- Local Survivor registry
- ERNEST HERCKY
(1906 - 1980)
PLACE OF BIRTH:
DATE OF BIRTH:
MARCH 31, 1906
MARCH 31, 1906
LOCATION(s) BEFORE THE WAR:
LOCATION(s) DURING THE WAR:
WOODS OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA
WOODS OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA
GRETA NETL HERCKY - Spouse (Deceased),
THEODORE HERCKY, Brother (Deceased),
IVAN (NOACH) HERCKY - Son (Deceased),
PETER HERCKY - Son,
DEBORAH HERCKY - Daughter-in-law,
SARI HERCKY HUTCHEN - Granddaughter,
RACHEL HERCKY LINNEWIEL - Granddaughter,
NOAH HERCKY - Grandson
BIOGRAPHY BY NANCY GORRELL
Ernest Hercky was born on March 31, 1906 in Topolcany, Czechoslovakia. He was one of 11 children, a child of the second wife of his father. Topolcany was a city of some size. In his interview, Peter Hercky recalls having no knowledge of what his grandfather did for a living. After the war, the family moved to Zilina, where they were part of society. Peter relates that his father “prided himself as a gentleman.” He was always well dressed, and based on his dress, must have been well-off. He was not a religious man. He had considerable education because he eventually became a chemist. Ernest didn’t talk much about anti-Semitism before the war, but as soon as the Nazis invaded, “the Czechs wouldn’t hesitate to turn in the Jews.” Ernest met Greta Netl before the war broke out. She was from Zitau, Germany, a town bordering on Poland and Czechoslovakia. Peter does not know how his parents met, but his mother was six years younger than his father and very attractive. According to Peter, his mother never talked about her Holocaust experiences. Nevertheless, Peter does know how the family got notification to turn up at the train station for deportation. Zilina did not have a ghetto. “My father knew this was not going to be deportation to just a work camp.” My father picked up my mother, my brother, my aunt and uncle, and they all went into the woods to hide. They lived in the woods with the help of others for the remainder of the war. Miraculously, none of them were captured, and they all survived. Peter remembers his father talking about experience when he was young, but he can’t remember the details of how his parents survived. “When we were living in Israel, every other person had a tattoo. But my father didn’t have one because he hid out. He would say to me he would tell me about it when I got older.”
After the war, his father and family went back to Zilina to either open or purchase a battery factory. The city of Zilina fortunately was not impacted by the war. Peter was born on August 3, 1946. He and his family lived in Zilina during the immediate post war period. In 1949 they left for the new state of Israel. They settled in Kiryat Motzkin between Haifa and Acre. Peter was three years old at the time. The Herckys lived in a tent and then an apartment. Ernest’s first job was paving roads (refer to work detail photograph). According to Peter, his father wasn’t a Zionist, and he resented paving roads after owning a factory. He was looking to emigrate to the United States from the start. The family lived in Israel from 1949-1956 when an uncle, Theodore Hercsky, sponsored the family to come. The Hercky family settled in Newark, New Jersey. At the time, Peter was ten years old and culture shock set in with television and movies. Peter learned English in six months. His father worked as a chemist in the diamond district for 15 years. His mother was a factory worker and housewife. Today the extended Hercky family consists of five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Refer to son, Peter Hercky in Voices of the Descendants
Refer to Historical Notes Below for Zilina, Czechoslovakia and Slovakia
ERNEST AND GRETA HERCKY INTERVIEW WITH PETER HERCKY, SON
Date: June 27, 2017
Location: Hercky Residence
Interviewer: Nancy Gorrell
Q: Describe your father’s background.
My father was born in Topolcany, Czechoslovakia. He prided himself as a gentleman. He was always well dressed, and based on his dress, he was well-off. He was one of 11 children. My father was a child of the second wife of my grandfather. Topolcany was a city of some size. I have no idea what my father or grandfather did for a living. After the war, they moved to Zilina. There, they were part of society. There was no ghetto in Zilina.
Q: Was he a religious man?
Q: Did he speak about any anti-Semitism before the war?
