Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project
"Forget You Not"™

.


Stephen P. Casey

[István Katona]
(b. 1924 -- )

.

My Story, 1944-45,
Hungary to Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Back
with an Annex below of Original Documents
and selected Holocaust related links

.

[Posted March 2005]
István Katona

..

István Katona at 20
I was born István Katona in 1924. My father was the manager of a large agricultural estate in Kartal, a village of few thousand people, 40 km from Budapest. We lived the normal Hungarian assimilated Jewish existence: I went to Jewish elementary school, had my Bar Mitzvah, went to the local synagogue on High holidays. My mother kept a kosher household.

My father was only 55 years old when he was forcibly retired in 1942, due to the Hungarian anti-Jewish laws. The law restricted the number of Jews in certain professions. The same year, when I just finished High School, my parents moved to Tarnaméra, the village where my father was born. As Jews were not allowed to go to university, I went to the town of Gyöngyös, where I started an apprenticeship as an electrical mechanic.

The Germans occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, and imposed a new government. This government, with German supervision and the enthusiastic participation of the majority Hungarian population, brought in daily more and more restrictions. Jews were not allowed to travel, at the train station they arrested all Jews, who were interned and later deported. Within weeks we had to wear yellow stars. Within six weeks of German occupation, by the end of April, we had to move into newly erected ghettoes. At first, these ghettoes were organized only in the country. In Budapest at that time they established the so called "yellow star houses" where the Jews had to live, and later they had to move to a ghetto too.

The ghetto was the most horrible, humiliating, soul destroying experience. My parents had lived a comfortable, middle class existence. My father was a proud Hungarian, his eyes were filled with tears in hearing the Hungarian Anthem and not by hearing the "Shema Yisroel"

It was already a shock leaving our home in 1942 and moving to Tarnaméra, in a small part of our ancestral home. My father, now without a daily occupation at 55, felt like a useless homebody.

In Tarnaméra everybody knew he was a Jew, even without yellow stars. One felt a Jew, like one is black haired, has freckles, or limps. It was a fact, which could not be changed. But to wear a yellow star, to become a target of ridicule, shattered my parents.

Hungarian Jews deported

..

Jews being deported from Koszeq, Hungary, 1944 [Yad Vashem Archive]
On the end of April 1944 the gendarmerie told us, "be ready, you will be moved to a ghetto, you are allowed to take 10 kg. of clothing, cooking utensils etc., but not valuables, mementos". To us, life ceased to exist. We were told to hire a horse-drawn carriage, at our expense, to go to an unknown destination.

In the first days of May 1944 we were taken to Bagolyuk, an abandoned mining settlement close to Eger, approximately 40-50 km away.

What waited for us was the hell coming to earth. Hungarian gendarmes and German SS kicked and hit everybody. They ordered us to get off the carriage, run to one of the houses, and 2-4 families had to occupy a room. The brutality dehumanized everybody, not only the ones who did the beating, but us too. Old friends fought for the corners of the room, which looked more comfortable. The same happened in the kitchen, with cooking and food, if food was available at all.

For me personally, the ghetto life did not last long. First, as a young man I was conscripted to the ghetto police. Within two weeks came the order that everybody born in 1924 should go to a forced labor battalion on the 15th of May, 1944. My parents were downhearted to be parted from their only child, but thought --very realistically-- that everything would be better than the ghetto. How true it was, though I did not know that at that time.

To Auschwitz

..

June 15, 1944: Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz
In a late effort to keep control of the Hungarian Jews, the Horthy regime called up every Jewish man to labor battalions attached to the Hungarian Army. My two uncles volunteered and survived. My father who was a strong practical man, said to them, "I will not go, somebody has to stay with the women and children." There were approximately 15-20 relatives in the ghetto. He stayed, went with them to Auschwitz, was separated from them on the first selection, and finally killed in Dachau.

At that time, I didn't know what would happen to my parents. I had the vague idea, that they would work somewhere to help the war efforts. And in any case, we had the firm conviction that the war would not last long and that the Allies would win. We never thought about the viciousness of the Germans.

When every rail carriage was an essential war necessity, when the Russians had already liberated half the Ukraine and were already in Romania, they packed the whole Jewish population from the Hungarian countryside in cattle cars and deported them to Auschwitz. It happened to my parents: their entire ghetto was deported within three weeks of my departure.

Hungarian Jews

..

