Maria Feheri's certificate of baptism

Maria Feheri's certificate of baptism
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This is my certificate of baptism, issued in Budapest in 1937. I think my father had converted to Christianity earlier [before my birth]. Still, as my mother is Jewish, at the time of my birth I was registered as an Israelite. And in 1937 he had me convert. My brother was already born a Christian, and he was not circumcised. We had Christmas, but without keeping any of the Christian rites, such as presents, surprises, or a Christmas tree. You could see that my mother wanted to assimilate in this respect. She wasn't religious either. We didn't keep any other holidays as far as I know. I don't remember any Easter, and we didn't celebrate name days, only birthdays and Christmas. There was never a word about religion, right up until I was admitted to the state high school. Then I was taken to the nuns because the Catholic school admitted Jewish children, even if both parents weren't Catholics, and the state school didn't. When I entered the school of the Ursula order, I had to take part in all kinds of things. In addition to this there was First Communion even in the elementary school. For one or two years I got giddy about how nice a thing the nun's profession was, because I read about the life of small saints and I decided that I would be like them. I became a very good child then and my mother was surprised. And my father didn't mind me going to communion in the morning, which had to be attended without breakfast. I think he looked on kindly at these things. We prayed before and after every lesson, and we put on a veil on Sunday, and it was a great thing to serve at mass, but they only let me do it once. However, it was a problem being a Jew there, and we knew who was and who wasn't. There was a kind of unspoken acknowledgement there. I was very afraid of the anti-Semite girls. But the class-mistress, Ms. Eva, who was secular, said that if she heard any child discriminating against other children, she would have that child expelled. Once, just as a joke, in order to make the others believe I wasn't a Jew, I said, 'Look, this girl has a nose like a Jew', and to this, the girl said that she would tell Ms. Eva about it. I thought that would be such a scandal. But eventually it came out, after I won a school swimming competition, and the physical education instructor said that I should go along and join KISOP, which was a youth sports club. My mother told me that I shouldn't go because they ask for the certificate of baptism of four grandparents - because that was in 1943 - and then I had to go to Ms. Emi and tell her that I couldn't go because not all four of my grandparents were Christian. I was very nervous and I couldn't sleep at night, for fear of what Ms. Emi was going to say about it. She said, 'Antal, are you Jewish?' And that was that. But I couldn't go swimming any more.

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Interviewee: Maria Eva Feheri
Dora Sardi
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Budapest, Hungary


Maria Feheri
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