Marie Sidorová

* 1919

  • “The bus with the casualties came. We went ahead and the bus took us. And we went to the Prašivá hill. There were Germans under the hill and the field was full of landmines. We stopped in the wood under the hill and waited. Then the gunfire began. A horrible gunfire – those red little bees were flying over our heads. And I was in the bus with the casualties and they all began to jump out through the windows because they couldn’t all get out through the doors. I also jumped out but I didn’t take my coat because somebody took it – a military coat. It was in winter. So I jumped from the bus and I ran away and there were people on the ground, those who could not get up because they were injured and sometimes they caught you by the leg and called: ‘Help, help!’ But there was nothing you could do. It was dark and foggy, a really thick fog. I ran to the foot of the hill and I thought that the best way to escape the enemy would be to run un the hill. I ran about the half of the distance when I found a truck on a small plateau. I thought it might be dangerous to go into the cabin because I didn’t know who was inside. So I climbed up on the bucket and there were pieces of leather for shoes. I got under one of the pieces because it was raining and it was cold. It was about midnight when I heard some voices. I was wondering who it was so I got out of the truck and followed the voices. I was so silent I was even afraid to breathe. She silence was unbearable. The gunfire before was so terrible and we didn’t know who was actually shooting if it were the Germans or ours. Because our soldiers were not used to the partisan fight. They came from the barracks and there they didn’t know what to do, they started shooting their own officers. And the Germans were also shooting and then it all became quiet, instantly it all became quiet. And I was so scared from the silence, because you could hear only the rain on the leaves and apart from that it was all dead silence. I was so scared, more than during the fire.”

  • “We were picking flowers by the road and he was passing by and we all knew what father Masaryk looked like. And he went by, on his horse of course and we told ourselves: ‘Look, father Masaryk is coming, let’s greet him.’ It was nine o’clock in the morning and we were there on our way to church. So we greeted him, my friend in Slovak and me in Russian. I couldn’t speak properly Czech at that time. So we said hello and father Masaryk was wondering: ‘You can speak Russian?’ And I said I did and he began to question me why Russian and so on and we talked and then he invited us: ‘Girls, you know where I live?’ And we said: ‘Yes, at Bystrička.” And he said: ‘So come to me to have some fruits, we have pears.’ And we said: ‘We would like to, but they won’t let us in.’ And he said: ‘They will. Just tell them I invited you.’ So we said yes. So we went there and because it was summer, Masaryk had a vacation and we began to visit him every day. When we came to see him for the first time, we came to the gate. We were small and there was no handle, so we started to knock. After a while a soldier stuck his head out and asked us: ‘What do you want, girls?’ And we told him we were going to visit father Masaryk. But he said: ‘You can’t come in, I can’t let you.’ And we said: ‘Go and ask him. He invited us himself.’ So he went to ask and he came back and told us to knock at the small gate at the behind. So we went there. It was quite a big garden and when we came back, there were two soldiers and they told us: ‘We can open the gate for you but we can’t let you see Masaryk. He is working today.’ They brought baskets with fruits, there were pears and plums so blue. And Masaryk was working so we only looked at him. Then we put all the fruits into our blouses and thanked to Masaryk and he greeted us and we went home. And then we kept on visiting every summer. When Masaryk was still alive and he came for a vacation, we visited him.”

  • “The director called me to his office and told me: ‘You will become the director of the Red Cross infant home.” I came to the home with nine babies and fourteen sucklings. I started two months before the outburst of the Slovak National Uprising. And when it began, we didn’t know what to do. 4th of September the Germans got to Vrútky and they began to shoot at Martin and because the frontline moved to our street, they were fighting all along the street. Dead soldiers were lying in front of our windows. Grenades and bombs were exploding. And one of the walls of our house fell, a whole corner. None of my sisters had come to work, because on the fourth, when the Germans came, they announced evacuation. There was an orphanage and there were sixteen children and they came up to me when they saw I was there. I had thirty nine children to care of. And there was a lot of casulties. And I had to take care of the babies. And I couldn’t take the children to the shelter because there were bombings one after another. The shelter was locked and we didn’t have the keys. The storage room was also locked and I had to break the lock with an axe to get in, to take what we could. I stuffed the chocolate and sugar to their pockets. And we were cooking from what was left. So I also had to cook and Victoria, my youngest inmate was helping me. I didn’t have any other choice, I would have to leave the babies and there was no adult. I couldn’t do that. I had to cope with that. And when the bombing began, the children for the orphanage helped me to carry the babies to the shelter. We left the sucklings in the room, we couldn’t do anything else. And as we were running across the yard we saw the formation of German bombers right above us. And I was scared and the children were scared and we were cold so we were all shivering. We survived one bombing, then another bombing and another. And then I went to the hospital and asked senior doctor Murtin to take the babies to the hospital and he agreed to take them all. And I was so happy that the babies were safe.”

