Ernest Galpert -- Growing Up Religious

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The story of a Hasidic childhood in one of the centers of Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism of Central Europe. Mukacevo (as it's called in Czech, or Munkacs in Hungarian) is a town that was in five countries between 1918 and 1991: the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, interwar Czechoslovakia, wartime Hungary, the Soviet Union and today, Ukraine. Mukacevo had a majority Jewish population (before it was wiped out during the Holocaust); its great rabbinical courts feuded constantly with each other.

Ernest Galpert, born in 1923, spent his childhood mornings in a religious school and his afternoons in a secular Czech school. His father had a grocery store and the family spoke Yiddish at home. During the war, Ernst was taken into forced labor brigades while his parents and sisters were deported to Auschwitz. Only his sisters returned and left for Israel soon after.
Ernest remained, hoping his sweetheart Tilda would return from the camps. She did - they married and raised two sons in Mukacevo, then in the Soviet Union. When Communism fell in 1991, one of Ernest's sons left for Israel while Ernest and his other son began helping run the Jewish community.
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Ernest Galpert grew up in Munkacs, a town in the Carpathian Mountains which belonged to Czechoslovakia until 1938, when Czechoslovakia was divided by the Munich Conference and Hungary was given the rights to occupy the town. Learn more about Munkacs / Mukacevo.

Take a look at photos provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) of Hungarian forced labor.

A list of historical documents about the Holocaust in Hungary.

An article on Hungary and its alliance with Nazi Germany provided by Yad Vashem.

Many Jews in Hungary were able to escape the persecution of the Holocaust through the Hungarian Labor Service System. This article from Yad Vashem explains how.

An article on Miklos Horthy, regent of Hungary throughout the Second World War, and his relationship with Hitler and the German Reich.

map of the concentration/work camps located in Hungary and Slovakia provided by Yad Vashem.

An outline of the Nazis' plan for dealing with the "Jewish problem" in Hungary after the German occupation in March of 1944.


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"A Jewish Community in the Carpathian Mountains. The Story of Munkacs" from the Yad Vashem website gives a great overview of the Jewish life in this bustling town before the Holocaust, and of what happened to Munkacs during the Holocaust.

Centropa also offers a glossary to Jewish and historical terms mentioned in our interviews.

An article by the USHMM on the Jewish community of Munkacs.

The USHMM offers a fascinating collection of historical footage from Munkacs, among them a wedding video taken in 1933. The Grand Rabbi of Munkacs, Chaim Elazar Shapiro, makes a speech in Yiddish exhorting Jews in America to continue to keep Shabbes (to observe the sabbath day).

A virtual Jewish history tour through Hungary.

The International Center of Photography holds an extensive collection of photos from Munkacs and other centers of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, taken by the Russian-American photographer Roman Vishniac in the 1930s.

Learn more about the Jerusalem Holocaust remembrance memorial "Yad Va-shem" , and find out about the original meaning of the museum´s name.

If you have any questions about Jewish life, click this link, type your question and get an answer from one of many experts.

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Read an excerpt from Centropa´s interview with Ernest Galpert on the Jewish history of his hometown Mukacevo / Munkacs.


In this excerpt, Ernest Galpert recalls his schooltime and his Bar Mitzvah.

Ernest Galpert describes how he was assigned to forced labor and how he returned to Mukachevo after the war.

Click here to see Centropa's archive of photos taken in Munkacs (or Mukachevo in Czech).

A collection of historical postcards and contemporary photos from Munkacs.



Film Details

  • Duration:
    Czech Republic, Hungary

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