31 October 2018
On Sunday, 4 November 2018, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will host a ceremony posthumously honoring, Mária Perlová from Slovakia, as Righteous Among the Nations. Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department Dr. Joel Zisenwine will present the medal and certificate of honor to Avri Fischer, Holocaust survivor and nephew of Mária Perlová, on behalf of Yad Vashem, the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The ceremony will take place in the presence of members of the rescuers’ family and friends, Holocaust survivors, members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations as well as a representative of the the Slovakian Embassy in to Israel. The ceremony will be conducted in Hebrew.
Media interested in covering this event should contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and arrive on Sunday by 12:00 with a valid GPO card at the Hall of Remembrance.
Mária Perlová's name will be added to the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.
The Rescue Story
Dr. Dezider (David) Fischer and his wife Lily (née Perl) lived in Bratislava with their son, Albert ("Berti", later known as Avri). Despite the harsh anti-Jewish decrees and limitations imposed on the Jews of Slovakia, the Fischer family managed to pass the early years of the war with comparative ease, due to the need for Dr. Dezider's medical services in the city. The Fischer family was not evicted from their home when thousands of the city's Jews were evacuated to outlying towns. They also evaded the deportations to the camps in 1942, during the course of which some two thirds of Slovakian Jewry were deported.
With the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising on 29 August 1944 and the German occupation of Slovakia, members of the Nazi Security Police immediately set out on a comprehensive manhunt in search of all remaining Jews and enemies of the regime in Bratislava. The family looked for a hiding place, finally finding one in the garden of their neighbors, Count Stefan Gyulai and his wife Elizabeth. Lily and Elizabeth were already friends, and this paved the way for the idea of hiding in the cabin used to store logs and crates, situated in the garden behind the Count and Countess's villa.
Dezider and Lily Fischer moved into the cabin in late September 1944, together with Lily's brother Gustáv Perl and another young couple, Edith and Alexander Steiner. They entrusted Berti to the care of Gustáv's non-Jewish wife, Mária ("Ica") Perlová. Mária brought Berti to a local German family, and would come to visit him from time to time.
Although the five Jews were hidden in the garden of Count Gyulai, it was Mária Perlová who took care of them and made sure they had food to eat. As Lily later wrote:
"Ica took care of us the entire time. She had to be extremely cautious, so that the Germans residing in our house wouldn't discover her "treasonous acts against the state". Ica also visited Mother (Jeti, Dr. Fischer's mother) in the hospital, and our Berti, who was hidden with an acquaintance's family under an assumed name and equipped with Aryan papers. Furthermore, she visited the little daughter of the young couple. She brought us spirit [ethanol], which was hard to get hold of and that we needed for heating up food, making tea, preparing hot footbaths, and the like. She also brought us kerosene, which we managed to obtain through a priest whom we knew."
The fear and hardship inherent in this daily care became overwhelming, and eventually Gustáv left the hiding place and returned home to help his wife. At great personal risk, he shared the tasks of bringing food and other necessities, and the responsibility for the hidden Jews' welfare, hiding in a cupboard in the house the rest of the time.
In this way, the Fischers and the Steiners survived the harsh winter months until liberation in April 1945.
On 23 April 2018, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem recognized Mária Perlová as Righteous Among the Nations.
Count Stefan Gyulai and his wife Elizabeth were also recognized as Righteous Among the Nations on 23 April 2018.
To date, Yad Vashem has recognized some 27,000 individuals from over 50 countries as Righteous Among the Nations.