Testimonies

Here is a selection of testimonies submitted to us via e-mail or Facebook, and originally published on our Hungarian-language website. These testimonies were selected and, unless stated otherwise, translated into English by Gwen Jones. To submit a story, please write to gwen.jones@gmail.com.

2014. May 08., Thursday

VI. Bajnok Street 21. - Judith Borstein and Lilla Matos

My name is Judith Borstein and I reside in Los Angeles, California currently with my family. I was a forced resident of Bajnok Street 21, VI. district, Budapest with my mother Vera Grunfeld along with my Aunt Magda Wachsmann and her daughter Lilla Wachsmann (later Verhovay) and several other friends from June 1944.

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My Mother was forced out from her apartment from Kőbanya and herded into this “Yellow-Star House” after which she shortly went into labor with me on June 26th and gave birth to me at Weiss Aliz Hospital in Budapest. Afterwards, she was forced to return to Bajnok Street 21 and we all resided there until the Arrow Cross Hungarian SS guards liquidated the “Yellow-Star House” and force-marched all the residents in lines 10 deep to be shot into the Danube. My Mother, cousin Lilla and I escaped from this death march, miraculously, a guard actually agreed to turn around and allowed us to escape out of this line.

I very much want to register for this event and have our story and survival registered as part of this important commemoration to be preserved for posterity.

Concurrently, at this same time at the end of June 1944, my maternal grandparents, Dezső and Gizella Winternitz, who were herded into a ghetto near Budafok where they originally resided, were deported to Auschwitz on the cattle-cars, where they were murdered in the “mass gas showers” by the Nazis. Incidentally I have copies of three handwritten notes they threw out of the cattle-cars while in transit to their annihilation.

On my father’s (Jenő Grunfeld) side, half our family were murdered and those that survived were emotionally scarred and damaged for the rest of their lives. My father survived the Holocaust by performing slave labor at different camps from Hungary, Austria and Siberia where he actually walked home from after the liberation in 1945. He contracted typhoid in Russia and was an invalid and bed-ridden for a year after he returned to Budapest.

He was a broken man for the rest of his life and could not recover from the accumulated trauma he endured from 1938-1945.

Our miraculous escape was due to a good-hearted young uniformed boy (“levente”), who happened to know my aunt Vera by name. He gave her a kerchief to cover her head, and we just walked out of the forced march, and no-one noticed. Then we went to my uncle's fellow-soldier's wife, who lived in a Roma/Gypsy community called “Tomori telep,” at that time in Budapest’s 4th district. She gave us shelter (unfortunately, I don’t know her name) and we were hiding there until about April, 1945. My mother was sent to Germany – Ravensbruck and Leipzig, my father, as a forced laborer, to Bor. That’s why I [Lilla] remained with my Aunt. My parents both returned, but my paternal grandmother died in the Budapest Ghetto, his sister and her husband both were lost somewhere during the war. This is our complete “story.”

While the Hungarian Government finally publicly acknowledged its own eager and guilty role of complicity with the Hitler Regime and formally apologized for the extermination of over 500,000 Jews, it is pertinent that its CURRENT POPULATION be made aware of all details of the inhuman horrors that it inflicted on its Jewish population.

It is all the more crucial to have this Public Commemoration now of the “Yellow-Star Houses” since there are some parties and individuals who are trying to re-write and falsify Hungary’s true historical role in the second World War from 1938-1945 including re-writing textbooks that will teach its current and future generations falsified information and not the actual cold brutal historical facts that actually happened and were recorded by bona fide historians as well as the survivors during this period.

It is also important to note that THE MANDATE to force all Hungarian Jews into the HOUSES WITH THE YELLOW STARS was issued during the Horthy Regime, the leader that many Hungarians are trying to glorify currently (with some governmental support) and there have been numerous new statutes erected in his honor in public places, even in Budapest.

Incidentally, my father’s original surname was Jenő Grunfeld, which was changed officially to Gábor (and Lilla’s to Verhovay) after the war as many Hungarian Jewish survivors did in order to be able to obtain employment in order to be able to support their families. Yes, the ugly head of antisemitism rose during the Communist era as well although it was more covert. 

Unfortunately antisemitism was always prevalent throughout most of Hungary’s history.

When we emigrated to the USA (my father, mother, Vera Gabor (Winternitz) and younger brother, Peter Gabor) during the 1956 uprising, my father’s name legally became Eugene Gabor. After my marriage to my husband, Dr. Irving Borstein in 1964 my legal and current name is Judith Borstein.

