Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Zwi Steiger - March 27, 1982

Beginning of Jewish Deportation

Those were the only three left at home.

Yeah, yeah.

Your older brother was--had been in Israel.

Was in Israel by that time, yeah.

And two younger sisters had long...

They were, they were dead before.

...died. What was that uh, short reunion like?

Shoot, it was, it was pleasant. It was good. But uh, you know, question was you could feel, you know, that was already--the Allies were already in Italy. It was after Stalingrad. The, the Eastern Front was moving towards uh, Germany. The Russians were in eastern uh, or western part of the Ukraine and you could feel that the tide is turning. The question was, will they remain alive or what will happen to the Jewish population in that area? And I think there were hopes that they, that they'll survive--that the Germans will not have time to, to do anything about that uh, about the local population. And there was always a feeling that if the front uh, moves and--people can go for a few days to the forest and uh, manage to, to survive the retreat of the German army. And this then, this changed, of course. I was at home in February for a few days, and then in March...

Of '44.

...of '44 there was a complete takeover when the, when the Hungarians were considering switching or getting out of the war that uh, the Germans comp...occupied Hungary.

With German troops, you mean.

With German troops and there was a switch of the, of the government. I think there was an installation of a new government. Still that Horthy was the, the caretaker for the so-called Kingdom of Hungary. And this lasted, as you know, in, in March they oc...they completely took over Hungary, but they still had a Hungarian government. That's when the deportation started and that's when Eichmann came to, to Hungary and started cleaning out uh, especially the periphery of Hungary--the Carpathian areas, the Transylvania and the southern part that was uh, previously uh, Yugoslavia to clean out the area of Jews. And this lasted for about two months, until--from uh, April, May, June. And I think then that's when there was a halt in this--the war was coming closer--the actual uh, fighting--the front, and there was pressure from the Allies to stop it. And this lasted until October of uh, '44 when a completely fascist government took over. There is the degrees in, in, in hell and, as you know. In October, I think it was the 15th or 16th when, when Szálasi took over completely--who was uh, completely pro...he was a fascist like, like uh, the German fascists. And that's again when killings in Budapest started. Shooting, and executions and transportation of Jews, from Budapest itself.

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