Gross, Daisy

Daisy Gross was born April 20, 1939 in Nitra, Czechoslovakia.  She grew up there, and had a good life by all accounts; her father had a good job, and she and her parents were doing well, alongside their housekeeper Tonka.  But the tone changed with the war:  Daisy’s father ran a sugar beet refinery, and with the help of a lawyer he knew, he began to create false documents to protect people in the Jewish community.  He also purchased a property outside the town, and he and an engineer constructed a bunker to protect the family.  Daisy was given a new identity and had been placed in the care of Tonka by that time; she recalls begging her mother not to give her away.  Her parents and grandparents went into hiding, but they were discovered and they were all deported to Auschwitz (occupied Poland), where Daisy’s grandparents were gassed on arrival. Her mother was murdered in the Flossenbürg concentration camp (Germany) and her father died of typhus in Auschwitz shortly after the liberation of the camp.  Daisy lived in Tonka’s native village under an assumed Christian identity with false papers as her relation. When a neighbour’s son almost discovered that Daisy was Jewish, Tonka fled with her to another village, where the family of Tonka’s fiancé lived. The pair remained there until liberation.  Daisy remained with Tonka’s family until 1946, when her aunts who had survived Auschwitz took her to live with them in Hungary.  In 1956, when the revolution broke out in Hungary, Daisy decided to leave. She came to Canada as a refugee and settled in Montreal. She trained as a nurse and worked at the Montreal General Hospital. Daisy married a fellow survivor from Slovakia. She has two children and several grandchildren.  Until today, Daisy has maintained contact with the family that hid her during the war. Daisy has been a volunteer Speaker at the Montreal Holocaust Museum for almost a decade; Crestwood students were able to zoom with her in April 2023.