Mourned families

“And the whole country mourned families and individuals.”

Out of 280 men, only 120 were still alive. The number had decreased that much in only three months. On my 20th birthday, I had to crawl over a single step because I was too weak to walk up on it. My hatred of the Germans was simple: “I will kill them all!” Then on encountering my first German as a free man, I had to make a choice. He was dirty and hungry, begging for food. I asked myself whether I should do to him what they had done to us, or if I should do what my father would do…. I gave him some food.

When I arrived home in Budapest I found my mother alive. Anna and her farmily had given her refuge. But my father wasn’t home, and all of my other relatives had vanished (except for my brother, safe in Switzerland). Out of 600,000 Hungarian Jews, only 80,000 had survived.