Dr. Jozef Jaksy, 1900–18 June 1991, Copyright United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Dr. Amira Kohn-Trattner
Dr. Jozef Jaksy, a fellow Slovakian, was a urologist who received his M.D. at the University of Jan Comenius in Bratislava. During WWII, he served as the personal physician to the vile Andrej Hlinka of the fascist Slovak People’s Party. However, Dr. Jaksy didn’t subscribe to the most repulsive ideology of his high-ranking patients. He used this high-ranking position to save people’s lives.
Dr. Jaksy saved at least 25 people from deportation by providing food, medical care, money, shelter, fake ID papers and medical records, and help with sneaking over borders. Because his specialty was urology, he was also able to phony up papers claiming medical reasons for circumcision. Dr. Jaksy hid many people in his clinic, under the pretense of admitting them for surgery. He also hid the 60-year-old wife of a hospital doctor.
There was a very close call one night, while a Jewish friend, Paul Suran, and his wife were visiting. The Gestapo also decided to pay a call on this evening, and while the Surans went into the hiding place, Dr. Jaksy claimed he needed to rest for an important operation in the morning. The Gestapo searched the premises anyway, but couldn’t find anyone. The next morning, Dr. Jaksy drove the Surans to the depot and told them how to escape, with help from his false papers.
Copyright United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Dr. Amira Kohn-Trattner
In 1948, to avoid the new régime in the former Czechoslovakia, Dr. Jaksy went to the U.S. with a visiting medical fellowship and remained there for the rest of his days. He entered private practice in Manhattan and became a longtime member of the Department of the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Jaksy retired about 1985.
Dr. Jaksy’s heroism went unsung until 1990, when his neighbor, Dr. Amira Kohn-Trattner, a psychoanalyst, made his acquaintance. Mrs. Jaksy was stepping out for an errand when she asked Dr. Trattner to take their key so she could look after Dr. Jaksy, who by then had Parkinson’s. As Drs. Trattner and Jaksy began getting to know one another over the next few days, they discovered their common interest of the Shoah. Dr. Trattner counseled many Shoah survivors, and Dr. Jaksy told her about how he’d helped and sheltered so many people during the Shoah. Additionally, Dr. Trattner’s father had escaped Slovakia in August 1939, one day before the border closed.
He passed away at his Upper West Side home of a heart attack at age 91, and was survived by his wife Elizabeth. Sadly, he passed away just before the scheduled ceremony to recognize him as Righteous Among the Nations. Mrs. Jaksy accepted the award on his posthumous behalf.