Pavel Eli Vago

* 1930

  • “We were walking down with our backpacks, weak and freezing, hungry and thirsty, spotting a small house. We didn’t know, where we were, that it was a little village Hronček. We knocked on the door and a girl opened to us. She has still been alive, her name is Valika Vaculčiaková. I remember that her mom made tea for our whole group and one cannot even express what was it like to drink that tea back then. Unbelievable feeling. Mr. Vaculčiak then told us: ‘Listen, you are a very big group and we are also afraid we could be taken over by Germans. Therefore, I am very sorry, but you cannot stay here. However, I might be able to find a cabin in the woods, where you could hide.’ We didn’t have any other possibility, so we followed him. It was only few kilometers and suddenly we saw the cabin. The door was open and no one was in there. There was a wooden plank bed, what felt like Hilton Hotel back then, after all those nights we slept freezing under the open sky.”

  • “At Christmas Eve of 1944, suddenly a big Slovak came, wearing white canvas clothes and black hat, holding a hatchet stick in his hands. He started to scream: ‘Crush him! Crush him!’ I remember I said: ‘Dad, it is the end! Now is the end of all!’ He was screaming at me: ‘I am looking for Jews!’ And he found us, the whole bunker. He had a big backpack, which he dragged behind. We had such a little table, so he emptied the backpack onto the little table, where ended up all kinds of treats and bread. Things we hadn’t seen for months. We were looking at each other, not knowing what was happening. He continued: ‘I come from Čierny Balog and I came to welcome the Jews!’ Well, it was like a miracle from heaven to us. Back then it was the first time I heard what Čierny Balog was.”

  • “Sometimes later, a policeman came to my grandfather and told him: ‘Sir, I received a note you have been hiding some Jewish children.’ But I have to tell you that my sister and I were already prepared for that. We planned that if a policeman came, we would hide into a wardrobe and we would hold its door really tight. However, I made a tactical mistake, because since being at my grandpa’s place, I was wearing slippers. As I ran to that wardrobe, I missed one step and my slipper was left out on the floor. Based on this the policeman knew someone was hiding there. Afterwards he firmly opened the wardrobe. He couldn’t see us right away, yet, after he pushed the clothes to the left and right, he noticed there were two children hiding in the corners. Then he went to my grandfather and said: ‘I am sorry, but I have to take the children away.’”

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    Tel Aviv, 20.11.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 02:01:15
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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Valika daily walked fourteen kilometers in snow just to bring us food; behind her belt she always carried revolver

Eli Vago - portrait
Eli Vago - portrait
photo: Pri natáčaní ED

Pavel Eli Vago was born on May 14, 1930 in a small village of Bytčica near Žilina. When he was a twelve-year-old boy, during the times of transports to concentration camps from Slovakia, he was hiding in mountains with his older sister. After several months they were bewrayed by members of the local police. They spent few days in jail of the police station, but after all, the investigator released them. They both returned home and lived with their grandfather in Vrútky. It didn’t last long, and as children of Jewish origin, they were deported to concentration camp in Sereď. There they met with their father. All three of them stayed in Sereď until the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising, when they left to the insurgent territory in Banská Bystrica. After the Uprising was crushed, they retreated with insurgents and partisans into the mountains, where they spent the whole winter of 1944/1945. They lived to see the liberation in a small village of Hrončok in Central Slovakia. Due to atrocities of the war he had to face, he didn’t want to live in Slovakia anymore and decided to emigrate to the back then newly founding state of Israel. Today he lives retired in Tel Aviv.