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Pavol Kovac

Trencin, Czechoslovakia

As a boy, Pavol lived with his parents in the city of Martin in Slovakia. His father taught at the local agricultural college. The Kovacs, who were non-practicing Jews, were among the few Jewish residents in the town.

1933-39: When I was born, almost nine months before the outbreak of World War II, my parents decided to have "Roman Catholic" listed under the entry for religion in my birth certificate. They took this step to protect me, despite the fact that for generations Jews in our region had enjoyed freedom and equality.

1940-44: For me, a small child, life in Martin was quiet. German soldiers never occupied the town. As a professor of agriculture in the local college, my father was treated as a very important man. He was so highly respected that the entire Kovac family, including my mother's parents, did not have to wear the yellow Star of David like the other Jews. Only in August 1944, when the Germans began fighting Slovak rebels [Slovak National Uprising], did we go into hiding.

Liberated by Soviet troops in April 1945, Pavol's family moved to Bratislava. In 1981 Pavol left communist Czechoslavakia for the United States. He became a citizen in 1986.


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