Interviewee: Panni Koltai
Title: Rozsi Schwarz and Piri Deri
Place and Date: Eger, Hungary - 1909
These are my sisters Rozsi Schwarz, nee Friedmann, (on the left) and Piri Deri, nee Friedmann (on the right). The photo must have been taken around 1909 in Eger.
We were four girls in the family. I was born in 1915, Bozsi in 1910, Rozsi in 1908, and Piri was born in 1906. She was a very beautiful girl. Piri always ran away from home. Once she ran away to the neighbors and they were standing over her at a loss, wondering who she could be. She was a nice blond little girl and she could already talk, only she couldn't tell what her name was and who her father was. And finally they found out who she was because she kept saying, 'He is always ironing, he is always ironing'. And so they realized that if he was always ironing, she could only be the tailor's daughter.
When we were little, we had a trough and we bathed in the trough one after the other. I remember the times when I had to bathe after my sister Bozsi: it took her a very long time to get out of it and I was angry with her. But we couldn't have done it otherwise because there wasn't enough water [for everyone to get washed separately]. Once a week before Sabbath we heated water for bathing in a laundry pot. We had a regular stove in the kitchen, which we heated with wood.
Looking back at my childhood, I have to say that it was absolutely untroubled. It wasn't an issue if we were Jews or not. We were on very friendly terms with our neighbors. We didn't get together but we got on well. In school [non-Jewish] children were told that on Saturday they had to write the stuff in our student's record and everything was going well. Nobody touched us, all the more so because my dad was a very honest and decent craftsman.
Interviewee: Ferenc Sandor
Title: Ferenc Sandor's family
Place and Date: Veszto, Hungary - 1914
My mother and my sister Sari, and next to them my grandmother and another woman. My father met the young lady who became my mother on a train trip. My mother was sitting in the train with my grandmother and he sat beside them. That must have been in 1910 or 11. Right there on the train they decided to get married. The actual wedding ceremony in the temple followed in 1912 in Sopron. After the wedding he immediately took my mother to Veszto, where they lived in a family house, an official residence, secured by the Savings Bank. My father died in 1915. My mother found work as a clerk at the local administration center. Most of the time I was looked after by my aunt, who moved in with us after my father did not come back from the war. I was practically raised by her. My sister Sari was born in 1913. She was eleven months older than me.
Interviewee: Ilona Seifert
Title: Seder night in the home of Ilona Seifert's paternal grandparents Bernat and Julia Riemer
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1920
This is a Seder night at the home of my parental grandparents, the Wollners. The photo was taken in their Budapest home in the 1920s
Every other year, the first Seder was always held at the home of my maternal grandmother (Riemer) and the second at the home of my paternal grandmother (Wollner). The following year, the order was reversed. There were more children at my paternal grandparents?, and there were about thirty-four to thirty-six of us there in their large apartment, which was big enough to hold all the children, in-laws and grandchildren. The seder ritual was conducted by my grandfather and his sons-in-law. While the men were praying, we children were playing hide-and-seek under the table. The men sat at one end of the table, with the women coming next, and then the children. We children had small, colored drinking glasses, and we even got a tiny drop of wine to drink. We had a lot of fun together at the end of the table. When Seder night was during the week, we started the celebration early and it didn´t last too long because of the children's bedtimes. But when it fell on Saturday, it went on late into the night.
My grandparents were very religious. They were not orthodox, but they observed all the holidays. They didn't work on the Sabbath, and the bakery and shop were closed, but on Sundays they were open. At Pesach, they had to 'sell' the whole bakery. This was a kind of mock-sale, as it was always sold to one of the leading baker's journeymen.
At holiday times, the family assembled. The children and grandchildren came, though other relatives usually did not, with the exception of my uncle, Miksa Riemer (my grandfather's brother) who was widowed. He was always invited.
Interviewee: Jozsef Faludi
Title: Class photo in Jozsef Faludi's Jewish elementary school
Place and Date: Kiskoros, Hungary - 1928
This is the Jewish school in Kiskoros. The photo was taken at the end of the first or second year that I was there. Both boys and girls attended. There were only two classes, younger kids in one and older kids in the other.
My sisters went to middle school, like us boys. They finished the four grades, and then they learned the trade from our mother, helping her. In their free time they went to a Jewish house where young people would get together and do cultural things, and play sports.
Kiskoros was an Orthodox community. We all had payot (sidelocks), that we stuck behind our ears. Later, when we got into the yeshiva, we wore our payot out. I was a clever kid, I never did what you?d call homework. What I knew was what they?d explain to us in class. Regular school was something new for us, because we learned with entirely different methods, and completely different things than in the cheder(Jewish religious primary school).
We had school lessons in the morning, and then we stayed until 6 in the evening with the melamed (Jewish religious primary school teacher), who taught us our alefbeys (Hebrew ABC), and the Torah, and we learned the Rashi commentaries too. The cheder was a separate place next to the so-called little synagogue, and only boys went. We went to the melamed when we were 3 years old. At first we learned to read, but we didn't know what the words meant. Then when we started learning the Torah, we translated it into Yiddish.
