The Last Chance to Remember
Chapter 30. OUR FAMILY ON OUR MOTHER'S SIDE
Vilma was married to Hugo Gonda (Gelb). They were farming in Ugar, Slovakia,
when suddenly she passed away unfortunately at the age of 28 and left
behind four orphans, all very young children. It must have been a great
tragedy because for uncle Hugo it was very difficult to manage with
the big responsibility. After a while he decided to remarry and since
he was reluctant to bring a stepmother to the house, he chose aunt Eta
(Etta) who was my mother's youngest sister and still at home.
way he was assured that the children were in good and loving hands,
not with a stranger. Aunt Etta took up real huge responsibilities and
she took her new role very seriously.
Ella is next, she lived with her husband Ronai Paul and three children
in Miskolcz, Hungary. Here was their real home, the children went to
school and graduated from gymnasium. For summer they left for Abauj-Kér,
where they had a summer home and owned a mill. This was a very small
place, but very dear to all of us. We spent there many unforgettable
days, vacations, winter or summer. We were at home there, always welcome.
We were at home there and with them. Darling cousins: Alice, Söszi
(Erzsébet) and Pityu (Miklos). Unfortunately none of them came
back. Once a prosperous, well to-do family, well known for their humanitarian
character, disappeared from this earth, parents, children, grandchildren,
relationship was close, we grew up together with our cousins as one
family, with open, sincere feelings. A train which was a light subsidiary
line was familiar already. We had to cross the border, Hidas-Nemeti
and then the train slowly took its time stopping at every little station,
until we arrived to our destination, where the sign was telling proudly
to the world: This is Abauj-Kér, from where we could already
spot the home which was so dear to us, our dear aunt Ella's home. We
became accustomed to each others life. They were a well respected
family in the community and of course within the whole family.
the oldest sibling was a sincere and good girl; she married a lawyer:
Dr. Fisch Izso from Satoralja-Ujhely and lived there happily with their
admired little girl, who gave meaning to their life with her lively
and very friendly smile and personality. Unfortunately they had the
same fate and Alice with her precious little daughter never returned;
her husband survived.
(Erzsébet = Elizabeth) was the younger sister with a lovely personality,
dearly loved by the whole family, like her sister. She married Paul
Feldmesser, pharmacist from Debrecen (Hungary) and lived happily with
their darling little girl Marika, in Balmaz-Ujváros, until they
had to follow the majority of people. They were deported to Dachau concentration
camp where families were allowed to stay together. According to unauthorized
news they were all executed on the last day of this terrible war.
(Miklós) was serving with the Hungarian forced labour camp close
to the front and in Ukraine. He suffered innumerable hardships, inhuman
abuse and treatment, from the Siberian cold which was bitterly ice cold,
frozen weather. They had to march from the front about 1600 km to Kiev,
from where they were further transported again to Dorosic. This was
supposed to be a clearing station for the returning columns from the
forced labour. Unfortunately they contracted black typhus, almost everybody.
To get rid of them the easiest way was to herd them into a barn and
then to set the building on fire, with everybody inside. This place
and date remain with black letters in our memory. How he did manage
to save himself is a mystery to us, but he did come home.
arrived back to Hungary, according to unauthorized news, but some Germans
found him and shot him down, killed him, already inside in his country.
After so many terrible experiences, he had to come home to die. He was
a wonderful son, a good brother and a darling cousin. Abauj-Kér
was my birthplace.
Etta (Eta): She became uncle Hugo's second wife and devoted mother to
the children. From this marriage came: Mimi, Bela, Illes, Erzsike
(Elizabeth) who got along well with Mimi and they grew up together in
a very nice atmosphere. Aunt Eta was the youngest of the sisters, a
very bright, intelligent lady. They moved to Nagy Kanizsa, where the
children went to school (Hungary). Since they were farming here as well,
the summers were spent close to the fields on Gyóta summer residence.
Once I was their guest, so I had a chance to watch and wonder what a
busy life they led with their large family. In the summer they usually
had their friends or close relatives for the season as guests. The boys
made themselves useful helping on the fields and later they were sent
to Vienna to study. When the girls grew up the family moved to Budapest
(Capital city of Hungary) where they lived contentedly; the girls studied
and later worked. Aunt Eta guided her large family with great understanding
and lots of love. Unfortunately they were not spared either
(Erzsike) was married to Frank (Feri) Ban, who was sent to Russia with
the Forced Labour Camp and never returned. They had a beautiful little
girl: Eva, about six years old at the time and was left in care of her
paternal grandparents, when her mother had to leave their homeland,
with her widowed mother and sister Mimi. Erzsike was a lovely, intelligent
and caring person, another dear cousin.
time came, when all Evas adult relatives had disappeared from
her life and she was put into an orphanage. There she waited day by
day for the family to pick her up. She couldn't understand why were
they so late and wondered if they had forgotten about her? At this tender
age she missed her parents very much and yearned after their affection.
