Ignac Mermelstein

Ignac Mermelstein
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  • Photo taken in:
    Paris
    Country name at time of photo:
    France (after 1945)
    Country name today:
    France
This is a picture of my younger brother, Ignac Mermelstein. My younger brother, Ignac Mermelstein was born in Huszt in 1926. The mother tongues of all three of us are Hungarian and Yiddish, and naturally we also knew Ruthenian. We spoke Hungarian in Romania. Not many spoke Hungarian in Huszt, so we had to learn the Ruthenian language, too. All three of us went to a Ruthenian school. [Ruthenians: the name for an East Slavic people living in what was once Galicia and Subcarpathia, as well as Bukovina and who speak a Ukrainian dialect.] My brothers went to a Jewish school. Jewish school lasted for half a day, either morning or afternoon. It was obligatory in our family, my father insisted on it. [probably a cheder]. Among my ancestors, there were cantors, teachers. The Jewish school was there in Huszt, the two boys went there. My father learned it, and he wanted the boys to learn Hebrew, too. They learned how to pray. I even know how to pray, I just don't understand a word of it. ' I came up to Pest. I brought my little brother with me, who was sixteen. We took a monthly room on Dob street, and stayed there for a month. Then we found a better one on Kossuth Lajos street, next to the old Uttoro Department Store. I couldn't stand my little brother. He always jumped up on moving trams. I sent him to Uncle Dezso, who was a cantor teacher in Dombovar. He accepted my brother right alongside his own ten children. There you could still study, nobody asked if you were Jewish or Christian. My uncle signed my brother up to be an electrician [trade school] And then for work they went to a Schwabian [ethnic German Hungarians]. They pretty soon? it came up what religion are you. My brother said, he didn't speak Hungarian so well, because they spoke Yiddish at home, that he's Jewish. Then the assistant kicked him, why did he say he was Jewish. They didn't kick him out because, in fact he was a hard-working kid, they let him work. My little brother learned to be an electrician there. My younger brother was in Theresienstadt. My older brother in Koszeg, in forced labor. Then he was in Bergen-Belsen. My brothers felt that they had nothing to gain here. If a country was capable of exterminating its' own residents, I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of innocent people and children, then they had nothing to gain by staying. They had to find a new home, which would accept them! It was painful for them also, that they had to go away, leave their friends here and like I said, we were very close. Of course, they had no property, it wasn't difficult leaving that. What they had, they carried it off, it was nothing to cry about. In Auschwitz, there was something to cry about. They went to Czechoslovakia, they were there for a while. Then they went to France, my older brother stayed for five or six years. He learned French. Then he went to Canada, that's where he met his wife. They lived there for three years, while they got together enough money to travel. My younger brother was very industrious. First he worked as an electrician, and once he even had an accident. I wrote him then to pack up and come here if he wants to live! He let me convince him. He came home, but just for a visit. Later, he retrained himself to be a tailor. Then he went to Los Angeles, too. In Los Angeles he had a business in the most elegant quarter. He had a salesman, too.

Interview details

Interviewee: Olga Banyai
Interviewer:
Anna Legman
Month of interview:
June
Year of interview:
2004
Budapest, Hungary

KEY PERSON

Ignac Mermelstein
Year of birth:
1926
City of birth:
Huszt
Country name at time of birth:
Czech Republic
Occupation
before WW II:
Employed by craftsman
after WW II:
Skilled self-employed

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