Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983

Brother in Budapest

Tell me what happened to him.

Well, he uh, made his way up to Budapest somehow, after he went into the uh, labor unit uh, of the army. Ultimately, he got himself uh, Hungarian Gentile papers and he got into the Free Corps, to that uh, Hungarian SS, it was the--it was called the Arrow Cross instead of the Hakenkreuz, they had the Arrow Cross. Their, their insignia was the, was a cross with arrows and he wore the uniform of a master sergeant in that outfit. There were fellows who came back who were saved by him, who came back into our town and into neighboring towns. They told us about it, third or fourth day when they found out we were back, they came into town and they told us exactly what they knew about my brother. Uh, Budapest was--fell to the Russians in uh, I think on uh, the twenty-third of February. My brother signed for money that he picked up from a Gentile family that our family had money and my uncle uh, used to be partners with him and he left money with him and he made arrangements whoever comes from the family for money, to give them. He signed on the nineteenth of February for money. Supposedly, that very day or the day after, he had an accident. He always walked with his side arm cocked. Uh, they were telling us stories that it happened people who--there were other fellows who were in the uniform also, in the Underground, and they were recognized, so they just took out their arms and they shot the soldier who recognized them and that's how they saved their lives. So, he went into movie theater--now one of the fellows who came back to our town was in that movie theater, he heard the shot, and he saw my brother being taken away with an ambulance into the hospital. Apparently, he got on the operating table, the bullet went into his thigh. They got him on the operating table and they recognized him being circumcised. Circumcision was not being done among Gentiles in Europe and they took him, the practice was, whoever was recognized, he was taken to the Danube and shot. Uh, this fellow told us that he heard from other people who supposedly followed him as he was being taken from the hospital to the Danube. How authentic that story is, I don't know but, of course, he never came back.

Was he working with Wallenberg?

He was working uh, with the Underground and he was taking regularly people into the protected houses of the Swedish, Swedish consulate, who we now know uh, that these houses were, were manned, were, were supervised by Wallenberg. We didn't know right after the war there, there was such men as Wallenberg, the personality was publicized really years later but that's what he was doing. There were survivors who came back to us and told us that he was taken into that house by my brother. Uh, the practice being that uh, my brother would see a Jewish fellow being marched by other uh, three guard members and he having the rank went over to him, "Hey comrade, let me take care of this damn Jew." Took him off his hands and marched him into the uh, protected house. So, we were hoping for my brother to come home, of course, he didn't. My two sisters came home, they were together, incidentally in a similar fashion. They went to other concentration camps, aircraft parts factories. Uh, my younger sister, who's older than I am, but she's the younger of two sisters uh, developed a permanent skin disease from the acid that she was working with, plating uh, the parts. Um, they came home before us.

Like I said, I'd like to know, in terms of thinking of the reunion, what exactly do you think helped you to, to survive all of this?

Well uh, like I said before, I'm sure to a great extent it was my blind faith. Another part of it was being able to develop that protective shield around me and close out the world from me. But uh, I know that I was feeding on the hope to come back and meet up with my family. Meet up with my brothers--I kept on telling myself, my brother, he is okay. Uh, anyways, he is, he is a hero figure in my youth, always. An older brother, he was a good looking uh, young man, he was, he learned a good trade while he was young, he went off to Budapest, he was, he was uh, the whole family looked up on him, looked at him as somebody they have high hopes for. And I just, talking to my brother, we both believed, that he's going to be home. He will wait for us at home and we have really nothing to worry about. We don't have our parents but we have our older brother waiting for us at home. He will be replacing our parents. As it turned out, I'm sure that void not having my parents at that age uh, affected my whole life.

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