Interviewee: Katarina Lofflerova
Title: Katarina Lofflerova on a summer family trip to Lake Balaton
Place and Date: Siofok, Hungary - 1928
This picture was taken in Siofok in 1928; we were there on vacation. My mother, Anna Vidor is sitting, my younger sister, Erzsebet (on the right) and me (on the left) are standing behind her. The others were occasional acquaintances. A wandering photographer took the photo, they would often stop the guests of the spa.
Summer vacation was fifty to sixty percent similar everywhere. Families did the same things. There were three kinds of summer vacation. The first was to stay at home. You went to the Danube pool to swim or to the beach, to the Lido. A person bought a season ticket there. The season ticket down on the Danube bank was good for the pools and cabins up top, and the square tents down at the bank - a person, for one season, could rent one of these, and then you stayed there. You took your foldable chair, and lived there. In nice weather, you went there whenever you had the chance. That was one of the forms of vacation, the most common form. The other form was to go for two weeks into the Tatras. By the way, you didn't even go to the High Tatras, just the Low Tatras. For example, we went to Korytnica, I knew the Ruzomberok well. A person went to Ruzomberok, and that was much different than Bratislava. And the third possibility - actually, I should have said it second - because we often went down to Lake Balaton.
I preferred most to go to the Balaton for the summer. It was very pretty, and good, and clean. I have a lot of photos. We really really loved to go to the Balaton. I was there many times, I couldn't say how many. There was a good train connection to the Balaton. You didn't even have to transfer, we could take this train to Boglar or Fonyod. Of course, not to Siofok because it was significantly cheaper to get off in Boglar. The Czechoslovak crown was very strong then. In Czechoslovakia, we lived in a better economic situation, than they did in Hungary then. They called my mother 'her madam szokolos' there, where we stayed - there was always a certain room we rented, which you paid for in hard currency. The Czech koruna was called 'szokol' in Hungary. I don't know of anyone of my parents' acquaintances who might have gone to the seaside for vacation. They went to the Tatras, and also close-by, they would go to Karlsbad for health cures. Those who had lung problems went to Meran. The big trips abroad cost serious money, and weren't usual.
Interviewee: Piroska Hamos
Title: Rowing on the Danube
Place and Date: Shore of the Danube, Hungary - 1930
This picture was taken before I had my daughter Marika, in 1930 or 1931, when I still used to go out to the Danube. This is Jeno Oblath (from left), Pali and then Andor, these three were brothers. Then it's me, and next to me is my husband, Imre Hahn. And this is my natural mother's brother, Miska. This picture was taken somewhere on the banks of the Danube, but where exactly, I don't know. Maybe on Szentendrei Island, because we went there many times.
We often got together with my cousins. They also lived in Matyasfold, the two houses were close by, 5 minute apart. My cousins were friends with my husband - relatives and friends as well. I liked them very much, they were intelligent, well-educated, well-read people. They graduated from secondary school. Back then, it was a big thing if someone graduated from secondary school. They were not married yet, at that time. They were even angry with my husband because he was the first one in the boat group, who got married. They owned a boat together, and they rented a space for the boat at the first boathouse, next to the Ujpesti Osszekoto bridge-the owner of the boathouse was called Magashazi. As soon as the weather started to be good they went to lacquer it and put it in order. When I joined their group, then I also went along to tidy up the boat and every weekend, we went rowing on the Danube, in two boats. It wasn't the done thing at the time, to sleep in the same tent with one's fiancée, so they went to Vac or to Horany on Saturday, and I went to join them on Sunday morning and then came home in the evening. That was the program every weekend, when the weather was good. How they settled on this sport, I don't know, but Jeno was a member of the Workers' Sports Association. My husband was also a member. He liked rowing and was very good at it. When we were rowing in a cox-less double scull, if he didn't want someone to overtake us, they couldn't. Later, we gave up rowing. Andor's wife wasn't game for it, she couldn't even swim, and he wouldn't have let her do it anyway, as he was very jealous. Then Jeno died in 1936.
Jeno Oblath was my cousin of mine and also of my husband. For me, it was on my mother's side: he is the son of Uncle Naci, my mother's brother. For Imre, it was also on his mother's side: her sister, Aunty Lina, became Uncle Naci's wife. Jeno was born in 1903, and at the age of 33, he got blood poisoning, and there were no penicillin yet (at that time), so it killed him. He finished high school; he was a clerk, but he was unemployed for a long time. And in 1930 or 1931, when they were building the house in Matyasfold he managed the construction work. He was unmarried and lived at home.
Andor Oblath was uncle Naci's eldest son. He was born in 1901. He was a clerk, but I don't even know where, but he was already married. He must have gotten married around 1933 or '34; their son, Peter, was born in 1935, and lives in Australia too. They used to live in Budapest, I think in Tuzolto street, but by the time the house was built, they had moved to Matyasfold as well. There was an attic room there, the youngsters and the small boys lived up there. Andor died in 1945 of typhus, supposedly due to the typhus injection. When I arrived home, he was already dead.
