Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Larry Brenner - December 13, 1981

Jewish Life

Did you know where your father was? LB Pardon me?

Did you know where the camp for the labor camp was?

Yes. Yeah, went to visit him. Oh yes, it was maybe about thirty kilometer away from there. I went, I went visiting him quite a few time with a bicycle, with a bicycle. Going back, how strict my father was to ask. I didn't have a bicycle 'til I was, I think, about sixteen years old. I--my dream was to get a bicycle. Matter of fact to have a bicycle, we used to go to sh... Oh, I forgot to tell you that our way of life was every morning go to shul to put on teffilin to daven, every evening to go to ??? to daven. So... And this was uh, not only for me but that was in, that was uh, accepted from everybody who lived in that town. They had maybe about four or five minyans at different time in the morning. They had bes midrash. We had a big long yard in the city, which all the Jewish activity was there. It started off with a shul, a big shul. Then next bes midrash then next of it was a ritual bath, a mikveh. Next to it was with the rabbis uh, ??? Down there was the cheder, behind that was the ??? behind that the shochet and behind that that was the rabbi's son-in-law, which was a dayen. You know what a dayen is?


A dayen is a judge who, who, uh...


...different... Okay, so all, all the activities were there, it was maybe a, a square. Not a sq... uh, maybe a, maybe a mile long and about three hundred feet wide, deep, a mile long. That was the activities of, the Jewish activities of the city. So for me to get a bicycle was so... I had to go to shul in the morning, and watch people would go to daven with... They came with a bicycle--that was transportation--and pick the lock and go for, for ten minutes for a joyride because then you got that approximately, and come back. Same thing Friday afternoon was a picnic because people came to the, people came to the ritual bath. Came from the... With a bicycle and I knew that they won't come after me. Because sometimes they found out that I uh, took their bicycle, they took off their tefillin and they chase me. But in the ritual bath I knew they couldn't come out naked, so I had a free half an hour ride. So after, my father found out that it's time to buy us a bicycle, both got a used bike. But that was the way of life it was. Anyway, in 1939, in 1940, things was, as I described to you uh, got worse and worse. Uh, Jews were... Matter of fact in our town there were, it came out, it must have been 1940 or '41 uh, there... We didn't know that Jews living among us weren't Hungarian citizens. We never knew because never was required of them. But as the schools start to tighten uh, they came out with some law that anybody--not only Jews naturally--was not Hungarian citizen, they will be deported. So, we had about four or five families in our midst, which they were Polish, originally born. Maybe they were born there, I don't know, but they didn't have Hungarian citizenship. We never knew that there such a thing exist, nobody inquired. Then one morning we find out that, that the gendarme came and they packed up the whole family with a small wagon. Uh, they put their belonging, very little their, their load to take with them. I think a couple of pillows, blankets, and some dishes and they put them in a, they put them in a wagon with a horse and buggy--gendarme in front of it, right--and they took 'em to the Polish-Hungarian border and they dropped them there. Nowhere's land, nowhere's land. I understand they lived for a short while and they all perished. Now this was a great shock to the community because then they knew what's coming. I mean, we heard the stories. This must have been the 1940, '41 when already Poland was occupied and, and concentration camp started. But however, it never... We didn't hear... I mean, as a, as a child I didn't hear about concentration camp. We also, as I remember as a child, now things is not exactly clear in my mind, but I know that we had a home, we had a Polish Jewish soldier living in our home. Now how did he get there? As I told you before, Hungary had a treaty with Poland. And also despite... And, and, and us, there's a Polish, the Polish, some of the Polish Jews were Hun... guests in the Hungari... on, on the Polish army. And when he--when Poland, when Germany defeated Poland, Hungary opened the door to Polish uh, soldiers to sort of find refuge in Hungary. So they, I don't know exactly what it was. I know that we had a Polish Jewish soldier quartered in our home. Maybe it was requested by the Hungarian loc... local government. And he was there for a short while and he told a story about... He didn't know what sort was happening, all that, how they came with the bombing and all that thing. But he didn't tell us the story about--because he didn't know it either--about the Polish Jews what happened because some of it was right, right, right when he came in there.

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