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Helen Rodak-Izso

The Last Chance to Remember




Finally the tragic day arrived when our street was to be emptied. How can anybody understand what it is to leave our home. To look around for the last time, again and once more. We had to be ready, the Hungarian policeman was waiting for us. I don't think we were aware of what was happening around us. To leave a place, where we used to be together, where we had our meals, talk, books. Our life was halted for some reason, but why? Here we spent so many happy hours, simply just lived a family life. Running a home where we were waited on, to call a place home means so much. Now all this is in danger! We were going to lose it and we didn't know why? Where once it was so very important that the windows should be clean, little and big everyday problems were discussed and solved, now we stared at each other frantically and couldn't believe that this can be the truth? Where we were surrounded with real affection, love and care. Where we grew up with the solid feeling that no wrong could happen to us, because we were at home and have the finest people on earth as our parents, who would never hurt a fly. We had to leave a home where we cared for each others health, where we rushed home every Friday night, because this was important to our parents. We looked around to say good-bye to the familiar furniture, pictures, walls, all of a sudden everything became alive and important. We discovered things that we didn't bother to look at before. Oh, how did it hurt to close the doors behind you! Once more we looked down at the garden, which was blooming in the usual spring colours. How is this possible, the sky was blue, just for us everything was gray.

My sister Olly was placed in a hospital. My father prepaid and arranged for her to stay there as a patient, hoping she could live through the dangerous times there. Many families tried to hide or save young girls this way, or if somebody was a hospital patient already, we were hoping she is safe there. Unfortunately we were mistaken. The sad day came when all the hospitals had to give up their Jewish patients. There was no mercy!

Our younger brother Leslie (Laci) was at the forced labour camp already. The other brother Sanyi (Alexander) was in Israel already and was beside himself, because he didn't know anything about us. There was no way to correspond. The official Red Cross letters had to be very short. Only the signatures were the messages of who is still at home and alive. We learned to be very modest, only not to be separated! Even the thought was terrifying, alarming.

The Hungarian policeman woke me up from my silent meditation with his rude order: Move already, go ahead and take a last look at this door again because you will never put your feet through these doorsteps again! His South Hungarian dialect and his inhuman message is still in my ears today and forever!

The clouds were always darker and darker, unfriendly, frighteningly strange. The air was full of electricity, excitement. The yards of the synagogues and Hebrew schools were full of out-of-town people. It was a horrible sight, so many crying children with embittered parents, trying to find some way to soothe their children's discomfort and pain. At last we heard that we were going to be stationed in the brick factory, which is at the west end of the city.

The blocks had no walls, they were wide open, only the slopes were holding up the roof. These were the buildings where the bricks were placed to dry and it was going to be our destination. The place was full with coal and brick dust and we were without water. The very first thing waiting for us was the electric barbed wire fence.

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