Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982


Was this the first time you went to Budapest, in 1944?

That's right. That was my first trip, ever a long trip in my life.

What are your memories about that trip?

Oh, my memories of Budapest were very beautiful. It was like a Jewish town. It was just fantastic. And then the huge stores that I had never seen in my life before and, and uh, my brother who was uh, uh, my oldest brother who lived at Budapest at that time and he told me about uh, the Jewish commercial life in Budapest and how many Jews there were there and it, it was just a unforgettable experience to me, what a beautiful, huge city and, and as you probably know, that in Hungary the commerce in Budapest was, was mostly uh, uh, built up by the Jews and, and uh, I don't know the word, control is, is strong, but it was a fact that, they, they have built up the commerce and industry of Hungary and, and it was a very beautiful city and Jewish life was, was all over and it was a thriving uh, uh, metropolis compared to my sleepy little town. It was a very interesting experience.

Your mother had gone there for what purpose?

We were for instance uh, yarn, sewing yarn was hard to get. When the Hungarians came in, yes, there were shortages of textiles and things like that was hard, were hard to get. Because Romania was already on sort of a war footing as an ally of Germany. So things are coming back to me now. There were a lot of shortages after the Hungarians came in that we didn't have under the Romanians. Yarns to sew were very hard to get, certain type of textiles were hard to get. So we went to Budapest, we could buy all that stuff in Budapest and brought it home and sold it a great deal to the peasant population who couldn't get it. So that was the reason we used to uh, oil was very hard to get or rationed. I used to travel to a city called Szaszregen that had a very large Jewish population and compared to our town and I used to buy uh, sun seed oil there. They had sun seed oil mills. So I used to go every week, buy ten, fifteen gallons, bring it home, sell it retail to the, to the other, the population. This is how we were making a living. We had to do all kinds of things. I was helping my parents to make a living when I was ten years old already, making deliveries and help the family out to survive. I mean, you always had to use your ingenuity somehow to survive. Um, uh, uh, my mother made some contact with some friends or relatives in Hungary where they had a goo...industry of geese and, um what do you call the larger ones? Uh, the tiny ones, smallest are geese.


Ga...ganders, yeah. And, and uh, we used to import that from there and then we used to go sell it to the richer Jewish people. They, they bought the livers and, and uh, also um, I guess that was uh, that was hard to get in our town. We imported it from Hungary and we sold it. So we had to always do something uh, to survive. That's how we Jewish people survived. So everybody knew how to do something to, to, to survive and to make a living.

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