Born: December 6, 1933
Robert was raised by Hungarian-speaking parents in Kosice, a town in eastern Slovakia with a sizable Jewish community of 7,000. The Grubers were a traditional Jewish family and they observed the Jewish Sabbath, dietary laws, and holidays. Robert's father owned a small jewelry shop.
1933-39: When Robert was 5, Kosice was taken over by the Hungarians, who were led by a dictator named Horthy. He stood on the main street with his parents, watching the soldiers march into town in a victory parade. They were led by Horthy himself on a white horse. Just days later, non-Hungarian Jews were given 48 hours to leave the region. The Grubers fled to the town of Michalovce where several of their relatives lived.
1940-44: By winter 1944 Robert's family had moved again, to a town in western Slovakia. The house that they lived in had a trap door leading to a hiding space, where they hid once the Germans started rounding up Jews. After the Germans began deporting Slovakian civilians as forced laborers, a neighbor came to the Grubers one day demanding that he wanted to hide in their space so that they should get out. He threatened to inform on them if they didn't. Robert's parents retorted that if they were forced to leave and were rounded up by the Germans, that they'd inform on HIM. He left.
The Grubers stayed in the hiding place for nine months, until the Soviets bombed the area. In March 1945, when Robert was 12, he and his family were liberated by the Soviets.