Simko and me. The photo was taken in Nitra in the 1930s. I spent practically my entire childhood in Nitra. Very often we'd go to Zobor [Zobor: a hill by the city of Nitra (height above sea level 588 m), in the Tribec mountain range - Editor's note], both with friends and with my family. I know every corner of it there. I spent all my free time there. In the summer we'd go biking there, in the winter skiing. I always liked sports. I spent a lot of my free time doing sporting activities. At home we had a ping-pong table in the courtyard. My brother and I would often play table tennis. In those days there were two places to swim in Nitra, so we used to go swimming. When I was 13 I had a bar mitzvah [Bar mitzvah: 'son of the commandments', a Jewish boy that has reached the age of 13. A ceremony in which a boy is proclaimed to be bar mitzvah; from this time onwards he must obey all commandments prescribed by the Torah - Editor's note]. I know that I had to study with a cantor. I wasn't very good at singing, that was very bad, but I suffered through it and then some children that my parents had invited to our place came for the party. I don't think that I got a gift as such. I had only the party. My brother also had a bar mitzvah. Both of us had it in the Neolog synagogue in Nitra with Rabbi Schweiger. My father was a judge. We didn't go hungry, but neither were we rich. I know that my father's monthly salary was 1200 crowns [in 1929, it was decreed by law that one Czechoslovak crown (Kc) was equal in value to 44.58 mg of gold - Editor's note]. That was a lot, but not again that huge an amount. The only one in the family back then to have a car was Serena Szilagyi. We also had one permanent household helper, besides the one that took care of us children. She took care of the household, cooked and did the shopping. She lived with us. I also know that she used to get 20 crowns a month. I've talked about my parents and grandparents, and we didn't get to my brother yet. Well, I wasn't a good student. My brother Ivan was always getting top marks. A much better student than I. He was very talented, and wanted to be a doctor, he was a great kid. He was born in 1927 and in 1944 he died. He was only 17 at the time. He was still this child that was growing up. This is what happened to him. You see, he was always very bold. We didn't look like Jews. He was hiding out in Nitra on Zobor and someone gave him away. Then he was in the Sered work camp [14] and before the deportations he hid in a pile of sawdust. But they found him, and then, when they were transporting them in a train to one of the concentration camps, he was apparently sawing his way out of one of the wagons. He wanted to jump out of the wagon while they were still transporting them. He tried to save his own life right up to the last moment. Unfortunately he didn't manage to. After that I didn't hear anything more about my brother.

Interview details

Interviewee: Otto Simko
Interviewer:
Zuzana Slobodnikova
Month of interview:
February
Year of interview:
2006
Bratislava, Slovakia

KEY PERSON

Artur Simko
Year of birth:
1892
City of birth:
Dolne Chlebany
Country name at time of birth:
Austria
Year of death:
1976
City of death:
Bratislava
Died:
after WW II
Occupation
before WW II:
Lawyer
after WW II:
Lawyer

Other Person

Irena Simkova
Year of birth:
1897
City of birth:
Nitra
Country name at time of birth:
Austria
Year of death:
1953
City of death:
Bratislava
Died:
after WW II
Occupation
before WW II:
Housewife
after WW II:
Housewife
  • Previous family name: 
    Braunova
    Year of changing: 
    1923
    Reason for changing: 
    Marriage

Additional Information

Also interviewed by:
Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation
Date of interview:
1990s

More photos from this country

Imre Lunczer in the army
The Braun and Simko family
Valeria Bachnerova with her friends
Marcel Bachner, Vali Schlessingerova and their cousin Manci
Artur and Otto Simko

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