She missed home, where she felt secure and loved. She was afraid to
fall asleep, in case they came while she was sleeping and she missed
this very early stage of her life her little heart had to understand
sufferings that were far too much even for adults. She was seized by
fear and it became her custom to wait at the gate of the home. There
she would stand, holding onto the fence and looking out into this big
world, which was so cruel to her.
day a passer-by stopped abruptly because she thought this little girl's
eyes reminded her of somebody. But the child was too frail by then,
it was hard to recognize her. The strange lady went closer and started
to talk to her and soon it was clear that she was little Eva Ban, whose
parents and this lady were good friends before, in good times. Eva became
very excited that somebody took interest and was even nice to her. This
lady accepted the responsibility of looking after her, until somebody
from the family turned up.
life changed abruptly when her aunt Mimi, her mother's sister returned
luckily after surviving the brutal afflictions. Mimi took full charge
of Eva's well-being and did her utmost to help her through the difficult
years and times. With great ambition and diligence, she worked her way
up. Today this Eva has been promoted in a big hospital as the head-physician
in Budapest and was invited through the war organization for hygiene
to Portugal to a convention and later for a holiday at a seaside resort.
From the five continents only 20 specialists were chosen and she was
among them. What a waste it would have been if this little creature
had been lost, like many, many who were unaccounted for, just disappeared.
Little souls were destroyed and silenced before they could utter a word.
It is a horrible loss and tragedy, how many among those could have been
useful members of mankind, like Eva, who became a precious member of
humanity and society.
youngest in her family, was married to her childhood sweetheart: Dr.
Diamant Paul, dentist, who had to join the majority of youth and was
rushed to the front with the army. Mimi was deported with her widowed
mother and sister, but she had still a chance to place her little baby
girl in care of the Hungarian Red Cross. They were hoping that the baby
was left in good hands and in a safe place. Unfortunately, when Mimi
returned from were she was not expected to return, her first route after
her arrival was to look for her child. She found the crib empty, with
no explanation. She heard different information from all sides, but
after all she had to hear the tragic news and face the inevitable truth.
Mimi was devastated, inconsolable.
this time everybody was inquiring, checking lists, where information
was provided about survivors. People spent a lot of time at the railway
station, watching the trains arriving. This is how we spotted Mimi,
leaning out of the window of a train which headed towards Budapest.
My brother Leslie recognized her and after several attempts, he caught
her attention and her fellow passengers literally threw her out from
the slowly moving train, with her rucksack flying after her.
husband was lucky to survive and was able to join the Czechoslovak army
and also to come home with them. As he was stationed in our city, he
came to our home often and we were of course happy to have him. Now,
at this incredibly exciting day, by accident he was our guest, we were
more than happy to inform him about the new and big event. When my brother
brought Mimi to our home, his surprise was unbelievable and he rushed
to welcome her. They finally met in our home and the emotional moments
were unforgettable and unbelievable.
were not aware, neither of us, what we were experiencing. Those were
historical moments for it was unfortunately most unusual that a couple
find each other.
after a long emotional pause, they came to their senses, tried to start
a conversation, to find some soothing words, which didn't come right
away. They just didn't know where to start, there was too much to ask;
they were keenly interested in each others experiences and their
curiosity didn't seem to cease.
all, we had a little happy time too, and it was very good to watch happy
faces, when the tears were flowing uncontrollably, this time from joy!
Marci (Martin Moskovics) was next in line. Specially respected and loved
uncle, my dear mother's younger brother. He lived with us as a bachelor,
so this brought us even closer. When the time came and he decided to
get married, he chose an attractive young girl, Clara Fejer, who became
a good partner for life. They led a harmonious life together with their
darling sons: Ervinke aged 18, and Imike just became 13 years old, when
they were snatched from the warm family nest.
lived in a small town, where the family stood by in good or bad days,
we could count on each other whatever problems came up.
was always active in the Jewish community, so she won a lasting name
and reputation for herself. She had a big chance now, when those poor,
little victims started to arrive of all ages, and needed immediate help
and housing that was impossible to postpone. She felt that we can't
let them down, so she assumed the big responsibility for looking after
this urgent and huge task. With her leadership the "Jewish Orphanage"
was born. She had devoted and serious helpers: Mrs. Gotterer and Mrs.
Sinai. With their guidance the whole youth and every able and available
human being took part tirelessly. There was no other way, we did what
was humanly possible, unfortunately nothing was enough. Her husband
remained her loyal supporter always. He didn't sit idle either, he tried
his utmost also.
of us wrote about their tragic experiences and were able to give a number
of their lost family members, relatives, friends. I don't take up this
responsibility because it wouldn't be accurate and also it wouldn't
have an end, unfortunately. Our family suffered a great loss, most of
our dearest family members perished.
is impossible to finish totally; therefore I decided at least in a nutshell
to suggest what had happened in those hellish places, to visualize somehow
closely enough, so that maybe it is possible to understand for those,
who were spared from this inconceivable, terrible trial.
My conscience was pressing me, that at least that much should be retained, immortalized in their memory.