Uncle Naci's youngest son, Pali still lives in Australia. Pali got married here, and his wife, Klari, had some sort of a dressmaker's shop, and also a clothes shop. Pali worked at BESZKART. And then, something happened; she didn't pay the insurance, and she was supposed to pay some penalty, and I don't know how, but, she escaped from Hungary and left for Israel. Later, Pali went after her somehow, I think he could already go officially. He was a driver in Israel. This happened before the war. Later, they left Israel for Australia. I don't know exactly when it happened, but it was already after 1957, because my sister went there, and at that time Pali and his wife were still in Israel. In Australia, Pali didn't work anymore. He'll be 95 this year (in 2003). His wife died a long time ago.
Interviewee: Istvan Domonkos
Title: Captain Miksa Domonkos
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1938
This is my father, Miksa Domonkos, wearing his captain's dress uniform with all his decorations. The photo was taken in Budapest in 1938.
As my father told me, he served and did his duty, because he couldn't do anything else, but he never wore the uniform of the Hungarian Red Army. After the revolutions he got honorable mention from the War Office, from Horthy's bureau, and he was admitted to the reservist officer force, which was sometimes called in for practice. I remember that he was called in several times. In 1935 he obtained his captaincy from Miklos Horthy. So by the time anti-Semitism broke out he was relieved of all kinds of measures, because he had such prestigious decorations, and had this promotion from Horthy. So he was on the list, which was called Horthy exemption at that time.
There were always some kinds of short marches, time by time there was some festivity, inauguration or things like that. At these occasions my father always put on his officer's uniform, he pinned on all his decorations, and sometimes he took us along, too. I remember a case like this well. He took us to the inauguration of the Rakoczi statue on Kossuth Square. We stuck a crane feather in our scholar cap, and so we stood next to our father, and he stood there in his dress uniform. He introduced us there to a general for the first time in my life. I don't know who he was; I only saw that there was a red stripe on both sides of his trousers.
Interviewee: Magdolna Palmai
Title: Magdolna Palmai with her friends
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1940
his picture was taken in Budapest at the beginning of the 1940s. Third from right is Agnes Binet, the child psychologist who became famous later. I am sitting in the right corner. This is a picture of the university student group with whom we went to Professor Ferenc Merei and listened to the lectures. We had all been excluded from the university because of the anti-Jewish laws, and continued our studies this way.
Professor Merei lived on Klotild Street 10, in the 1940s, and we went to his place for cramming courses. Literature, psychology, politics - we talked about everything. Professor Geza Hegedus was there, too. I can still remember the way we sat at Merei's, Geza Hegedus put up a blackboard and said, that if the police came we had to say that we were learning graphology, the letter 'g' in graphology - and he wrote a 'g' - and showed us how, for example, a criminal would write the letter. So this was the conspiracy. It was a wonderful period. We had to leave the apartment one by one, first we looked outside if there was a policeman there or someone else. There were 10-15 of us at these meetings. The lectures went on for two to three years, until 1942 or 1943, but in 1944 we didn't meet at Merei's anymore, that's for sure.
Interviewee: Istvan Domonkos
Title: Miksa Domonkos in the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1942
The picture was taken in the Dohany Street Synagogue in 1942. It show the reservist officers who had established the Committee of the Jewish Ex-Servicemen. My father, Miksa Domonkos, is the 3rd from left in the 1st row.
At High Holidays they tried to convince as many officers who had been in World War I as possible to come, so that they would show that regardless of the anti-Jewish laws, we did have a past. That it wasn't true that Jews tried to avoid army service, but they did their patriotic duties. Among the circumstances at that time it was a significant thing, that in spite of the anti-Jewish law they put on their uniform and went to the synagogue.
In 1942 my father met an old schoolmate, Sandor Eppler, who was an official of the Jewish community. Eppler discussed with the leaders of the Jewish community to employ this officer Domonkos, who was one of the prominent figures among the old, Jewish officers, ex-servicemen, with a modest salary. Namely the Jewish community had to care for the clothing, the provision with shoes, boots, clothes, underwear etc. of the Jewish forced laborers. The ex-servicemen Jewish officers set up a committee, whose task was to supply officially the Jewish forced laborer companies. The War Department greeted this initiative, because it wasn't their aim to have those children freeze there. So they employed my father at the Jewish community with a modest salary. He became one of the leaders of this action.
Interviewee: Ferenc Szabados
Title: Ferenc Szabados in forced labor
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1943
This picture was taken in 1943 in Hodmezovasarhely during work service. First from the left is Hermann Fischer, who settled in Australia. He a resident of Kolozsvar, but since the Hungarians annexed it back [see: second Vienna decision], he was called up for work service. Second from the left, I don?t recall his name, he was a member of the skeleton staff at the camp. The situation hadn't gone so wild yet and in the beginning they treated us well. The first from the right was Tibor Kalan, he just died three or four years ago. All I know about him was that he lived on Rozsadomb. Then comes Laszlo Pollak, he's also here. This was a boy from Szeged, he was the director of the Szeged congregation, he just died a year ago. The whole group ended up in Bor, except for me. Those who were commanded to go there, had nothing more to hope for. Those I mentioned in the picture were the lucky ones. Though they went to Bor, they struggled out successfully.
