The UCA Department of Philosophy and Religion, UCA Department of History, UCA College of Liberal Arts, UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication, UCA Honors College, Jewish Federation of Arkansas, University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are sponsoring “An Evening with Holocaust Survivor Gideon Frieder.”
Gideon Frieder was born on September 30, 1937, in Zvolen, Slovakia. His family moved to the town of Nove Mesto in Slovakia at the beginning of the war after his father, a rabbi, was offered a position there. Slovak authorities deported Gideon’s grandparents in 1942; they died, most likely at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Gideon’s father was part of Slovakia’s underground “Working Group,” a secret Jewish rescue organization, and was responsible for its communications with Slovak authorities. His father’s life story, as well as Gideon’s, is partially documented in the book, “To Deliver Their Souls.”
In 1944, during the Slovak uprising against the pro-German regime of Josef Tiso, Gideon and his mother and sister fled Nove Mesto, making their way to Banská Bystrica, which served as the center of the uprising. Gideon’s father fled separately, fearing that anyone close to him would be killed if he were caught.
As German units approached Banská Bystrica, Gideon and his mother and sister fled to the mountains, where they were caught in a massacre at Stare Hory. His mother and sister were killed; Gideon was injured but survived.
A Jewish partisan, Henry Herzog, took Gideon to the village of Bully, where he was placed with the family of Paulina and Jozef Strycharszyk. Henry Herzog’s story, including his meeting the Frieder family and saving Gideon, are detailed in the book, “…And Heaven Shed No Tears.”
Gideon remained in Bully until 1945, when Romanian troops fighting with the Soviet Army liberated the area. Gideon’s father, who also survived the war, later found him. His father remarried but died in 1946.
After the war, Gideon and his stepmother came to Israel. He remained in Israel until 1975, when he emigrated to the United States. Today, he holds the A. James Clark Chair of Engineering and Applied Science at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Gideon Frieder will share his heroic story of survival in the UCA Farris Center on Monday, 9 March 2015 at 7:00 PM.
This event is open to the public with free admission.