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Bela Blau

Bratislava, Slovakia

 

Bela's city of Bratislava, located on the banks of the Danube river, had an old and important Jewish community. Bela was the eighth child in his large Jewish family. His father was a furrier. At age 16 Bela began working as a salesman for a textile business. In 1930 he was called up for 18 months of army service.

1933-39: My wife and I moved to the Slovakian city of Zilina. Our son was born in November 1937. I worked for a German photographic company until 1938, when I lost my job because I was Jewish. When the fascist Slovakian state was declared in March 1939, we, like other Jews, were evicted from our house. We moved to the city's outskirts, where I worked in short-term jobs. We never knew when someone might come to take us away.

 

 

 

1940-44: In 1942 we were deported to Auschwitz. There, my wife and baby perished. I was sent to do forced labor. In the "Kanada" detachment we sorted prisoners' confiscated belongings and prepared them to be sent back to Germany. A few hours a day I did clerical work. In the camp I met Magda, a Slovakian woman. I told her how she could find me after the war. I explained: "My number is 65066 and yours 2318. 6+5=11,6+6=12, 11+12=23, and 6x3=18. Simple as that."

After the war, Bela and Magda were married in Czechoslovakia, where they had a small business. After first emigrating to Israel, they settled in Australia in 1965.

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