Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Edith Roth - March 28, 1982

Life Under Hungarians Part II

Um, do you remember when, when you first heard about the war, do you remember where you were when it, when the news first came?

About the Germans?

About the Hungarians coming.

With the Hungarians coming, it wasn't--we heard about Poland all the time, what's going on in Poland to the Jewish people.

This was later then, after '38?

After '38. And father was also hiding three boys in our attic, three Polish boys.

What had you heard about Poland?

That in, in, for some reason, people didn't believe what what's going to happen and what was going on. They didn't believe um, we had these three Polish boys in our house that, we as kids, never saw them. But it's just by accident I once saw somebody going up the stairs, okay and, and I asked my father, you know, and he said, "We don't talk about this." And we never got to meet this man, this good looking young man, we never, I mean, we never saw them, we never knew who they were, we never knew if they, if they died, because just about three days before they took us, they disappeared.

Do you remember when they arrived?

If they, somebody would have found out as I looked back, father probably would've been killed on the spot. He just took that up on himself and he fed them. They were not even related to us.

How long were they in your house?

Must have been a long, long time because um, we talk about it my sister and uh, probably a year, a year and a half.

Now when the uh, let me just for a minute go back to the 1938, did the Hungarians march into your town?

Yeah. Do you remember the soldiers marching in?

Yeah, I remember the soldiers marching in and um, but you have to remember my mother was Po...you see, at one time it was Hungarian, so my mother was born Hungarian, okay, father was a Czech citizen. Mother was born in Hungarian so uh, so to her, she didn't think that was that, you know, they didn't think it was that bad if the Hungarians move in and take over.

Hm. So was anyone frightened in your house when the Hungarians came, did they think...

Not really, not-they didn't like it because we loved Czechoslovakia, okay, so they didn't like it, the Jews didn't like it at all.

When your friends, non-Jewish friends, left after that, do you, as a, as a young girl, how did you feel about that?

Terrible, just terrible. We didn't like the Hungarian schools. We didn't like to be punished that we spoke Czech in the house.

What kind of punishment would you get?

All kinds of very harsh punishment, you had to stay after school in a corner or being locked up, you're getting, you know, beaten on your hands. Uh, you did, it was just verboten. You were not, you were not supposed to speak Hungarian, or I mean Czech or, you know.

What were, do you remember the first restrictions or laws that the Hungarians imposed? Were there any that, did your father's business have to close down?

Um, no, it didn't but uh, by the Hungarians his business had to? No, it didn't.

Was there a Numerus Clausus or 6% law, that you could only have, that Jews could only have so many percent of the businesses?

Yeah, there was already, businesses were going down for the, for the Jews terribly by the Hungarian regi... It wasn't the same thing.

What, what kinds of changes, did you see less food in the house? Uh, when did that start?

That started. That started, the less food in the house started and uh, don't remember if that started with the Germans or must have been the Hungarians because um, you have to remember our house was built in 1930--1937, my father was building a house in 1937 um, and uh, we only lived there 'til 1944. Left a brand new house.

Now you say your father's in the army. Had he been in the army before?

He was in the army before and he was in the army, that's why I, still in the Hungarian army because he was in the army when the Hungarians came in.

Was this in World War One that he had been in the army?

No uh, World War One? He couldn't have been to World War One.

No. 1918, no?

No, couldn't have.

Did that help him being a member of the Hungarian army, do you think?

If it did, he didn't take it. He didn't uh, he was discharged and he came home.

Did your father, you had older brothers-you had younger brothers.

No, my youngest, just a little boy, ten years old.

Was your father sent out to do work for the Hungarians uh, to do labor in the streets or somewhere?


Tell me what, what happened, when uh, that you remember when the Hungarians were there just until the Germans came?

'Til the Germans came?

Anything stand out?

I don't remember that.

You went to school everyday?

I went to school everyday, but I remember we went less and less in school everyday and uh, uh, I remember to the end like that we were not allowed to go to school anymore.

Did you talk to your parents about that or your s...sisters? Did you understand as a little girl why that was, was happening?

We always had anti-Semitism, so it was sort of like you lived with it, okay, and uh, we didn't-I, to tell you the honest to goodness truth, I think I survived of sheer stupidity because I didn't, I didn't, I didn't, the whole time, I think, I saved people and I, I don't know, I wasn't afraid. I, I don't know but I didn't realize the whole seriousness of the thing, okay.

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