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A Survivor's Memoir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volume 15h

Veronika Schwartz

A Survivor's Memoir

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
Copyright Veronika Schwartz, 2001


Key Words

Kisvárda (town in Hungary), Hungary, anti-Semitism, Arrow-Cross, Kisvárda ghetto, Birkenau, Auschwitz, Russian soldiers, rape, Ujpest (town in Hungary), DP camp, Windsheim (DP camp in Germany), Haoved (Zionist group), Munich, Frankfurt, New York, HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Services), Montreal, Canada.


Abstract


Author was born in 1927 in Kisvárda, a small town in Hungary with a Jewish population of 4,000. Her parents were Orthodox Jews and kept kosher; she had two sisters and a brother. Her parents owned a general store. Provides vivid descriptions of her childhood and her many relatives. Attended public school, but also received Hebrew lessons. In 1939, during her first year of high school, she experienced some anti-Semitism. Her uncle flees to Canada that year, escaping local anti-Semites and the authorities. Her father is spared forced labour because of his health. Describes rise in anti-Semitism and attacks on parents’ home and store by Arrow Cross thugs. By 1944, conditions have worsened; she and family are forced into the ghetto in Kisvárda. In May 1944, they are sent by cattle car to Birkenau. There she was separated from her parents and sisters, never to see them again. Author is sent to Auschwitz. Describes the torture of being shaved and stripped naked, and the horrible conditions of the camp. Her first cousin is also in Auschwitz. Almost always together, they are sent to work on a farm 3 _ hours away from Auschwitz. Tells of awareness that Russians were close by. She and cousin are sent to another concentration camp. Describes starvation conditions; cousin is beaten by SS officers. In winter 1945, they are sent on a forced march. She and cousin pretend to be dead and are left behind. The Russians liberate the area. Witnesses the rape of a local girl by a Russian soldier; she and cousin in fear of being raped themselves. They are aided by a Russian officer who noticed their situation. In May 1945 she and cousin return to Hungary. Author learns that her brother had survived and joins him in Ujpest. She meets Miklós Mandel and they become engaged. His parents were also murdered in Auschwitz. They decide to leave Hungary. Joined by her brother, they go to Austria, then to Germany. She marries Miklós in Windsheim, a DP camp in Germany. Her brother obtains documents allowing them to get into the United States. They arrive in New York and are helped by HIAS. They join her uncle in Montreal. Describes the many hardships she and her family experienced in building a new life in Canada. Describes in some detail experiences with name changes and associated difficulties.




Acknowledgements

My sincerest thanks to my husband, Nick, and all our sons for helping me out with certain dates and information. Most of all, I am indebted to David, our youngest son, who encouraged me to write as long as it didn't affect my health. My memoirs were hand-written. From there, David did everything: editing, typing, and providing the necessary materials and so on. Thank you, David. Your work is very much appreciated. Finally, I wish to thank the Editors of the Memoirs of Holocaust Survivors in Canada Series, Professors Mervin Butovsky and Kurt Jonassohn, for their editorial effort and concern.

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