  • “The first partisan groups were formed under the Martinské hoľe, which is what the hills were called. I came home and my father told me that he was already in the resistance, but we couldn’t talk about it. And I thought that they would need supplies, because they established camps in the woods and they needed arms, medication, gauze and food that wouldn’t go bad like sardines, sugar, rice etc. And all this had to be taken somewhere brought to the woods. These were supplies for them to survive in the woods. I went to the hospital and I asked senior doctors if I could take this and that and they let me. Most of them were against the Germans. Maybe some doctors were with the Germans , but I didn’t ask them, I asked only the senior doctors which I had known from the school. So I went to them and they gave me everything… I needed medicine and they prescribed everything. They gave me gauze, splints, injections, syringes, clips for head injuries, those were special iron clips for slashes and lacerations. I needed all that and I also got it. One of my friends, whom I knew from my hometown, was working there. He was a doctor. He went to study medicine and I went to the study for a nurse. He lived right behind the hospital building, so he helped me with everything. And senior Murtin, his brother was an officer in Bratislava and he gave him army binoculars. Because the Czechs had to leave and they took everything from them, equipment and weapons and he had some of those weapons from them. And he gave them to me and I brought them to the camp, but first I hid them under the mattresses.”

  • “My father simply went to the Soviet Union and entered the legions. There were the Czechoslovak legions established by Masaryk. And in Russia he met my mother. They married and when the war was over they stayed there. My mother was a teacher but she didn’t teach because women didn’t have to teach at that time. At that time, the man had to provide for the family, not like today that the woman has to toil to support the man! It didn’t exist! Men had to take care of their wives and families. We were five children, two of them died, so there were three of us. I didn’t attend school in Kyiv because a family of teachers wanted to adopt me and I studied individually at their home. They didn’t have any children, so they asked my parents to ‘give’ them one of their daughters. They agreed because it was a in the hard times right after the war, so it was really hard to take care about three daughters, even though my father worked very hard. These people were Ukrainian and they were both teachers. At home we spoke Russian. Russian with my mother and Czech with my father, so we spoke both languages. I had about five years and they took care about me like if I had been their own. They taught me about literature and mostly about poetry. I liked poems and I still like them. Sometimes I invented poems and fairytales and my father told me: ‘You are still inventing and inventing, but it’s good!’ I missed my sisters very much, but then I got used too it, because I had everything I needed and even something we didn’t have at home. I stayed there until my father got a telegram from his sister, who wanted to get him back to Czechoslovakia. He became homesick and dreamt about his homeland and he wanted to go back to Czechoslovakia, so in 1928, we left Russia. And my father came and said: ‘No, we won’t leave without her, we have to take our Máňa.”

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    Praha, 22.02.2004

    duration: 02:10:51
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“I didn’t have any other choice, I would have to leave the babies there. And that was something I couldn’t do.”

Marie Sidorová
Marie Sidorová
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Marie Sidorová was born on 2nd July 1919 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Her father was a settled down Czech legionary. In 1928, the family decided to move back to Czechoslovakia. They finally settled down in Vrútky, near Martin, Slovakia. In 1937, Marie began to study at a medical school in Martin. Despite the obstacles they had to face as Czechs family decided to stay in Slovakia after the proclamation of an independent Slovak state, so that Marie could finish her studies. In 1939, she finished her studies and became a certified nurse. Because she couldn’t find any job during the war, she worked illegally. In summer 1944 she returned to Martin and worked as the director of an infant home. During the Slovak National Uprising she was isolated with 39 children behind the frontline in Vrůtky. She nursed the casualties from frontline. After the worst bombing she managed to move the infants to the hospital to doctor Murtin. She moved with the other children and infants to Banská Bystrice, Rakov, Turčianské Teplice, Banská Štiavnice, until they finally settle in a recreation camp under Sitno. From there she had to escape from the Nazis alone, she joined the armed forces and went through the fights at Sv. Kříž and Banská Bystrice. She worked in hospital in Dětva from where she was evacuated to Zvolenské Slatiny and then Kyslá Voda, where she prepared the iron rations of meat, leather and textile hidden in the woods and prepared for the partisans. She was caught right in the middle of the battle at the Prašivá hill. She joined the intelligence agency of the Red Army. Her task is to obtain medicaments, nurse casualties, but also translate, deliver secret correspondence and obtain German correspondence. By the end war, she was on ‘travels’ around Bohemia. After the War she returned to Martin and started working in the local hospital.