“The bad times came, the holocaust. How I did I save myself? Most of the war I lived with my own documents. Most girls my age were sent to Auschwitz in 1942, officially to go to work in the Reich. They ´applied´ for work in Germany. At that time I was already living with my parents in my grand-parents´ place in Trenčín. They were purging Bratislava of Jews. Those who could leave left on their own, and those who could not were displaced. I was in Trenčín in a youth movement. All went to work in Germany,and of course I also wanted to go. My father told me: ´You are not listed in the register here in Trenčín, you are not going anywhere.´ And he really saved my life by doing this. (...) In 1944, when the uprising broke out, I became an illegal. I had false documents bearing the name Marie Novotná. I went to serve as a servant, which was quite complicated for me,because I was not used to house chores and I did not know how to do them. It was difficult, and adventurous. Almost all of my generation had it this way. Those who are here are those who are lucky. (…)
After my return to Bratislava I found out that my parents were not there. I left them in the ophthalmology and the psychiatry ward, but they took them away.”
“My mum obtained some Aryan documents for me in the hospital. I became Marie Novotná and I began working as a maid in one household. The people I was working for did not know that I was Jewish. I had made up a story that I was from the east, they were already bombing the east at that time, and that I had run away and was looking for my aunt in Bratislava, but I could not find her and so on, this was the story I had ready. I was working in their home, peeling potatoes; that was more difficult for me. This cut on my finger began to fester, but I did not want to tell them. (…) This is my reminder of the Holocaust period, I have not been able to bend my thumb ever since. I stayed there for two or three months. A Gestapo man came- this family was denounced for hiding Jews. They did not find anybody in the house. They found only me. My ID card was well done, and I had a nice photo of myself in a blouse, pasted on it. This Gestapo man said:"Don’t tell me this is a photo of some house cleaner, of a servant. I objected: "What, me a Jew?" "Tomorrow you will report to the Jewish centre on Edel Street". (...) The family gave me an address of some people who might be able to help me. It turned out that this was the husband of my teacher. (...) Later it turned out that these people were hiding other Jews as well. That’s why I always had to peel so many potatoes. I did not have a clue, because otherwise we were only three people in that household."
"And were they proclaimed the Righteous among the nations afterwards?" "No, they were not alive then, and they had no children, either.”
“How did I get out of the country? I was refused a passport. I went to a hairdresser’s; I needed to get over my anger. As I was leaving the place, I met a man I knew; he was a doctor. He says: ´You know what, I can give you a contact for one official at the police headquarters.´ I went there and I was issued a passport, right the next day. Eventually it turned out that this friend, this doctor, was an agent and he worked for the State Security. That was why he had those connections. So we now had a passport and we went. (…) My oldest daughter did not want to leave: ´I am a Slovak national, I love Štúr´s poetry, and so on. I want to stay here.´ Obviously this was not possible, she went with us. (…) We arrived to Vienna and from some public phone on the street we called the Israeli embassy. I said: ´I have a husband and three kids and I want to get to you.´ They asked me where I was standing. I told them the street name and soon two boys came for us. One of them was a friend of mine from the kibbutz where I was in 1949. At that time he was working at the embassy; he is now dead. They brought us to the chateau Schönau near Vienna. We stayed there for three days, and then an airplane came for us and took us to Israel.”
“It was difficult, and adventurous. Almost all of my generation had it this way. Those who are here in Israel are those who are lucky.”
Mariana Neumannová was born in 1925 into the family of a lawyer in Bratislava. She attended grammar school, but only finished her fourth year for racial reasons. She became a member of the leftist Zionist movement Hashomer Hacair. During the war she moved to Trenčín with her parents. In 1944, she and her parents had to hide using false documents, and the rest of her family perished. After the war, she studied foreign languages at university. In 1948, she went Israel, but after a year, returned to Czechoslovakia to study. She wanted to return to Israel, but the state borders had already closed. She taught Russian and German at university in Bratislava. In 1964, she and her husband attempted to emigrate, but their application was denied. In 1968, she and her family emigrated from Vienna to Israel, where she worked as a librarian. She currently lives in Haifa.