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Edit Kovacs

During the war, in June 1944, my daughter and I, my mother and my sister,
and my sister's little son, who was the same age as Maria, were together in
a yellow-star house in Nepszinhaz Street. We were crammed into a three-room
flat with a dozen other people. The men were in forced labor battalions. In
July, the women and children were taken to a stadium from where we would
have been deported. A decent Arrow Cross (Hungarian Fascist) man-because
there existed such people as well-told me that everybody with a child under
the age of two should try to sneak away, while they would be looking the
other way. My family and I went back to the yellow-star house and we were
left in peace until the German occupation on October 15, 1944.

A week after that, the Arrow Cross people came again and collected all the
younger women and set them off on foot on a death march towards the
Austrian border. My sister and I managed to escape and arrived back in
Budapest in early November. In the meantime, my mother had been taken to
the ghetto together with the children, but we managed to find them when we
got back. My father also managed to escape from the Austrian border and he
found us in the ghetto. We pulled through the ghetto times somehow. On the
day before Liberation, in February 1945, I went out of the cellar where we
had been hiding during the bombing to get some food. I was injured by
shrapnel and I was left lying on the street for some days and got blood
poisoning, so my right leg had to be amputated below the knee (the
operation was done in the Jewish Hospital). This marked me for the rest of
my life.
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Peter Reisz

The Printers’ Trade Union was part of the Social Democratic Party.  My father was a member of some board, if I remember correctly, in the Social Democratic Party.  That’s why when the Germans came into Budapest in 1944 they came to our flat right away for my father.  But he wasn’t at home, as he had already escaped from forced labor and was in hiding.  He obtained false papers, and hid here in Pest.  The Social Democrats helped him.  There was a shoemaker, a fellow with leftist sympathies, who supported him.  After the War he continued his zincographic work.
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Marianne Wallisch

Im Sommer 1944 nach dem Hitlerattentat, haben die ungarischen Pfeikreuzler, den Reichsverweser Horty gestürzt und ihr grausames Regime begonnen. Diese waren viel ärger und brutaler als die Deutschen vorher. Da haben dann auch die Deportationen im großen Stil begonnen. Viele wurden erst ein Mal in einer Ziegelfabrik gesammelt.

Mein Vater ist mit unseren Deutschen Pässen mit dem großen „J“ drinnen immer irgendwie durchgeschlüpft. Aber trotzdem konnten wir in dem Judenhaus nicht weiterbleiben. Ich wurde noch griechisch-orthodox getauft, weil wir geglaubt haben das könnte helfen und bei den orthodoxen ging es am einfachsten. Hat auch nicht viel genutzt.

Eine unserer Mitbewohnerinnen eine Ärztin hat uns Schwedische Schutzpässe besorgt. Und so konnten wir in ein schwedisch geschütztes Haus gehen. Dort waren wir 10 Familien in einer Drei-Zimmer-Wohnung und frühere Angestellte meines Vaters haben uns mit Essen versorgt.
Wir mussten dann in ein anderes schwedisch geschütztes Haus übersiedeln. Dort bekamen wir eine kleine Garcioniere für uns alleine, was natürlich ein Hit war.

Am Weihnachtsabend 1944 hat dann die russische Belagerung begonnen und hat bis Ende Jänner gedauert. Wir haben fast die ganzen 6 Wochen der Belagerung im Keller verbracht. Die Deutschen waren noch in Buda und die Russen in Pest. Es wurde ohne Unterlass hin und her geschossen.

Es wurden auch noch zu dieser Zeit die Bewohner ganzer Häuser von den Pfeilkreuzlern und Deutschen abtransportiert. Wir wären auch bald dran gewesen. Mein Vater war im Hof draussen gewesen und kam in den Keller hinunter und sagte uns wir sollen ganz still sein er glaubt er habe Russisch reden gehört. Das war dann irgendwann Ende Jänner der Tag der Befreiung. Wir haben erst nicht gewusst wo wir hin sollen und hatten auch nichts zu Essen. Das Rote Kreuz kam jeden Tag und hat uns mit etwas Suppe versorgt, in der ein paar Bohnen geschwommen sind. Hans Blum hat uns bereits über das Rote Kreuz suchen lassen und so dann auch Kontakt mit uns aufgenommen. Wir sind dann erst ein Mal noch zurück in unsere alte Wohnung, aber es war fast alles weg. Wir haben ja das Meiste nicht mitnehmen können und da war jetzt natürlich nichts mehr da.
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Ferenc Leicht

I had just finished the 1st grade, when the Germans marched in on the 19th March 1944. By the 31st March all schools had to be closed, they closed all the schools. And from the end of March one order came after the other. From the 5th April we had to wear a yellow star [see Yellow star in Hungary][8], bicycles had to be surrendered.
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After middle school, from 1943 I went to a commercial college for a year in Nagykanizsa. I didn’t have to take any entrance exams, because I was such a good student that there was no need for it. The schools published a year book every year with the list of all the pupils and their grades for each subject. The names of those who graduated with distinction was printed with italics, and the names of those who were excellent with bold letters. I knew the general subjects better, I was first at school in Mathematics, but for example I was never good at drawing, handcrafts, physical exercise and singing. I always had a problem with arts and crafts, and these spoilt my grade  average. I was a good student at the commercial school, too. I never studied at home, I read very much, but at home I never did the homework, which I couldn’t do at school. I had just finished the 1st grade, when the Germans marched in on the 19th March 1944.
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Oto Konstein

At first, this wasn’t so terrible until Hungarian fascists, so called “Njilasi” came to power at the beginning of 1944 [6]. Until then, people were sent to forced labor, myself included, but in general we didn’t have any greater repercussions. When Hungarian fascists came to power, we were forced to wear a yellow star. Regardless of the fact that I was just a young boy, I also had to wear the star.

So did my sister and my parents. I don’t really remember how my father supported us financially after he was forced to close his store. He had a truck that he sold and that provided some money. We also had some savings. I know that I worked from 1943 to 1944 until they took us away to help support my family.

Around April 1944, most of the Jews in Cakovec were taken to the synagogue where the Hungarians held us captive for about two days. From there we were taken first to Velika Kanjiza (Nagykanjisza) and then to Auschwitz. We didn’t know what was really happening.

Of course, we were aware that terrible things were going on but we also heard that, by 1944 the Allies were coming forth and we assumed Germans were losing the war. I think it was unimaginable for us that all these horrors were happening to Jews. People didn’t know about concentration camps and murdering of Jews;

I assume that, had they known, they would have tried to run away or hide. Nobody really expected anything like this to happen. We thought we’d be captured somewhere for just a few days or weeks until the war is over and that all will be well again.
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