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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14




Part I: From Kosice to Paris and Montreal

Part II: O, Canada

















Volume 18

Emery Gregus

Occupation and Liberation 1944-1945
Aftermath: The Postwar Years

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
Copyright Emery Gregus, 2002


Key Words

Kassa (Kosice): Czechoslovakia; Hungary; Budapest; Pecs; Arrow Cross; Jewish labour battalions; Don River Curve; Admiral Horthy; Allied bombing raids; liberation by Red Army; Communist regime and takeover of Czechoslovakia; Bratislava; Vienna; Paris; Montreal, Canada.


Author was born on August 7, 1922. His testimony covers the period of March, 1944 to February, 1945--from the occupation of Hungary by the German military forces to the liberation of Hungary by the Russian Army. Summarizes the measures imposed on the Jewish population of Hungary since the onset of the war. Describes the various means taken by family members to cope with the restrictive edicts aimed at Jews. Reveals the fate of family and friends in the ensuing months. As part of a labour battalion, his brother is sent to the eastern front where he is captured by the Russians and succumbs--as later revealed to author by witnesses. Futile attempt by prominent Jews and local Rabbi to have the Catholic bishop intervene on their behalf. Brother sends a man to accompany the author to Budapest, where some family have sought to avoid the ghetto by leading clandestine lives in the city. With the help of friends, he attains false identity papers. Gives detailed account of the months spent in avoiding arrest and his constant need to change domiciles in order to escape capture. Witnesses the Allied bombing missions over Budapest. Acknowledges the assistance he receives from Christian friends. Spends days wandering about the city, fearful of being recognized. Describes the liberation by the Red Army soldiers, and the conditions of war-torn Budapest. Records his personal response to the loss of his family. Concludes section with "Epilogue" expressing his sense of responsibility as a survivor to tell his story.


Examines the reasons that prompted emigration from Czechosolakia and Europe. Describes life under the Communist regime and the special relationship with Israel. Notes the difficulties imposed by the regime on those who decided to leave the country. He and his wife leave for Bratislava by train, then travel on to Vienna where they remain for several days, then proceed on to Paris. Describes their conditions and the cultural scene of the city. Wife works as seamstress. After two years in Paris they obtain immigration papers to Canada and arrive in August, 1951. Travel to Montreal where relatives had already settled. Describes the employment hardships and his work in an optical firm. Birth of children and raising family. Opens optical shop which he maintains for many years until his retirement. Concludes with a thoughtful reminiscence on his past experiences and finally assesses life as a mystery.


I wish to thank my niece Leah Ben Zvi for her idea of a translation from the original Hungarian tapes into English, which she initiated without my knowledge, and to my daughter Vivian, who put in so much effort to elaborate on and finish the translation of the manuscript.

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