Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lila Denes - May 19, 1989

Home Life

So, at home you spoke Hungarian?

Yes. My parents used to speak, they knew German. In Hungary, most of the people who went to school--no, most of the Jewish people spoke, spoke German.

[interruption in interview]


Your maiden name was Sightner?

Seidner. Seidner.

Spell it for me, please.

Yeah, I'll write it down for you.

S-E-I-D-N-E-R. And your father owned a store? Is that what you said?

Yes. He was in textile.

Um, what was it like before the war, before, um...

Before the German Occupation?

Well, even before that? Do you remember, was there a Numerus Clausus in, in your town? Was it the, the quota system that only so many Jewish children could go to school and only so many merchants could own businesses? Were there any anti-Semitic laws passed under, under Admiral Horthy?

Um, the only thing was the uh, status quo in the universities. When the Germans came in, then they had all kinds of law, yeah. Like every occupied, you know, country. But before that, that was the only thing--well, anti-Semitism was there but really you can do anything except they couldn't go to college, just a very few.

Mm-hm. So, was your life a pleasant life before the, before the Germans came, before the Hun... even before the war started? As a youngster, do you have fond memories of your house?

Well--yes, yes.

On Jewish holidays, for example, would uh, people come?

Yes. We could observe anything, yes. We had a um, synagogue and a so-called rabbi. He was cantor and rabbi and shochet.

Um, in your house, let's say on, on Pesach, what would happen?

We had matzo.

Would there be a lot of people for a Seder?

Yes, we had. We observed the big holidays, you know. And sometimes even, on Saturday, we went to shul. But we weren't really religious.

You were modern.

My grandparents on my father's side, they were religious.

Um, do you remember them at all?

Oh, yes, yes. My grandmother died before the uh, Nazi era. But my grandfather, he was eighty-six. He was deported. And my other grandfather, seventy-six, also, they all went to Auschwitz.

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