Robert was raised in a German-speaking Jewish family in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, where his father owned a dental supply business. Robert grew up bilingual: He learned Hungarian from his mother and he attended a German-language Jewish grammar school.
1933-39: When Hitler rose to power in Germany, anti-German sentiment grew in Slovakia and many Jews in Bratislava, like my parents, who had originally identified with German culture, enrolled their children in Slovak schools. In March 1939 Slovakia became a satellite of Nazi Germany. The Slovak fascists forced my father to take a non-Jewish manager to run his company, and we had to wear an identifying Jewish star.
1940-45: To escape deportation, I fled in 1942 to Hungary. I lived there with forged papers. Five months later my parents also fled to Hungary, but they were caught by Hungarian police and identified as illegal aliens. They were taken to the Polish border and turned over to the Germans on November 1, 1942. I continued hiding in various places in Hungary, and was in Budapest when the Soviets freed the city in January 1945. Then I began to search for my parents.
Robert searched unsuccessfully for 45 years for documentation that would show how his parents had been killed by the Germans.