Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Schey - June 10, 1994

Life after Outbreak of War

Um, do you remember when there were--before the Germans came now, what kinds of changes took place, if any?

Well, I think the hardest part was finding a job. But I graduated from high school. And because of numerus clausus you could hardly get a job. I was working in a place where I was not uh, registered as a worker. In other words I was working not, not anybody knowing except who saw me, but not knowing that I'm a Jew. I was not registered as an employee. So whatever my job was, it was on the QT, oh how would you call that--I mean, it was not official. Uh, my husband for instance who graduated uh, from one of the finest schools in Budapest, numerus clausus--I mean uh, what's the highest honors? I'm getting senile.

Summa cum laude.

Summa cum laude. Couldn't--and wanted to be a doctor all his life. Could not get into any medical school. Uh, other than really job wise and uh, and university that, they could not go to universities, there wasn't very much difference in our lives. But the fact that you couldn't get a job ??? the percentage was so small that--but otherwise we, we lived in very pleasant and a very nice life. And the Hungarian Jews, as much as they were assimilated uh, except the Orthodox uh, we had an awful lot of Gentile friends. And we lived a very nice life, very high cultured life with theaters and operas and concerts and--we were not hindered in any way from any of this.

Even after the war started.


Um, had you heard news about what was going on in Germany?

We heard news, but we really, not, not the, not the details. We heard some. We also heard, for instance, from Czechoslovakia, I met somebody who fled from Czechoslovakia and was telling us that you have to wear a yellow star and in the parks you can only sit on certain benches. Czechoslovakia was as far--and I hate to say this--from Detroit to Kalamazoo. And we said, "It's not going to happen here. It's not going to happen." So we knew that there are restrictions. We knew that there are laws uh, curtailing movements and, and livelihoods. But we were not aware of, of concentration camps. We were not aware of uh, gas chambers. We were never aware of it.

This was in the early years of the war.


You were never aware of them. Even...

Actually never. Even when the Germans came in and they started deport--they started--well we had, for instance, I had a family, a, a second cousin, very, very close in a smaller town, ??? which is not a small town but, I mean, compared to Budapest it is a small town. And after the Germans came in and they wrote us that they had to leave their homes and they had to go to ghettos. At that point naturally everybody was starting to be very suspicious that it's not going to end there and, and it's going to be terrible. We still did not know about gas chambers.

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