Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Paul Molnar - July 24, 2002


You had already left home.

Yeah, so I'm not-I, he was one of the, I mean, there were many. These were terrible people. But I said, even-you know when I, they, they were not in power, there were just, to me they were very insignificant.

W...when were there sort of dramatic changes in your life?

Well, what happened was that on March 19, 1944, which was on a Sunday, my father and I, my little brother went to the soccer game, which we did every Sunday r...regularly 'cause we were very much into uh, to, to see our favorite team. And while we were watching the game, we heard all this noise and rumble. We, we didn't know what's going on. We walked there, I should say, it was about a couple miles from our house. Uh, couldn't understand what's going on because Sundays are very quiet day because people don't go to work. So when the game ended we went out on the street and we saw what happened. What happened was that was the day that the German-we, actually, the Hungary were their allies all along. They were their allies because they figure, because they, because they figure that's the way they can get land back. And also uh, there was a large power next door and you don't have much choice and they certainly, Hungary is very anti-Semitic, no question about it. But what happened was we saw tanks and armored vehicles, and motorcycles and trucks and we saw all these German troops. What they did that day was uh, they uh, occupied Hungary. And the reasons today-said is two reasons, number one was because they were worried that Hungary will try to switch over to the other side. And the other reason was they had six hundred thousand Jews. That was the only island left under German control that still had uh, all their Jews intact. Well, by Monday, there was a new government. The government was kicked out and the new government was the man who was the ambassador uh, uh, to, to Germany became the Prime Minister. And therefore they had a new government and immediately they started uh, passing. I don't even think they passed Jewish laws, they were decrees, they were just decrees. And what they did in places like Poland over a three-year period uh, they did in Hungary because time was at the essence for 'em. Immediately uh, within a week there was a decree that all Hungarian males from age eighteen to forty-eight were drafted in the Hungarian Army for-as forced laborers. And so-therefore my father was forty-four, and one, one uncle of mine who was forty-six uh, they both left. So the only people that were left were old people, women and children because all the men were gone. But shortly after they start, they passed other laws such as... Uh, we had to move out of our home and we had to live in houses which were designated as Jewish houses and what the houses said on them, ap...apartment buildings outside of them uh, they had big Jewish stars on them, big yellow stars. Also, everybody had to wear a Jewish star when you were outside of your premises. Now, I wa...we were not in a ghetto. In the countryside they set up ghettos.

But this-so this is still Rák.

I'm still in Rákospalota, a suburb of Budapest. Now where we lived, they did not set up a ghetto. We had about 2,500 Jews out of the population of maybe 15,000. We were almost fifteen to twenty percent of the population. But they just told us designated houses so we moved into the apartment building across the street. And my mother, my grandmother, her mother and my little brother and we shared an apartment with a couple other families. We each had a room and we shared a kitchen and a bathroom. And uh, they confiscated all our uh, way- transportation. In other words, all our bicycles, all our radios we had to turn in. We're only allowed to go out a couple hours a day, I think from four to six in the afternoon. So therefore I didn't go to school anymore, uh. We were not allowed to go in any streetcars or any transportation with the yellow star. Now, we're only like maybe thirty-five, forty minutes from Budapest on a streetcar and it's a Budapest streetcar you know, just outside of it. Well, we're not allowed to go in a streetcar. So we were pretty well stuck where we were. It was-you didn't want to go out anyhow with a yellow star. I mean, it's not something you wanted to do if you had to. My mother would go out and get food for us and some, but we really didn't leave the premises. So we kind of-but still we had a big yard inside the building and we were still kids and we played soccer and... You know, we went on with our life because children do.

Was there rationing?

Uh yes, but there was rationing even before. And again you know, we weren't hungry. I mean, maybe we didn't get all everything we wanted. But I don't remember us being. I mean, we had a lot of canned food because my mother collected cans and we ate a lot of that and. You know, we didn't have maybe fresh vegetables or. Certainly we didn't go to, we didn't go to kosher butchers like we did prior to that, because while my parents were not religious, they kept kosher because that was the tradition. It doesn't mean they didn't eat ham, but they kept kosher in their house.

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