Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Weiss - October 7, 1994

Hungarian Rule

The Hungarians came into your town in 1938.

In 1938. In 1938, yes.

What was that like?

Well [pause] we really didn't know what's gonna happen because in my hometown there were people who served Ost, who served in the Hungarian army during first war. In the first war. And many people were officers in that Hungarian army. And we didn't know what's gonna happen. But the soonest as they came in, laws came out against the Jewish people. The first law was they took away the licenses. Within other words, if there was a grocery store, you don't have a license anymore to operate it. If you was a tailor, you don't have a license. If you was a shoemaker, you don't have a license. Within other words, they took away the living capability to exist as people. Some people had a little savings. Most of us didn't have any. Now you can imagine what's happening to people. How can they exist? So that was--and the population turned more openly anti-Semitic.

Do you remember seeing gendarmes march into the town or...

Oh, we had, we had in our town like you have police here, we had gendarmes uh, in our little town, sure, sure.

Were they Hungarian?

They were Hungarian. Oh they had to be clean. I mean made sure that they are Hungarian. There's no question, yes. Yes, yes.

Were they from your town?

Uh, yeah, eh, yes, yes. This--some, some, some were and some not, but most yes they were, they were from the town. We didn't have a big force. Fifteen, twenty people. Uh, what it, what it consisted of.

Do you remember if the non-Jews were upset about the Hungarian occupation?

Oh they were very happy. The town had ninety percent Hungarians. They were elated. They really--they were Hungarian nationals. I mean they were born as Hungarians. So they, they were very happy to see the Hungarians...army.

So they--they weren't particularly loyal to Czechoslovakia?

No, no. I believe no, no, no.

Was there a numerus clausus?

Numerus what?

Numerus clausus? A--a quota system as well?

In what?

Well so many--so many Jewish students could go to school. So many...

Well, a Jewish student--no there was no quota system by the Czech. And we were really by the Hungarians uh, uh, six years in a sense from 38 to '44. But there was no quota systems. The only thing very few Jewish people who attended higher learning uh, most of them went to Yeshivas. And uh, to go to college, to go to col...even high school--in my town there was no high school. You had to go to Beregszász. That was the closest place where you had high school.

Did anyone leave?

Leave?

Yeah.

No. There, there was no really where to go. There was no, no place to go. There was no place what we knew of that they, they do want a Jew.

Did you know about Horthy? Did you hear the news about Horthy?

Oh yes. Horthy, Horthy, Horthy, sure, sure. He was the, the prime minister or you would call him. Sure I know about Horthy.

So what did, what did, what did Jewish people think about Horthy? Were they...

Well about Horthy himself...what we thought is that he--we knew that the laws are coming from Budapest. And we knew that he's the prime minister. So whatever we had experienced the laws what came out from Budapest in our mind was--we knew it was Horthy.

Had you heard of Szálasi?

Oh Szálasi yes, yes, yes, now he was Hitler, he was Hitler, yes. He was Hitler.

And people in your town knew about these different political...

Oh yes. That we knew; that we knew. As a matter of fact, many in my town, put on green shirts to symbolize Szálasi. Oh yes. Yes. And I never heard anybody who would talk against Szálasi in my town.


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