I was drafted into the work service on October 13, 1941 into the V/2 kmsz. company in Hodmezovasarhely. We got soldier's uniforms, but they soon stuck a yellow armband on us, to differentiate that we were Jews, not fully-privileged Hungarian citizens. They took the uniform off of us later, at the request of headquarters. Then everybody was in civilian clothes. They left us the hat, but there was a national colored button on it, which they took off it, so we wouldn't desecrate the Hungarian national colors. [The national guard ministry decreed in March of 1942 that the Jewish workservice should wear their own civilian clothes, and should sew a yellow armband on them, but in a lot of the groups the uniform had already been taken away by the end of 1941. Until the spring of 1942, there wasn?t general proscription of the yellow armband, but depending on the commander, this was also widespread. ? ed.] I was put in the dispensary, in the sewing workshop. From that time, in November of 1941, they then took me to Korosmezo, in the Ukraine [this belonged to Hungary at that time, see: Lower Carpathian Invasion ] where we built tank traps and bridges. In the fall of 1942, (probably in September) we returned to Hodmezovasarhely.
There was a band of fascists living in Hodmezovasarhely. They wrote in newspaper articles that we didn't work. We just hang around and molest Hungarian girls. They connected us to everything. The city had already emptied out so much, only a few of us remained with our yellow bands. They called us into the Brigade commander and said that we shouldn't listen to the lieutenant colonel's words. Don?t do anything for him, work for him, because we?ll be immediately on the front. Hardly two days passed before the lieutenant colonel called us in to sew a suit for his son. Well, now what do we do? We couldn't say no. On top of that, next to our quarters was a house where Jews were living, and they had been taken away the night before. We sewed his son the suit that night. If we didn't sew that suit, they really would have sent us to the front. The commander said we should sew a suit for his son, because he also did for us. That was all he let us know, that thanks to him we weren?t taken away, too. Now where was this great friendship coming from? He once asked me where I was from? I told him Szabolcs, and he also came from there. That word was enough for him to not have me taken to the front.
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Interviewee: Hedvig Endrei
Title: Hedvig Endrei in the yellow star house on 14 Kar
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1944
This picture was taken in Budapest in 1944 when they ordered the wearing of the yellow star. The man standing behind the women is Jeno Kiraly. His family owned the house on 14 Karoly Boulevard. The elderly woman, second from right, was the janitor and accountant of the house, Aranka Szollosi. Next to her is Duci Sarkany, the sister of the gymnast Istvan Sarkany. I am first from left, next to me is my neighbor from the first floor. We weren't friends before, but when there was the curfew we talked on the balcony in the evenings. Someone from the house took this picture.
A textile merchant called Kaufmann, who later magyarized his name to Kiraly, owned the house where I moved. The entire house was theirs. There was a porter at the gate and there was a red coconut carpet from the gate up to the mezzanine; it was easy to sweep it, to clean it, and the carpet was fixed with brazen bars, so that if someone stepped on it, it wouldn't slip. The house had a janitor, who polished the door handles and cleaned the carpet every morning. He was deported to Auschwitz, but he came back and was almost 100 years old when he died. I rented the apartment from him at that time. During the war there was a closed corridor on every floor, with glass windows and doors.
The old Kaufmann had died, I only met his wife. She was in fact the owner of the house and the shop and one of his sons, Jeno Kiraly, worked with her. Jeno had a confection manufactory on the mezzanine, where they made clothes and fur-coats, and the show-room was on the street side. It was a very elegant shop, they only worked on commission. They had many foreign customers, who came here to see the displayed clothes and ordered on the basis of that. They also had models. The office was under the balcony, and the showroom was on the street side. Kaufmann's other son was Dezso Kiraly, who became a humorist and a writer. One of their daughters, Bozsi, married a bank clerk. Their other daughter was Manci Kaufmann; she married a bookseller, who had a bookshop on Muzeum Boulevard. They lived on Muzeum Boulevard too.
There was one apartment on every floor originally. The old Kaufmann couple lived on the third floor. The lawyer of the house lived on the second floor. He was also Jewish. Bozsi Kiraly lived on the first floor. The Kaufmanns decided to divide the floors when the old owner died and their daughter Manci moved. There was no point in keeping such big apartments. When I came here there were several apartments on each floor. Jeno Kiraly was a very kind man, and when they divided up the house they made one-bedroom apartments in the back part of the house, where the employees of the shop lived, and the bigger apartments were on the street side. Every employee got an apartment here, and they didn't have to pay rent for a year. But during that time they had to settle in. Jeno checked whether they had bought furniture or not, and if they hadn't, they had to pay the rent for the previous year. The old Mrs. Kaufmann remained on the third floor with her son. The janitor, Aranka, lived on the second floor, right next to the lawyer. The door-keeper lived on the ground floor.
