Alexander Gajdoš

* 1924  †︎ 2008

  • "We marched until we reached the village of Priechod. Priechod is a well-known village in Slovakia. There was a large camp of Hungarian partisans there. At first they stopped us, asking who we were and so on. I could speak a little Hungarian, and I can still speak it today, so I answered that we had been released and that we came to join the partisans. They called one civilian who told us: 'All right, now you will rest, then you get supper, and after dark we will lead you to a higher place above the village.' We said: 'Look, we are tired, we have been marching over the fields the whole day, and we would like to sleep.' He said: 'You won't be sleeping here, you will climb higher. There is a lodge up there with another group of partisans staying there.' There were also some members from the paratrooper brigade, some Hungarians, Slovaks, Carpathian Rusyns, it was a mixed bunch. They simply told us: 'You will go there.' We thought that there was nothing we could do about it anyway, so we ate with them. Just imagine the food they had: sweet dumplings with plum jam and chicken stew with paprika and halushki, and what not – what a life they led there. We couldn't imagine where they got all this food from. We ate, rested for a while, and a soldier came for us after sunset and we set out. He led us to the nearest sentry, which was between the camp and the lodge. There were two guards, and one of them led us further to the lodge. In the lodge there was the commander, a Slovak, his name was first lieutenant Papala: 'Welcome, welcome, what a good reinforcement.' We received our second supper from them. Again, fruit dumplings with plums. Early in the morning there was some turmoil, something had happened. He ran to us from up there and said: 'Germans and Hungarians, mostly, have attacked Priechod.' Priechod was the village which we had left in the evening. They tricked the guards at night and seized them, and they took the hill, which was the retreat path – it was a steep climb over rocks to get to the lodge. They took this path and attacked from the front. They massacred the village, shooting everybody. We thought: 'By God, we are so lucky that we hadn't stayed there.'"

  • "From Martin we launched a counterattack at Vrútky. Our task was to take some small wood there. We were leap-frogging in order to approach that wood. We were always jumping to places where a shell had exploded before. We always jumped into the craters left by exploded shells because we knew that another shell wouldn't drop in the same place, that's for certain. We were thus jumping from one hole to another and getting closer to the wood. Then we reached some flat terrain. There was a field and the wood was in front of us. We got stuck there, I don't know why - probably because a German unit was there, and the commanders still weren't able to decide what to do. And on this flat plain, I got hit by a bullet fired by a German who was sitting somewhere up in a tree. The German fired at me three times: one bullet hit the ground just under my nose, the second passed by me, but the third one hit my shoulder and chest. I was wounded, and for a while I kept calling at my comrades to help me. Eventually, the two who were closest to me summoned courage. They placed me on a blanket, and, crawling, all three of us got out of there, out of the German gun range. From there they carried me to the road, and an ambulance arrived and I was taken to the hospital in Martin."

  • "The commander then ordered them to bring us to him. We went there and since I could speak German quite well, we explained to him what had happened. We told him that we had been detained there, and released afterward, and that we walked along the road and turned there and they arrested us. He said: 'Fine, but what can I do with you now? I would let you go, but I have this feldwebel (sergeant) here, who is a Nazi, and I can't do it. But I'll think something up. You will sleep here, in my place.' He slept in the room and let us sleep in some ante-room." Interviewer: "Can you recall his name?" A. G.: "The German's name? No, and I didn't know his name even then, either. He told us: 'You will need to sleep here, close to me, because that idiot is capable of coming here and killing you at night. He's a fanatic, but you'll have some sort of protection here at least. He probably won't dare since I am here.' Then we overheard an argument - well, I heard it, since the other guy didn't understand much German, but I translated it for him. We heard the commander arguing with the sergeant. The commander insisted that our papers were correct and that we had been released. And the sergeant repeated: 'No, no way, they are partisan spies.' After much arguing they eventually agreed that they would get a car; it was some fifteen kilometres from Banská Bystrica. They would take us there, and the sergeant would go with us and make sure that it was really us and that the release papers had been truly issued by them. We thought: 'Well, that doesn't help us a bit. Who knows what will happen? They won't give a damn about us on the return journey.' The sergeant drove us there, and when we entered the hallway where the commander's office was, the commander came out after a while, and he obviously recognized us immediately. He said: 'What are you doing here again? I told you clearly that you should behave so that they wouldn't bring you here again, because I don't know what to do with you anymore...' The commander said this to us in Czech, and the sergeant thus didn't understand him. The sergeant kept saying: 'Gehorsam... I caught partisan spies and they claim that they have release papers from you.' He held the release documents in his hand. He looked at it and told the sergeant: 'Du Idiot! Das ist mein Unterschrift! The stamp here, Sicherheitsdienst, everything is in order, and you are an idiot, an imbecile.' He cursed him terribly, and then he said to us: 'Wait a moment here.' And to the sergeant he said: 'Au ab! Get out of here now!' And the poor guy… well, poor guy, you can say, but he was indeed, in that moment. He was red as a swine, his face turned scarlet after the commander gave him hell. He got into the vehicle and off he went. The commander came to us and said: 'You can go, he is now God knows where. But this was the last time,' he told us, 'should it happen again, I will give you hell like you've never seen before.'"

