Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984

Hungarian Occupation

Did you ever go?

Oh, sure.

Your brothers too?

Well, yes, everybody went, except that my little kid brother, I mean, that the youngsters, the youngest brothers, possibly, they didn't go, but it was uh, everybody had to go, there was no way of not... Then to top it all off, they blamed you for the war, they blamed you for all of the troubles that was going on. And uh, that lasted not for very long until the, then uh, Hungary, the Hungarians uh, part of Transylvania was turned over to Hungary and many of the people, the older people who said that who were uh, uh, before in, in, before Transylvania was turned over to Hungary, they said, watch when the Hungarians going to come in, they are more civilized then the Romanians and they are going to treat you much nicer than the Romanians did. Well, you know, some hope. We thought we were going to have some hope. So, the Hungarians came into Transylvania, what do you think the first song was there? We were stayed out there to greet the Hungarians like the rest of the people were greeting them with the Hungarian flag, red, white and green, you know, and we used to say long live Hungary, long live Hungarians, long live the Hungarian Army, and all of this, this uh, propaganda. The first thing they sing over here that the troops come in and they sing, "If you have a Jewish girl for a girlfriend, go and hang yourself." No, no, slowly, slowly, we knew exactly what is, what we are going to have, expect from the Hungarians, and we were through. I mean, we just, we went slowly home, we didn't mar... we didn't watch all of the troops marching by. And that too was a problem. Why, you're against the Hungarians now? Then they started to institute a new law. The Hungarians said, that all of the able-bodied Jewish people, strictly Jewish people, you will not be permitted to, to uh, be part of the army. No, you're not, you're... They're, they were conscripted into labor force. My older brother who lives now in Israel, had to uh, register for, for the draft, he registered for the draft, and in the beginning they gave him a uniform. They didn't care whether somebody was healthy or somebody was sick, anybody who was a Jew, who was the age from twenty to twenty-two, has to go into the... Oh, from twenty on over, has to report and go into labor force. And surely it didn't take long enough for my brother to be drafted. And my other brother was twenty. He too was drafted into the labor force. So, for six months they used to wear the Hungarian uniform. And I'll never forget it, that I was walking home and my brother came home on furlough, and we were walking home from the store to the house, and there was a gypsy, an old gypsy, who volunteered to be a serg... volunteer, I mean, to, to oversee the Jewish people. And uh, he was no rank, he had no rank whatsoever, and my brother passed by him and he didn't salute him. And he stopped him right there on the, on the street and he says to him, "Do you know you're a dirty Jew and you're supposed to salute a Gentile?" So, my brother did not want to cause any problems, he said, "I apologize." He saluted him and he passed by there. But he didn't stop there, he started to scream and yell, "I'm gonna teach you a lesson." Everybody became a k'nocker, started to get... become big shots. And it eased up a little bit, not for very long, but in the meantime uh, they uh, the Hungarians, still insisted upon that all of the Jewish boys should, ought to go to work. You had to put on a yellow armband and used to report what's called the ??? Well, it was labor force, little labor force. And they too... We, we too had to go and work for the officials. A little later on, I remember, I was walking on the sidewalk and a, the corporal who was in charge of us was walking with his girlfriend-I don't remember the day-he said to me, "Do you know, you dirty Jew, that you're not supposed to walk on the same sidewalk when I walk on this? You go on the street, walk on the street, I mean, on the middle on the street," so... And it turns out to be a muddy day, and we did not have automobiles, we had horses and buggies and horses and wagons, and uh, it was muddy and I was splashed just like that and he was having fun showing off to his girl what he can do to us. And then one day we were walking, we were marching down the street with our shovels and our picks and our axes and a priest, a Catholic priest, stopped and he said, "Stop!" So, we stopped and then he said-that was already under the Hungarians-and he said, "Do you know that these people are responsible for the war?" I'm fourteen, fifteen years old. I'm responsible for a war that is going on over there in, in, in Europe. Sermons, we used to find out, I mean, sermons that they, they, they used to hold, right there outside, they used to tell the people what the Jews are doing and "They're a thorn in our eyes, we have to get rid of them."

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