Hungarian Jews on their way to the gas chambers. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, May 1944. [Yad Vashem Photo Archives]
When they arrived in Auschwitz, my mother made --most probably-- the same selfless, unwise, lethal decision, that my father made weeks earlier. At that time, my father did not grab the last opportunity of going to the labor battalion "because somebody has to stay with the women." My mother who was 47 years old, a strong, good looking healthy country woman, probably said "I stick to my sisters-in-law, with the small children" and was sent with them straight to the gas chamber.

My father was ordered to the other side and was taken to Dachau, where according to the very precise, very complete German documents, he died of "old age complications" on the 27th of February, 1945.

He was not even 58!

I was called up into the labor battalions with all the boys born in 1924 on the 15th of May, 1944. Although we were wearing the yellow star, we did not experience any problem in boarding a train to Jolsva, in northern Hungary, a part of the country which had belonged to Czechoslovakia from 1918-1938. It was an exhilarating feeling to sit in a passenger train carriage and not be kicked, abused and swore at by all and sundry. We were assembled randomly, about 300 in one battalion, and given a group of guards of old Hungarian peasant soldiers. Our number was 107/302. Our guards came from the surrounding country side, which was a lucky break.

The Czech republic was a real democracy, based on equality, multiparty system and civil liberties for all. Our guards lived in that democratic --although for them alien-- state for twenty years. They were ethnic Hungarians who first welcomed the Hungarians back in 1938, but after 6 years of Hungarian rule, they saw the difference.

They were not harsh to us, in fact our treatment was mild compared to stories heard elsewhere. We had to work hard, and they were strict but not cruel.

I straight away met an old acquaintance, Stephen Herman. I acquired lifelong friends, like George Varnai in Sydney, Laci Ivan in France and that helped. Stephen lived in Spain after the war. We worked in Ozd in the steel mill, in Putnok in a timber cutting camp and later, from July, in Budapest. Here we were housed in a bombed-out block of flats in Reitter Ferenc Street and worked in the army food depot, and later in the railway station, all the time loading and unloading goods trains. Half of the battalion was from Budapest. These boys --legally or illegally-- went home to visit their families on weekends, who by now lived in the "Jewish houses", and they brought in food, clothing etc. Even I went out to visit my mother's aunt, who was my only relative in Budapest.

On the 15th of October we were standing in line for lunch. The radio was on and we heard Horthy's proclamation for asking for peace with the Allies. We were extremely happy, our freedom has arrived.

Some of the boys, who worked at the railway station unloading weapons and ammunitions, got hot under the collar, commandeered the horse-drawn carriages of the battalion and went to the railway station to collect weapons and arm ourselves for the eventual liberation.

It took less than six hours for the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazi) Party to take power from the Horthy regime, with the tacit but forceful help of the German Occupation Army. Somebody on the street noticed that we had armed ourselves and reported us to the police or the Arrow Cross Party.

Police on trucks arrived and as we had already heard on the radio, that the Nazis had taken over the Government, there was a surrender without fight. The trucks took us to the Police Headquarters. We stood in the corridor for hours with both hands held up in the air, facing the wall. Any slackness was rewarded with a rifle butt in the back. One by one we were led in and interrogated. When the police found out who were the "ring leaders" who brought in the arms, it was about 4 AM. They kept the "instigators", about 15 men, who, after further interrogation, were deported to Auschwitz. The rest of us were escorted back to our quarters. We were given additional guards, as the Arrow Cross did not trust our regular army personnel, who had been with us since May.

Within two weeks, on the 29th of October, 1944, we were given marching orders to an unknown destination. Approximately half of the battalion were Budapest boys. Most of them deserted, went home or somewhere in the city, illegally hiding, as they thought it a better risk for survival. We from the country had no choice at all, nowhere to go.

The direction was to the west. We reached the Hungarian-German [former Austrian] border in less than a week on foot, [about 200 km]. It was horrible, our group was now part of a big march. Our battalion had a fairly good behaved, formerly Czech citizen "crew," but there were guards supervising even them, and these guards did not think twice: anybody who tried to escape, or was too sick to walk, was summarily shot.

On the 4th of November, 1944, at the border, they turned us over to an SS officer, who commanded a guard outfit of teenagers in the uniform of the Volksturm, a German auxiliary brigade. Our sergeant major stood us in line and started to sing an old Hungarian song "Now anybody should tell me in my eye, whom I offended in my life time" [Most mondja el valaki a szemembe, kinek mit vétettem én életemben]. He started to cry, because most probably he knew what is waiting for us.

