Miriam Abeles

* 1932  

  • “I didn’t care whether I was a Zionist or not. I wanted to go where my boyfriend would go, I was not interested in Zionism. I knew that I was a Jewish again and that I had to go there with my people. When we went to Israel, I was happy that I was going as well. And so I got here. I was not attracted by idealism, only by knowing that I wanted to live among Jews.”

  • “For my mom it was very difficult to bear and she decided that she would leave me in an institution. It was a reformatory and the sisters, Servants of the Holy Spirit, accepted me there. My mom told me that we would never part, and when they accepted me to the convent, I spent seven days in the convent in Štiavnik, my mom promised me that she would come to visit me, no matter what happened. She came to visit me to the convent, where I spent seven days crying. I didn’t eat anything, I didn’t want to eat anything; I only drank a little water, the sisters made me. The nuns were very attentive and they were very nice to me.”

  • “It had consequences, of course. Six or seven men came there, they were not the guard members, but Germans who came to arrest me. One of the nuns knew that they were coming, she saw them enter the courtyard, and she grabbed me and she hid me under her robe, she hid me there and she kept my mouth covered. I understood what was going on, but I didn’t know exactly why she was doing it – why would they want to arrest me, when I was in a good place? They hid me. They tied me with a rope above a well so that I could see the water under me and my reflection in it. (They hid you in a well?) They hid me in a well, and the way they did it was that they tied me above the well, and I don’t know for how long I was there. Maybe only one day, maybe more. I don’t remember it, I was terribly afraid.”

  • “Aunt was looking for a way to get rid of me. She learnt that there were movements which took children to Israel. One of the movements was Hashomer Hatzair, and there was Maccabi Hatzair, and the others were Mizrachi, they were religious. Aunt was anxious to send me with the transport which would leave first. I said: ‘Fine.’ Aunt asked me if I wanted to go to a summer camp. ‘Of course I want to go to a summer camp.’ I only wanted to get out of there. It was quite difficult there, although I actually spent quite a lot of time with my male cousin. He would tell me: ‘Keep your mouth shut, don’t say anything, we will be here for as long as you can stay here, and then we will go together to Israel.”

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    Haifa, Izrael, 09.11.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 01:15:33
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I realized that I was a Jew again and that I wanted to live among Jews

Miriam  Abeles
Miriam Abeles
photo: Jitka Radkovičová

Miriam Abeles, née Rothová, was born July 21, 1932 in Levoča into a Jewish family. Her parents had a shop and Miriam grew up as their only child. Her father died in 1939. Miriam’s mother had Miriam baptized and fearing her deportation, she hid her in a convent in Spišský Štiavnik. Later Miriam got from there to a reformatory in Bytčica near Žilina which was managed by the Catholic Church. Miriam’s mother willingly boarded a transport to Auschwitz where she died. Miriam Abeles remained in the church institution until the end of the war and her cousin then began taking care of her after the liberation. She lived with her other distant relatives in Slovakia as well. Thanks to her relatives she was introduced to the Zionist movement and she participated in summer camps of Maccabi Hatzair and she moved to a home for Jewish orphans in Bratislava. Together with other young Zionists she was preparing for a journey to Israel where she went in 1949 with her husband-to-be Chanan Abeles, who was a leader of a group of young immigrants to Israel. They settled in Kibbutz Kfar Maccabi, and some time later they moved from there to Haifa. Miriam and her husband raised two children and now (2016) they live in Haifa in a retirement home.