Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emerich Grinbaum - October 3, 2000 & January 8, 2001

Conditions Under Hungarians

So what, what were those three years like, '41 to '44?

Uh, no, no. Matter of fact, you have to calculate '38 to '44, because '38 the Hungarian came.

That's when the Hungarians came.

Yeah, that '44. Growing anti-Semitism. Uh, growing uh, growing h...uh, economic uh, harsh uh, problems more. But we survived. We still, most of the people you know, the Jews tried to help each other you know, when--my father was working hard. We, we survived. We didn't have uh, too much but we survived uh, and everybody hoped and we were, of course, everyday listening to the Moscow radio to the BBC, Hungarian and German language. I didn't speak very good in German, but my father spoke a little German. And, so we're listening and we hoped and the front is coming closer you know, then the, the '40--'43 the, the, in Italy the, the, uh...


...invasion and all. So we hope that we are survive.

There, there was a, a Judenrat in Munkacs.

In '44 right.

But not 'til '44.

Uh, in '44.

In '44. Not under the Hungarians.

Only, no, no. Only when the German, when the ghetto. There were no Judenräten. No, that was, that was relatively, relatively mild uh, until the German came. The-- when the German came there was totally different.

Tell me what happened when the Germans came.

Pardon me?

Do you remember, do you remember when they came in?

I know. March 19. You know the story. They called the Regent Horthy, Hitler called March 18, Hitler called him for, for, for discussion. And during this time the German went into Hungary without any, any gunshot. And then, because the Hun...I don't know how they organize, you know. They didn't want to because the front was close already to the Carpathian, so. And the Hungarian government, that was the Prime Minister Kállay. If you know that, he was kind of a--he, he was looking to get out from the war. He was looking with the, with the western uh, countries, even with Russians. They had some...


some connection. You know, and they did...

This was before Száasi.

Yeah. And the German--of course, they knew it because they, the intelligence was penetrated all over, you know.

So is that why...

They didn't trust Horthy anymore.

That's why, because Horthy they thought it was trying to negotiate with Stalin.

Negotiate Horthy and Kállay, his prime minister negotiate. So they decided to call him in eh, to, for, for uh, discussion for, for uh, conference, Hitler. And that was March 17, 18. Uh, if you read a story--Braham. And 19 they just crossed the border and Hungarian, they didn't know, you know. Horthy wasn't there. He was under ho...home, ho...house arrest some time, some type, and you know. And until--they were thinking the whole Hungary was from over conquered. They came to Munkacs, we were the eastern part of the, of the Hungary. Next day on the 20th I remember they already, the German troops were there.

On March 19th, March 20th.

On March, March uh, 20. March 19 they crossed the Hungarian border, next day they were already there.

How many do you think?

Pardon me?

How many German troops, approximately?

I don't know, I don't know. A lot.

A thousand, two thousand?



More, more.

Along with Hungarian gendarmes?

No, the gendarmes they were there.

They were already there.

Already there. The gendarme police they were from '38, so that's nothing new. Uh, but they, they, what new, they already changed the government, the Kállay which was liberal more or less. They, they put him in jail and they, they call--come if you read Sztójay which is a fascist guy. That's not Száasi. Száasi came in October, if you remember. Uh, October 15, they--matter of fact the story--if uh, this not my story but Hungarian story--the deportation in Ju...end July uh, they stopped the deportation when most of the, most of the Hungarian Jews, except Budapest--they were already deported. Now why did they stop. Horthy finally--although Horthy stayed. The German wanted him to stay to give some kind of legitimacy of the government.

Yeah. Why did they stop in July, do you know?

Uh, uh, that, you, you can read it very--in detail. Many, many--first of all uh, the--even the Vatican, call them. The United States warned uh, the Western very much harshly, but that took him a long time to, to warn uh, them harshly. And uh, some other uh, considerations. So they stopped the deportation. They stopped. That's why the Je...the Budapest Jews uh, survived. And then gradually uh, Horthy took over. Uh, took, he didn't took over but he sold his--and he was, he was--he didn't want to continue the war. And October 15, was the dec...dec...dec...declamation on the radio that we're ending the war, we...


...want peace, you know that. And then that was--it was done in a very stupid way. He should have been surrounded with faithful uh, Hungarian army. And he didn't army to protect him. The German went in immediately. And then Szálas...then Száasi came and Száasi killed a lot of Jews. But uh, they took some of the Jews to Auschwitz from Budapest, but at that time was not uh, a mass deportation.

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