I N A .M E R H A V
S C U L P T R E S S
Closing a life circle, Vinkovci July 2013
I was born in Vinkovci in March 1936 and spend there the first five years of my life. Those years where happy, peaceful and full of hope for a good future. But suddenly, in April 1941 the horrors of the Second World War started. Yugoslavia capitulated and my father who was a reserve officer in the Yugoslavian army was imprisoned. He spent the years 1941- 1945 in a German prisoner camp where the Jews were separated from all the other prisoners. The camp was under the Geneva Convention.
To save our lives, the entire family started to run away, my mother, myself, my brother, the mother of my mother and my father’s parents.
First to Srkvenica then Split and Coconato Italy and at last smuggling out to Switzerland where they said Jews are not allowed. It was only after my mother assured them that we had money in a bank that they let us in.
In 1949 we immigrated to the State of Israel. Until 2010 I did not have any connections to Croatia or to Vinkovci.
All the memories came back especially stepping into our house. It is a very special building built in the Bauhaus style and earmarked for preservation. The house is totally ruined from inside and stands empty as an icon indicating the cruel fate of its builder. This was the right moment to establish new connections and cooperation with the people of Vinkovci. Three years later all the dreams and plans were fulfilled.
The day before the exhibition I had an evening with the people of Vinkovci. I was very surprised to find a big hall full with of about 80 people anxious to hear the story of my life.
It was a very exciting experience. Many people approached after the talk sharing with me that their father or grandfather had been working in the factory Ferolim that my Great grandfather founded in Vinkovci.
My family Gross settled in Vinkovci in the middle of the 19 century and contributed a lot to the development of the city and the whole area.
She remembers all the members of the Gross family.
Some people said that our exhibition is the best one ever held in Vinkovci. A lot of people attended the Gallery and I was overwhelmed with appreciation and love.