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Published on Apr 4, 2012
Dr. Viola Torek was born in 1916 in Slovakia. In 1934, she studied medicine and married a physician. In 1944, the Germans invaded Slovakia and Torek's family was sent to Auschwitz. She was transferred to the Lichtwerden forced labor camp in Silesia four months later. Torek worked in the clinic and in May 1945 was liberated. She returned to her birthplace, and upon learning of the fate of all her loved ones, her husband included, lost the will to live. Encouraged by relatives, she returned to Bratislava and continued her medical studies. Upon completion, she worked at a Clinic for Holocaust Survivors in the Tatra mountains. "There was a common bond of partnership and of belonging to one another. We had all been left alone. For me, it was a commitment." She remarried another doctor, and they decided to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael. They misled the Soviet authorities and escaped from Slovakia. In Eretz Yisrael, they worked as physicians at various places, and Torek worked at a clinic in Beer Ya'akov which treated Holocaust survivors. In 1959, the couple moved to Beer Sheba and were among the founders of the Beer Sheva Medical School. Her husband established the Orthopedic Department of the new hospital. Viola worked for 22 years as District Physician. She was crucial in developing the medical services in the Negev region. At 72, Viola retired. She is intensely involved in volunteer activities.