Ferenc Szabados’s letter of freedom

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  • Photo taken in:
    Hitzendorf
    Year when photo was taken:
    1945
    Country name at time of photo:
    Germany 1870-1945
    Country name today:
    Austria

The document seen here was presented to me in Hitzendorf, Austria in May of 1945. The mayor of this Austrian city signed it and it says that I’m free to move around.

 

I was drafted into the work service on October 13, 1941 into the V/2 kmsz. company in Hodmezovasarhely. From that time, ...they then took me to Korosmezo, in the Ukraine [this belonged to Hungary at that time, see: Lower Carpathian Invasion ] where we built tank traps and bridges. In the fall of 1942, (probably in September) we returned to Hodmezovasarhely. From then on, we were put to work in various parts of the country all the way up to September of 1944. We were in Orgovany, Pahi, and Csengodo, where they made us build military training areas. In the beginning of 1944, we went to Szeged. When the Russian groups reached the city in September 1944, they [the Hungarians] marched us through Sandorfalva, Baja, Mohacs and Pecs all the way to Kormend. From Kormend in the beginning of October 1944, they deported us to Eberau, Austria. 

 

They took us to work in a little village called Eberau, near the border. Technical troops watched us, not military SS. In Eberau, the Jews built tank and armor traps. So if the Russians come with tanks, they’ll meet a big wall, and won’t be able to pass. The residents weren’t bad. They cooked for us there. We went for dinner, or some slop to eat.We were housed in a school, where Germans came. A one-armed German officer was in charge. They told us the sick would be taken to a place where Jewish doctors would take care of them. We were happy for them. Some among us were already getting weak, they couldn’t handle the rigors. They were taken the next day. My buddy reported in sick. Some guys going to work had seen, from a distance, that they were making the sick dig their own graves, then shooting them in the head.

 

All of a sudden, they blew the warning siren, that we had to pack immediately.  They took us to the road leading West, thousands of people, but they didn’t take us on the highway. We left the village, then had to strike out up a mountainside. We went across this mountain for a day, and got down the other side, so we wouldn’t have to go through other villages. It seems they didn’t want us to be seen there. And they drove us, they killed them. When they took us towards the west, there was a camp. They wanted to bring us there. But the camp was temporary, they’d killed everybody there. By the time we arrived, the camp was empty. So then we went the whole way through the villages after all. There were SS-workers everywhere, they pushed us forward, further. Those who had taken us to the lager, suddenly just disappeared. At this time, the Germans were fleeing, they left in their horrible tanks, they were in trouble. They waited for the Russians to arrive. Many thought that the Russians liked the Jews. But they were taken prisoner.

 

But the Germans were already falling apart. I saw some German soldiers playing around when another armed gang appeared, and they shot them.  At the end, the situation was completely chaotic, they were escaping in any direction, it didn’t matter which. I was liberated, and neither the Germans, nor the English appeared, but we saw the Russians leaving. They never came into the factory, we never went out. We dragged on that way, there were about eighty of us. When it happened, then all the leaders, mayors, who knows what status these officials had, came from the surrounding villages to this wood factory. They thought that if they were with the Jews, nothing bad could happen to them. Thanks to that, the Russians took them and the Jews prisoner. They didn’t look at who was Jewish, who wasn’t. We were so happy, nothing mattered, “come on over!”. And then we were liberated, we were in the factory for about ten days.

Interview details

Interviewee: Ferenc Szabados
Interviewer:
László Bányai

KEY PERSON

Ferenc Szabados
Year of birth:
1920
City of birth:
Ilk
Country name at time of birth:
Hungary
Occupation
before WW II:
Self-employed craftsman in elite crafts
after WW II:
Skilled self-employed
Family names
  • Previous family name: 
    Ferenc Schwartz
    Year of changing: 
    1945
    Reason for changing: 
    Assimilation

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