The Eckstein family walks down a street of prewar Bratislava.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 68566
1937 - 1938
- Bratislava, [Slovakia] Czechoslovakia
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
LIFE BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST -- Czechoslovakia -- Family/Friends/Portraits
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Eva Boros
The Eckstein family walks down a street of prewar Bratislava.
Pictured from left to right are Eva, Helena and Eugene Eckstein.
- Eva Boros (born Eva Eckstein) was born on November 10, 1932 in Bratislava to parents Eugene Eckstein (b. September 20, 1900) and Helena Zollschein (b. April 8, 1898 in Koberszdorf, Austria). Her parents married in 1923. Her given Hebrew name is Shulamit/Shula. Eva had 3 siblings. Her sister, Katerina Eckstein Strassburger (Hebrew name Simcha) was born February 10, 1927. Her two brothers, Fritzi (Hebrew name Shlomo) and Ernst (Hebrew name Arnost) were born May 25, 1925 and July 10, 1929 respectively. All of the Eckstein siblings were born in Bratislava. The family lived in Bratislava and practiced Orthodox Judaism.
Before the war, Eva's father had a store for kitchenware, where her mother was also employed. They sold crystal, porcelain and ceramics. In 1940, a Slovak requisitioned the store for himself without giving payment or compensation to the Eckstein family. A few weeks later, the Ecksteins were forced to leave their apartment by a German family. They went to live in the Jewish quarter ghetto, where they resided in a rundown old castle next to the Dom (the German word for Cathedral), where they remained for a few months until the castle was demolished to make the Dom more visible.
The family moved into a cellar with a dirt floor underneath three connecting houses, which was subjected to inspection by Germans and the Slovak fascist group, Hlinka guard. The Ecksteins resided in the cellar for a year and then moved to an upstairs apartment. Meanwhile, they watched as other families and neighbors were deported. At first the family had plenty to eat, even kosher meat. In 1943, when the situation worsened, Eva's parents sent her sister Katarina and brother Fritzi to Budapest to stay with a first cousin. Katarina became the family maid and was reportedly abused; she took care of their baby, washed diapers and did all of the household chores. Fritzi, who had studied carpentry, was independent by the age of 18.
In February 1944, Eva's parents hoped to send Eva and her brother Ernst to live with the same first cousin. With the help of a maid, they smuggled the children across the border to Hungary. However, the cousin refused to take the children and put both Eva and Ernst into an orphanage. By this time the Americans were bombing the city, which forced Eva and Ernst to spend nights hiding in the cellar. The next month, after the Germans entered Budapest, Eva's parents wanted the children to return home, thinking the situation in Slovakia was better. Eva and her brothers boarded a train and returned to a Hungarian village near the Slovak border where the maid's family lived.
The maid's brother said that smuggling them back across the border was too risky; he advised them to cross on their own in the middle of the night. After crossing several wheat fields and entering Slovakia, Eva and her brothers slept in a ditch near the highway. They then caught a ride to the train station and returned to Bratislava by train. Meanwhile, Katerina wasn't allowed to return by the cousin's family, who feared the authorities. Weeks later, she escaped and returned to Slovakia to reunite with the family.
Eva's parents tried unsuccessfully to hide the entire family together but were forced to separate the children into different Christian homes. Eva's parents were then deported, leaving the children with no funds, eventually to be evicted from their respective hiding places. After their evictions, the siblings reunited when each independently approached a Hungarian professor who had taken over their uncle's business and had money belonging to the family. The professor hid them for a period of time until his son, Fiala, took the three siblings to the village of Nitrianska Streda.
Fiala took Katalina to a lab he owned and then introduced her to his cousin, a member of the Hlinka guard, who arrested her. Meanwhile, Fiala asked Eva for money to rescue Katarina from jail, but didn't follow through despite taking the funds. Katarina managed to escape and returned to her brother and sister in the village. By the time of Katarina's return, Fiala said they couldn't remain any longer. Ernst went to stay with another Jewish family in the village, but Fiala had acquired pistols and told Eva and Katarina to go to the hills and stay with the partisans, who were leading an armed insurrection against the Nazi-aligned Slovak government. However, Fiala was scared to accompany them due to his known ties with the Hlinka guard, and all three ended up returning to his home. The next day, they all found refuge in in a deserted house in a village. Fiala moved his lab there as well and brought Eva and Katarina food. Ernst moved into the Jewish home next door but stayed nights with his sisters.
In January, 1945, the Germans found the house where Eva, Katarina and Ernst were staying. Not realizing they were Jews, the soldiers stayed the night and left the next day. Fiala had also brought a Hungarian deserter to the same house, which made the living situation unbearable, forcing the two sisters to find refuge in a different home in the same village. They stayed with the Kroslak family until the Russians arrived, upon which time, under instruction from the Russians, the entire village left for the mountains to hide until liberation.
Eventually, Eva and her two remaining siblings got a ride to Bratislava. In time they realized their parents and older brother, Fritzi, perished in the Holocaust. Fritzi died in Melk two weeks before liberation. In 1946, an uncle who had lived in Palestine sent a certificate of immigration issued by British authorities. Eva arrived to Palestine in May, 1946. Both Katarina and Ernst arrived illegally to Palestine at a later date. In 1946, during her trip to Palestine, Katarina was detained in Athlite by authorities but later released. Ernst was deported to Cyprus but later allowed to enter.
Eva married Dov Boros in August 1957. She has two daughters and four grandchildren. Dov is a Professor of Immunology. In 1968 they moved to the US, where he taught and did research at Wayne State University's School of Medicine. Katarina lives in a religious Kibbutz, Beerot Yitzhack, and has four children, 14 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Ernst married, had two children and two grandchildren. He was a professor of endocrinology at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem until he died in 1984. He wrote a book for Yad Vashem entitled "Mauthausen-Concentration and Annihilation Camp," inspired by finding and visiting his father's grave in Ebensee, Austria.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Eva Boros
Record last modified: 2016-05-18 00:00:00
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