Rival (Slobodova), Eva

Rival (Slobodova), Eva

Bratislava, Slovakia

Mrs. Eva Rival was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1941. She lived with her mother and father, Margit Blau and Vojtech Folkman-Sloboda.  They lived in a small house along with her maternal grandmother who owned a sweet store next to the house.

The Jews were rounded up and taken to a camp in central Slovakia.  This was a “collection” camp.

In 1942, her father raised money to get Mrs. Rival out, bring her back home and found a Protestant woman to take her in.  During the war she had been baptized and the baptismal papers saved her life.

In 1944, the Germans came to the door, looking for the “Jewish Bastard”.  The woman’s husband was taken away and she raised Mrs. Rival like a daughter.  She also had a son.  Mrs. Rival called her “mother”.  Because she was too young to go to school, she went into a tunnel when air raids sounded.  Her life was “normal” and she didn’t know anything about another family.  She only had one toy, a doll, to play with.

Her real father came to visit often.  He tried to bribe people to get her mother out of danger, but she was sent to Auschwitz.  Her grandmother and Aunt Margit escaped to England and her Aunt Rose to the Dominican Republic.  Her father was on the run, hiding during every roundup, once escaping from a train and often beaten by the Germans who kept asking him for his bastard child.

Mrs. Rival and her new family moved from the city to a village.  She was teased because she used a pacifier until the age of five.  After the war, her father sent her to Protestant Sunday School.  She didn’t go to church with Herma (her new mother), but celebrated Christmas.

She remembers being teased on the playground, being called a Jew.  This is later when she lived with her real father and new step-mother.

Her birth certificate says Eva Folkman.  She was four when the war ended and six months later, her father came and took her away.  Both she and Herma cried.  Her grandmother came from London to take care of her.  She visited Herma when she was older.  Her father didn’t live with them although when he came to visit, she remembers him cooking scrambled eggs and mushrooms.

Mrs. Rival spoke German, Slovak and Hungarian. She began to understand that her father and grandmother were her relatives.  Her grandmother was an observant Jew.

The country was fairly democratic, but her father said that being a Jew was not safe and he eventually became an atheist, remarrying when Mrs. Rival was eight or nine.  There was no longer any Christmas celebrations and food was in short supply.

Her father dated for three years while living in an apartment.  Her father said that because he was getting married, she could now live with them.  His new wife was Eva Mulganny, who was a widow with a six year old son, Evan Slobodova, taking her father’s name.  They had a baby girl, Dasha.

Her father joined the Communist Party, saying “Stalin is good”.  There were no longer choices nor options.  Her father never spoke of leaving, not being able to travel to Western countries.  Her step-mother was an office worker and her father was in the textile business.  Mrs. Rival was a good student and became a teacher, because her dad once said “that was a job for women”.  Her aunt,

Eluch, told her about her real mother.

Mrs. Rival was given her parents wedding pictures.  Her mother was born in 1913 and her father in 1914.  She traveled back to Bratislava and found a book of“Jews of Bratislava”.  Eluch (known as Helen) had no children so she was close to her.  Her parents had a good life, an apartment and a car.  She believed in Communism until 1953.  She married Jan Rival at the age of twenty-one.

Mr. Rival was a medical student at that time.  They were married by a judge at City Hall in a secular ceremony.  He didn’t know if she was a Jew, but her father always told her to find a Jewish husband.  There were sixty people at the wedding.  They owned an apartment and their daughter was born in 1964.

Mr. Rival’s boss wanted him to pass his cardiology tests and apply for a visa.  He left to learn English in three weeks and then got a fellowship to a hospital in Philadelphia in 1967.  They left quickly, thinking they’d be back.

Life was very bad for Mrs. Rival because she couldn’t speak English.  Her daughter, four years old, went to nursery school.  She bought a coffee pot, toaster and TV and learned to speak from watching it.  She felt isolated because the apartment house didn’t allow pets or children, so they hid their daughter.  She got a job at Woolworth, but had no friends.

After the Russian invasion, they made an effort to stay and Mr. Rival got a job in Detroit.  His parents were imprisoned in Czechoslovakia.In Bratislava, they were tried and found guilty, in abstencia, and their apartment was taken away.

When Mr. and Mrs. Rival came to Detroit, they decided to stay.  Her in-laws immigrated to Germany and joined a Jewish community in Cologne.

Now they celebrate the holidays and consider themselves Jews.  Their daughter, Anita, married Josh Rosenberg, who is Jewish and their children are Charlotte, Olivia and Avery.  Their younger daughter, Nicole, married a non-Jew, Todd Hartje, and their children are Jackson, Sacha, Danielle and Clayton.

Mrs. Rival loves this country and taught world history in the Madison Heights school system for thirty years.

Interview information:
Date: July 7, 2010
Interviewer: Donna R. Sklar
Length: 1 hour and 11 minutes
Format: Video Recording