Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lila Denes - May 19, 1989

Leaving Hungary

Well, at what point did you decide you were going to leave Hungary?

Oh, we were thinking about it right away, that we should leave. But it was very difficult, especially children, you know. At that time, we had the Iron Curtain and everything. So, it was very difficult. And then, in 1949, one of my brother, my older brother, meanwhile he got married to an Austrian girl who was hiding in Budapest also. He, he flew Austria. He was--he was half Jewish, half Gentile but, you know, she would have been moved probably, so she left Austria and she used to live in Budapest. So, my brother married her and they found some way, somebody who took them over to those barri...barricades and, and mine fields and everything. When they left, my other brother wanted to leave. And pretty soon, a few months later with the same guide, they went over to Austria. My younger brother lives here. Finally, he came too. We came to Canada first, then here. My older brother stayed because he made a business. He did well and he stayed.

Not in Austria?

No, he lives in Munich. Anyway uh, so we were always thinking how can we get out somehow. And one day, I heard from a friend. She said, "You know a family just went up to Austria. I know a family." I said, "How? Do you know how?" She said, "No, I don't know but my friends know it." I said, "Take me to your friend." She said, "Okay, sometime." "No," I said, "Not sometimes, take me right away to your friend." So, she took me over and she told me the way that was to some Jewish organization. They gave you false papers, passports, everything. Like, you came from Czechoslovakia and you're just traveling through Hungary, you know.

Was it a Zionist organization?

Probably, I don't know. But it was a Jewish organization, I know that. It was very well organized and uh, you went with the Orient Express from Budapest to Vienna and then, and on night coach named Nuit. Um, so she said, "Okay, I will talk to the people who takes care of these things and I'll let you know." And uh, one day, she said, "It is taken care of and probably pretty soon you will hear from them." So, a Saturday morning a lady came to my house. She asked my name. She said, "I want to talk to you, private." So anyway, she said, "Here are your passports and Tuesday morning you leaving." That was Saturday. I started to shake. I swear, from Saturday to Tuesday I was shaking all the time. Anyway, I, I didn't want to tell it to my husband right away because he was the kind, he would run away, go to his friends and relatives and tell them, "Take this and take this and take this," and pretty soon the whole Budapest will know about it. And with two children, I didn't want to go to jail, you know. I didn't say anything. I just took care of things, packing. 'Cause we could take one or two suitcase, you know.

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