Siege of Budapest

People behaved so harshly to each other, stole bread, a piece of sausage. It was really people... safeguarding their own family. My mother tried to make a campfire in the yard, make some soup. I was breaking up furniture so we could make a bonfire. There was bombing & shelling, house-to-house fighting. We were starving, really. On Christmas Eve a horse was killed just outside the house. It was carved up very quickly. I got a piece of horse... as a Christmas present.

It was in the night - bang, bang, bang, bang on the wall of the cellar. Suddenly a hole appeared. A Russian soldier came in, with bread. He was filthy. Nobody spoke Russian but I remember what he said [she mimics ‘speaking’ silently]. We understood why, because the German soldiers were marching on the street. So first 1 soldier, then 2 & then we saw guns. Then we learned the word, 'chasy, chasy' which meant 'watches'. Because the soldiers came & took the watches from people who had wristwatches because that was their most important thing in life: to own watches. Soldiers, you could see them: 4,5,6,7,8 watches on their arms. That was a thing. What I don't remember - I was too young to remember - that lots of soldiers raped young women there. But that I don't remember. I was just- Later on, I was just told that it happened.

It was a terrible time. The siege of Budapest was the longest siege of any European city during the war. I was in Buda. But the Zionist organisation that was helping people was in Pest. I went there 1 day before all the bridges were blown up. You couldn’t go, after that. We decided that we are going to go away from Budapest because it was still under siege. So we walked from Budapest to Szeged, about 200 kilometres. One of the most horrible winters. It was terrible. I had such frostbite. But I just wanted to get away from the front.

Partly walking & partly we got lifts from the Russians. Lorries. They had lorries & sometimes gave us a lift. The Russians weren’t very nice. It was quite dangerous. I was 18. Another girl was 15 & they were always trying to rape her. So it was terrible. You could talk yourself out of it. I could speak Russian quite well & tell them that I’m on their side, my boyfriend is a partisan & is fighting. You could always- you could talk yourself out of it. But it was- You had to be able to chat them up. It wasn’t always easy."