When yellow star houses were introduced, the Sarkany family moved into the lawyer's apartment, because the lawyer had died. The Lukacs family lived on the first floor; they were my neighbors. They had already lived here when I moved in. Margit Lukacs was everyone's godmother here, because she wasn't Jewish. Many thought that if they converted they would escape deportation. She arranged conversion for everyone who asked. And she hid many things for many people: prayer books, candle holders for example, everything that was related to Jewry. She preserved many Jewish treasures this way. Her husband was a dental technician, which will be of importance later. She died of cancer, not long after the war. Another woman lived on the first floor. We weren't friends before, only when the curfew was introduced we met on the balcony to talk in the evenings.
When the orders started Dezso Kiraly had to move to his sister's within two hours, because they moved here the families from Kispest, Ujpest and its environs, who had allegedly been bombed. The house was hit by a bomb because of them, as they wanted to demonstrate that even though they lived in a yellow star house, they weren't Jews, and put a blind on the window and sewed a big cross on it. They got the first proof shot of course. Dezso lived at Manci's. We helped him move, because he had very many books. The inhabitants all helped so that the furniture and everything could be carried out quickly. Jeno was too old, and he wasn't deported. Bozsi and her husband immigrated to France after 1945. They somehow escaped, I don't know how. They came back from France, because they had opened a restaurant somewhere, but things didn't really go well, and when things had settled there, they came back. Rozsnyai didn't survive, Manci lived on Szasz Karoly Street in Buda; she died there. Aunt Kaufmann was old and died, but Jeno got married after the war and he ran the shop. He had a son, he was six when he emigrated with his mother, because his mother's family lived in the USA. He now lives in Switzerland. Jeno died at the age of 70 something. I don't know what happened with Dezso.
Interviewee: Maria Eva Feheri
Title: Maria Feheri at the Communist World Youth Meeting
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1949
This is me at the Communist World Youth Meeting in Budapest in 1949. I cannot really find now where I am but I know I must be on the photo somewhere.
When a placard appeared in the streets in 1945 that said, 'Hungarian Youth! Come on, do sports, have fun, dance!', I said that this time I was like everyone else. And I joined MADISZ [Hungarian Democratic Youth Alliance] so that I could dance and do sports. And they told me to stay: there would be work, there would be dances, and I'd see that everybody was the same from now on. And I liked it very much and I took the ideology for granted as well. I couldn't believe what some of my other girlfriends told me about the Soviet Union. I was a believer with all my heart. I could argue even in tramways if somebody scorned it. Then there were still religion classes at school and our priest disparaged MADISZ a great deal. And then there was an argument between classmates and MADISZ members.
There were many Jews in the fifth district MADISZ organization. I think that the Jews I knew there believed that it was a new world and that the old one had been awful because we and our parents had been taken and had yellow stars put on and been spat on. And there shouldn't be any more of this and the Communist Party and MADISZ was the best way to avoid it. And the others were proles who felt that they could become somebody, that we could finally study.
Interviewee: Thomas Molnar
Title: Endre Rona's wedding
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1950
The picture was taken in front of the Bethlen Square synagogue at the wedding of my cousin, Bandi (Endre) Rona. In the first row from right to left: Gyongyi Rona, Bandi's aunt, my father Miklos Molnar, I don't know the children, only the little boy in white, he is my brother Jancsi. In the 2nd row from right to left: my mother's brother Kalman Koves, my mother Iren Molnar. Next to the bride Bandi's mother, my father's sister Margit Rona [nee Molnar], on the left side of the picture between Gabi Koves the groom and the bride is my brother Peter.
Bandi Rona was born in 1925 in Budapest. His father was Janos Rona, his mother Margit Molnar. He was like an older brother to me. He had quite an influence on my musical and literary interest. I went to the opera with him, he got me used to reading, he was a kind of a model for me. He was already a scout, when I was a cub. He was six years older than me.
Bandi went to the Bocskai high school, he graduated from there in 1943, and he graduated from university after the war and became a mathematics teacher. He got married in 1950. His wife, Agi [Agnes] Kreisler was born in 1927 in Budapest, she was liberated from Mauthausen in 1945. She also graduated from university, but I don't know what kind, and I don't know what she does. Bandi and Agi had a child, Marta. Marta and her daughter Niki live here in Pest. Marta married twice, she didn't go to university. I don't know much about her.
Bandi was at our place in Australia for a month at the beginning of the 1970s. But he never thought about emigrating. He wasn't that type. He wasn't t that healthy either, and he died in 1976. He had heart problems.
Interviewee: Gabor Paneth
Title: Where Gabor Paneth did his forced labor, in Felsohangoly
Place and Date: Budapest, Felsohangony - 1950
This is Felsohangoly. When I was first drafted into forced labor, I spent three months here in a camp between July and October 1944. The photo was taken in the 1950s when I went to see where I had been in forced labor.
