Concordia University MIGS

Back to Holocaust Memoirs | Back to MIGS




Chapter 1: Memories...bits and pieces

    Chapter 2: Gyurika

Chapter 3: The Ghetto

  Chapter 4: In Limbo

   Chapter 5: The War

  Chapter 6: Aftershocks

Chapter 7: Iby's Homecoming






















Volume 9a

Gisele Schwartz-Somlo-Foti

Through the Eyes of a Child

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies

Copyright Gisele Schwartz-Somlo-Foti, 2000

Key Words

Hungary, Satoraljawjhely (town in Hungary), Ragaly (town in Hungary), Putnok (city in Hungary), Budapest, Zagreb, Yugoslavia, Christian convent


Author was born on February 12, 1936. Narrative is written from the point of view of a child, the information and perceptions limited to the awareness of a child from the age of 6 to 9 years old. Relates impressions of family life and childhood experiences from early 1940s. Family moves from Satoraljawjhely to Ragaly. Schooling takes place in city of Putnok. Recollections of 1944 when Hungarian gendarmes came to arrest her mother and older sister, leaving her with her older brother and baby nephew. Brother leaves her and baby in care of relatives. She is separated from nephew who is taken by paternal grandmother. Jewish ghetto established in Budapest. Description of living conditions in the ghetto, Horthy’s resignation and the further restriction of Jewish life. Meets uncle who appears to be an official in the Judenrat. She is assigned to woman who accompanies her to a convent in Buda where she joins adults who are being sheltered. Descriptions of life in convent under constant bombing by Allied aircraft. Extreme conditions: food shortages, lack of sanitary conditions, vermin and lice infestations. Group moves to air-raid shelter where conditions are more severe. She remains there for three months. German soldiers retreating before the Russians seek to rest in the shelter: they leave and soon after Russian soldiers appear. At the end of the war, she is taken to view the destruction of the city. In spring of 1945, she is informed that a cousin has come looking for her. Records dream of winter 1944. Reunited with cousin who takes her to the dwelling of an aunt; she describes the sight of the devastated city. Lives with aunt and cousins. Together with some 25 other children, she is sent to Zagreb, ostensibly for a two-week summer vacation. Unhappy experience since she realizes that the real purpose of the trip is to have the children adopted by the Yugoslavs. Only the prettier and healthier children are selected. She and a companion are not chosen and their stay with a silent, forbidding couple adds to their misery. She returns to aunt’s home in Budapest. In autumn, 1945, her older sister, Iby, appears. She learns that her parents and brother have been killed, along with Iby’s husband and child. Iby returns to the parent’s home in Ragaly to find it emptied of all belongings except for a few photos. Their former maid admits that she had taken Iby’s wedding dress. Iby takes it back.

© Concordia University