Cakes for children and keeping family together

Friendship like none other tied families or rescuers and rescuees in times of war. Pavel Petroch, Jozef Fekiač, Ján Bukov and his wife Mária Bukovová were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations award for helping the Eckstein family.

Ján Bukov and Mária Bukovová with their son.Ján Bukov and Mária Bukovová with their son.

Pavel Petroch, Jozef Fekiač, Ján Bukov and his wife Mária Bukovová were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations award in September 2022.

In 1942, at the time of mass transportation of Jews, the Eckstein family was not deported. A few years before the war, Arpád took over the management of the farm of his father Jakub and adapted it for milk production. As Eckstein's dairy farm supplied most of Krupina's inhabitants with milk, Arpád Eckstein received an exemption for an economically significant Jew, which saved his close family.

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On October 18, 1944, a fair in Krupina attracted many visitors from the surrounding villages. It was a sunny, relatively warm autumn day. At the time, the town was part of the national uprising territories. In the afternoon, the rumor spread about the German army and units of the Hlinka Guard marching to Krupina. There was panic. The inhabitants and visitors of the town were trying to flee no matter what, whether on foot or horse-drawn carriages. Panic also took over the Ecksteins, who, relatively lightly clothed, managed to escape on foot. For several days, they wandered without a shelter until they reached the village of Dačov Lom, where they asked Jozef Fekiač for help.

Jozef Fekiač lived in a village Litava and it was impossible to hide a family of five there. Mr. Eckstein remembered the family of Ján Bukov from Čelovce, whom he knew from fairs. He believed that they would be willing to help him and take him in with his family. The Bukovs lived in a hamlet, where they had two large farmhouses. They lived in one of them and used the other for shepherds and farm helpers. There, at night, Jozef Fekiač brought the Eckstein family on a horse-drawn carriage, where they hid until the end of the war.

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Ján Bukov told his neighbor and friend Pavel Petroch that he was hiding Jews. The families of Ján Bukov and Pavel Petroch gave them warm clothes and selflessly provided them with food for six months. They offered the family also with cakes, which made Eckstein children very happy.

After liberation of Čelovce by Soviet Army the Ecksteins moved to the hopuse of the Bukovs in the village and after the end of war, they returned to Krupina. Later they moved to Bratislava stayed in contact with the families of the rescuers through letters. Of the rescued Eckstein family, only their son Juraj is alive today. He graduated in Prague and immigrated to Germany after 1968, where he worked as a researcher at the universities of Bonn and Freiburg until his retirement.

Friendship between the families of the Ecksteins, the Bukovs, the Petrochs and the Fekiačs has lasted until today and survived the difficult post-war period when the communist regime persecuted all three families as enemies of society (kulaks).

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