Laszlo Nussbaum -- Europe without Borders

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A remarkable story of changing borders and stubborn optimism. Heinrich Nussbaum lived in the Austo-Hungarian Empire and had four sons who fought in the First World War. The empire collapsed and Europe was divided, but Heinrich didn't believe in borders and sent his sons to universities all over Europe: Sandor studied economics in Prague, Joseph became a doctor in Berlin, Laszlo received his degree in philosophy in Paris and Jeno, Laszlo's father, studied mathematics in Florence.

When war came, Sandor was killed in a Hungarian forced labor brigade, Laszlo was hidden by a familiy in Paris, Jeno was murdered in Buchenwald and Joseph, the doctor, fled to America, joined the US Army and entered Germany as a medic.

Our story belongs to Jeno's son Laszlo, who tells us that he lost his grandfather's optimism in the Buchenwald concentration camp and that it took until the Romanian revolution of 1989 to get it back.

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Lazslo’s grandfather, Heinrich Nussbaum, was born in 1864 in the Zsombor community in Transylvania, which lies near the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca.


Jewish communities have been present in Transylvania for centuries. Read about Jewish history in Transylvania here, and present-day Romania here. The earliest records indicate a Jewish presence during Roman times. Jews began to settle in Torda in the 18th century.


In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power, further heightening Europe's growing anti-Semitism.


At the end of the war, Transylvania returned to Romania, which was occupied by Soviet forces. Elections held in 1946 established communism as the dominant political force. The People's Republic of Romania was created in 1947. Learn more about the period immediately folowing WWII here.

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