At the time I felt that I, and many others, were saved from deportation by being sent to forced labor there. We weren?t too badly off there. Of course, there wasn?t enough to eat, but sometimes after working at digging ditches, we had nothing to do, so we just hung around. In September I was taken to Kecskemet and soon after to Szolnok. On October 12, I went home to my parents but two days later I was drafted again and taken to Szekesfehervar, 60 kilometers from Budapest. On October 15, the news came that Hungary had broken away from the German alliance. Everybody was sent home from the camp. By the time I got to Budapest, I heard the newsboys shout that the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Fascists) had taken power. I crept home and found my mother and aunt there. My father had already been taken to a collection center in Budapest. I went to the Swiss embassy where I found a huge line. I was standing around looking at this queue when suddenly the door opened and an acquaintance of mine came out. When he saw me, he shoved me in through the door. I found myself inside at the head of the queue. The embassy gave me four false Schutzpasses, protection letters, and those enabled us to survive. I went and got my father out of the collection center with one pass, and we all moved from our house, which was then a yellow-star house, into a protected house. Later, in January, we had to move into the ghetto. We were there until the liberation.
Interviewee: Edit Deutsch
Title: Edit Deutsch at a 1st May parade
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1960
This is a picture of a 1st May parade in Budapest, at which I participated in the 1960s.
After the war, we ran a shop. During the Rakosi regime the taxes were higher than my mother's income, so she gave up this endeavor. Perhaps also because she didn't want the children to be recorded as 'class-alien' at school.
After completing eight years of elementary school I dropped out of technical school due to great poverty. I worked for a year and took a special matriculation exam. We were almost starving on my mother's salary in the Rakosi era. I was able to go to the special graduation exams because I starved less when I worked and earned 400 forints per month in the stationary factory for a year. There was a dormitory, there was breakfast, lunch and dinner and there was, I think, a stipend of 70 forints.
After that I went to the teacher training college as a mathematics-physics major. I taught there, in the 13th district, in Domb Street elementary school, and in the meantime I qualified as a teacher of mathematics at university. The headmistress was a very decent Jew, but she was a member of the Party, and she was always nagging me to join. And so I became a party member quite early and I was a pioneer-team leader. I did my work diligently in Domb Street for ten years, then I went into computing, working for a company named Imperol [which later became SZAMALK]. I was a programming mathematician, later I became a program-developer, a program designer, and system developer. And later, the Central Comittee of the Hungarian Socalist Worker's Party asked for a person for the computing centre. SZAMALK recommended me for this programmer position. Later, I was the computer-system manager of the library.
Interviewee: Hedvig Endrei
Title: Hedvig Endrei at Szeged restaurant
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1960
This picture was taken at Szeged restaurant in Budapest in 1960. I am the first from right. The others are my colleagues, but I don't remember their names.
In 1952 they opened a café and cake shop on the corner of Himfy Street and Bartok Bela Street, and I became an assistant business manager there, then a business manager. The so-called 'gebine' shops came into fashion at that time. [Editor's note: This was in fact the smuggling back of the private or retail trade into the industry, which was stopped at the time of nationalization. It meant that a company or a co-operative rented a restaurant or a shop for a certain percentage of the income.] This was as if it was private, the owner [i.e. the one who took the shop in 'gebine'] had to account for the merchandise through the company, and the company paid the income, but he worked as if it was his own. The business manager begged me to take over the shop, so that he could go to a 'gebine' shop. This man, his wife and his mother lived on Karoly Boulevard, just as I did. He had a daughter and I always liked children very much. After three weeks of him begging me I took it on. That's when I started a coffee maker course, an ice-cream maker course, a cook's course and a business manager's course. I was there for eight years, and I got from there to Szeged restaurant as a business manager. When they transformed it into a fishermen's inn, I went to work in Kiralyhago restaurant, on 20-22 Boszormenyi Avenue.
There was a band in Szeged restaurant, and Istvan Laki played in that band. He became my partner in life. We lived together 24 years, he died around 1982. He wasn't Jewish. He had two children: Istvan and Andor. Andor became my stepson, because I didn't have children of my own. Andor spent a lot of time in the shop, too.
Interviewee: Thomas Molnar
Title: The stand of furrier Koves
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1968
The picture was taken in 1968 at the International Industrial Fair in Budapest and it shows the stall of the furrier Koves. In the picture you can see my mother's sister-in-law, Gabriella Koves, nee Schneitzer.
My mother's youngest brother, Kalman Katz was born in 1910. Kalman magyarized his name to Koves sometime in the 1930s. Kalman was a furrier; he had a prospering shop on Kossuth Lajos Street. The shop is still there, now his daughter runs it. Kalman magyarized his name to Koves sometime in the 1930s. He was first drafted into forced labor in 1939, and they let him home at the end of 1940. Then in 1941 they drafted him again. In 1942 he was wounded at the Don Bend, the Hungarians left him there. The Russians saved his life; they took him to the hospital. They healed him, and then they took him to Siberia, from where he came home at the end of 1947. He continued the furrier trade. He opened a shop again. In 1950 he married Gabriella Schneitzer. Gabriella, her sister and mother spent the Holocaust partly in a Swiss protected house, partly in hiding, but her father died in Mauthausen.
