Professor, Dr. Benjamin Kedar

* 1938

  • 46:53 "Once we went with my father and sister to Sihoti, a park near Nitra, and when we were coming back from there we saw a sign on the wall that said 'Job thy have Stalin', when I asked my father what it meant, he said, I don't know. Another time my father told a political joke about how the Russians were abusing the Slovaks, Czechs and Hungarians and I told it to my best friend Igor Repko, his mother was a teacher in our school, and when she heard the joke she immediately went to my father and warned him against telling similar jokes to children as they could be very dangerous. "

  • 20:54 "At the end of March the Russian army arrived, the Germans started bombing their positions, it was getting too dangerous and we had to hide in the cellar with Miško and his family. Suddenly a Russian soldier came in and saw my father in his city clothes and shouted bourgeois, bourgeois, he wanted to shoot my father. My father, although he had not studied Russian, promptly replied "ja jevrej" meaning I am a Jew. Then the Russian soldier embraced him,and said that he was also a Jew. My father could have lost his life, I know many people that have died in similar situations."

  • "I wrote a diary in Slovak about my journey, I donated it to the National Library. We took the train to Bratislava, from there we travelled to Budapest and Romania, where we boarded a ship called the Transylvania. I remember as we were leaving the coast that I thought, we are leaving the Eastern Bloc. I have good memories of Istanbul and Hagia Sophia. We crossed the Mediterranean to Haifa. We left, I still have it in my passport, on the 15th of March and we arrived in Israel on the 25th of March. It only took a few days. Ben Gorion said that your real birthday, is the day you arrived in Israel. I still celebrate the day I arrived here." 54:28

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    Jeruzalem, Slovenský inštitút, 14.09.2022

    duration: 01:37:48
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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If you want to make a discovery, you have to be ready for it

Benjamín Kedar was born 02.09.1938 in Nitra, into a Jewish family of two physicians. Both parents studied in Prague, his mother came from Prague. His father returned to Slovakia, to Nitra, where he worked as a director of a Jewish hospital. His older sister Helene Doris was born in 1934. The family on his father’s side died during the Holocaust, while on his mother’s side, only one sister survived and was saved thanks to marrying a foreign husband and moving into England. During the period of the Slovak state, the witnesses’ father initially worked as a district physician, which gave him the status of an economically useful Jew, and the family managed to avoid deportation for a long time. By 1944, however, these Jews were also threatened with deportation and the family had to go into hiding. They moved between several hiding places and, despite the dramatic circumstances, managed to survive the war together. In 1949, the family decided to emigrate to Israel. Benjamin graduated from high school there and subsequently studied history; thanks to good results he was allowed to continue his studies at the University of Yale, focusing mainly on the Crusades and medieval history, but he is also interested in world history, the history of India and China. When he became head of the School of History at the University of Jerusalem, he introduced a compulsory course in world history. He has been married twice; his first wife is a psychologist, and one of their sons is also a psychologist. His second wife was an art historian specializing in the Middle Ages; the historian wrote a book about their life together. He currently lives in Israel, in Jerusalem.