Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emanuel Tanay - March 16, 1987


Let me take you back for a second. You spoke about Hungary and in our narrative you left off moving from place to place in hiding under Aryan papers. How did you wind up in Hungary?

In 1943, it became clear to me that we couldn't survive on Aryan papers. At that time, my mother was in Krakow with my sister, and I was by myself living in Krakow, and my father was in a camp. And uh, we had to do something. First of all we were running out of money. Then the episodes of being nearly discovered and escaping were increasing in frequency. And I first devised in a kind of a scheme for my mother and I to go to the eastern occupied by German zones where my mother would work and we tried to accomplish that by contacting the chairman of the physicians organization. My mother went to see him; he lived in Krakow. And he came up with the idea, instead of that, there is an underground which smuggles people to Hungary.

This was a Polish physician?

It was a Polish physician, yeah. His name was, I remember his name, he was the chairman of the physician organization. His name was Golob. And through him, we made contact with a group that smuggled people to Slovakia and from there to Hungary and that's how we ended up in Hungary.

Where in Hungary?

That's again a complicated story. We got across the border to, to, Kosice, which was part of Slovakia at one point and then we ended up in Hungary and at that time was actually, relatively safe for Jews. Um, it changed dramatically a few months later, because the Germans marched in and a Fascist government took over and the Hungarian Jews, including the Poles, were being rounded up and evacuated so we were back in the same situation.

Were you aware of the Sztójay government and what was going on in there?

Oh clearly, I remember that very day when he took over, I was sure, yeah sure, we were very much aware of it. I was, I remember the day when the Germans marched into Hungary and Sztójay took over, in fact, it was very interesting that we were living in the house of the right-hand man to Sztójay. He was the minister for propaganda. My mother who spoke no Hungarian, I and my sister, we spoke Hungarian quite well, because we learned it, went to the opera one time and sat in the same box with Sztójay. I was in the general population, but in that box sat my mother, the minister of propaganda, our landlady [he laughs] you want an irony....

Did they know that uh..?

Oh no, they only knew that we were Poles. They didn't know that we were Jews. Clearly not, they were extremely anti Semitic. They were constantly talking about getting rid of Jews and so on and so forth.

You were hidden by the underground, at what point did you...?

No, we were not hidden, we got some assistance from the underground. We came on false papers, same old false papers from Poland. And we pretended to be Poles. Not Jews. We continued the same thing in Hungary. We tried to tell Hungarian Jews that there is danger and so on, and they would yell and scream at us as some kind of provocateurs, because they did never believe that anything would happen. We were so suspicious we would never, even once we were in Hungary, and it was relatively safe for Jews, we were too suspicious, we would never reveal our identity openly as Jews any more.

And you all had separate names still?

Oh, yes, we always had separate names and we never admitted to being related.

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