Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Noemi Engel Ebenstein - July 22, 1996

Return to Budapest

So you went back to Budapest...

Yes, mm-hm.

...with your mother...


...and your brother? And you lived with your grandparents?


Grandmother, and who...

...yes. And one uncle.

And you have a picture of the business in Budapest?

Yes, yes. From, from much before. The picture.

What did she tell you happened then? I suspect you don't remember much of this.

The, I don't have any recollections, uh, about that time. My recollections begin in labor camp. Just screen memories, a couple of screen memories. And right after liberation. Uh, those are, I have quite a few memories of liberation. But, um...

How long were you in Budapest with her?

So in Budapest we were until, let me just, um, let me read here because it will kind of make it easier. Um, before we do that, I want to tell you something, um, about a, a wonderful Gentile Hungarian man who, um, was a go-between between my mother and my father in labor troops. Uh, how the relationship was established I don't exactly know. I think it was, he was like a civilian worker for the Hungarians. And he would go back and forth between Budapest and the labor troops of the Hungarian army. Um, his wife went to school, my mother used to say, with Jews. And she had many Jew...Jewish friends. And so the couple had many Jewish friends in general and he would come to Budapest and contact my mother and my mother would, uh, give him money and, different things. Like she sent my father a down comforter. And he delivered everything. Um, let me, let me read to you this just, um, "My mother had a dream. In January," um, I'm, I'm reading now. "My mother had a dream. In the dream she is in a farmhouse, in a room, where the ground is, the ground, like dirt, is, is the floor. Like it's like a barn, you know, it's not, uh, paved over, the floor. Um, and my grandfather in the dream emerges with a big backpack saying, um, 'May God be with you.' It's a Hungarian expression of farewell. Um, 'Who knows whether we will ever meet again in life.' And my grandmother in the dream responds, 'Why shouldn't we meet again? Don't' you even kiss me?' And my grandfather began to cry. And the tears were running down his cheeks, all the way to his neck. To a black turtleneck sweater that he was wearing. And she said again, 'Won't you kiss me?' So he responded. 'Why should I? So you catch the million lice that is on me?' And after that they said goodbye. When she woke up, uh, she went to the calendar and marked the date, marked the date. She wrote down that dream, that's how she knew all the details of the dream. And it was January 16, 1944. She decided that if she hears from my grandfather after this date, she will give charity to Rabbi Meir Baal Ha-nes."

This is your grandmother or your mother?

This is my mother. And this is about, the dream was about my father.

Your father, not your grandfather?

No, no, no.

No, okay.

"And the next day, she heard the news on the radio from the BBC, they would listen, that there was a big battle near Voronezh in the Ukraine and many, many were captured by the Russians as POWs. And months later my grandmother," my mother, "got the word." The reason it is confusing is because I wrote this for my grandchildren, for my children and I kept on writing grandma. So it's, it's a confusion. But this is all about my mother. "So, eh, months later my mother got the word from the Red Cross that her husband disappeared near Voronezh on January 16, 1944. This man whose name was Petrovich, who was the go-between--and that's why I told you the story now--he came back to Budapest and reported that my father was relatively in good condition when he was captured. He had boots and he had a black turtleneck sweater, which my mother never saw in life. Or, in real life. I mean it was only in a dream. And that he, that he traded that sweater for a loaf of bread. Petrovich on the other hand went back to the front and never came back. He perished."

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