Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Helen Lang - February 23, 1982

Jewish Life in Munkacs

So Yiddish and, uh...


...it was in East, so you were--this was in Eastern Czechoslovakia, right? In the Eastern parts of Czechoslo...the Kárpátok...

Right, Kárpátok yeah.

Um, do you know how many synagogues there were in the city?

In the city? Yeah, I think it was like three or four.

And they were all Orthodox?

All orthodox. By us it was one way or the other. You know, there was no middle way like, you know, here where those temples here that, uh it was no su...in a small town there is no such a thing.

Were there uh, social organizations--Jewish uh, welfare organizations that took care of uh, the Jewish community?

Oh yes, oh yes, there were. But I don't remember. I was a little girl. I don't remember these things.

All right, uh...

I'm sure it was. The Joint--just a minute--it was--they called it the Joint. If a Jewish person wanted some help or something, that's what they called, the Joint.

So it would be Joint Committee probably.

It's--that's how they called it--a Joint. It just occurred to me now that you talk about it, I remember.

What happened to that, to that organization during, during the war? I mean, 1938, was--did it become more active? Did...

The Joint?

Let's say, when, when the ghettos came?

Well, and you see, we, we got only the ghettoes when the Germans came in to '44.

In 1944, I see.

Thirty-eight we become Hungarians. See until '38 we were Czech.


And after that we become Hungarians. Remember when Chamberlain and oh, I don't know...


...whoever, divided, you know? So we become one of the Hungarians too. Which...

Were the Jews in Munkacs upset about that?

Yes, because the Hungarians, they were a little bit--they weren't like the, the Czech people. Czech people are intelligent people, educated, but those morons, those Hungarians, they, they were brutal, they were--they weren't like uh, you know. Then it came out when the Hungarians came in that six percent they call it. So from six percent--let's say half the Gentiles could have stores--no, ninety-four percent could have the Gentile stores and six percent only Jewish people could have the stores. So they took away from a lot of Jews businesses. They called it six percent.

Did they buy them or just take them?

That I don't know, but they--well, they had liquidate, I think, the Jews. I don't think they bought it. They didn't pay money for it, but the Gentile people went and opened there the store. Didn't need the merchandise, they could have gotten the merchandise, but...

Did you know anybody that that happened to?

It didn't happen to us because, as I say, because of my father.

Your father, yeah.

See? It took us a long time 'til we got back our license.

Tobacco license...

See at first, first they took away everybody's license, so nobody could have a store open. And then slowly and slowly, you know, people, you know, like six percent plus like we are got it back. It took us maybe six months. It was a tough time then.

What did you do then?

It was very tough.

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