Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Olga Adler - July 26, 1982

Modeling in Budapest

Okay, now your brothers and the males went to the uh, forced labor camps and then where did you go?

My brother went to a forced labor camp and I went to Budapest.


And uh, then I, I was there for about two or three days but, as I say, things were already starting to be very bad. So, I met a young man there and he said, look, there's no use for you to start studying now this uh, designing because things are terrible. And you just need something to take you day by day. You are so young that it doesn't make any difference. If things will get better you will study. And if not, it's no use. You should be a model. So, he showed me a couple of things how to be a model. And I went to... He called up a couple of places because in Europe it's like in Paris they have those uh, they don't have too many department stores. Mostly you go and you order your clothes and they have these special houses. And uh, you go there and you, you, they have the materials there and they have live models. And they show... They make the whole, um... I mean, everything is custom-made. You just don't go and pick it up from the rack. They make on your, on your... Like, they cut out a dress for you, just for you.


For your measurements...


for the model's measurements. Fifty, sixty models. And then uh, somebody comes in. They don't show you the paper, they don't sh... the paper, but there is two or three models and they dress up in all the designer clothes and then you walk around and they buy. Excuse me, you order this or you order that or you order that. So, that's what I did for awhile. And it was a very, very nice, very high-class fashion house by the name of ??? he owned that, his whole family were that. He was an older man and uh, anyways he was trying to make, do monkey business. You know, like you did sometimes, you thought that those models are easy...


to get but hardly they knew that I was a girl who came from a small town and I wasn't that type of a girl and I came there that just, and I did it because I have, I, I couldn't, I couldn't expect my parents to be there and send me money every month and me just hanging around or doing nothing there...


in Budapest, so I, I wanted to work and I did... as I say, I didn't know anything else to do. So, I did it and it was a very beautiful uh, profession, a very beautiful job. And my, when this man uh, just didn't understand uh, my, my way of living and he didn't want, I just left him and I found another place. And I found a very beautiful place and they left me alone and I very dutifully worked there. Very serious work. We had shows, fashion shows and everything and I was paid very nicely. Although I hardly ate a half a hard-boiled egg because if you ate, you will gain weight and all these things, so you couldn't do that. You had to be very careful. But it was very lovely. And um, I had a beautiful time. There were no problems in Budapest that time, Jewish questions in the big city. I was a good-looking girl. I had no problems. I was a very decent girl, very nice girl and I went out, very nicely out to dinners and to uh... And one day, I have to tell you that because this has a lot to do with my story. I, I saw a young man a little bit resembled my husband... my boy... my boyfriend, my boyfriend—I was in love with him as a little girl and he hardly knew I existed maybe—anyways uh, that, that was going on for weeks. When I came down in the city these two yo... two young men come, came constantly after me. But as I say you have to be European to appreciate these things. There was, there was no harm in those little things. It was just a nice way to... You were not afraid because crime like that didn't exist there that a girl couldn't go on the street alone.


Or anything. You didn't go alone into a nightclub or in, no place, even in a restaurant you wanted to go with somebody but this was going on for weeks and weeks. When I came down the two young men came and they smiled and then I smiled back and I went. They didn't have the dare to say something to me and I wouldn't have the dare to, to, to start anything with them. But it was just very nice. And after, it went on for about six or seven weeks, I came down once and they were standing in front of the salon, the, the fashion house where I worked. So, one came said, "Look after all these weeks already, I think we know each other. This is..." He introduced me the one young man and the other young man, the other one. So, anyways we started a very lovely friendship, very lovely friendship. One was uh, a banker's son who was a Gentile boy and the other as I knew, as, as he knew it, a Gentile boy by the name of Erdant Fallagy. And the other one was by the name of Kamil, I don't remember his other name. But these two boys took me all over. We really, really... not boyfriend and girlfriend style, any, any kind, but a very lovely friendship. As I told this Kamil that I have somebody at home who I'm in love with and you re... remind me so much of him, and the other one was very nice too. Anyways, in this couture Parisian, they called it salon, where I worked when I left this other one here, that was, that was beautiful place. One day, I don't remember, it was March or February, I don't remember, I just don't. I remember it was a Sunday morning and the Germans came in, with a big hooray in the city, you know, the Germans and, and thanks, whatever, I don't know. Anyways, the Germans came in and it was a terrible feeling. We knew already that this will be terrible.

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