VI. Jókai Street 1. - Gyula Földes

The house on Teréz Boulevard was not a yellow-star house, which is why we had to leave our apartment. The house we moved to on Jókai Street belonged to the Foncière insurers, whose office was on the second floor, even when it became in a yellow-star house from June 1944. From the end of October 1944 [after the Arrow Cross took power], it was a refuge for Swedish diplomatic employees, and under diplomatic protection, run by Raoul Wallenberg. The apartment on Jókai Street was a smaller, three-room apartment. This was a forced exchange.

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My mother, father, brother, aunt and uncle Károly also lived there. When Wallenberg was working, there were already too many of us, with at least 20-25 people in the apartment. We were squeezed into one room. Some Christian residents who hadn’t left were still living in the house, including the concierge. At the break of day on January 8, 1945, and on the basis of the concierge’s “charitable deed,” an armed Arrow Cross company appeared. He might had told them that there were Jews here, unlawfully, in case there was anything left they could steal. I don’t know. What’s important is that a couple of Arrow Cross men appeared that night. I was 11 years old at the time. The whole company—whoever could still move, because whoever could not was shot in the head, this is how it was—was taken to the Arrow Cross house at Városház Street 14. This also came to the attention of Wallenberg, who appeared in the Arrow Cross house, and so the next day we were taken to the Pest ghetto, to the house at Akácfa Street 54. Over the next few days, my father and uncle were taken to the banks of the Danube, where they were shot into the river. Naturally, their corpses were never recovered. Liberation took place on January 18, 1945.

From the Centropa archive.

VII. Wesselényi Street 75 - Mrs. Endre Pór

My mother behaved the best, as we’d say today, according to how one needed to behave in 1944. And not like how the Jewish Council said. Because the Jewish Council was always saying that we had to observe all the regulations, and then there wouldn’t be any trouble. You had to be well-behaved. My mother said: no. We are an army- and Christian family, we have Christian papers, we are not even Jewish. We shouldn’t wear the yellow star. But Wesselényi Street 75 became a Jewish [yellow-star] house, and that’s where my grandmother, László Fóti, his wife and two children, stayed.

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The oldest child, who was one year younger than me, was 18 and he was called up. There was a poster which said that everyone aged from 18 to 60 had to go. They were taken to Jászberény and Bor [to the Bor copper mines where Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jews were placed into forced labor battalions]. The other son was younger and stayed behind. The family was terribly unhappy, particularly my grandmother. The older son Tomi was brought up by my grandmother, all the family members worked in the Koh-i-noor shoe paste factory, we didn’t have time. When we still had to be afraid of deportation, before the Lakatos government came into power, my grandmother, László Fóti, Auntie Bözsi and the youngest child moved in with us on Aréna Road 15, because my mother said it was a safe place to be. At that point my grandmother didn’t have any problems. This was where she learned that her favorite grandchild had been deported [to a German concentration camp, either Flossenburg, Saschsenhausen, Oranienburg or Buchenwald], and that’s when she completely collapsed and fell ill. At the end, a doctor came out to us and said she had cancer. It’s possible, since she’d already had cervical cancer, but maybe it was brought on by the events.

After my wedding, I moved into my father-in-law Jenő Pór’s apartment. He lived in the house he owned at Vörösmarty Street 13. When this became a yellow-star house, and was full of Jews, we moved with my father-in-law to my mother’s apartment at Aréna Road 15, and hid at a lieutenant’s place. We were there with my mother for two weeks. During this time, the Jews were taken away from Vörösmarty Street and the yellow-star house remained empty. That’s when we moved back into Vörösmarty Street 13. During the siege, we took up the entire ground floor, we were the lords of the house, and there was not even one Jew left, only Christians who had moved in. The rest of the Jews had been taken to the ghetto, or shot into the Danube, or to the KISOK playing fields, wherever. The old Jewish residents gave their furniture to the Christians whose homes had been bombed. We were liberated in Vörösmarty Street. I owe many thanks to my father-in-law. He had a letter from Bishop Ravasz saying that he was the deacon of the Good Shepherd Committee. The Arrow Cross accepted this paper, signed by Bishop Ravasz. The paper said that he, his child and wife, enjoyed protection.

From the Centropa archive. 

- Katalin Horváth

Sadly, there are no names in my stories. I heard these stories when I was a child, because my grandparents taught me who lived where, and why they were no longer where they should be living. My grandparents died a long time ago so there’s nobody I can ask names and addresses from. One of the figures I remember as “Uncle,” since he was the first adult who made a great impression on me when I was still at kindergarten.

