Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lila Denes - May 19, 1989

Deportation of Husband

You had two children at this point, two young children?

By then, I had Judy and George. And uh, my husband was thinking for a minute and he said, "No, I don't think so, let's wait a day or two, what's going to happen. We won't be the first one, you know, that something happen to us," so I didn't go and that was a very lucky move because a lot of people went to the railway stations that day and they were all caught by the Nazis. They were already at the stations waiting for the Jews to go somewhere. They were all taken somewhere and probably the camp, the concentration camps, because most of them didn't come back. Like I had two cousin from ??? that was a Hungarian city also, so and they wanted to go home and they were taken somewhere, never came back, either one. So, then soon my husband was taken to a, a forced labor camp again, because meanwhile he came home.

He had been taken in 1940? The first time.

He was taken many times. Sometimes he came home for a few months and then he was taken again to another place. They were building railway, roads, and stations and I don't know what.

Was he taken to the Russian front? Do you know?

No, no. He was always in Hungarian...

When he came home from those times um, what did he tell you about the conditions in the camps?

Well, it wasn't good but it wasn't that bad. I mean, they got meal, and some of the uh, officers were okay, some of them was very bad.

This was the Hungarian Army officers?

That was the Hungarian officers.

Not the Gendarme?

No, that was the Hungarian Army. And, um...

So, he had, he had come back in 1944?

Yes, and in '44 he was taken again.

Did he get something, a notice in the mail saying he had to report? Was that how?

Yes, yes, he had to report here or somewhere. And um, then I, I stayed um, we were still working with one or two men in the shop. And slowly the air raids came, you know, so everyday, two, three times, we were running down to the basement. It was apartment building where we used to live. Then they started to organize ghettos in Budapest. You know, they said these are Jewish houses and these are not and the Jews had to move to those Jewish houses. I was lucky because our house was named Jewish house so the Jews can stay.

Was it a particular neighborhood?

Not really. Most of them were in a particular neighborhood where a lot of Jewish people used to live, but ours wasn't really. But for some reason, they said that's a Jewish house, so we didn't have to move. So, all summer we stayed in our apartment. Then in October fourteen, I remember because that's my brother Joe's birthday and somehow he could get away. He was working in a factory that was a forced labor also. And he came home and I made a cake for him. And then happened that Horthy made a proclamation that we will uh, get away from the Germans and uh, I said to my brother, "Look, there are Nazis all around us." A few house away was the Nazi headquarter and there was some Nazis living in that house also. And I said, "I don't like that, they won't let it happen, and you'll see, something--we should get away today and see what's going to be." So, we packed up some luggage and went to a friend's house who used to work for us and they were nice people, Gentile people. We went over to their house. It was in Buda.

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