Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

David Kahan - April 29, 1982

Hungarian Rule

But they were Transylvanian Hungarians or were they...

No, those, those Hungarians were the garrison. They were garrisoned. They were, they were Hungarian from Hungary. And I really, they used to see the Jewish kids coming around there and they knew that we were sort of business people trying to survive and I, I recall vividly that, I don't know where my mother used to get the tea from, but I used to go and sell tea to the Hungarian soldiers to send home. And, and um, then one time I remember that we had chocolates my mother bought from someplace and I went over there. Those things were a little bit hard to get and I sold that to the soldiers. So they paid me well and they never, never hurt me, never bothered me. As individuals.

Did your, did your parents talk about any of this going on outside...

Uh, my parents, as far as I recall, as I mentioned before, communications were so difficult in Europe. My mother, I remember she used to get letters from Czechoslovakia and cry a lot of times and they used to talk about uh, my father, about his family in Sighet. But again, I, I couldn't realize exactly what was going, going to happen at that young age. Then we were so backward that I had never visited Sighet in my life. I never met my grandparents. I was never out of my hometown more than about fifty, sixty miles. So as far as the significance of the Jewish tragedy that was happening in, in, in Holland and Germany and in Poland I did not know and I don't believe that the people in our town knew.

Did anybody talk about leaving?

Uh, leaving our area? Well, you know, it's easy now in retro...retrospect to think back, you know, to have hindsight. We were so close to the Romanian border, if we had any idea that the Germans were planning to kill us, it would have taken maybe a few hours of walking to be in the Romanian side and perhaps save our lives. Many Jews did that, who escaped from the Hungarian side and they went to the Romanian side of Transylvania and they were never deported. Uh, we actually just didn't know what was happening and, and then maybe if we would have heard about it we couldn't, we wouldn't have believed it. You must have heard stories that some Jews escaped from Auschwitz and even went to the Warsaw ghetto and the Jews just couldn't believe the horrors. It was just too much to believe to anyone that, that they, they would still mass kill Jews. But basically--I don't know if I am answering your question correctly, but we didn't...

No one discussed it.

No one discussed it not at all except the general--we knew that the Germans were bad for the Jews and we knew that terrible things were happening, but details that they are killing, that they killed so many Greek Jews or deported to Auschwitz, we never heard of Auschwitz or Treblinka, or any concentration camps.

Now the Germans weren't there, right?

The Germans weren't there, no, until March of 1944, when Hungary has decided to, as far as I can remember, to abandon the alliance with Germany and join the Allies. Then Budapest was occupied and then a few days after uh, a few Germans marched into our town too, so to speak. That's when the problems really started.

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