“Following the traces of hidden children”, Memorial expedition
In August 2020, Post Bellum civic association, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to gathering stories of people who were oppressed under totalitarian regimes, organised a weekly memorial expedition entitled “Following the traces of hidden children”. The memorial expedition followed the steps of Pavel Eli Vago and his sister, who hid for months in the Slovak mountains to escape deportation to a concentration camp. The two children were separated from their parents, not knowing where they were hiding.
The Post Bellum civic association took the story of Eli Vago and turned it into a memorial expedition. In August 2020, the participants of the expedition travelled more than 100 kilometres, to the different places where the siblings hided. From their home in Vrútky to the village of Sihla, where they acknowledged they could move freely.
The Ambassador of the United States of America in Slovakia, H. E. Bridget A. Brink, supported the initiative with her active participation. She walked with the expedition on August 28th, in the area of Kamenistá dolina, from Cottage Tri vody to the Hrončok mountain hut. Also the Consul of the State of Israel in Slovakia, Naomi Eldar, joined them on August 26th, when they visited the Jewish cemetery in Zvolen.
Today, Eli Vago is 90 years old and lives in Israel. He was also supposed to meet the participants of the expedition in Slovakia. However, due to travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants chatted online everyday with Eli and listened to his his heartbreaking story.
The memorial expedition ended on August 29th, the same day when Slovakia commemorates the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising. Post Bellum hosted a closing event in the House of Culture in Čierny Balog with the active participation of the Deputy Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, Juraj Šeliga, the Public Defender of Rights, Mária Patakyová, the Chairman of the Banská Bystrica region, Ján Lunter and the Mayor of Čierny Balog, František Budovec.
During the final event, a short film of Pavel Eli Vago’s story was screened, the participants shared their experiences with Eli and finally, the music group Mojše performed.