Naftali Ďuro Fürst
Born in 1932 / Slovakia
"I was desperate. While I was experiencing the first hours and days of freedom, Peter was suffering in open wagons, completely without food, cross-country through Germany. It was not until May 9 that he got to Terezín. And there he was freed. Only three prisoners survived from his carriage."
Israeli citizen Naftali Fürst was born in Petržalka, Slovakia, Bratislava, in 1932, and his parents named him Juraj (friends in Slovakia call him Ďuro). He adopted the name Naftali when he left Czechoslovakia for Israel after World War II. The story of Juraj Naftali Fürst and his closest family is exceptional, as his brother Peter, his father Arthur and his mother Margita survived the horrors of the Holocaust. No other Jewish family in Slovakia has the same luck.
The Fürsts were a wealthy family, their quiet life changed on the day when Petržalka was ceded to Nazi Germany after the Munich Agreement. When the Fürst family had to move out, little Juraj was only six years old. In the first years of the war, they hid with their uncle in Mnešice in Nové Mesto nad Váhom. However, they were captured and in May 1942, the whole family found themselves in the work and concentration camp in Sered. They managed to escape from there in 1944, but not for long. After being imprisoned again, the whole family was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in November that year.
Juraj Fürst and his brother Peter found themselves in one of the tragic death marches on January 19, 1945. After three days of starving and freezing, they arrived at Gleiwitz railway station and on January 23 they arrived in Buchenwald in open wagons. Both brothers survived the terrible journey and were put in Block 45, but Juraj fell ill with pneumonia and his brother lost his toe on his frostbitten feet. Antonín Kalina saved the lives of both brothers when he moved them to Children's Block 66. Juraj spent the end of the war in the infirmary with pneumonia. He had high fevers and hallucinations and suffered from a fierce cough. He eventually fell unconscious and ended up in hospital. Juraj was freed by the American army on April 11, 1945. However, his brother's suffering was not over. On April 10, just a day before the liberation of the camp, he was deported by the Nazis from Buchenwald and his painful journey ended on May 9 in Terezín. Peter got typhus, but recovered from the disease after a long time. "I was desperate. While I was experiencing the first hours and days of freedom, Peter was suffering in open wagons, completely without food, cross-country through Germany. It was not until May 9 that he got to Terezín. And there he was freed. Only three prisoners survived from his carriage."
After the war in 1949, brothers Juraj and Peter moved to Israel and their parents came to see them a year later. Juraj took the name Naftali, lived in the Ma'anit kibbutz and served in the Israeli defense forces. Naftali Ďuro Fürst contributed to honor Antonín Kalina's heroism with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.