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My grandmother told me that they were living in Óbuda when the Arrow Cross came for their Jewish neighbors, and lined them up in the courtyard. She said that this Arrow Cross group consisted of the worst cobblers in the area.

In her apron (because she was cooking at the time), my grandmother went out into the courtyard and told the Arrow Cross that she wouldn’t allow them to take her neighbors away.

They laughed at her and said “if you like them so much you can go with them!,” and made her stand at the end of the group. This is how our Jewish neighbors walked with their children and my grandmother along the streets of Óbuda to a collection point or towards the Danube.

It was by chance that my grandmother survived this, since my grandfather met the group on the street. His composure and elegant clothing (he was a tailor) confused the Arrow Cross, and when he commanded them to hand over the woman last in line, they immediately obeyed.

My grandparents’ grief for their lost neighbors never ceased, and remained with them until their deaths in the 1970s-1980s.

VI. Paulay Ede Street 43. - Júlia Deme

Late in her life, my grandmother had moved in with my Aunt Aranka on Paulay Ede Street. This later became a yellow-star house. In 1940, my grandmother went into hospital, where she died. I don’t know how old she was. Days in the yellow-star house were boring and pointless. A bunch of people locked up together. Only young boys, ladies and old people remained. All the men had been taken into forced labor service. They squeezed in as many families as they possibly could. What was funny was that this was a house with a double courtyard, and in the front courtyard, which was in better shape, there was a brothel on the first floor.

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Every window of the brothel was papered over so that people knew that there were whores in there, not Jews. It was a closed courtyard, and the whores were not the streetwalker type, you couldn’t go downstairs in the evening; even if the women did go downstairs sometimes, the men never did. The brothel was run by a very nice French couple. The woman was called Josephine something or other. They had a bulldog, I remember that well. They were very nice, very liberal, and got on well with the residents, we even got on with the whores too, it wasn’t a problem. One of the whores lived with a Horthy detective. When she came down into the air-raid shelter in the basement, the detective came with her, but nobody minded. He didn’t think it was such a glorious thing to be living in a brothel, but there he lived and kept himself to himself. Generally, the detectives’ job was to track down Jews, and conspirators against the state. I don’t remember this man, but only know that he came down into the basement like anyone else, and never caused any problems, he was that sort of guy, and clearly the woman was also a good sort, you could feel it with them. The women were all just really nice. People in the yellow-star house were quarreling with one another and arguing all the time. Clairvoyants came, and Gypsies also came to swap stuff. My two female cousins swapped the contents of my aunt’s entire trousseau, which nobody ever wore, for a chicken. At some point they had made linen knickers and slips, and put them away in the chest. My generation never wore things like that, not even my aunt, I don’t think. They swapped the whole lot with the Gypsies. We always had delicious fried chicken. They criticized us in the house for giving too much stuff away in exchange for a chicken. People’s lives were ruled by idling, which I got sick of, pulled myself up and went out to work. I got a tip from Laci Vajda, a dentist who lived in the house, that there was work available on construction sites. One we cleared rubble from the gentry casino on the corner of Aréna [then Vilma királynő] Road and Gorkij [today Városligeti] Avenue. I loved working with the roofers. We climbed out of a four-story house, I sat on the joists and handed up the bricks. Nobody forced me to do this, I’m not scared of heights. Even today I still see that house opposite Szondi Street, where I sat on the roof, laying tiles. It was a very good group of people. The boss was a Jewish engineer, Mr. Markovics. I don’t know which engineering company he worked for, and I don’t know how he got a job like that, after the German occupation. They sent us all around the city, but mostly we were at the end of Gorkij Avenue, working with the remains of the gentry casino. My co-workers were very sweet Jewish girls. We all wore the [yellow] star. We had a really good time, lugging stuff about, taking joists, laying bricks, it was so much better than sitting in the yellow-star house conjuring up spirits because there was nothing else to do.