Contrary to other people's experience, we were herded to a passenger train. The doors were locked, a guard was placed on each connecting platform. We passed railway stations without stopping, for several days. One day, we reached the station of a large city, where lots of German Red Cross ladies were waiting to give food and water for German troops going or coming to the Eastern and Western Front. They could not fathom who we were, the passengers, so they tried to comfort us. They were rudely repelled by our guards, but we were a curiosity for the people on the station, as we had civilian clothes and were in custody.

"Appell" at BuchenwaldWe arrived in Buchenwald, as we found out later, on the 9th of November, 1944. At the station funny looking, striped-clothed people surrounded us, asking in German and Yiddish to give them all the food and clothing we have, as the Germans will take away everything anyway. We did not believe a word they were saying. How could it happen to us, we were brought here to work, but anyhow, we are part of the Hungarian Army.

Within minutes we were rudely awakened. We had to strip, put everything we had down, sent to shower, then barbers removed any hair [everywhere] we had, and naked --in November-- marched to pick up the striped prison clothes and wooden shoes. In a short time, we looked the same as the "funny people" in the railway station. We were taken to an office building, SS guards asked our name, date of birth, and profession, then they asked, when were we taken prisoners by the German Army? Some of us said, that we are not prisoners, we are in the Hungarian Army. These people were quickly reminded with a box on the ear or a kick in the private parts, that what we are, stinking Jews. Nevertheless in the German files, we were called "Hungarian Jewish Political Prisoners," as I have personally seen in records I saw when I went back to Buchenwald in 1990.

Everybody was given a number, reminded, that we now had no names, just numbers, which should be noted and answered, when called. I became No 87645. My friend, Laci Ivan, who had an unbelievable mathematic memory became No 87654. He was "annoyed" that he received a number, which could be so easily remembered.

Buchenwald Survivors

..

Survivors of Buchenwald [Yad Yashem Archives]
We were housed in barracks. At the end of the barracks lived the KAPO, usually a German common criminal, sometimes a political prisoner. All were hardened men, with long years of struggle just to survive behind them. Whoever survived and became a KAPO, went through lots of things in the camp, so his life meant more to him than ours and he behaved accordingly.

Everybody had to sew his number on the jacket and a little triangle, according to classification. Green for criminals, blue for murderers, red for political, pink for homosexuals, and yellow for the lowest of the low, the Jews. The beds were multistory and two people to a bed. Morning and night we had to stand for hours on "Appell" (roll call), they counted and recounted us.

In the neighboring barrack was the whole Danish police force, as they had disobeyed the German order to deport their Jews.

The food was tea in the morning, soup for lunch and a piece of bread with a tiny bit of margarine, sausage or jam [one of these on different days] for dinner. We were constantly hungry, not knowing that this is only the beginning.

My occupation was registered as electrician. A couple of days later there was a notice on the barracks board, asking for tradesmen to report in the office. One of my friends, who was an electrical instrument repairer, went for "Erdarbeiter" as he translated this as "farm laborer." But the correct translation was "construction laborer." He could not do that job and died shortly.

I reported for an electrician's job, as did a few friends from the battalion, who were tradesmen. One even brought his cousin, hoping he could pass as an electrical assistant. So we were sent on November 15, 1944 to SCHLIEBEN to work in an antitank missile factory [Panzerfaust] I was put in the electrician's unit, in a separate section of a barrack. Our KAPO was a Polish political prisoner with the name of Narczys. I do not think he ever was an electrician, but a fairly reasonable man. He covered his back and we had to work hard, but he was not cruel. We also had a German electrical foreman, a local electrical master from the village, who was quite decent.

Every morning we had an "Appell" count and marched to the factory. At night even the dead had to be brought back, recounted and if the number was not right, they recounted and recounted again and again for hours. The guards were extremely cruel. The favorite pastime was to take off a prisoner's cap and throw it against the electrified barbed wire fence. The prisoner was ordered to pick it up. Then either he was killed by the high voltage of the fence or shot as a would-be escapee.

