Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981

German Occupation

But war was going on 1944. I knew that war was going on, but we didn't hear, we did not hear--it's a shame to say it--but we did not know what's going on in concentration camps in Poland or in, or in uh, Czechoslovakia, all those places. We heard that things are no good for them, but we did not know, I did not know there's such a thing as concentration camp. War started to go... In 1944, beginning in 1944, the war started to be... It's, it's over for the Germans. The Russians started to advance and drawing the German army back. And for some reason uh, they called the Hungarian... on the Hungarian government to send the Hungarian army to help Hitler on the German uh, on the Russian front and the Hungarian army was committed completely to defend Hungary from the Russian advance. So, but I didn't feel this. Again, I was in the capital, I was in touch with my parents uh, between weekly letters back and forth. Uh, things weren't good, but they weren't ba... It wasn't, it wasn't, it wasn't worse than when I left as such, for being the Jewish because all those uh, Hungarian Jews who weren't Hungarian uh, citizens they took away, but there wasn't anything else. In March fifteenth, I believe that was the correct date, it was a Sunday, and all of a sudden, we see the streets are emptying and tanks are rolling in the city of, in the city of Budapest in the afternoon.

What year is this?

In 1944. And that afternoon we seen the uh, Nazis, the German army rolling in with tanks all over the city. And that was very, that was a big jolt. We didn't know March the fourteen what's going on. We didn't know March fifteen the morning. March fifteen, the afternoon, as I say, we see. And naturally I running around to see if everybody's okay. And I think about a couple of days later, one of my father's brother in Budapest, the Germans came to hi... to his home and they take him away. And that was the biggest jolt for--in, in that day, see what happens to you. And we never heard from him. This is my uncle which he has his wife and three children are left. And they are, I know, all in Israel, they're all well. But that was quite a shock to all of us. We didn't know what happened to him. So what happened--I don't know if he was active in something or not--but someone denounced him. And he was one of the first political prisoners when the Germans start... tried to uh, went to look for him and pick up the political prisoners and I'm sure we don't know what happened to him, where he was taken. And that's the end of him. So, things started to get very rapidly... Now I don't know from day to day what it was, but there were... First thing what happened uh, all Jews have to wear yellow bands.


Armbands, I mean. Then all Jewish homes where... All apartments where Jewish homes... All, all homes where Jewish apartments exist has to have a big yellow star in front of the entrance of the home. Uh, then I heard... Hard to get any news from home. I was... My concern was should I go home to protect my--you know, as a child--protect my parents, like if I... Or should I stay here because I can't do nothing and, and uh, perhaps I am better off. Or, or, or, or... It was a conflict, very conflict. But Jews were prohibited to travel anyway, immediately start next day they cannot leave town. So, finally I got some news from home that they were taken away. Another Jewish family who, who were really uh, they left them there because... Although my father was also a privileged one, but he wasn't that high. There was... There were different classes where uh, because you were a World War I veteran and, and what you did to your country, there was different classes of uh, how much privilege you were. So, my father was perhaps maybe number two, but...

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