My father was on forced labor service but was allowed leave in Pest from time to time. Once he brought us some goose giblets but my two female cousins were too lazy to cook them, even though they stayed at home all day doing nothing; they stuck them in the refrigerator where they got full of maggots. That’s what crappy refrigerators were like in those days, you had to add the ice yourself. We could only go shopping during designated hours [under the Budapest curfew], but there was a crazy shortage of goods. There was nothing. There was “Sztójay” sausage, the worst liver pâté, and things that tasted even more terrible. [NB: In the wartime vernacular, poor quality foodstuffs were named after politicians blamed for the shortages. Thus the hard block of jam made from mixed fallen fruits was called “Hitler bacon.” Döme Sztójay was the antisemitic Prime Minister of Hungary from March to August 1944.] People took what they could get. Which was very little. There were no Jewish shops, they had been closed. You had to guess where Jews could go to shop. I don’t know where the others went shopping, I bought things at various place on the way home from work. I had to be home by 5 pm, and worked until 4 with the girls, who lived nearby. We went happily along Király Street, nobody bothered us, and on the way, we bought food and ate it. We didn’t have a ration ticket, or even a Jewish ration ticket, we bought what we could [the Public Supply Minister’s decree 108.500 K.M. of May 1, 1944, regulated the provisions Jews were entitled to, e.g. 100 grams of meat per week, 300 grams of sugar and cooking oil per month.]

The yellow-star house was at Paulay Ede Street 43, where my cousins lived. That’s where they grew up, that’s where their apartment was, but in the meantime both their parents died, and the two girls stayed on there. One of them, who is still alive today, was hidden by her prospective husband, who then didn’t become her husband after all. I stayed there with my other cousin. I was in one room with a very sweet old Jewish man, whose wife had been killed in the Vienna ghetto. There was also a couple named Dengler, who had a fish, game and poultry shop at the Buda-side bridgehead of Margit Bridge. They were very sweet, elderly people. It was good for my family that we were nominally together there, since they would have stuck total strangers in there too, however many. From November 1944, we had to go down into the basement air-raid shelter every night. The cannons were already thundering, and the Russians were already in Vecsés [19 km from Budapest], which we didn’t know, because Jews weren’t allowed radios. They had taken them away a long time ago [in April 1944]. There were no newspapers either, apart from the Arrow Cross paper, but we didn’t dare buy it and didn’t want to anyway. We knew nothing. This yellow-star house had an interior walkway around the courtyard, so it wasn’t like someone could listen to English radio [the BBC World Service]. There were house inspections, sometimes twice a night, and once I picked up a leaflet in English, and kept it in my bedside cabinet, but luckily it was never noticed. On November 9, 1944, they closed the gates of the yellow-star house on us. Before that, we weren’t locked in, there was just a curfew, but then they locked us in. They herded us downstairs at dawn, I went down in pajamas and long trousers. And that’s how I came home too, in the same pajamas I’d pulled on earlier. My walk was very unfortunate, since my father had brought me a brand new pair of black high-heeled shoes for all eventualities, and it was those I put on, which made my feet bleed during the march. The ladies noticed that I was limping. I didn’t know any of them. They sat me down, tore the shoes off me—which were by now bloody—and someone gave me a pair of heavy boots, which I tied onto my feet with string, because my feet were size 35. That’s how I walked, and came home in them too. I had a bonnet, a sort of pointed cap which you tied under your chin to wear in winter. I wouldn’t have worn it, because it wasn’t so cold, but I put it on right away. They didn’t give us time to get dressed properly. I threw some cheap jam and liver paste in a backpack. I didn’t meet anyone I knew, which even now I still don’t understand, because the entire street and house was forced onto the street. I just ambled along alone, and then the next thing was the death march [to the Hegyeshalom border crossing with Austria].

From the Centropa archive.

IX. Lónyay Street 18/b - Mrs. Iván Besenyő

As long as my parents were alive, we spent the holidays with relatives—descendants of the Spatz family—at Lónyay Street 18/b, and which was a yellow-star house. The family of my grandfather’s sister, Mrs. Miksa Spatz (born Olga Spitzkopf), lived in the apartment. Her children were Edit and Katalin. Edit didn’t have children, and Katalin had a son at the very last moment, when she was 37 or 38, and his name was Péter Lusztig. Since Edit had been a child beauty, she was nicknamed Baba, Baba Spatz, that’s what they called her. Everyone loved her. She had two husbands, one died very young on forced labor service, they barely lived together, and the second also died later, but because he was ill. We went there a lot, and were together on the big holidays, Pessach and Yom Kippur, those sorts of family gatherings.

