Miklos Braun's family was middle class: his father, Zsigmond, was a a certified bookkeeper and auditor, his mother, Aranka, was a housewife. Miklos was born in 1913, his sister, Klara in 1908 and his brother Ferenc in 1906.
Klara married a businessman from Fiume (Fiume is now Rijeka and is in Croatia today). Both were deported to Auschwitz by the occupying Gerrmans, and they never returned. Ferenc survived the war in the Budapest ghetto. Miklos graduated from the Commercial Academy in Budapest and managed a candy store. Every day he saw an attractive woman pass by his window. One day she introduced herself to him - her name was Vera Wexler. Soon Miklos and Vera began dating even though Miklos had been conscripted into forced labor. When Miklos was on leave on April 15, 1944, he and Vera married, but because they were Jewish, were not allowed to have an official wedding picture.
Miklos was then swept up into the horrors of war again. He did not think he would survive, but Vera, who was hiding in a "yellow star house" in Budapest said, "If Miki is alive, he will come back to me for our first anniversary." She was wrong. Miklos showed up one day late.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hungary was under Austrian rule. After the Austrian Empire's defeat in the Austro-Prussian war, the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy (1867-1918) was formed. They had a common monarch, but were goverened separately.
Although the First World War was fought, in part, to secure the power of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, its defeat heralded its dissolution. Thus in October 1918, the Hungarian Democratic Republic was created. This marked Hungary's independence after centuries of Hapsburg rule.
After a revolution in 1919, a communist state was created known as the Hungarian Socialist Republic. This, however, lasted only a very short time. Following a counterrevolution the monarchy was restored and from 1920-1946 the Kingdom of Hungary under Horthy was reinstated. However, because of Hungary's involvement in the First World War, the Treaty of Trianon was signed which recognized Hungary's idependence, but also partitioned Hungarian land, significantly reducing its territory.
Before WWII, Miklos lived with his family in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Jews have lived in Budapest for centuries. The years leading up to the Second World War were a time of prosperity and growth for the Budapest, as well as Hungarian Jewish community.
As we learn in the film, Miklos Braun attended the Trade School in Vas Street in Budapest, where Karl Mannheim, one of the most famous sociologist from the 20nd century, taught classes.
Miklos Braun´s sister, Klara, was born in Szeged, which, many argue, is home to the most beautiful synagogue in Hungary.
In 1940 Hungarian authorities allied themselves with the Axis powers. Before German occupation, authorities began deporting and killing non-Hungarian Jews. The government initially refused to deport Hungarian Jews, despite mounting Nazi pressure.
Miklos Braun, were conscripted to forced labor for the Hungarian Labor Service System during World War II. By 1940, all able-bodied male Jews were forced into service. Miklos was sent to Ukraine where he worked on the Don River - a site with heavy industry. Miklos returned from labor service in 1943, but was immediately drafted and was sent to the concentration camp Lichtenwörth, a temporary camp in Austria.
In 1944 German forces occupied Hungary. Hungarian Jews were subsequently sent to live in ghettos. Shortly after ghettoization, authorities, working with SS Colonel Adolf Eichmann, carried out the deportation of Jews - many were sent to Auschwitz.
Jews living in Budapest, however, were not immediately deported. They were sent to live in designated houses throughout the city that were given the name “Yellow Star Houses.” Miklos's wife survived the war in one of these houses.
Miklos' brother spent much of the war in the Budapest Ghetto. The following is a link to the Decree on the establishment of the Budapest Ghetto by the occupying Nazi authorities in November 1944.
Miklos's sister, who was living in Fiume in what is now Croatia, was deported in 1943 after the German occupation of Italy. He does not know what happened to her but assumes she was sent to Auschwitz.
Following the Second World War, Hungary found itself under Soviet control.
Though the majority of Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, there still emerged a postwar Jewish community. This article, "Jews and Jewishness in Post-war Hungary," discusses Jewish identity in Hungary in the aftermath of the war and under communism.