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Showing posts with label martin Petrasek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label martin Petrasek. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2018

Martin Petrasek Celebrates His 92nd Birthday

Martin Petrasek was born in Chust, Slovakia in 1926. In 1938, Czechoslovakia became the first victim of Hitler’s expansionist plans when Germany annexed a group of German-speaking regions of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland (Hitler invaded the rest not long after). However, the region of Slovakia was granted autonomy in return for supporting the Nazis and rounding up and deporting its Jewish population. Martin got a job in a furniture factory where the foreman protected him, but he still lived in constant fear of being sent away. When he fell ill and was sent to a sanatorium in the mountains, he took the opportunity to leave and sought refuge in a monastery.
While at the monastery, Martin found a partisan pamphlet calling on Slovaks to resist the occupation. He decided that it was time to fight back. A local sympathizer gave him the name of a contact for the resistance in a nearby town. Martin found the man and was inducted into a partisan brigade.

Martin Petrasek's partisan identification card
Martin worked as a spy, scouting the movements of troops and conducting hit-and-run attacks against local German forces. Soviet paratroopers had organized his brigade, and they regularly airdropped supplies to the partisans.
After the German defeat at Stalingrad in 1943, public opinion in Slovakia began to turn against the Nazis, and in 1944 Slovaks staged a widespread uprising against their occupiers. However the uprising was short lived—Hitler sent in elite SS units that brutally repressed the resistance, and the retreating German army conducted “clean-up” operations on their way back from the Eastern front.
The brigade knew that retreating Nazis were scouring the forest and killing every partisan they found. Instead of staying in the path of Germans, Martin’s brigade decided to advance to the front to reunite with the Red Army. They met up with the Romanian army en route, and were liberated.
Martin joined up with the Czechoslovakian army and became a military police officer responsible for punishing soldiers who deserted from the front. After the war, Martin defected from Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia, entering West Germany and moving to Israel. Martin eventually immigrated to the United States in 1959. He lives there today, along with his wife and his two grown children.
Visit for more about Martin Petrasek, including seven videos of him reflecting on his time as a partisan.

Martin (center) at the 2011 Partisan Tribute Dinner in NYC

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

JPEF’s Pictures of Resistance Exhibit Opens at UCLA Hillel

Pictures of Resistance, the Wartime Photographs of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman opened March 15 at the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel. The exhibit includes 30 photographs from Schulman, the only known Jewish Partisan Photographer. JPEF Board Member Ada Horwich and her husband Jim hosted a private reception for JPEF’s Los Angeles stakeholders.

JPEF's Executive Director Mitch Braff gives a tour of the
organization's exhibit "Pictures of Resistance."

JPEF’s Executive Director, Mitch Braff, gave a private tour of the exhibit to the guests that included two Jewish partisans, Jeff Gradow and Martin Petrasek. Petrasek, a Jewish partisan from Slovakia who is featured in JPEF’s film “Antisemitism in the Partisans”, was impressed, “I have never seen photographs like this before. They are incredible.” (Petrasek is also the author of “Broken Promise”, which was turned into a feature film that JPEF co-produced in 2009.)

From left to right: JPEF Executive Director Mitch Braff,
Board Member Ada Horwich, Jewish partisan and JPEF
Advisory Board Member Martin Petrasek, and Jim Horwich

The exhibit is on display at UCLA through April 30. A second copy of the exhibit is also on display at the University of Illinois in Springfield, where Braff spoke at a reception for the exhibit on April 9. For more information, click here.