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Helen Rodak-Izso

The Last Chance to Remember




Uncle Sandor (Alexander) was the oldest brother on my mother's side. He lived with his family in Duna-Haraszti, Hungary, near Budapest. His wife was aunt Cilli and their two children, Baba and Leslie (Laci). This was a mixed marriage, which at the time was unforgivable. His name now was, Dr. Molnár Sándor (Moskovics). Our dear grandfather couldn't recover from this unexpected blow, so the relationship, unfortunately, was not close. The whole family felt the same, because of the pain and worry, which he brought with his decision.

Aunt 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.

This 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.

Aunt 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, sons-in-law.

The 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 other’s life. They were a well respected family in the community and of course within the whole family.

Alice, 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.

Szoszi (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.

Pityu (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.

He 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.

Aunt Etta (Eta): She became uncle Hugo's second wife and devoted mother to the children. From this marriage came: Mimi, Be’la, 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

Elizabeth (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.

The time came, when all Eva’s 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 them.

At 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.

One 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.

Her 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.

Mimi, 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.

At 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.

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.

We 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.

Now, 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 other’s experiences and their curiosity didn't seem to cease.

After 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!

Uncle 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.

We 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.

Clara 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.

Many 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.

It 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.

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