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There was always one or two relatives there, who kept in close touch with other family members. The men always went from there to the synagogue, including my father. I know that on Yom Kippur they had to be on time, and when they signaled the end of the Yom Kippur, because we had been fasting too, we had tea and supper there. There was a strange habit at the end of the holiday, when the first star appeared and they blow the shofar, that’s when we had snacks, coffee with milk, a special ring cake and fruit. After the 24 or 26 hours of fasting, I ate whatever didn’t trouble my stomach. The men came from synagogue very hungry, and once we’d laid the table, out came the snacks. And about an hour or 90 minutes later, there was paprika chicken with rice, that was the supper. These holidays were celebrated for quite a long time, maybe up to the early 1970s, I think my children even came with us.

And then we spent a few weeks in the Swedish protected house at Pozsonyi Road 4. I don’t know exactly when we were there. From there we went to the ghetto. They herded us together one winter morning, sounding the bell for the whole house. We went on foot, and didn’t know whether we were being taken to [be shot at] the Danube, or somewhere else. We heard the dull sound of shooting from all around. But a child is not yet completely aware, and never has the sense of fear that adults have. And so we didn’t end up at the Danube, but in the ghetto. What should I say about that? We were starving, freezing, it was bad. It’s a bad memory, which completely broke my childhood in two. We were in a horrible basement, because there were no longer any free apartments, they ghetto was already full, I don’t know how many there were of us. No beds, no nothing, I remember there was an elderly lady concierge who had a large bed, and I slept in there with her. My parents slept somewhere on the floor. There were mattresses laid all around. Whether there was any heating at all, I don’t know. We were lucky, since the winter of 1944 was not particularly cold. We couldn’t leave to go outside, the whole territory was sealed off. It was possible to leave the house and stroll for a bit, but I don’t really remember that much. I only remember that I spent a lot of time with my parents. And we were glad when the day was over. We spent every day doing nothing. Listening to the bombings, shootings, and the news that came. I don’t think there were any other children there. Nor do I know whether they gave us anything to eat, or who. We had very little food. We survived in the ghetto thanks to the fact that Pest was already surrounded by the Russians, and so we avoided deportation. But we were always very hungry, and at the very last moment, on January 18, when the Russians arrived, they started handing out jam and things like that. When they opened the ghetto—we were there at the end of Akácfa Street by Király Street, the last house before the Terézváros church—and we broke through the hoarding planks to get home. The last days were pretty eventful, with Germans and Russians coming and going. My grandmother was somehow with us until the end, and was also liberated, but her diabetes was so advanced by then that her body gave up from the starvation, and she died a few weeks later. I remember they took her to the cemetery on a delivery cart. We got hold of a coffin, and that’s how she had to be taken to Rákoskeresztúr.

From the Centropa archive. 

XIII. Bulcsú Street 21/b - Mrs. István Dósai

My grandmother and her family lived a few houses down from us, and we were very lucky because their house was designated a yellow-star house in the summer of 1944. Whoever was not Jewish was told they could move anywhere, in fact they received assistance too, and could go to live in an apartment that Jews had been forced to leave. But interestingly, in that house, many non-Jews stayed on. My mother and I moved into one of the rooms, and anyone left form our family came and moved in with us, so they didn’t have to live with strangers. And so in that apartment lived my grandmother, her three daughters (whose husbands were on forced labor service), and all their children, plus my uncle Aladár, his mother-in-law, wife, and their small child, whose biological father they never saw because when the child was born, he’d already been on forced labor service for a long while. I was there together with my mother. There were 12 of us in a three-room apartment, plus one woman we did not know. 

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My mother and her younger sister Piroska survived, although in 1944, in the yellow-star house, they received a summons to the Óbuda brick factory, and off they went. They took their coats, walking boots, and something to eat. My mother was not a practical person. She was terrified of every action, but her sister was a very resourceful type. Later they said that there was such chaos in the brick factory, such a senseless amount of women and old people, that they couldn’t fit them all on the wagons, it was mayhem. My aunt said to my mother, “Hey, let’s get out of here.” My mother didn’t dare, but my aunt insisted, and so they escaped and came home to the yellow-star house. After that we were terribly afraid that one of the neighbors would denounce them. But nobody did. And that’s how they missed the wagons destined for Auschwitz. So only my mother’s family survived. Where we lived in the yellow-star house, there was a very kind Christian lady whose 15-year-old son who, how should I put it, expressed great attraction towards me. And for days this guy would go to our old abandoned apartment and put as much as he could of my grandmother’s stored food from the larder into a backpack and bring it to us for as long as entry into the ghetto was still possible. He brought us lentils, split yellow peas, onions, potatoes, everything we had stored under my grandmother’s supervision in the summer of 1944, because meals had to be so carefully planned. This was a huge help, since in practice it meant that although we were terribly hungry, we didn’t starve, unlike many older people who did die of starvation there. We couldn’t stay in that apartment for very long, because when the siege and bombing of Budapest began, one of the bombs hit the house next to us on Kisdiófa Street 5. As a result, the stairwell of Kisdiófa Street 3 came away from the wall. Everyone was terrified and the entire house moved downstairs into the basement. In fact the entire ghetto lived in basements. There was no other way. We took what we could with us down into the basement, and although the other staircase remained in tact, nobody dared to go upstairs because of the constant bombing, cannon fire and shooting.

