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Portrait of Ilona Pressburger and her sisters-in-law, Frederika and Olga Beck wearing costumes.

photo rights: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Magdalena Beck-Matustikova (the donor's mother) was the daughter of Natan Beck (later Pavel Vesseley) and Ilona Pressburgerova Beckova (later Helena Vessela). Magdalena was born July 19, 1928 in Myjava, Slovakia, where her father was a family physician. Her younger brother Ernest was born in 1931. During World War II, the family went into hiding in a barn on the site of a lumberyard owned by a man named Barsuk, who had connections with the Slovak underground. They remained with Barsuk for about a year before going to hide with another family in the town of Kuty. At that time, Magdalena's father had among his patients the wife of a Hlinka Guardsman. In exchange for his medical assistance, the Guardsman shielded the Beck family from deportation. He also issued the family false papers under the last name of Vesseley (which Natan and Ilona retained after the war). In the summer of 1944 the Beck family moved to the town of Banska Bystrica, which soon became the launching point of the Slovak national uprising. Magdalena's father organized a field hospital during the uprising and she assisted him as a nurse. After the suppression of the uprising, the family split up, and Magdalena went to work as a house-maid in Zvolen until the liberation. Magdalena's two aunts, Olga and Frederika Beck, perished in Auschwitz with their families.