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Eva Gregus

Eva remembers when her family's hiding spot was discovered by SS officers. Her brother-in-law and another man in hiding were shot, but Eva and the rest of her group were spared.

Eva Gregus (née Blum) was born April 21, 1925, in Branovo, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia) to Ludavic and Rudolphone Blum. Her father had a major business in Czechoslovakia’s lumber industry, and she grew up speaking German. Her family moved closer to the Hungarian border to the city of Košice, where Eva spent most of her childhood. Eva was the youngest of three children, her sister was 12 years older, and her brother was 15 years older. In Košice, Eva’s family lived in the upper floor apartment of a house, and another Jewish family rented part of the lower floor. Her family was considered middle-class, and they had a domestic housekeeper. Eva attended Hungarian schools both elementary and secondary school. Eva’s childhood and young adulthood was spent between various cities, countries, and relatives. She lived in Košice, Branovo, and Kraków (Poland).

When the war started, Eva remembers not being allowed to go to school and being required to wear the yellow star. At this point her family went back to Branovo, and Eva took lessons from a private tutor. When Jewish families first started to be evacuated from their homes in 1941, Eva’s family was exempt because of her father’s role in the lumber industry. In 1943 Eva left Branovo and went to live with her cousin in Budapest (Hungary). In Budapest she was privately tutored and learned how to be a beautician in afternoon lessons.

By 1944 Eva had returned to Branovo after spending time with her Uncle Sandor in Košice to recover from tuberculosis. Eva, along with her parents, Uncle Paul, sister Edith, and brother-in-law left Branovo and went into hiding. They hid in family member’s apartments, fields, the forest, empty schoolhouses, and barns. After staying briefly on different farms, Eva’s group found a couple willing to shelter them long term. Anna and Gazda Martinecs lived in Môlča, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) and offered the group shelter in their barn. While receiving aid from the Martinecs’s, Eva’s group was given medication, food, and were even invited to have Christmas dinner with the couple. When German searches for people hiding intensified, the Martinecs’s hid Eva’s group in a cave across from their house, and then an abandoned oil mine two hours away from their property where they remained for the rest of the war.

After learning the war was over from Anna Martinecs, Eva and her family returned to Košice. She reunited with an old acquaintance; Emery Gregus. Eva and Emery got married in Prague in April of 1949. In October of the same year, Eva and Emery decided to leave Czechoslovakia because of the rapidly changing political climate. They moved to Paris, where they lived in an apartment with other immigrants and Eva earned money by sewing clothes. In 1951, Eva and Emery moved to Canada after immigration policies changed and they were able to get accepted through Emery’s cousin. After 8 days on a ship, the couple arrived in Quebec City and then took a train to Montreal. At first, they lived with another Hungarian couple, but moved to their own apartment when their daughter was born. They had a son in 1958 and moved one last time. Finally, in 1963 they bought their first home in Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec.

Eva Gregus died in September 2020, and her full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library.

Eva Gregus

I was crying very very hard… I said ‘I am young and I would like to live’