In Hiding – Hungary

And I went to see this French teacher when I came back [to Budapest]. And asked her whether she could hide me. And she said, no, because she’s got a lot of French prisoners of war in her house and they all- she’s hiding those. But she will send me to her brother who is a civil servant in the Horthy fascist government, and he will- he will help me. So she packed a suitcase for me and sent me to his- to her brother as a cousin that is fleeing the Russians from the east because they were fascists. So I came to this very elegant house of her brother’s, and her brother was very nice to me.

You know, it’s an interesting thing, and I’ve thought about it a lot. I was never frightened. I was never actually frightened. My mother wasn’t frightened either. She had fear. I was very nervous apparently at one point. I had a strange faith – [with emotion] in my mother. That she will look after us. Which she did.

My father had a schoolmate in secondary school, who had some kind of illness and was allowed to complete his university course during the war. And he was a mechanical engineer. And my father employed him and kept him in, you know, he stayed there. And I mean, they were schoolmates; they were friends. So in March, April, May ’44, the hiding things, my parent were hiding things, were giving things out. Clothes, valuables. And my father said to this chap, “Look here is my Leica camera. Please keep it for me. If I don’t come back, it’s yours.” We came back, my father said to him, “You still have the camera?” “Yes, I’ll bring it to you.” Brings it the next day. A week later, his wife comes to my father and [s]he says, “You know, my husband really fell in love with that camera. He really- he likes it so much. He gave it back to you because he’s an honest man. Could you not give it to him?” So my father said, “You know, he’s my friend, he’s worked for me and he’s still working for me and he’ll continue working for me. Here is the camera.” Another week passes. The friend comes to him, and he says, “Gyula you know, I have this camera. I don’t use it. I know you use it. Would you not like to buy it off me?” And my father did. [laughs] This is- is the sort of- the sort of incident. And my, my mother saw people in the street wearing her clothes. And this happened to- to a lot of people

I remember coming out of the, the cellar when the Russians came and I remember somebody must have told me what is the Russian word for ‘bread’. Because I still remember I was asking for chleba, which is - bread. And as far as the food was concerned, as far as I know, during the war, we survived on beans and hazelnuts. Where my mother got them from, I, I- I don’t know.

 
 
logoBIG.png

@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

Made by BookJaw