Yes. The way he would tell the story, neighbors would be friendly, but as soon as the Nazis came in, they didn’t hesitate to turn in the Jews. The Czechs wouldn’t hesitate to turn in Slovaks.
Q: What was his education like?
He was a chemist, so he must have had some education. In Israel, he worked as a chemist and when he came to the United States, he worked as an assayer on 47th street, the diamond district.
Q: How and where did your parents meet?
My mother Greta, was born in Zitau, Germany. I have no idea how they met, but they got married before the war began. My mother did not talk about any of her Holocaust experiences.
Q: What happened to your father when the war began?
The story was they got notification to turn up at the train station for deportation. My father knew this was not going to be deportation to just a work camp. He picked up my mother, my brother, my aunt and uncle and instead of going to the train station, they all went into the woods, and they lived there with the help of others for remainder of the war. None of them was ever captured. They all survived.
Q: Did your father ever speak about how they survived?
Constantly, but I don’t remember much detail. I do remember catching him in Israel reading a book about the Holocaust. I could never understand why he was looking at that book. When we were living in Israel, every other person had a tattoo. But my father didn’t have one because he hid out. He would say he would tell me about it when I got older.
Q: What happened to your father and his family in the post war period?
He went back to Zilina to either open or purchase a battery factory. I don’t know exactly which. The city of Zilina was not impacted by the war. I was born on August 3, 1946. My family lived there until 1949 when we left for Israel.
Q: How and why did your family go to Israel?
My family left because the communists were taking over Czechoslavakia.
Q: How did your father and mother adjust to life in Israel?
My family settled in a town called Kiryat Motzkin between Haifa and Acre. I was three years old at the time. We stayed a few days in a tent. And then I remember we moved to an apartment. My father’s first job in Israel was paving roads (refer to photograph). He wasn’t much of a Zionist, and he resented having to pave roads after owning a factory. He was looking to move to the United States right from the beginning.
Q: How long did your family live in Israel?
We lived there until I was in 4th grade, from 1949 to 1956.
Q: Where did your parents go after living in Israel?
I had an uncle living in the US. He was one of my father’s brothers, Theodore Hercky, and he sponsored us.
Q: Where did you settle in the United States?
We settled in Newark, New Jersey in 1956. I was ten when we arrived. The biggest culture shock for me was television and movies. We didn’t have that in Israel. My uncle had a box in his living room. I learned the English language in six months, but at the same time, I forgot my Hebrew. My father always worked as a chemist in the States. He worked in the diamond district for 15 years. My mother was a factory worker and a housewife.
Q: What happened to your brother?
My brother was in the Israeli army when we came to the United States. After the army, he came to join us in the US. Then after the six day war, he went back to visit Israel and decided he wanted to stay there for good. He took his whole family back with him to live in Israel.
Q: What do you think your father’s message would be to future generations?
He was a cynic. He would probably say, “Everyone has the potential to be anti-Semitic.”
By 20 October 1942, 58,645 Jews had been deported in 57 transports from the Patronka’s railroad siding and other places in Slovakia such as transit camps in Zilina, Novaky, Michalovce, Sered, Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves. Of the deportees, 2,482 were children aged four or under, and 4,581 children between the ages of four and ten.
Nineteen trains, containing 18,746 Jews were sent to Auschwitz. 36 transports were officially sent to Naleczow, a station 20 km west of Lublin. Most of the transports arrived in Lublin, where young men were selected for work at Majdanek concentration camp and other people from the transports, mainly women with children and old people, were sent to transit ghettos. Two transports with 2,052 Jews were directed to the transit camp at Izbica; from there they were sent to to Belzec and gassed. 8,000 of the deportees, mainly younger men, went to Majdanek, from where 1,400 were subsequently transported to Auschwitz. It is estimated that approximated 75,000 Jews from Slovakia or 83 percent of total Jewish population were annihilated.
Sources and Credits:
SSBJCC Survivor Registry Interview, June 27, 2017, Interviewer: Nancy Gorrell; Biography by Nancy Gorrell; Digital historic and family photographs and documents donated by Peter Hercky.