Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Olga Adler - July 26, 1982

Going Home

And that's how I was brought up, this is fine. But uh, that was just, just normal. But after the war, when I went back home and uh, I didn't kno... neither my mother or my father nor my sister... Yeah, in Budapest after the war when the Russians came in already... And I, there was a special um, office where whoever came back and knew that somebody's alive wrote their name down. You know that if you were in Budapest you could go to that building and find the, the blackboard and see names who's signed in there and who is alive and who is not alive. And that there were no streetcars and there was nothing after the war. And everyday I walked miles and miles and miles and I never found nobody. Even then I didn't know that I'm going to have nobody. You know, then I, then I went back home, which is another story, but this is already after the war story. That's a long story, took me, I don't know, two weeks or ten weeks to get home in, in cattle cars and everything. And I went back home and our, our home was completely ruined, the, the electric wires pulled out from the wall and the garden dug up and, and everything was, was put away ever... I wasn't home, I didn't know my husband came home when I was in Budapest. He went, on leave he went home to our hometown and he went to my parents home. And my mother and... had very nice jewelry and his mother. And so my mother said, "Look Ernie, bring your jewelry. We have up in the attic thousands of bricks, but one brick you can take out and that's a very good hiding place, you'll put the jewelry there." And my mo... my husband said that time if the war is going to be over I'm going to marry Olga. So, my mother said I don't know what's going to happen to us if we are going to stay alive or not. At least she should have that much if she comes home. That she should have some to start a life with, so here is the jewelry. And uh, so we went back. My husband ??? when he came back he got sick and he didn't go right away. When I went back home, when my trouble started already, he was home. His trouble was finished. He came back to Beregszász and already he was at home when I was just taken away that time. I was taken away in October and I came back in April, so he was home by then. But when I came home and we went there, there was nothing there. The heck with it, I don't care. So, there was nothing there, nothing. Uh...

They even found the jewelry in the brick?

Yes. But how, I wouldn't know to this day because thousands of bricks, I don't know. There was a huge... I had that uncle in, in uh, I had one uncle, one man in the family on my mother's side, he was a physician in the town and he came back. And he went because he, he remembered they put up in the attic there were big planks of planks and two planks you could move away and under the plank there was a place. So, they put that, sealed that and those heavy big silver candlesticks and everything. He went there, because I di... I wasn't home. I didn't even know about the jewelry, just my husband told, my mother told my husband. When he went there everything was taken. The whole garden was dug up. Everything was dug up, there was nothing, so... That time I didn't care about these things. Who cares about these things? I want to tell, I mentioned the ring to you which I carried in all, all through the war and all my, my, my happenings there. And one day when I came back after the war I went to that Swedish house and I found the lady, this Mrs. Geiger who I lived with, who she took me in. I found her and we went back to our apartment and there was a huge window ball, huge one and we put some papier-mâché like that and we put in the window and we went and we found a little stove and we put the chimney out there because the whole Budapest, every window was done like that because the bombings broke everything, the chimney. And I took a little wagon and I went all over in the city to find food because we were carving the dead horses on the streets to be able to eat because there was a complete bombed out city with no food, with nothing. So, I went and there were already started clean... they started cleaning away the rubbles and they were making beans, big buckets of beans, the workers. So, I went there and I said that they could give me a little bit of the beans and when I took it home because I felt responsible for this lady. I was a young girl, I could go... I found once in a basement a big jar of, I thought it's oil. I thought that the whole world is mine. My G-d, what's she going to say, I have oil, I found oil. I go home, it was vinegar. So, one day I'm walking on the street and the man comes and he said, "Would you like to buy lentils?" I said, sure, he said... I said, sure—like my hand—he said, "Will you give me your ring for it?" I said, sure. I took off my mother ring, my mother's ring, which I'll never forgive for myself, not because of the value, but my mother's ring. But you were not normal that time, you couldn't think normally. I took off my ring, I gave the man uh, the ring, I took the lentils, I took it home. Three quarter of them were little stones. I almost broke my, my teeth with it. So, these things happened. And uh, it was just unbelievably hard to exist even after the war. With the food and the other one was when the Russians came in, they were raping right and left. I was going out and uh, they were still, there was street fights in Budapest. Street by street, the Russians took the, took the city street by street. On one street there were the Germans fighting and this street the Russians fight, but this was Russian...

[interruption in interview]

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