They had two children, Tamas Koves and Judit Koves. Tamas has a daughter, who is called Sandra, and Judit has two daughters, Andrea and Szilvi. They live here in Hungary.
At the time when our parents were in prison my brother Peter lived at the Koves'. Uncle Kalman was his father in place of his father, and Aunt Gabi his mother in place of his mother. This is why the real close, family relationship remained with them until this day.
Interviewee: Józsefné Fehér
Title: Fehér Józsefné elsõ autójukkal
Place and Date: Magyarország, Hungary - 1970s
Ez én vagyok az elsõ autónkkal, amit a második férjemmel közösen vettünk.
A második férjem, Fehér József nem volt zsidó. De nagyon boldogan éltünk, nagyon szerettük egymást. 1926-ban született. Õ két évvel volt fiatalabb, mint én. Mezõtúri volt. [Mezõtúr Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok vm.-i város, ekkoriban, az 1920-1930-as években 27 000 fõ körül ingadozott a lakosság lélekszáma. -- A szerk.] Úgy találkoztam vele, hogy ott, ahol mi laktunk, az elsõ emeleten lakott albérletben. Azért maradtunk aztán késõbb is ebben a lakásban, mert a férjem nagy autóimádó volt, és itt volt a garázs. Villanyszerelõ volt. Aztán késõbb a Rákos menti ÁFÉSZ-nél anyagbeszerzõ lett. Aztán a földalattinál is dolgozott mint villanyszerelõ. A háború után nem foglalkoztam a zsidósággal. Nem hiányzott. Énnekem az életemet õ töltötte ki. De a szívem az mindig zsidó volt. És maradt is. Nem léptem be a pártba. A férjem sem. Mi nem is politizáltunk a férjemmel. A politika minket nem érdekelt. Boldogok voltunk.
A háború után elsõ munkahelyem a Lapterjesztõ volt. Ott kartonkezelõ voltam. Mi vezettük fel a kartonra, hogy ilyen újságból ennyit kér az újságos ott vidéken, abból annyit. Körülbelül másfél évet dolgoztam csak ott, akkor az megszûnt. Utána kerültem a Rózsa utcai közértbe eladónak. És eljött a férjem, és hát egy ilyen munkahelyen a férfi is tegezi a kollégáját. Meghallotta a férjem, és közölte, na, ide többet nem mész. Egyszerûen féltékeny lett. Akkor elmentem, a Kodály köröndnél is volt egy nagy közért, oda. Én a csokoládérészlegnél voltam. Aztán utána a Május 1. úti ruhagyárban dolgoztam. Ott gombot varrtam. Utána pauza, és aztán kerültem a Medimpexhez. Én ott valóban jól éreztem magam. Mint liftes kerültem be. És utána aztán már fölvittek a gyógynövényosztályra, ott dolgoztam mint vezetõ a gyógynövényraktárban. Nyugdíjba az Auróra rendelõintézetbõl mentem. Ott be voltam osztva orvosírnoknak. De amikor hiányzott egy asszisztensnõ, akkor beraktak. Szóval elég mozgalmas munkakörökben dolgoztam!
Interviewee: Erzsebet Radvaner
Title: Erzsebet Radvaner with her daughter Julia Radvaner and her sister Anna Nobel
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1972
This is my daughter Julia (left), my sister Anna (right) an me during a beautiful excursion in Szentendre, near Budapest, in 1972. We loved going for nice walks and excursion the three of us.
Julia was born in 1949. When my father was on his deathbed I promised him that my mother would live with me. In fact it was much easier for me like that, because Juli was six months old when I had to give up my fashion shop and had to go to work. They took my baby away from me. For twenty-one years, my work was such that I was at home in the flat. So if my child cried, I could go to her in the other room. My mother reared her from her age of six months. I had a domestic helper. When I had my fashion shop it was cheaper to have one, than to do the cooking and the cleaning in my own time. I got my job during the summer and Emi, the domestic helper, said she would take Juli in. They went away for two weeks that was the holiday due to Emi. I gave her an addressed card for her to write each day. I could not have provided such things for her in Pest in 1950; she got the first milk from the morning milking and every day they killed a chicken to get the fresh liver into her soup.
Juli was head of the class in the gymnasium. She was accepted at her first application to the Theater Academy. The next day I went to work very happy and met our legal adviser, who told me, 'You shouldn't be so happy. It is a bumpy career, someone either is very successful in it, or not.' I've thought so many times. I am very sorry for Juli's actual life. She got her diploma in 1971, and she was in the provinces. She got a contract in Debrecen first. From there she went to other provincial towns. I retired when Juli got her diploma.
We did not speak about religion at home after the war. My mother was observant and Vili her husband was too. But I said that we could not educate the child in two different ways. If she was told something at school, we could not tell her any different. She didn't notice that the dinner was different and at a different time. And in 1956, under the revolution, the order came that beginning in September 1957, religious education classes would be started. The ones who wanted their children to attend had to sign for it. I did not want to, but Vili signed that she should attend the Jewish religious classes. Juli accepted it without knowing what it was.
