Magda Bar Or roz. Kopelovičová

* 1928  

  • “It is very difficult for me to speak about it. I cannot sleep at nights because of it. It is not easy. I have not returned home after the war, because I met my cousin and from him I learnt that nothing has been left. The house was in ruins, nobody from the family remained alive and there was nothing for me to do in Jasiňa. He thus immediately took us away; we paid the money, which we had been receiving in Hungary, to some Russian officer who took us back to Slovakia to Bratislava. From there we went to Prague. I stayed in Prague until the end of 1945. It is hard for me to talk about it. We believed that we still had our family, we didn’t know what had happened. We were all young, and I had to take care for my little sister. It was not easy.”

  • “In 1944, the second day after Easter, they took us to a Jewish cemetery, where we stayed for about two days. Then they made us get into a train and they transported us to a ghetto in Mátészalka in Hungary. We stayed there for several weeks. Then they transported us to Auschwitz. I got separated from my mom and grandmother there, and I stayed with my little sister, who has been with me all the time until she passed away here in [Israel].”

  • “[My parents] were not [Zionists], but I was. I would always steal away from home and go to those meetings, and that was where I learnt something about Palestine. I was interested in it, and I always attended those sessions. There were various political movements – there was the movement Betar, and Ha-Shomer, and I was interested in what was happening here. Since I was a little girl I have always known that I would not stay here in Carpathian Ruthenia, even before my arrival here. Since I was a little girl. My aunt moved to Palestine in 1936, and at that time I found it hard to bear. Since that time I began to be interested in what Palestine was and where it was. Since that time I have wished to be here. While we stayed with Mr. Pitter, we had an opportunity to move to America, England, Australia, but I was not interested in it at all. I only wanted to go here. I think that as a Jew, I don’t belong anywhere else but here. I can go anywhere for a visit, I can stay anywhere, but I can live only here. As long as I am alive. And I am not young anymore.”

  • “I have not returned there after the war after the camp; the first home for me was Prague. Štiřín is close to Prague, twenty-four kilometres from there. We received four chateaux, all for children from concentration camps. Our lives began anew there. [We arrived there] around June and we stayed there until the end of the year. For us it was preparation for life and it gave us back the faith that there were good people in the world as well. Přemysl [Pitter] is a Christian humanist; he has received a decoration from Yad Vashem. He arrived here in 1964 to visit his children. He himself has never been married, and his secretary, Olga Fierzová, has not been married either, and they worked together and came here to visit their children. They were their children. We have remained in touch until the end.”

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    Izrael, 07.04.2014

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I can go anywhere, but I can only live here

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Magda Bar Or roz. Kopelovičová

  Magda Bar Or, née Amalia Kopelovičová, was born on November 10, 1928 in Jasiňa in Carpathian Ruthenia in a Jewish family. Her parents ran a general store and they spoke Yiddish and German at home. Magda Bar Or only learnt to speak Czech after she began going to school. Her father was transported to a labour camp in 1942 and later he died, most probably at the front. In April 1944, after the occupation of Carpathian Ruthenia by the Nazis and the beginning of deportations of Jews, Magda Bar Or and her sister Nelly, who was three years younger, her mother and her grandmother were transported to a ghetto in the Hungarian town Mátészalka, and from there they were taken to Auschwitz. After spending some time in Auschwitz, Magda and her sister were sent to a labour camp in Geislingen an der Steige near Stuttgart. In spring 1945 they went with an evacuation transport to Dachau, where they were liberated in April 1945. Magda has not returned to her native village. Her cousin Michal was the only person from her family who has survived. After the liberation, Magda and her sister spent half a year in the Štiřín chateau in the sanatorium established by Přemysl Pitter. In December 1945 she left for Palestine, where she eventually arrived in July 1947 after several weeks in Germany, in Marseille and a one-year internment in Cyprus. She started a family in Israel and she contributed to maintaining the contacts between Přemysl Pitter and his “children” that he had provided care for after the war.