Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Olga Adler - July 26, 1982

Defining Identity

Okay. And um, what about, how did your family feel about these kinds of things? Like you mentioned about these soldiers beating up this Jew outside the hotel. How did your family—you had mentioned how you reacted—how did your family react?

My family, that, naturally very disappointed, terribly disappointed. We couldn't, we couldn't imagine that uh, anything like that could happen to us.


We are Hungarians first, Jews second. Naturally, we were Jews by religion and we were very good Jews, very religious. But the feeling was Hungarian. Hungarian everything. Hungarian schools, Hungarian mother, Hungarian cooking. No Yiddish cooking, Hungarian cooking, everything. So, can you imagine how you think you're set? My, my... We had to go back what, 1848 to prove that everybody was Hungarian, and they could prove it. As a matter of fact, my father was called up to the police once and we got scared very much because we couldn't imagine why he was called up. At that time you just mention police and you were scared and can you imagine, they come and they get you. So, the problem was that, that he had a document that they had a Polish houseboy in the house, in my great grandfather's house. So, they called up my father to ask him how come that that was a Polish boy houseboy in the house and not a Hungarian. So can you imagine? So my... Can you imagine my, my father standing there not to be able to answer. As a matter of fact, I had that document and I lost it. You know, you houseclean constantly?


It was a ??? going back to the families and everything. So, for that stupid reason, my husband – my, my dad was called up to the police station. Thank God they let him out because he said that he can't account for what happened I don't know how many years back as you can see, from 1848. The family lived there, the family housed there in the city and everything, everybody knew us. So, I come back, this, this, they tried to do every kind of a stupid thing just to, just to get you in trouble.


So, it was a terrible disappointment, a terrible disappointment for my family and, and for all the Jews because they were religious Jews there, mind you, who held the Golden Cross or whatever in the First World War. They were heroes. Because as much as religious Jews were in Hungary—in our town too—they spoke Hungarian. You know, you will find today to uh, religious Jews maybe with a payes and they will not talk Yiddish, they'll talk Hungarian.


That was a very interesting uh, situation there. And not Czech. Because we had a Czech government.


But Hungarian. The Czech people who came over to, to work there, the offices and thing like, that they had to learn Hungarian because they could not exist.

Huh. And when you saw things like this, when your family saw things like this, what, what did you, your family plan on doing? Did they plan on staying, did you plan on moving? Did you plan on fleeing the country?

I can't even answer that because, first of all, you didn't know what's coming. We didn't know about the Germans, which the Hungarians compared to, to the Germans were nothing, so we knew that we were not going to be as free, and we will not be able to live as nicely and freely and, and, and doing uh, the Jews going to Temple and observe the holidays and have the matzah and no problem being a Jew. I don't know about... I had, we had no problems because some countries they had the numerus clausus, you could not go, for instance in Hungary, in Budapest, to colleges. But in Czechoslovakia you, you could go to colleges, you know, without any problems. So, we, we knew that some kind of trouble will come. But uh, uh, an established family with a future, with the children, with the schoolings, with uh, with, with, with our background in the city... And where to go? It, that never occurred. As a matter of fact, there's still another little incident, which I just found out from this uncle of mine who unfortunately died in Europe who came out in the First World War, before the First World War, that he shouldn't have to be in the army. He told me, you know I, I sent your father a ticket to come to this country. My uncle in New York said that. That maybe it would be better for him. At that time he was a young man yet.

He wasn't married?

He wasn't married.


He didn't want to come because I didn't send a first class ticket. That's what, my husband heard that too. I never knew about that. You know, it's, I just met my uncle here. So, it was an es... such an established family. And as I say, you had trouble in Poland, let's say, you had trouble in Russia, you couldn't go to school, you couldn't buy that... They'd had no, we didn't know any... anything. We could never, never ever imagine that they could take the Hungarian Jews or take us away from our home or we would have... As I say, we knew that we're having some small trouble, but you, you didn't think that this is going to stay like that.


'Cause every regime changes brings some kind of a, you know...



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