Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Shari Weiss - April 17, 1985

Hungarian Occupation

Right. That was the primary, uh...

This is how it started. Q:...change when the Hungarians took over?


Do you recall others?

This was the primary change. At this point, uh...

At least that affected you as an eleven year old?

It affected us, but in the long run, I think it made for a much easier atmosphere in the school because we were very much at ease with our contemporaries and our teachers since we all had the same enemy, actually, so we sort of banded together and it made for a closer contact between teacher and pupil.

Do you recall any friction or any incidents between Jews and non-Jews prior to the Hungarians taking control?

Well, when we were in school, I mean, we were called names, dirty names, but they, you know, we were so young that I don't even think we paid that much attention to it. We went home and we were hurt and you know as every parent you try to soothe your children, can I stop for a minute please...

[interruption in interview]

In what other ways was your family directly impacted by the Hungarians coming in?

Well, I had a cousin that was an attorney like yourself who was not allowed to practice, of course he was disbarred because he was Jewish and in order to make a living luckily that he was a very, very smart man and a very eminent professor of languages he had a job at the lycee as a teacher and he taught us German, well he was an English professor also, but of course that was banned, that wasn't in our curriculum and he was fluent in Hebrew and German. He was our German teacher which was a compulsory language for us. Also, the cousin that I grew up with, my aunt's and uncle's son, he was a forced laborer, I don't know, you know the ones with the arm bands. He must have been about twenty or twenty-one at the time when they took him away from home and uh, he was in different camps, I don't know, doing different work. But during the war while we were deported he was taken, he was taken deep into Germany and then captured by the Russians, I think, and he ended up in Siberia and he almost ended up losing a leg, consequently. He's fine now. He lives in Germany with his own family as well as his mother, his aunt who must be around ninety now.

In the approximate four years from the time Hungarians took control until the time they started to deport the Jews, how was your uncle's lifestyle and even the livelihood of your uncle and aunt affected?

Well, you see the funny part about life in Hungary at the time was that every Christian had a Jew friend. I mean, if you're not gonna hurt my Jew, I'm not gonna hurt your Jew. Like my aunt and uncle knew one of the justices of the city, so sometimes if something occurred that was really uh, it would have endangered them, he helped them out at times. But then the time came when nobody could help us. And everybody was just deported when the Germans came into Hungary in March of `44. I mean, businesses were shut down completely. Schools were closed completely. We were wearing the stars, the yellow stars with our name on it and we were under curfew. And I mean it was, it was a total change, I mean day and night. Before, prior to the Germans coming into Hungary, we at least had enough freedom to go to school even on a segregated basis and to go to our own synagogues and live a fairly free lifestyle even with the abuses and everything that we took like you know, name calling and all this. But as soon as the Germans came in, everything ceased, I mean everything was at a standstill, and then they informed us that we better get ourselves together because section by section we're gonna be taken to a ghetto. And they told us just to make a few suitcases or a little baggage to take with us, whatever we can carry and then they'll take us to the ghetto. Which comprised of buildings that only had a roof over them. They were actually sheds to dry brick in. I don't know for what reason I was never in that part of the city before. I don't know how far it was from the city. But anyhow, that's where they took us, section by section and uh.

Do you recall how that was effectuated actually?

I think that, you know something, I don't even recall if they came with trucks and took us there because I don't recall any of the means of going there. And they just deposited us and told us in which section we gonna stay in.

How much prior warning were you given?

I think just a few days. There was no set rule to it. I mean it was at the whim of someone, you know that said, well, today we will take this section and tomorrow we will take that section, because the Jews were not congregated in one place. I mean we weren't living all together. We lived in different parts of the city, so it was at the whim of someone. I don't know how systematically it went, you know, how systematically they were about gathering us, I mean, the end result was the same. I mean, we all ended up in the ghetto.

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