One day --as usual-- I was speaking in Hungarian with my friend Jancsi Csillag, while working on an installation. A guard from the tower shouted in Hungarian "you stinking Jews, work and don't talk" We found out that he was an ethnic German from Hungary, who had joined the SS. He was with us until the liberation. He tried the same "hat trick" with me one day, jokingly or spitefully, I don't know. I didn't fall for it and he didn't force the issue.

As electricians, we had better food, better quarters and could move in the camp without guards. The best job was working in the kitchen. Some piece of equipment or an appliance went wrong frequently. We made sure of it. An extra bowl of soup, a piece of bread that we could obtain, made the difference between life or death. A favorite was the potato skin, thrown on the scrap-heap. We collected them, washed, and baked them on the barrack stove: it was a veritable feast.

Buchenwald survivors
.Buchenwald Prisoners After the Liberation -- April 12, 1945.

  

Buchenwald was an "international" concentration camp established in 1937 next to Weimar, Germany. Until the end of March 1945, approximately 240,000 people from about 30 different countries passed through Buchenwald and its satellite camps (about 130 in number). 43,000 of them were murdered or perished as a direct result of the harsh camp conditions. Several thousand more died after the liberation, from disease and starvation. [From Yad Vashem Archives]

Whoever gave up, died. A friend of mine was a student of agriculture, a boxer, a giant of a man. He said on the first day, that one can not survive treatment like that, that he is not an animal. He died within months. Of course it also depended on the job. The missile had a yellowish substance, TRINITROTOLUOL as the explosive. It was so dangerous to the health that even the Germans gave extra milk for the people who worked with it. Nevertheless, they died emaciated within a short time.

Our life, as Hungarian Jews, was especially hard to bear among the other, mostly Polish Jewish prisoners.

There was an enmity between Hungarians and Poles. The Poles could not understand why the Hungarians did not speak Yiddish --which for them was an everyday, national language. They despised us for that, for the fact that most Hungarian Jews were assimilated, thinking of themselves as Hungarians first, who also had Jewish religious beliefs. Polish Jews were Jews, not Poles --Jews and nothing else.

Apart from cultural differences there was an other factor, which I could understand but never condone. They constantly reminded us, that they had been forced into ghettoes and taken to concentration camps 4 - 5 years earlier, while we had lived freely, albeit restricted by "mild" anti-Jewish laws. The Pole who was in the camp was a survivor of a bitter struggle just to live, and wanted to live, even by treating us badly.

I survived in spite of that constant reminding that I was a "traitor" who lived well, while they had suffered.

I was lucky with my trade, and also I firmly believed, all the time, without any doubt, that I would survive, I had to survive.

The German foreman brought in newspapers, so from that we knew that the war would not, could not, last long. So we did everything to survive! My firm belief in that made me psychologically strong. There was barely a minute when I doubted that I would survive.

  

Some of the people in charge of the Buchenwald Camp
[Courtesy USHMM]   ---   +Enlarge Image
The Camp commander was a German air force officer, who was wounded in the Eastern front. He was not an SS, and behaved better than an SS would. In January 1945, the factory, HUGO SCHNEIDER WERKE, established an other assembly plant, in FLÖSSBERG. As they needed electricians, some of us were taken there. We noticed the difference between the two camps right away. No paths between the barracks, just melted snow and unbelievable mud. Everywhere bodies, where they fell, and left there for days, just a warning to us. Hungarian Jews were brought from Budapest in December, to erect --from nothing-- a camp and factory on the outskirts of the village.

Within days our KAPO contacted the commander in Schlieben, who came around [he was the commandant of both camps] and told the Flössberg SS to do something, as the circumstances did not help the production and the German war effort. He was not worried about our health, but about the number of missiles. That was his only concern, but we were lucky that this helped us too.

Towards the end of March came my only moment of doubt about my survival. I was extremely weak with diarrhea, miserable after the exceptionally cold 1944/45 winter. My left big toe had been frostbitten since 1941, an extremely hard winter, when I walked to school, so now it was inflamed enormously.

Buchenwald at liberation

..

Children and youths are being led in columns by soldiers of the 3rd US Army to a hospital sick bay after the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Buchenwald, Germany, April 13, 1945.
Accidentally I hit my thumb on my left hand with a hammer, and it become infected, with an inflamed lymph node under my left arm. I went to the camp hospital and asked time off from work. There was a Hungarian doctor, who told me, that he would not do that, as anyone unable to work will be sent back to Buchenwald, to an uncertain fate, indicating death. But, he said, he needs an electrician in the hospital, so I could be a hospital orderly, sleep in my own corner in the storeroom, and have a bit better food. It was my lucky break, I even could help my friends, like George Varnai, who was at that time in the hospital (later on he was shipped back to Buchenwald, but it was the last days of the war, so he survived).

