Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981

Forced Labor Camp

Was it Germans in your hometown?

Not then, not then.

It was the Hungarian...

The Hungarians, yeah, the Hungarians. The Hungarian was giving order to, to deport them. So they... He writes me a letter that they were taken to a ghetto--not deported--just to a ghetto, to ??? This was maybe a twenty-kilometer, this was a major town, which all the Jews from different small villages, they were taken first there to a ghetto. And then after, from the ghetto they were taken to Auschwitz. So, that was already set, all the fun was over for me and uh, trembling and waiting, what the next step is. And...

This was what do you think? What, April?

Mar... March... It, it, it, it was moving real fast, real rapidly. It... From day to day it was, it was, I don't think there was a week passed by that major event didn't happen, you know. Because I... For this, I tell you why, because on April the fifteenth I got a draft notice from the Hungarian army to go up to, to, to uh, I mean, for, they gave me three day notice, because I was the age of twenty then, to go about sixty kilometer from Budapest. The name of the town was Jászberény, I think, J-Á-S-Z-B-E-R-É-N-Y. That was a, a concentration place where were maybe about, on that day when we arrived there, maybe it was three, four thousand people were all called in. And what happened, the under official--you know, the Hungarian army didn't call them--they wore a draft note but they're all Jewish boys. But we been called in for a forced labor camp again. Now, we didn't know where they're going to take us because there was rumor they're going to take us to different towns away, hundred of kilometer away to uh, coal mines to work and to, and all, all, all kind of rumors were going on that uh, those place... [interruption in interview]

It was quite a bit of confusion, nobody knew where... It wasn't organized because it was new, I don't know what happened. It was... We were... It was uh, that place where it was, it was a Hungarian army barracks, but it was emptied out for these uh, newcomers to come in there and, uh... That was a distribution center, what it was. They organized uh, so-called a hund... uh, a hundred people to certain groups. And it wasn't any particular way to ??? They just said, from this one go to this yard and we're going to make a group out of you. And they... It was a mixture of people in our group. It was mixture maybe about fifty percent youngsters in my age, twenty years old, and on the other one was about, for some reason or other, all about forty, forty-two.

Was anyone older than that?

No, no. About that one.

No one younger than eighteen.

No, they were young. Uh, twenty, twenty, all the same year. Twenty-nine... We were born in 1924. All the same, all the same age...


...all the same age and, and then the next group was forty or forty-two, whatever but the same age all of them. It wasn't, it wasn't twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five. And we, we came as a group and what happened, they... This Hungarian officer points on that fellow who was, asking who was a World War veteran. So this guy says, I was a World War veteran, right the end of the war, First War veteran. Okay, you're going to take charge of this group, as a Jewish labor. So, next day they take us to the uh, train station. They put us on train. They told us we're going to go back to Budapest. That was a great relief. You're going to be, you know, under the Hungarian Army, also in a forced labor camp. It was a great relief for me because still I was in Budapest, I knew the city quite well. I was there for two years, my relatives were there. Uh, my relatives what happened to them, okay, my relatives what happened to them, they, they were living for a while under uh, this Jewish uh, in an apartment which was marked as a Jewish house. But after a while--I don't know if I should jump back and forth, but I...

It's all right. Jump.

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