Born September 30, 1937, in Zvolen, Slovakia
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.
Fleeing to Banská Bystrica
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.
Saved by a Jewish Partisan
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
After the war, Gideon and his stepmother came to Israel on a secret aliyah. 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 Museum.