In that hospital, I received my first and lifelong lasting lecture about Communism. There was a Russian doctor, a political prisoner of war, so he could work only as an orderly. He said that when war ended, the Soviet Union would dominate the whole of Eastern Europe and Hungary would be a colony! But --he said-- do not hope for much: the whole middle class, the rich peasants, would all be liquidated [he explained, how it was done in the Soviet] and in any case, Jews are incapable to become good Communists, as they are socially, morally and by their tradition not suited to it. So it seemed that for me, there was no future, as I had so many bad points.


+Enlarge Image

+Enlarge Image

  

US Army Liberating Buchenwald, April 1945
[US National Archives]

.

On the 13th of April 1945, we were already hearing Allied tanks roaring, and seeing flares up in the night sky. Then a trainload of cattle wagons were brought in the camp, everybody was packed in, and we started our journey.

There was 3 more weeks of misery for us, even they could have easily left us there and saved their own hides. But it was more important for the SS to make sure that we would perish. As I found out in 1992, when we went to Flössberg for a visit, the Americans arrived in the village one day later, the 14th of April.

Mauthausen prisoners

..

Prisoners are forced to build the "Russian Camp" in Mauthausen, Austria in 1942.
[Photo credit: USHMM Photo Archives}
We were on the train for about two weeks, taken through Germany and Czechoslovakia and finally to MAUTHAUSEN.

I do not know how I or anybody else survived the train trip as we seldom if ever had anything to eat. I have only a very vague recollection about the journey. The only thing I remember that from time to time the train stopped in the middle of nowhere, we
Franz Ziereis,
Commandant of Mauthausen from August 1939 to May 1945.
[Andras Tsagatakis Photo Collection, courtesy of USHMM]
were let out, to throw down the dead bodies. I definitely remember looking for charcoal, as everybody had diarrhea and that was the only "medicine" available. Finally, we walked from Mauthausen train station to the camp, on the top of the mountain.

My spirit rose, when the Hungarian speaking SS --from our old camp-- came alongside me and said. "It will be all right now for you, the war will not last longer than a few days, but what will happen to me?" I did not dare to tell him, what I thought, that he deserved what he will get [or is he today a wealthy businessman in Germany?]

In the camp, it was the usual procedure, never mind that the war was close to the end. Shower, delousing, back to the same dirty uniform, march down to the so called "Russenlager" a section of the camp, which earlier housed Russian POWs, but now was the place to collect deportees to die from "natural causes". Within days the SS disappeared, and the camp was taken over by Viennese police. On the 5th of May, 1945, the Americans arrived, not believing what they saw.

..

Mauthausen crpses
Survivors count the corpses of prisoners killed in the Mauthausen concentration camp. [Source: U. S. National Archives, College Park, Maryland]

There were rotting bodies everywhere, and for days the Americans wandered around, filming the scenes from Dante's inferno. They forced the town folk to see the camp, then to dig mass graves, where German soldiers and locals had to bury the victims with their bare hands.

The Americans wanted to be helpful, so they gave us food. Lots of people died in the next weeks from over-eating. People who were feeble, sick, hungry, ate the --rich and plentiful food and died. Laci Kantor, who days ago had kissed me, and thanked God that he had survived, that he was free to go home to his parents, laid in our bed next morning, dead by my side.

At Mauthausen

  

Six thousand (6000) inmates await disinfection in a Mauthausen courtyard, July 1941. After 24 hours of waiting, nearly 140 had died. [PBS, USA]

Slowly the Americans realized the situation and erected tents for hospitals and took the sick there. Every hour a little bus arrived, picking up 12 people, who were laid out in front of our barrack, waiting for the transport to the hospital. My instinct for life gave me strength to crawl out on my own accord, and lay beside them. The hospital bus came, there were 13 people. What could they do? They took 12, and would come back for the 13th an hour later. I was among the 12. Who knows, maybe this hour made the difference between life and death. I knew I had to do it.

I received blood and sugar transfusion and in two weeks I was up in the main camp, ready to be repatriated.

