Eva Grlić (1920 – 2008)

Eva Grlić was born in 1920 in Budapest, to a Sephardic-Ashkenazi family. She, her daughter Vesna Domany and her father’s brother Moše Izrael were the sole Holocaust survivors from a large family. As she was active in the Partisan movement as a political worker, editing bulletins and working on the editorial boards of the Anti-Fascist Women’s Slavonian Gazette, Vjesnik and Naprijed journals, after the war she worked as a journalist for the Zagreb-based journal Naprijed. There she met Danko Grlić, whom she married in 1946, giving birth to their son Rajko the following year. At the time of the schism with the Soviet Union, Danko Grlić was arrested and imprisoned on Goli Otok. Soon after, Eva was arrested too, on two occasions. First, their flat was seized, only for Eva to be released from prison eight months later. She lost her job, became homeless, her daughter Vesna ended up in a children’s home, while the two-year-old Rajko was cared for by his uncle and great grandmother. After her husband was released, Eva was re-arrested over a sentence with which she expressed her dissatisfaction, and condemned to imprisonment on Goli Otok, where she spent two years.

According to UDBA records, she was held in the female camps on Goli and Sveti Grgur from 5 May 1949 until 30 January 1953. As she wrote in her book, Memories, along with 16 teeth, her captivity also cost her any hope in the system that she had believed in as a youth. She spent the rest of her working days before retirement working in the Katran factory, first as a common worker, then as a secretary and editor of the factory newspaper. She spent her retirement translating from the German and Hungarian, writing stories, and publishing Memories (1997), her book of memoirs, and a collection of stories, A Passenger on His Way to Krakow and Other Stories (2002).

‘(…) after the experience of Goli Otok, I just lost self-confidence. I was scared. I was afraid to speak my opinions loudly and without self-censorship, convinced that my every word will be reported where it shouldn’t be. I still have this fixed idea that whatever I say is always eavesdropped on… However, this fear is anyway no longer something conscious; with time it retreats into the subconscious and becomes hard to erase… Such fear however can also be a pretext for any action that is bolder and more humane’ (Memories 1997: 275)

*This text is taken from the web page of the artistic project ‘You betrayed the Party just when you should have helped it’. We thank the author and project leader, Andreja Kulunčić, and her colleagues, for use of the materials.