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Ibolya Ginsburg

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
October 1948
Interview number:


Dr Rosalyn Livshin

Date of Interview:

Interview Summary:

They had a live-in maid and Ibolya attended the Jewish School and had extra Hebrew lessons in the afternoon. After leaving school she became apprenticed to a dressmaker for two years and worked with her aunt for a year. She made friends with the non-Jewish neighbourhood children but noticed a change in them when they started school and learnt that the Jews killed Christ. Nevertheless life continued normally until the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944. They were forced to move into the ghetto of Satoraljaujhely for about 3 weeks. They stayed with relations living in a room of their house. There was plenty of food and a Jewish Committee maintained organization. In April just before Shavuos they were gathered and put into cattle trucks for a 3-day journey. They took clothing and food and there were buckets in the truck for sanitary needs. They arrived in Auschwitz. Ibolya and her sister were split from the rest of the family. They were disinfected and given a thin dress and sent to the gypsy camp. There they discovered what had happened to the rest of the family. They stayed for  about 3 months, waiting to be sent out to work and participating in interminable roll calls. Then they were put on cattle trucks in July and sent to Kaufering, to a satellite camp of Dachau for 2-3 weeks, where they helped build barracks. Then they were sent to another camp, Lager 4. There were 400 women and many men, mainly Lithuanian, who were building underground bunkers for the firm Moll. Kirsch was in charge. He could beat a man to death, yet he had a wife and 4 daughters.  Ibolya could speak Yiddish and was therefore given special privileges. She helped in the kitchen with her sister. As the allies neared they were taken to a Russian POW camp near Munich, where she helped to keep the hospital block clean. She also did this in Ottilien near Munich. Then they were taken on a 4-5 day march in circles around Munich until they were liberated on 1 May 1945. She continued to help in the hospital now run by the allies and met and nursed Waldemar, who she married in 1946 in Weiden. Her father survived and she arranged a marriage for him and he and his wife went to live in Israel.  Ibolya became a housewife in Munich and on 16 October 1948 she and Waldemar came to Yorkshire, England where Waldemar had relations. 

Ibolya Ginsburg (nee Davidovitch) was born in Paszto, Hungary in 1924. Her mother came from a very religious family from Torna St Jakab, her father from a religious family in Miskolc. His father had come from a non-religious family and had become religious. Ibolya’s great grandfather was a professional soldier but her grandfather did not want to follow this and his father bought him a farm. He married, had a son and his wife died. He remarried her sister and had more children. His wife came from a very religious family. He became a cantor/Schochet/Sopher and led a very orthodox life. His son, Ibolya’s father, followed suit and became a cantor etc. They both had wonderful voices. Ibolya’s family lived in Paszto until c1929 and then they moved to Tokaj. They lived in the shul compound where her father worked as the main cantor. Also in the compound was the Jewish School, the Mikveh, Beis Hamedrash. 


Full Interview


And on the third morning I woke up in the dark, and what woke me up? The train stopped and it was quiet. I lay there and I realised that we must have arrived somewhere [Auschwitz] because it was very quiet and we could hear the soldiers going about and it got a bit lighter and a bit lighter and as I sat there, my father was opposite me, and the light came down, now he still had a beard, he had cut a little bit but he still had a beard, and as it got lighter I kept looking, there was something different about my father. I looked again, I can't see, and as it got lighter, he had a white streak, he got grey overnight. Now after he survived, we survived, and we started talking and I told to him “Do you remember that last night that you got white?” He said, “Did I?” I mean there were no mirrors or anything. And I said, “Yes.” And then when he turned the other side, just the two streaks, he got white. He said, “I will tell you why, when they took the water, the buckets down, there was an old German”, and my father’s German was fluent, not Yiddish, German, and he said to the man, “Tell me. Where are they taking us? What is going to happen to us?” And father said, he looked at me, and he told me. So he sat there the whole night knowing what is going to happen to us and he got grey.

And we were free [liberated from Kaufering concentration camp]. That is how it happened. Unbelievable. Oh, you felt euphoric. I mean to begin with, you really felt euphoric. It took a couple of days until you realised what had happened, and as the days went past you saw that there were very few of us alive, and it didn’t feel very good. Altogether it was a strange existence. It didn’t happen overnight.

They took us to the showers. 100s of women in various stages of undress. The German soldiers stood around. So off came our nice warm winter coats, clothes, everything. I looked at the soldiers, they were joking with one another, they never even thought that we were women. It was the first realisation: when you see that they don’t look at you as women. We went into the next room where they cut your hair off, it all happens fast. You must have heard it before; in the next room they took the rest of the body hair off & into the showers. They gave us this soap that wouldn’t lather, it smelt. They made those in Auschwitz from human fat. But of course we didn’t know any of this.

You go under the shower, the shower was warm, it felt very good. As I stood there I nearly passed out, I thought, “Dear G-d, I have lost Judith.” I had just promised my mother that I would take care of her. Where is she? I had a feeling I was going. Everything went dark. I kept shouting: 'Judith, Judith, where are you?' & she touched me: “I am here.” She was standing next to me. I said: “Where?” All I could hear was this sound coming out. I looked at her, she had no hair on. I said: “Don’t ever leave me.” She said “You don’t have to worry.

I could see blood on the floor, rivulets of water, red. It was a huge big room & I thought, “Dear Lord, they are killing us here. What is all this blood?” Not far in front of me there was this woman menstruating, there was no sanitary towel, nothing, just like animals. They started shouting 'Raus, Raus, Out, Out'. We went out. I was very cold. The last day of April, it was winter, there was no hair on you, nothing, they didn’t give you towels or underwear, just these grey clothes, a hole to put your head through, a slit for your arms. That is how they did it. It took them less than an hour to reduce us to a non-person.

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