Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Marton Adler - July 13, 1989

Study in Ungvar

What was the next drastic change in your life in 1943?

Well, I don't look at anything as a big drastic change because in life there's constant change and the only thing that's permanent is change and this is how I understand it today. Not at the time. But one change that took place with me which I was very unhappy about, my mother just, I was the oldest and she felt that I studied good I should go further and she insisted that I go to the yeshiva, to Ungvar [Uzhgorod]. My father had an uncle there. And she was pregnant and she took me actually like walking across not even by bus, I mean not by force or anything. It was very important for her that I should continue studying Jewish. There was the thought of like September, it was actually on my fourteenth birthday in 1943. And I did end in well by my uncle and he had two very small children, the oldest was three and the youngest was something like that. And he said I could stay with him but it turned out they didn't have room and I ended up staying at a boarding house I don't know what with some other boys and that's where I slept. It was a cold room. I don't know the lady got for this six bunks to a room. It was negotiated between my uncle I imagine and her. My daily meals were. they called it "essen tag." You eat days. It's a bad translation but what it amounts to is that many a women or ladies of the house were nice enough to invite a little boy like me that is from a different town for lunch. So let's say Monday I ate lunch at the Bolkosky's, Tuesday at the Epsteins', Wednesday at another house with another boy. They served us a nice lunch you know. I felt very good and dinner let's say, maybe had a sandwich or whatever or a bowl of soup at the yeshiva, college if you want to compare it to a university. And for Saturday, Friday night, Friday afternoon, that's when I went back to my uncle and I ate there, the Friday meal and I went back sleeping in the dormitory and Saturday again I went to the synagogue with my uncle, had the Saturday meal, then I went back to the dormitory, then I'm through for the week with the uncle. In fact, one day a week I at the uncles too. He was part of these days. Besides Friday night and Saturday so actually three days I ate with my uncle and four in other houses. But ah I said there was no, but you say the - there was a big change for me because I'm alone, I have no father and no mother there, just other boys plus this guy that's my teacher. It's not like here. You don't understand it right away. He gets mad maybe when he hits you and I'm crying there but I caught on and I learned it and then they introduced me to some other little boys so I went along pretty good, plus once a week I have to report to what is called in Hungarian, levinta. That's at twelve each boy, Jewish boy, was already obligated to report with a yellow arm band, with a shovel they trained you once a week to be a laborer. The non-Jewish boys at twelve they were taught paramilitary training. How to use a rifle or like a advanced boy scout. The Jewish boys they taught how to be laborers but actually we labored. I mean I was twelve. There was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen until your old enough to go the slave labor battalion which is called Munkatabor. Munka is work and tabor is like uh, battalion or group.

Did you hear news of the war? Did you know about it?

No. Not really. Well, yes a little but again I heard it not like we would discuss it me and my boyfriend. You heard it from the grown ups. You know the grown ups would say, let's say the Germans are now in Horchov, or they're in Kiev, or they're retreating or they're now coming because in `44 already, that in `44 that semester that I went September `43 I was there from September till March of `44. [I was in Ungvar from September 1943 to March 1944.]

And you said your mother was already pregnant.

Yeah. Yeah. She was pregnant.

In September.

Yeah. Yeah.

How did you feel about that?

Well maybe I am going back, you know everything changes, I kind of felt that she shouldn't of been pregnant at the time, but I mean you know...


Well, I felt there is a war and how can we just even make shift with what we've got what do we need a fifth child yet. You know, but, this is just thoughts that I had. Probably wrong thoughts but that's the way I felt I mean I didn't take her to court for it.

You came back in March...

Yeah, okay, what happened was this. Okay, here I am in this semester. The semester really ends April for the Pesach Holidays. Then you go home for the holidays then you go back. But all I know is I know more about it today what happened then. Then I didn't know anything. All I know is my uncle called me in or talked to me, says, "Look, you must go back home. Here I'll give you car fare. You take the train from Ungvar to Chust. And from Chust you take a truck and you go back to parents." That's about as much as he told me. He didn't say anything occupations or Germans or SS or anything like this. And that's what I did. He took me to the station. He put me on the train. He says, "At Chust you get off, you get a bus or a truck that goes to Volové. I got off in `44. I was fourteen and I seen this fellow, "Are you going to Volové?" "Yeah." "Can I go with you?" "Yeah." "You pay me so much, so much" and I gave him. And the minute the truck hit the outskirts of Volové I didn't have sense enough to tell him to take me to my house. He said, "this is it. This is Volové" and I took my little suitcase whatever I had it, a package and I walked about two or three miles to my house. When I came in I told my parents what happened. First of all they kind of bawled me out that I paid him too much money. I don't what a regular price is to go from there. And then they said "well if you paid him this kind of money why the heck didn't he bring you to the house? Why did you have to walk three miles?" But they do not know what happened here that the Germans occupied Hungary and there is big trouble ahead. I came home and naturally now my mother is really pregnant. That's what happened.

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