Štefan Dudi, born 1934, Slovenská Volová, Humenné district
Štefan Dudi's family lived near Slovenská Volová in a settlement below Pahorok hill. Mr. Dudi recalls how the partisans visited them, how they made themselves tea and coffee, and on their way out mined the bridge and blew it up. As a result the Roma from the settlement were suspected of being partisans and the Germans took them to Humenné. They spent the night in the school there and the next day they were taken by train to the town of Strážske, where they spent the next day with the Red Cross. The group was divided into men, and women with children, and because Štefan Dudi was eleven or twelve years old, he stayed with his mother. The next day the Germans took them on foot through the village of Tovarné to Vranov [nad Topľou], from where they were taken by train to [the camp] near Dubnica [nad Váhom]. On the train, Mr. Dudi's mother gave birth to his brother Emil, who survived his stay in Dubnica despite being so young. After the birth, the Red Cross treated her and her baby at the train stop in Prešov. Štefan Dudi mentions his mother's intention to suffocate his newborn brother for fear of what would happen to him in those conditions.
After arriving at the camp, they all had their hair shaved so that it was impossible to tell who was male and who was female. They all had to go through what was called a steam room [a steam de-lousing station]. There was a shortage of food; each family had a quarter loaf of bread and one to two litres of coffee. After a week, they separated the families again, so the children were housed separately and were only allowed to spend an hour a day with their mothers.
Štefan Dudi spent four months in Dubnica. The people there were starving, and were just skin and bones. In the morning, the Germans always came with a wagon onto which the bodies of the dead were loaded and taken somewhere. Štefan Dudi used to go with other children to the rubbish dump to look for potatoes, which they then baked on top of a stove and shared with the family.
The Germans then had almost five hundred people shot within two weeks. They were taken away in trucks under the pretext of taking them to Trenčín to the hospital, but Mr. Dudi's mother overheard a conversation between a Hlinka Guard and a German, which revealed that none of them would be coming back. The others did not want to believe her, but her words were confirmed – no one came back. Instead of Trenčín, they were taken outside Dubnica "to the Škoda works", where a bulldozer dug a pit into which the bodies fell when they were shot, and were then covered with earth by the bulldozer.
About five thousand people were imprisoned in Dubnica; only about three thousand of them returned home after the war, the rest died or were murdered there. Štefan Dudi recalled that his sister went blind from starvation and his nephew, aged about three, died in the camp.
How to cite abstractAbstract of testimony from: VAGAČOVÁ Ingrid, FOTTA Martin eds. Rómovia a druhá svetová vojna, Čítanka. Bratislava: Nadácia Milana Šimečku, 2006. ISBN 80-89008-20-8, 127-128 (slk), 136-137 (rom). Testimonies of the Roma and Sinti. Project of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences), https://www.romatestimonies.com/testimony/stefan-dudi (accessed 11/29/2023)
Origin of Testimony
The interview with Štefan Dudi was recorded in the late 1990s as part of the Milan Šimečka Foundation project: Stories of Holocaust Survivors. It was conducted in Slovak, in the East Slovak dialect, and was recorded on camera. Its transcript has been shortened, slightly edited, and printed alongside the Slovak original and in a translation into Romani; the dialect specifics were preserved in Štefan Dudi's expression.
Where to find this testimony