All nationalities were separated for transport, so my friend from Northern Hungary, János Csillag, became again a Czech citizen, to return to Nove-Zamky, [Érsekujvár].

The Jews from Transylvania, in 1944 a Hungarian territory, had a problem [Transylvania, in Hungarian Erdély, was taken in 1920 by the Trianon Treaty from Hungary and became a Romanian territory. Hitler gave it back in 1940 to the Hungarians]. They wrote to King Michael, to send a train for them. The King replied, that it must be a mistake, they must be Hungarians, as Jews were not deported from Romania, so why don't they go back to Hungary. It was the way he paid back to the Transylvanian Jews, who always regarded themselves Hungarians, even under Romanian rule, between 1918-1940.

Mauthausen at liberation

..

Mauthausen at liberation by the US troups [United Staes Photo Archives]
Our transport back to Hungary started on the June 1, 1945. Mauthausen was in the American zone of occupation. The border of the Soviet zone was at Linz, where we changed trains. The first impressions of a Russian soldier was not flattering. They were dirty, hungry, and nearly always drunk. In the afternoon in Vienna we had to cross a bridge --bombed in the Danube-- on foot. Everybody had to show his left armpit, for the tell-tale sign of the SS tattoo of the blood group. My left armpit was swollen, puss oozing for the last 3-4 months. I had an infection after hitting my left thumb with a hammer, losing my thumb-nail. So the Russian soldier said I must be an SS, who tried to get rid of his tattoo. To make it worse, I was wearing a stripped down German uniform, given to me by the Americans. The boys traveling with me told him in several languages, no, not SS, Jewish, Konzentrationslager, but to no avail. He locked us [as everybody very valiantly stayed with me] into a shed, saying that the commandant will decide our fate in the morning.

During the night, there was a knock on the wall. An Austrian man asked us, why were we locked in. We told him, that one of us is a suspected SS, wrongly accused. He broke the wall of the shed and lead us through the gardens to the street, where we reached the sector occupied by the Western Allies. Who knows, was it his good heart, or did he want to help an SS?

Next day we went by train to Hungary. I did not go further than Szombathely, a border town, where the Hungarian medics put me in hospital. I had three weeks of freedom since liberation, weighed 35 kg., with my 183 cm height. I was operated on my armpit, received antibiotics, and good nourishing food.

When they felt I was well enough, around the middle of July, I went to Budapest, where I knew I had my mother's aunt. The train travel was a nightmare. People stormed the train in the second it pulled in the station. Thousands traveled, mostly for scrounging for food, as Budapest, 6 months after liberation, was a city of starved people, totally without affordable food supply. There was a rampant inflation, one's wages was not worth a kilogram of bread at the evening of a pay-day. People sat even on the roof of train carriages, just to get somewhere, somehow.

My reaction from the concentration camp was, that I could not conceive anything funny. I spent 10-14 days in Budapest before going to Tarnaméra. One day I went to see a Charlie Chaplin movie. The audience roared with laughter about the misfortunes of the little man. I could not understand why they laughed. I just felt sorry for him. So I walked out in the middle of the screening.

When I reached Tarnaméra, I realized that I arrived back to a forgotten existence that I had left just 15 months ago. Those months were eradicated from my life, when I became a non-person in a near to animal existence, from October 1944 to May 1945.

Nobody recognized me, not a living soul, but one.

When we left to the ghetto, we gave our little fox-terrier to a neighbor. The dog was on the street, came towards me, licked my trousers, sniffed and jumped up and down. I became myself again, who, at last, been recognized and loved --by a dog.

Our tenant seemed glad to see me, and told to go to the police station, where my friend Alex Seidner (now in Melbourne) was the local chief. He was the first Jew, who returned to Tarnaméra in the early spring of 1945, so he became the police sergeant. I slept in a bed, washed myself, ate and tried to become a normal person.

It sank in slowly, that I would not see my parents again. Even in the summer of 1944, we thought that they would be taken away from the ghetto to work. Some people even received a postcard, from a mysterious WALDSEE, somewhere near to Switzerland on the map.

I did not receive any, but I did not get very worried. In the concentration camp we saw men, women, but no children or old people. But the daily struggle, just to survive, blunted our senses. It was not selfishness, that we did not think about anything not connected with our daily survival, it was pure animal behavior. The Nazis did not think, that we were better than an animal, so by their treatment we became one.

