Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Shlanger - March 4, 1983

Changes After 1938

At what point do you remember um, changes in your daily routine? Let me... let's go back. What do you recall about 1938, which was a year that was maybe a turning point in the history of Czechoslovakia?

Well, I remember when, the western Allies sold out Czechoslovakia in 1938, at Munich.

Tell me about that. Tell me about your reaction to that.

Well, I hated the western Allies for that. The reason they did that because Czechoslovakia had a Mutual Assistance Treaty with, with um, the Soviet Union and France. And they feared that in the event of a German attack, the armies of the Soviet Union may march into Czechoslovakia, to aid Czechoslovakia, and that would be a communist imperialism westward or Bolshevik imperialism westward. Which was a greater danger to the western capitalist nations as um, as a German imperialism eastward. So it was, for them, it was better to sell out Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.

In the end of 1938, how did the Munich Pact affect your life?

Things have changed drastically. Um, from then on, we lived in a fascist society. It was no longer a democracy.

What did that mean... ?

Slovakia became an independent state in March 1949 and the president of the country...

'39, '39.

1939, is that what I said?

You said '49 but that's all right.

1939, yes, and the uh, president of the country was a Catholic Bishop, Tiszo. Most of the cabinet members were members of the Catholic clergy. And things have changed drastically in Slovakia. And the hometown of where I used to live was a half a mile from the Slovakian border. And our life has changed. The um, Prime Minister of Hungary at the time was Imredy, who introduced anti-Jewish legislation.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn