Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Charlotte Firestone - March 11, 1982

Outbreak of War

No, okay. Um, do you remember how you heard about the war starting? Where you were when you first heard about it.

We knew that there, there is a war, that, that German broke the, the, you know, they had bonding...bonding, you know?

A pact.

The pact, Yeah. The German broke, German broke the pact and we heard that they attacked Austria. We heard they attacked uh, you know and we always--to my grandparents were alive, too. And my grandfather used to say, by the time they going to get here, we hope that Meshiach going to come. But Meshiach never came and the Germany came in, the, the SS came in and it was like, you were afraid. You know, it was so scary when, when you saw them walk the first couple days, until they arranged it, you know.

Did they march in to...

They marched and the way they were, with those boots and you know, the, the, the street was shaking.

What did they look like, do you remember?

The SS with those black uniform and--here with the, you know.

The s...silver S's...

They had that, you know, that hat, you know...

Skull, the death's head its called...


Um. When did life start to change when the Hungarians came. Your father lost his pension, then he lost the business.


Uh, but you continued school. What, what else?

We didn't have such a small children at that time, but school was--all these children went to school. When the Hungarians came in, children went to school. But we were already grown people by that time, so um, here and there, you know. We worked less. Then the Hungarians came in, then they took the husbands already, the men, young men, they took--when the Hungarians came, right away there was--who wasn't Hungarian citizen, they took them away to Poland. I remember my grandfather was a Polish per...one parts Polish. He never adopted the Hungarian citizen paper. And automatically, even the children were born in Munkacs, they were considered as Polish people.

But were...weren't they Czech first?

They were Czech first, but they were born actually as Hungarians, because the Czech took over in 1922 and they were born before '22, but they were considered Polish people. My uncle had six more children and they were looking for those p...who were not Hungarians, Hungarian citizens, even they were born there. They, they uh, took them and they took them to Poland and they just dropped them there, you know and I remember that my grand--my uncle was hiding in the woods in here and there and five of the children or four of the children were hiding, once in our house, one night, one night someplace else, they took in early in the morning, it was dark yet and they took him from one place to the other and my aunt was hiding with the two small children from one place to the other.

Was this your mother's brother?

That was my mother's brother, my mother's sister-in-law with the children. The last day already when they stopped already taking to, to Poland, they captured my aunt with the two small children. They took them to jail, first to jail and from there, they took them, you know, away.

This is still the Hungarians.

It was by Hungarian, Yeah. And them they freed them, because they didn't take any more people to Poland and they came home and they went to their own house, oh my God, I don't feel so hot--they took him to a, they came home and then when they took all of them to the ghetto, they took him too.

Did they say what, what had happened to them in Poland?

They never went to Poland.

They weren't taken to Poland.

They were never, they never went to Poland. But it was a terrible thing, you know to get them food. It was actually six people. They had to, you know, they had to get them some food. They took them from one place to the other, because they were small, those children, you know. We were afraid our neighbors maybe saw them. It wasn't like the toilet you had in the house. The toilet was outside from the house.

Hm. Now, when they disappeared, then they came back.


Where had they gone?

Mostly during the day, they were in the woods.

They were in hiding then?

Hiding. But my aunt together, we had to go in the woods. We knew where. You know, from one place to the other and watching that you shouldn't be followed, somebody shouldn't see us. I used to take the food, because I had uh, already, you know, in a buggy covered up, you know, I'm going to the woods with that buggy...

Because you had a baby?

At that time I didn't. At that time, I did not.

Now, the--did anybody ever think of leaving when the Hungarians came?


Nobody said, "let's get out?"

Well, some people went to Budapest. It was such a shush, you know, that nobody actually knew what goes on. In fact, it was before Pesach. My sister was working in Budapest. She came home for Pesach My brother was in Budapest. He came home for Pesach. It was, you know a must, to come home. The family should be together for Pesach.

When was this? What year?

Nineteen-forty four.

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