Her next meeting with Jewish life was when a classmate of hers came to our place to play. At that time biscuits were sent in colourful boxes by Jewish organisations and the other girl liked them very much. My mother told her that she could take them home if she wanted to. The girl replied that she could not take them home, because then her parents would know that she had been to a Jewish girl's house. My mother told her: 'Forget about the boxes then. Look, you can lie however you want at home, but don?t come here anymore.' From then on, Juli knew that she was a Jew. We never spoke of it. Then she noticed that there were matzoh dumplings at Pesach. There was the dinner beforeYom Kippur, and Vili fasted and prayed. I did not fast. I couldn't. My work mates never asked me 'Are you coming to have lunch?,' but they always asked me on Yom Kippur. I worked on every Yom Kippur. Juli knew several things by then, but not too much, and she didn't ask. Emotionally, she became a Jew at that time.
Interviewee: Judit Kinszki
Title: Judit Kinszki’s husband, Csaba Sik and a friend
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1986
My husband and I used to attend the same university. We were of the same age; he was born in '34 as well. His name is Cs. S. It was Schilling before. It was a German (Swabian) family from Celldomolk.
[We got married in 1957. We rented a flat.] The tenant was consumptive; we were scared that our child would get infected. The flat was full of bed bugs, and we protected ourselves against them in vain, as they came in everywhere. [With help] we got some temporary accommodation. It was a loft facing towards the yard. You can't imagine the happiness we felt at getting a flat of our own. We didn't have a kitchen, only a bathroom and toilet. It had one window, which the child got; a curtain separated her room. The caretaker was very skilled, he shelved in the whole entrance-hall, as we already had lots of books then; Cs. worked at a publishing house and got copies from there, and he got them from the writers as well. There was a tile stove, but it had always gone cold by the morning, and the toilets were horribly cold. It leaked all the time, the child got a chronic ear infection, because the flat was wet and mouldy. So life was not easy, but it was our own flat. We lived there till '70. Csaba was very busy and he only came home at night. When he got home, the child was always sleeping; I don't really know if she knew she had a father. I raised her completely alone. When we moved to the temporary accommodation Cs. worked at home, but the child disturbed him. So I took the child away all the time. We visited all the museums of Budapest.
Interviewee: Mariann Szamosi
Title: Peter Szilagyi and Sara Szilagyi
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1990
This is Peter Szilagyi, my youngest daughter's lifepartner, with their first little girl, Sarika, in 1990, not long after her birth. They didn't have an apartment then, meanwhile Grandma Szamosi died, and my Julia got that apartment- she?d been living with grandma for a long time - and this picture was taken there.
My son-in-law is a film technician, he's got a Kft. [company], and works with different groups and different productions. My daughter is now managing some foriegn trade. Before that, she worked for me in book publishing, while her kids were still tiny. She could only take on work that meant being occupied in the evenings. She spent a lot of time with her children, and can play with them exquisitely. She's able to do puzzles with them for hours.
We live in a close community, everyday we telephoned. We aren?t together so often, but luckily I have my duty to do for them, they have me at their Kapolnasnyek house in the summer for two or three weeks with the children. They?re always well-organized summers because there's always a lot of kids. Last summer, a whole dance group vacationed there for a week.
Interviewee: Gyula Földes
Title: Gyula Foldes and Eva Redei with friends
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 1993
This photo was taken in our apartment in May 1993. The man on the right is Gyuri Szabados who died two years ago. He was an engineer. Next to him is Eva Redei, my wife, then Gyuri Karpati, a friend and his wife Eva and on the left that's me.
This meal was made on my 60th birthday. My 60th birthday was coming up and Eva was trying to figure out what to give me and I told her, 'You know what. Have Eva Karpati paint a portrait of you.? Eva Karpati was Gyuri Karpati's first wife. She is a very good painter, she mostly does portraits. And we organized this little celebration to show her where we had put the painting.
Gyuri Karpati was my classmate and later when his children were born, I was their doctor. He had a very sweet wife - the mother of these children, Gyuri's second wife - and she and my wife used to go to school together so they had known each other before. As we lived very close to each other, we used to meet quite often. Unfortunately, Zsuzsika, the wife, died young of cancer. Gyuri is a successful director and he is also a qualified dentist but he makes his living not as a dentist but as a director. He taught at the School of Dramatic and Cinematic Art in Budapest for a long time. Our friendship, just as my friendship with the others on my recent photos goes back 50-60 years.
Interviewee: Hedvig Endrei
Title: Hedvig Endrei on her 90th birthday
Place and Date: Budapest, Hungary - 2005
This picture was taken on my 90th birthday, here on Karoly Boulevard, on 22nd May 2005. These are the inhabitants of the house. Those who have lived here for a long time, besides me, are the Bogdan couple. They have lived here for 33 years. The man on the left sitting is the husband and his wife is standing behind him. Their son took the picture.
On my 90th birthday, on 22nd May 2005, the inhabitants of the house congratulated me. I have lived in the house for the longest time, I don't know whether there are other Jews in the house, but the company has changed a lot. The occupants of this building are relatively nice, but the house has split in two because of the present day political situation.