Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lanka Ilkow - October 12, 1991

Hungarian Annexation

When the Hungarians came in...

They was rotten. They was worse than the Germans.

Do you remember when they came? Did they march in?

Yeah, they marched in, I don't know what day it was, but in '39. And they marched in. They come a Friday to our town and they uh, the Jews bake challahs. So they went to every Jew and took away the challahs.

Do you remember when they came to your house? Did they come to your house and take the challahs?

Yeah, yeah.

Who were...

Policemen, I mean uh, soldiers, soldiers.


No, soldiers...


you know. They come. We, we didn't know they will do that. It's already with the hit. We couldn't bake other challahs already. They just came and took it away and that's it. And it was very depressing what the Hungarians was doing. They, the Jews wasn't allowed to uh, schita you know, to schecht.

To ritual slaughter.



So uh, but we did it on the black market, you know. So what we did, we went to the, to the butcher, to the Goyisheh butcher and bought meat, you know. The chickens we said we slaughtered ourselves. So they come Fridays, the policemen you know, the gendarmes and--what we cooking. From where do, do we have the meat. So I told 'em I bought it. So they went there to ask. But he was not a--he was a Hungarian guy, but he was not anti-Semitic. He told me, "Lanka, you don't have to buy the meat. If they come ask me I will tell 'em that you bought it." I say, "No, just give it to me and I give it away for the goyim to eat." You know, because was goyim we was close with. You know, they come to work for us for all the years they was coming to milk the cow and so. We had six milking cows you know, and horses and--but they took away the horses for working for the military. So uh, what happened that uh, uh, we, we took the--we, we was work uh, schlepping ourselves. That year before they took us away from home, we had everything year--if you pulled up potato, one bunch, you had a full basket with potatoes. And I say to my mother, "Oh what we will do with all these potatoes?" And she says, "My child, we will be very hungry. It will be a big hunger." I said, "Mom, how can you say that it will be a big hunger?" Uh, walnuts you know, was something and usually we had, how much we had and wheat uh, and everything, corn. And those potatoes I say, we never had that many because the, the cellar was full and two big holes in the garden they made to bury the potatoes because we didn't have where to put it. So I say, "The Goyim will come and work for us for those potatoes and we don't have to worry." So my mother said, "Oh, I don't know, potatoes is a good thing. So many things you can make from potatoes, you know. You can make all kind..." like we make slishkas and krepleh with that jam, you know. And uh, uh, you can make all kinda things from potatoes, all kinda foods. So uh, she uh, figured out some kinda, all kinda potatoes that you could use for different foods to make. And uh, so how could we be hungry if we will have that. But then in concentration camp my mother was six months with us. I always said, "Mom, I wish we would have that potatoes, just one of those potatoes we would have." And she started to cry, and ???, "I told you it will be a hunger but I didn't know that that kind of hunger." She was, poor kid, so hungry that she was shivering. And they give us a, a piece of bread and we sliced it in three that bread and she always was thinking that I give less for my sister. So I--one day I was so angry at her, I say, "Mom, you just want her to live, not me? You want I should give my portion to my sister? What will I eat?" So one day, I went to the uh, um, electrical wires that I will kill myself. It was no electricity. I threw myself against it and nothing happened to me. So uh, the girls say, "Why you do that?" So I told them. So the girls brought me back and my mother said, "Are you crazy or something? Why you go do that?" She say, "I want you to live, but she's so skinny, she's so little," and she always give her from hers you know, she wasn't eating herself. Then, she was just forty-four year old. And, okay, she lost her son because they kill them. And the other son went with my father. My father would have survived if he had not gone with the old people. He was too just forty-five and my mother was forty-four. And uh, naturally, she was wearing a wig. So the hair got gray under the wig for her. And uh, a matter of fact I was wearing a wig too when I got married. But uh, when I didn't know if my husband, so I grew my hair back. And uh, she, poor kid--she, she just wanted that she should have everything, the sister, because she's so skinny, she's so little and she wanted that she should survive, so. But I was hurt that she wants, I should give my bread for her. What should I eat? I was hungry too. So in, in Auschwitz, they give us a bunch o' like grass cooked. It was uh, maybe a potato peels in it or something. So you couldn't eat it because it went between your teeth. So my mother showed us that we should take and drink it and swallow it. Don't chew nothing, just swallow the whole thing and you should live. So that's how we learned to eat, you know. And...

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