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Ferenc Leicht

Vera, my wife comes from Szeged, she was born there in 1937. They were deported in quite a ‘lucky’ way in 1944. At that time they took a trainful of prominent Jews from Budapest, with the permission of the Germans and in exchange for 20 million pengoes, to Switzerland. [see Kasztner-train][14]. The very rich Jewish families gathered the 20 million pengoes with the condition that they and their families would also go with the train. So there were some intellectually prominent people on the train like Lipot Szondi for example [Editor’s note: neurologist, psychiater, the authot of the fate analysis and the Szondi-test] or the rabbi from Szatmar [today Romania], who was the most famous Jewish scholar in Hungary and who was an anti-Zionist all his life [Editor’s note: Joel Teitelbaum (1887–1979): Between 1929–1944 he was the rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish Community from Szatmar. He fled to Switzerland with the Kasztner train, from where he went to Palestine in 1946, then to the USA, and with the members of the Szatmar Jewish community who survived founded the Szatmar Hasidic community.]. I don’t know by name but there were more than a 1000 people who were accommodated in a separate camp in Bergen-Belsen for a while, then they were put on a train, and they were really taken to Switzerland. And 4-5 trainful of Jews from the country were deported not to Auschwitz, but to a concentration camp near Vienna called Strasshof. 3 trains left from Szeged, 2 two Auschwitz, 1 to Strasshof. [Editor’s note: According to Randolph Braham’s researches the first two transports were directed to Auschwitz, but ‘only one of them got there. The Germans directed the other one to Strasshof, in exchange for the trainful of Jews from Kecskemet, who were supposed to be deported to Austria, but because of negligence and routine they were commanded to Auschwitz.’ The third transport was directed to Strasshof originally, and most of the 5739 people in it survived the deportation.] My wife was on this latter train. But all her relatives were on the first 2 trains, they were all killed. But her father, who was an electrician and an X-ray specialist the director of the hospital on Szeged didn’t want to let to be taken, because there were very many injured at the hospitals and the X-ray had to be used all the time. But her father didn’t agree that his family be deported without him, so in the end they deported him, too, with the last train to Strasshof. And my wife’s grandmother and grandfather, too. In Strasshof they didn’t kill anyone, they got accommodation, they got food. And from there they sent them to work, mainly agricultural work. The peasants took a Jewish family, who worked for them from morning until dawn in exchange for food and accommodation in the stable.
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