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gabor paneth

I was drafted several times into different forced labor battalions. First I was sent to Felsohangoly, where I spent three months between July and October 1944. 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.
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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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Miklos Braun

My mother had a younger brother, named Jozsef Buchhalter. He was a textile merchant. He married the daughter of a provincial property-owner and they lived in Budapest. He was on the Italian front at Isonzo during World War One. Then after that he had a textile shop on Vilmos Csaszar Avenue in Budapest. During World War Two he was shot into the Danube but he swam away and then lived on for quite a long time. (Editor’s note: after the Arrow-Cross takeover in October 1944, their vigilantes ravaged Budapest and drove many Jews to the shore of the Danube, where they were shot so that their bodies fell into the river.) He wrote a book which begins with the phrase, “I was born twice.
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By that time I was working as an unskilled worker in the factory where Vera worked. I had been fired because of the anti-Jewish laws in 1944 and I entered the manual labor staff of the factory and became a semi-skilled worker. I balanced revolving engine parts on machines.

But let’s go chronologically. I was drafted in January 1942 and I got back home in November 1943. I had been at the Don River Curve (not far from Stalingrad in Russia) and all kinds of “good places”; my best friends died, and I survived by chance. For a year we were in Sianki, on the Northern side of Polish Carpathians, which was Polish territory. When we went there, we still had our uniforms. Then in October 1943 an order came that civilian clothes should be sent to us from home. We were not soldiers any more, we were simply prisoners, slaves, or whatever you want to call it. I was able to survive only because I was transferred from the work company to the motorized unit because I could drive trucks. When the front at the Don River Curve was broken through, we towed the truck away with a tractor, and after an adventurous journey in it we arrived in Kiev. 

Then, in May 1944, I was drafted again. There was a motorized-unit army post on Ezredes Street and I was sent there. I went home regularly from there to 40 Sziget Street, a yellow-star house that my whole family had been transferred into. Once I wanted to cross Margit Bridge and I was caught at the gate by a filthy sergeant major and he ordered me back. Ten minutes later the bridge blew up. When Governor Horthy came, we believed everything was going to be all right, but the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Fascist, or Nyilas) men came in the evening and the army post was closed. Then we were put in trains, crammed in wagons at the railroad station of Jozsefvaros. We had to get off at Pozsony Ligetfalu and we went to dig tank traps. From there I escaped with a friend of mine, and after a few days’ illegal loafing around we got into a printing shop called Ervin Metten. The pay-books for German soldiers were printed there in some twenty languages. We obtained illegal papers there but we were caught and imprisoned. From there I was taken to the Lichtenwort concentration camp and I was still there when the Soviet troops arrived. 

When there hadn’t been any news about me for months, my wife said to herself, “If he is alive, he’ll come back on our first wedding anniversary.” That was on the 15th of April. I had had typhus at the time and had just recovered, more or less, and it wasn’t until the 16th of April that I staggered into Sziget Street, frightfully thin.
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Peter Reisz

I married my wife in 1960. We met through a friend in the technical school – I’d gone to school with him in Obuda too – and this friend was introduced to a girl at his relatives’ place, and he asked her if she had a girlfriend, and she brought her girlfriend, who later became my wife. That’s how we met, and both pairs ended up getting married.  It was important that my wife should be a Jew. I always looked for Jewish company, and I believe my parents expected it too.  When we got married we moved in with my wife’s parents in Kispest.  They lived in a very poor flat. The Arrow Cross had taken their flat from them in the Second World War, and they didn’t get it back.
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