George Sirosi

a child’s memory

By the time George Sirosi was born in Budapest in 1938, the tide was already turning against Hungarian Jews. The first of a series of anti-Jewish laws was passed in May 1938, followed by a second in 1939 and a third in 1941.

1941 was a pivotal year in the life of three-year-old George, for it was the last time he saw his father, a prominent professor and physician. As soon as Hungary joined the war against Russia all doctors were drafted into the army. But Jewish doctors were not allowed to serve. They were sent to the territories to fill-in for the drafted doctors. Consequently George’s father was sent to Transylvania and when the Nazis conquered rural Hungary he was apprehended and sent to his death at Auschwitz.

Left to fend for themselves George and his mother left Budapest for her family home in Szeged. In 1943, deportations began in Szeged so they again returned to Budapest and found safety in a Swedish protected house. George’s clearest memories of those days are hiding in the cold basement during the constant bombing and the image of stacks of frozen bodies in the synagogue courtyard.

George Sirosi was seven years old when he was liberated by the Russians on January 17, 1945, one of only three members of his extended family to survive.