From the Centropa archive.

XIII. Hegedűs Gyula Street 3 - György Preisz

Since my dad was working in the match factory, which was a Swedish-owned company, my mother received a Swedish protection letter. First they were in the yellow-star house at Csáky Street 3, which was a place of worship. Later, when the protection letters were in circulation, Aunt Jolánka and my mother went to the Swedish protected house on Hollán Street. But one day the Arrow Cross came at the beginning of November, and cleared the house out. They took everyone to the brick factory and from there to Bergen-Belsen. My mother also ended up in Bergen-Belsen, as did her parents.

From the Centropa archive.

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XIII. Hollán Ernő Street 3 - Györgyike Haskó

One of my father’s good friends had a basement facing the street at Hollán Street 3, which is where we were later in the yellow-star house. They lived on the fifth floor and he was also a chemist who specialized in cyanide. At that time, Budapest apartments were full of bedbugs, and it was simply impossible to get rid of them. People got cyanide pest control in every year, but there were still bedbugs everywhere. You had to leave the apartment, which was hermetically sealed, they pumped in the cyanide and 22-24 hours later, they aired the place, and then you could go back in and clean up. On top of this, every week my mother took all the beds apart with the maid, since those old-type beds could be disassembled. She sprayed them with petrol and cleaned out all the holes and cracks with pieces of wire, took the pictures down from the wall, so it was awful work, and still there were bedbugs. It was impossible to get rid of them right up until the end of the war. My father’s friend’s workshop and storage space were in the basement of Hollán Street 3, and during air raids I had to walk over there from school. It wasn’t very far, but I can’t say how frightened I was on the way!

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I told my father that the Germans had arrived. He called one of his friends on the telephone who confirmed to him that yes, they really had arrived. We were really nervous until that evening, when my mother’s family turned up. And then everything moved like lightning: they disconnected the telephones in Jewish apartments, you had to return your radio set, and very soon, move into a yellow-star house. Paulay Street 12 did not become a yellow-star house, and so we had to leave. In school they quickly issued certificates from the second class, because this was a shortened academic year and after that there was no more teaching. I remember things started to go very bad when my father packed up his pistol—it turned out he had one—and some Communist literature, tied them up in a parcel and we went to the Chain Bridge to throw it into the Danube. We lived with my father’s friends on the fifth floor in the yellow-star house at Hollán Street 3. There was also a couple living in the bedroom who’d also been forcibly moved, like us. In the yellow-star house, apart from having to wear the yellow star, there were also regulations about when we could go out into the street. We couldn’t work, and everyone lived from their savings. We children played with the other children in the house. Since we couldn’t go outside onto the street, we always played in the stairwell. And then one day they came to take my parents away. The Gestapo took them some time in August. I went upstairs and two guys—just like in the films, wearing caps and mackintoshes—were leading my parents away. I tried to obstruct them, these two people hadn’t done anything wrong, and they just swept me aside. And then, just like in the films, a little car took my parents away to the Majestic hotel.

From the Centropa archive. 

XIII. Katona József Street 41 - Imre Natonek

First we lived in a Jewish [yellow-star] house, and brought our relatives over to live with us, one of my aunts, Jolán Schlesinger, who later became Mrs. Richárd Schwarz. Once we had a two-room apartment with a bathroom, we brought another family over. This was at István Road 40. The other family had four members, and the families had one narrow room each. Then Jolán Schlesinger and family moved out, but I don’t know where. They survived the war. Later, with my older sister’s help, under Swiss protection, we moved into Katona József Street 41, where other families were already living together in one room. That was already too much, and from there we could see the atrocities at the Danube, where my uncle and cousin, among others, were killed: they shot József and Gyuri Natonek into the Danube. My older sister saved my parents by going up to one of the Arrow Cross man who, it appears, understood why she was sad. My parents were called up from the basement, and went back to the protected house, where we met again, I returned there myself a bit later.

From the Centropa archive. 

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