Alex Breuer's 11th Commandment: "Thou Shalt Bring Thy Parents' Murderers to Justice"
By Kanan Abramson
It took Alexander (Alex) Breuer nearly sixty years, before he made up his mind and revealed his and his assassinated family's fate during the Holocaust. Knowing him since he made Aliyah and arrived in Israel in 1965, his recently told story turned to be a real surprise to me and to all of his friends. When you hear Breuer's survival story in length, you are unable to think of anything else but a series of miracles.
Separated by the Nazis from Czechoslovakia during its occupation, Slovakia became an independent state and a local force has been established - the Hlinkova Gard, or Hlinka. This armed force was equal to the Nazi S.A. and carried out the Nazi doctrine of separating the Jews from the local population and deporting them to Polish concentration camps from where only few have returned. During their oppression, many of the Jews tried to hide in remote mountains, while others joined the local partisans, who opened a revolt against the Nazi occupation.
Originated in the town of Zlate Moravce, the Breuer family made its way to the mountains, but they were unlucky. A unit of the local Hlinka detected the family's hiding place in a cave, along with other Jews. Their oldest son, Loly was fighting with the partisans and their daughter Edith (Dusa) escaped to Hungary. As the Jews were pulled out, Breuer's parents handed him a golden watch and a false Christian ID they've acquired previously. They hoped his blond hair, the only one on the family, would let him get away - and they were right. Upon being captured, young Alex claimed he had "nothing to do with those Jews" and the Hlinka fighters believed him. Surprisingly, they kept him with their 150 men unit and he became its 151st soldier.
The young recruit became the fighters' service person. He cooked their meals, cleaned their clothes and weapons and delivered messages to headquarters and other units. "I managed to meet my condemned parents shortly before they perished," he recalls. "But sometime later I found out that the men of the Hlinka unit, to which I belonged had murdered them. That day I made up my mind to escape."
Penetrating the snowy mountains nearly bare footed, the youngster survived a wide chase and made his way to Hungary, which was already liberated by the Russians, where he located his sister. When the Russians captured him for slave laboring, Edith got help from the Czech embassy in Budapest and he was released.
Ever since his return to Czechoslovakia, Breuer strived to locate members of the Hlinka unit, whom he new very well even by their names. In 1947 he recognized two of them on a street. He reported to the police. The trial was short and the men were imprisoned for five years. Alex had never been asked to testify. In 1958, the police has reestablished contact with him. He was asked to give all the names he remembered. Shortly after, ten members of the Hlinka unit were on trial. This time, Alex was the key witness. He identified all of them by their names and told everything he knew about their war crimes. The unit commander, Lazo, was sentenced to death and executed. The others were imprisoned for long terms.
In the meantime, Alex married and became a successful player in handball (the European) and then a coach. In 1964, following a divorce battle, he managed to flee with his two children to Vienna, joined by his new girlfriend, Eva, an outstanding handball player herself. Their destination was Israel. An electric engineer, Alex was recruited to the Israeli electric power company, where he has been working constantly even after retirement.
Israel has been good to the Breuers. Alex was nominated as chief handball to the national team, with which he achieved international recognition, while Eva played for an Israeli club. When Breuer revealed his story for the first time, it has been published in both Israel and Slovakia and a documentary film has been produced in Slovakia, based on the book. The film received a special price in the Cracow, Poland festival in May of 2001
Last September, when the US was hit by the Arab terrorists, Alex was the guest of honor at the memorial services to the Jewry of Slovakia. "I'm to have brought my amazing story to light," he concludes.
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