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Prewar photograph of Zoltan Meisels standing in an outdoor market.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 55139

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    Prewar photograph of Zoltan Meisels standing in an outdoor market.
    Prewar photograph of Zoltan Meisels standing in an outdoor market.

    Overview

    Caption
    Prewar photograph of Zoltan Meisels standing in an outdoor market.
    Date
    Circa 1930 - 1939
    Locale
    Presov, [Slovakia; Presov] Czechoslovakia
    Variant Locale
    Eperies
    Eperjes
    Preshov
    Preszow
    Slovakia
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Vera Meisels

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Vera Meisels

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Vera Meisels is the daughter of Cecilia Gardosh (b. Trebisov, July 5, 1909) and Zoltan Meisels (b. Dec. 30, 1904). Vera was born in Presov, Czechoslovakia on June 11, 1936, and older sister Alice was born on February 24, 1942. Their father owned a factory that manufactured nails for horse shoes. On March 27, 1942 when the deportation of the Slovak Jews began, Vera and Alice were visiting their grandmother Malvina Gardosh in Trebisov in preparation for Passover. Hlinka Guards began to round up people and came to get her grandparents. They wanted to take the girls as well, but the Christian house maid persuaded them to allow her to bring the girls to their parents in Presov. Vera's grandmother was murdered in Lublin. After two days the maid brought the girls back home. However, deportations were also taking place in Presov, and the entire family together with Vera's uncle Moritz and her paternal grandparents were put on a cattle car stationed for Lublin. While still in the railroad station, Zoltan and Moritz suddenly were told to get out of the car together with their packages, wives and children. When they descended from the cattle car, they saw the man who had taken over the family factory, Engineer Lichardus, standing together with two SS men. He claimed that Zoltan and Moritz were needed to run the business. For a few days the family remained in Presov in a hotel as their house had been boarded up, and then they moved to Ruzomberok (Western Slovakia) where Lichardus had moved the factory. For the next two years, Zoltan and Moritz worked for him and were paid a salary. They received certificates saying their work was needed for the good of the country. However, the family had to wear yellow stars, and the girls could not attend school.

    However with the start of the Slovak National uprising in August 1944, their exemption papers became worthless. The Meisels escaped to the mountains close to the partisans bringing with them as much food as they could carry on their backs. They lived underground in a dug-out bunker covered with sail cloth. They stayed there about six weeks until their food supplies became depleted, and they themselves were frozen from the cold. Ar the end of September or early October, the family, now weak and infirmed, came down from the mountainsand gave themselves up. They were sent to a church and then transported to Sered . Zoltan and his brother were sent to Sachsenhausen; Moritz probably committed suicide there. His wife was sent to Ravensbruck and also perished. Vera, her sister and mother remained in Sered for short time and then were put on a train to Auschwitz. However when they arrived, the SS could not handle new prisoners because of the recent bombing of the gas chamber and redirected the train to Theresienstadt. They arrived in Terezin on December 23, 1944. The cattle cars had not been opened at all during the five day trip. Vera was quite ill and was sent to the hospital where her tonsils were removed without anesthesia. They tied her hands and feet and when the operation was over, the nurses gave her a box of dominos for her excellent behavior. Vera and Alice remained together in the children's block 410 in Terezin. Alice, who was already over 12 worked in the garden run by the Germans outside of the ghetto; Cecilia worked in the kitchen . Vera performed in the theatre in the production of the play "Fireflies" and participated in drawing classes. She also was taught a lot about discipline and hygiene.

    After their liberation, the family was reunited in Presov. In 1949 Vera immigrated to Israel with Youth Aliya and lived in Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk and served in the army until 1955. Afterwards she moved to Tel Aviv. She studied at the Avni Institute of Art and Design and is active as a sculptress as well as a poetess. Her poems have been published in anthologies and have been translated to Slovak and published in Bratislava and Prague. She has also published several poetry books including "Terezin's Firefly."
    Record last modified:
    2011-12-12 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1174962

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