This doll wears clothing and a hat embroidered with colourful flowers. The doll and its clothing were handmade by Daisy Gross’ family’s maid in the traditional Slovakian style. Daisy received the doll when she was two years old and named her Toniška.

A Doll's Comforting Presence

Daisy received the doll when she was two years old and named her Toniška. (Photo: Peter Berra)
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Daisy received the doll when she was two years old and named her Toniška. (Photo: Peter Berra)

The doll and its clothing were handmade by Daisy Gross’ family’s maid. (Photo: Peter Berra)
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The doll and its clothing were handmade by Daisy Gross’ family’s maid. (Photo: Peter Berra)

The clothes were crafted in the traditional Slovakian style. (Photo: Peter Berra)
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The clothes were crafted in the traditional Slovakian style. (Photo: Peter Berra)

The doll's hat is also intricately embroidered. (Photo: Peter Berra)
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The doll's hat is also intricately embroidered. (Photo: Peter Berra)

Daisy holding her doll, Toniška, circa 1941.
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Daisy holding her doll, Toniška, circa 1941.

Daisy with her parents, Alexander and Olga Leier, in 1942. Both her parents were killed during the Holocaust.
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Daisy with her parents, Alexander and Olga Leier, in 1942. Both her parents were killed during the Holocaust.

This photo of Daisy and Antonia was taken in Hungary in 1951. Antonia was visiting Daisy who was living with her aunts.
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This photo of Daisy and Antonia was taken in Hungary in 1951. Antonia was visiting Daisy who was living with her aunts.

Daisy Gross: A Hidden Child in Slovakia

The Gross’ were a wealthy family from Nitra, Slovakia. Daisy’s father worked as a manager for a refined sugar factory. They had a maid named Antonia Nicodemova, a non-Jewish woman whom Daisy called Tonka. In 1943, Daisy’s parents sent her into hiding at Tonka’s family home in Solčany. They later relocated to Šoporňa to avoid suspicion. Daisy, her doll and Tonka remained there until the end of the war.

Starting anew

After liberation, seven-year-old Daisy returned to Nitra and learned that her parents had been killed. They were discovered by the Nazis while hiding in a bunker and deported to Auschwitz and later murdered. Daisy’s aunts, Rosa and Maria Leier, went to Slovakia to bring Daisy to live with them in Hungary. It was very difficult for Daisy to leave Tonka. Daisy and her aunts left the country during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and immigrated to Canada

The three women settled in Montreal where Daisy married and had two children.

Daisy Gross donated her doll to the Montreal Holocaust Museum in 2016.

This project is part of the implementation of the Plan culturel numérique du Québec.Objets phares de l'Holocauste, Plan culturel numérique du Québec.

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