• Holocaust survivor’s new nightmare

    Naftali (Juraj) Fürst. Photo: Martin Korčok/Museum of Holocaust in Sereď

    When Hamas terrorists infiltrated the kibbutz Kfar Aza in Israel, Mika, her husband and two-and-a-half-year-old son hid in a shelter.

    In their village, Hamas attackers were already killing people. Outside, the Israeli family heard gunfire and lost contact with their loved ones for hours.

    One of them was Mika´s 90-years old grandfather, Naftali (Juraj) Fürst.

    In the relative safety of his home in Haifa in northern Israel, on 6 October 2023, he experienced a new nightmare that revived his memories of the Holocaust. Nicknamed “Ďurko”, he learned at the age of six in Czechoslovakia that he was a Jew who always had to run away.

    His parents were thrown out of their apartment in Bratislava´s suburb Petržalka because it was occupied by the Third Reich. Afterwards he and his family fell victim to persecution by the Slovak fascist Tiso regime, and he was imprisoned in four concentration camps.

    However, little Jurko was lucky and had a strong determination to live, Later, he left for Israel, where he witnessed eight wars. But nothing prepared him for the last Shabbat, the holiday of peace, on 7 October.

    For long hours, he worried whether his family would survive.

    “We bound the shelter door in telephone wire so that terrorists couldn’t open it from the outside,” Fürst’s granddaughter told him. “We were very afraid. We had knives in their hands just in case the terrorists broke in.”

    All the time, they had no idea what was going on outside.

    The Bratislava-born Israeli argued we should not compare the present war against Hamas with the holocaust.

    “It is terrible and painful, but it is not the Shoah,” he said. “In spite of everything, we have an army, even though it didn’t work properly. This catastrophe lasted a few hours, it doesn’t compare to the Holocaust.”

    This article is part of the "Europe's window on Israel conflict" edition
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    Antisemitism hits Berlin's streets
    EU reaction to Israel war: it’s complicated
    Divisions in Europe "will deepen" due to war
    War trauma unites nations