Svarc, Emile

Emile Svarc was born in 1936 in Yugoslavia.  His young life as he recalls was quite good, but the coming of the war in 1941 changed everything.  Yugoslavia was divided, with a puppet state created in Croatia and the rest of the country under Axis occupation.  Emile recalls the mounting restrictions of this period; his parents lost their jobs and many possessions, and for the then 5-year old Emile even a walk through the park became an impossibility.  Emile’s parents were in a mixed Jewish-Christian marriage, so while his father and grandmother were forced to wear the yellow star, Emile and his mother were not.  His father did convert to Christianity during the story, as did many Yugoslavian Jews, but it did not provide any real protection.  Emile’s father was in fact arrested and deported to the Jasenovac concentration camp, as was his uncle.  Emile’s father was able to get out with help from his wife, but Emile’s uncle was killed in an escape attempt from Jasenovac at the end of the war.  With his father back with the family, they made an arrangement to go into hiding, staying in a farming village.  Liberation came in 1945, with the advance of Yugoslav partisans, and after the war Yugoslavia became a communist state, albeit one that did not follow the Stalinist model.  Emile found his opportunities limited there and he longed for something else, so he emigrated to Israel in 1965, later making his way to the United States and Canada.  Emile was interviewed by Crestwood students via zoom in April 2022, and we thank the Montreal Holocaust Museum for helping to facilitate this connection.