  • "Some of the Soviets then came there, summoned all of us into one bunker and told us: 'Look, we don't have the capacity to give you food or anything. We have enough of our own problems to worry about. We will now lead you down to the foothills of the mountains, and each of you will have to try to save yourself somehow. Then it will be up to each of you if you manage it or not.' And this was what happened. They led us down in one group. They showed us the village: 'That is the village down there.' We could see the village by its lights. 'Try to hide there somehow. But we will keep an eye on all of you, and if some of you betray us or anything, we will find you. We will find you if someone tries to defect to the Germans or something like that.' That was unthinkable, especially for me. As a Jew, I couldn't join the Germans in any case. I was there with a friend, he was from Ostrava. I can't remember his name now, but if I met him I would recognize him. He was a son of some factory owner from Ostrava, but I don't know his name anymore. He was Czech. We were digging a shelter together. We were digging during the day, and in the evening we went to the village and ate there; the villagers gave us some potatoes." Interviewer: "So you were visiting the houses and asking for food?" A. G.: "Yes, of course. They didn't think it was strange. The people in the foothills of the mountains have experienced all the fighting. We only wondered where they had the food from because it was a poor region. It was under the Low Tatras and there were no large fields. But whenever they could, they always gave us what they could spare. By this way, we gradually gathered some food. We planned that when we had enough of it, and when the snow fell, the Germans would notice our traces in the snow because Germans and Vlasov soldiers, as well as the guards, were walking the forests all the time. If they found some footprints, they would track us - that's obvious. And so we planned it this way: 'We will keep going to the village as long as it doesn't snow, and when snow falls, we will dig in here and live on what we have.'"

  • "The life there was absolutely primitive. We lived in wooden barracks, sleeping on straw and some blankets, and we covered ourselves with a blanket, too. Everyone cooked for themselves, if we had something to cook at all. Meals were issued there once a day, but you could not even call them meals; it was not for living, nor for dying. Otherwise, everyone would just spend the whole day hiding somewhere; that is, on the days when we didn't go to work, and we didn't work when transports were taking place because we never knew when the next selection for the transport would be."

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    Karlovy Vary, 31.01.2003

    duration: 01:16:05
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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To the partisans!

Alexander Gajdoš v roce 1948 – kopie.jpg (historic)
Alexander Gajdoš
photo: sbírka POST BELLUM

Alexander Gajdoš came from a Jewish family of Žilina. He was born on April 8, 1924. He experienced the declaration of the Slovak State at the beginning of WWII as a non-registered plumber’s apprentice (thus training illegally). He and his family were interned at a camp for Jews in Žilina for more than two years. After the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising, he used this opportunity to escape the camp. He then joined the army and fought against the Nazis for a short period of time. He was wounded in combat near Martin and Vrútky and found a hiding place in the Lower Tatras Mountains. He was arrested again and imprisoned in Banská Bystrice, but luckily evaded worse consequences and joined the Czechoslovakian army after his release. He demobilized after the war, but in November of 1946, he received a notice to join the army again to perform his compulsory military service. After his completion of service, he settled in Karlovy Vary. His father returned from the concentration camp while the other members of his family perished during the Holocaust. Alexander Gajdoš died on April 1, 2008 in Karlovy Vary.