Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bernard & Emery Klein - May 23, 1984

Hlinka Guard

Who enforced these new laws?

B: After the autonomy in October of 1939, locally had a very small police you saw in the film, two policemen maybe, and maybe a few other, eh...

E: But, there was the so-called Hlinka Garda. B: They formed a group...

E: Which were following the Nazi rule by the book. The Hlinka Garda took over the, really, they were the local government. And they have, they were the ones who... B: They were really only, their only assignment was really to enforce the code against the Jews. They had no other function, except to parade.

E: They were wearing special uniforms with Nazi Hakenkreuz on their, on their... B: Swastika.

E: On their Swastika, on their arms.

These were Slovakian fascists.

E: The Slovakian Fascists. B: The local, yeah, the local fellows.

E: And who were very much going along with it because it was uh, very much beneficial for them because they were really given the various Jewish properties and some of them, as it turned out, were very mean and bad people who went along with, with them, obviously. It tends to be said that there were people who were different, who were, remained friends and who tried to be as protective as they could.

Can you give me some examples?

E: Fortunately, for our family, my father had very close friends who... B: Happened to be schoolmate of the man who became the chief of the Hlinka Garda in town.

E: He was the chief of Hlinka Garda but basically a good person and he did things, at least the way he explained it at that time to our father, because somebody had to do it. If he wouldn't have done it, then somebody else would have, it would have been much worse. And he tried to be, protect as many people as he could. For example, in our case, our aunt, who was at that time a widow, which we referred to as our second mother who lived with us, he protected her to the very end and she really was not economically important by no means or couldn't be so stated. But, being, having a position he had, and being my father' sister, my father's sister-in-law, because she was our mother's sister, he protected her to the bitter end. As a matter of fact... B: He stuck his neck out for doing so and uh, we, after the families were taken, the town, we were, very few Jewish families were left. We were one of the fortunate ones at that point and as Emery mentioned, our aunt stayed with us through the efforts of this local chief of the Hlinka Garda. But every Thursday, after the bulk was taken, the remnant of the Jewish community was then gradually uh, picked for additional transports. And, it became a tradition, every Thursday, they would start...

E: Pick up certain people... B: Picking those people that they, at that point, decided are no longer important for them to stay.

E: Which was psychologically always, it was unbearable-you never knew who is next and... B: Through some friendship they were, quite often we are warned in advance, because not every Thursday. It wasn't every Thursday, there weren't that many Jews left. But whenever there would be an additional uh, gather, you know they would gather additional Jews for a transport...

E: What they called ???. B: Right.

E: In Slovakia. B: It would be on Thursday, and every so often we would be warned because, as I indicated, and as we mentioned before, too, some of the friendships developed through the years with the townspeople, they were friendly enough to warn us.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn