Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983


Um, could you tell me your name please and uh, where you're from?

My name's Alexander Ehrmann. I now reside in West Bloomfield, Michigan. I uh, come from Czechoslovakia uh, from a city called Královský Chlmec, which uh, became Hungary in 1938 and at that time the name of the town was Király-Helmec.

Uh, how large was your family in, in Hungary?

We were three brothers and three sisters and our parents.

Extended family in the same town?

The, the extended family--in our town, we had an uncle, aunt, and cousins. Uh, I did not know my uncle, he passed away before I was born. I did know my aunt who also passed away while I was a kid and I knew all my cousins. They ultimately uh, emigrated from our town uh, while they were still young before any of the uh, persecution started. Uh, voluntarily emigrated in search of uh, settling and pursuing their personal careers. Other than that, we did not have any family in our town.

How large was the town?

The town was about 3,000 uh, souls uh, of which was, there were about 200 Jewish families.

So, about a third to a half?

No, it wasn't uh, it was uh, probably less than a third.

Um, what did your father do?

We had uh, several enterprises. We owned a small hotel, a very small hotel uh, six rooms. We, we owned a kosher restaurant and a tavern, which was operated jointly. We also owned a beer bottling franchise for one of the local breweries and we owned a wholesale uh, liquor and wine uh, trading firm. We also owned another part of our building uh, that housed a large restaurant, non-kosher, which was rented out to a uh, operator and uh, it had several halls, dance hall, and uh, at one time, it even had a bowling alley. Uh, within the uh, framework of the beer bottling plant we also had ice distribution in the city in the summer. We stored ice uh, which we gathered during the winter, natural ice from the river, and uh, we sold it in the summer to homes and to iceboxes, private iceboxes.

It sounds like you had some considerable interaction with the non-Jewish community?

Yes, we did. We were very much part of the community. We were very well regarded in the community. Uh, this, of course uh, gradually was reduced to uh, practically zero when the Hungarians took over and we were annexed to Hungary. Uh, it started first by--they expropriated our, our licenses to begin with. Uh, one of the first uh, anti-Jewish actions was they uh, took away all licenses dealing with liquor, wine, beverages, alcoholic beverages from Jews. Uh, so, we lost our licenses there. Uh, they uh, ultimately expropriated our property, our building, our--the land that was attached to it. Uh, they uh, levied very high taxes and ultimately auctioned it off for the back taxes that we owed. Um, we then moved into the building that used to belong to my uncle and uh, we started various uh, uh, agricultural related uh, activities. Uh, we went into angora farming, um...

When was this? After the Hung...

Yes, this was in 1939, the second half of 1939, when we lost our building.

You, you were in a region that became Slovakia?

No, we were in the region that first became Slovakia and within a few days after it became Slovakia, it was uh, partitioned off from Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakia Republic was um, uh, cut up into uh, really three parts. Uh, Slovakia became an autonomous uh, republic, and Bohemian and Moravia were annexed to Germany as a protectorate. Uh, the Russian part of Czechoslovakia, the Russian uh, Ukraine, the, the--under Carpathian Ukraine was left alone and they were struggling, ultimately they were, they were uh, really swallowed by the Hungarians. They took it by force um, but even that part of Slovakia, the southern part of Hung...of Slovakia, was sliced off and annexed to Hungary. So, we became in, in uh, October of 1938, we became Hungary.

Hungary. Uh, before we go on to talk about--let me ask you first a question about your father. To get a license, was, was he a veteran?

Yes, he was a veteran. He was a veteran of the Second World--of the First World War. Um, he--I really don't know why, it had some interplay for him to get the license. Um, I wasn't around, of course uh, that was before I was born.

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