In the next months, after inquiries, I found out that apart from me, only two uncles and two cousins survived from the whole family. The family consisted of: 1 grandfather, 2 parents, 19 uncles and aunts and 19 cousins. So 5 of us were left out of 41 persons! 36 murdered by gas, by beating, overwork, or starvation. Nobody will ever know the exact truth about how they died.

 

Commemorative Stamp

 


Agi & Stephen
We've come a long way ...
Agi & Stephen Casey


PDF

 

 PS. For those that are interested to have a glimpse into the Jewish life of a small town in Hungary prior to the Holocaust, please see a pamphlet written by a retired Catholic High School teacher from Sàtoraljaujhely, a town in North-Eastern Hungary, that was translated from Hungarian by Mr. Casey and his wife Agi. The document can be downloaded by clicking on the 1st button at left. Also Agi and Stephen Casey have translated from Hungarian the story of a Jewish school established in the early 1800's in the same town. To see that story, please click on the last button at left.
(If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat Reader for reading a PDF file, then please click on the middle button at left to get a free copy of the program.)

Acrobat Reader

.

.

.To the Annex of Original Documents

"Jüdische Politische Häftling"
I was treated as a Jew, but in the "upper class."
I was a political prisoner too!
Stephen Casey
Buchenwald original document of István Katona
Buchenwald prisoners
Prisoners during a roll call at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Their uniforms bear classifying triangular badges and identification numbers. Buchenwald, Germany, 1938-1941

Most of the early inmates at Buchenwald were political prisoners. However, in 1938, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, German SS and police sent almost 10,000 Jews to Buchenwald where they were subjected to extraordinarily cruel treatment upon arrival. 255 of them died as a result of their initial mistreatment at the camp. [Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]


.

Special Selected Links:

March 26, 2013

Rabbi Who Cried to the Jews of Buchenwald:
'You Are Free'

of blessed memory
died at 95

HERSCHEL SCHACTER, 1917-2013


Hungarian Jewish Family

Portrait of members of a Hungarian Jewish family from Kapuvar, Hungary. They were deported to and killed in Auschwitz soon after this photo was taken on June 8, 1944. [Photo Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum]


REMEMBER

Our dear brethren who gave their lives in sanctification of the Divine Name.
Shed a tear, say a prayer for the dear mothers and fathers, for their innocent children, for the families extinguished.
Only YOU, who have survived the great destruction, can say Kaddish for them.
May their dear memory be blessed.

-- Kisvárda, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, Hungary

<jewishgen.org/databases/Hungary/HolocaustMemorials.htm>

A Memoir by the Hungarian Holocaust Survivor Ernö "Ari" Roth


Holocaust victim
Programsorozat a Holokauszt Emlékközpontban
(In Hungarian)

Auschwitz
Hungarian Translation / Magyar Fordítás of
  Oliver Lustig's Auschwitz Album Selection and Presentation  

The Virtual Jewish History Tour of Hungary

Hungary After the German Occupation

The Holocaust and Hungarian Jewry

Hungarian Nazis (Arrow Cross Party)

Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center

A Community Destroyed:
60 Years Since the Annihilation of Hungarian Jewry

by Professor Israel Gutman and Dr. Robert Rozett

Hungarian Holocaust Memorials Database
from JewishGen Hungarian SIG

Photographs Documenting the Holocaust in Hungary
by László Karsai, Ph.D.

Extensive Related Links
To "Hungary: The Last Major Jewish People Facing Nazi Destruction"
by Dr. Judith Fai-Podlipnik

Photos of Hungarian Jews in Budapest on April 5, 1944
--the 1st day that they were forced wearing the Jewish Yellow Star
   [from the magazine Magyar Futár (The Hungarian Messenger) of the Hungarian Nazi Party "Arrow Cross"]   
[Courtesy of Stephen P. Casey.    Note: The photo with the asterisk is Mr. Casey's mother-in-law. ]


The Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation

Buchenwald Historic Photos

Legendary American Reporter Edward R. Murrow Describes Buchenwald
(when he entered the camp after liberation)

Ilse Koch: The "Bitch of Buchenwald"

Arrivals To Buchenwald on Jan 22, 1945
by Peter Lande

From The Testimony of Ludwig Weiler Describing
the Daily Hardship in the "Brabag" Compound at Buchenwald

  

Russian Survivor
Identifies
Buchenwald Camp Guard

  

Buchenwald Holocaust Survivors Gather at Nazi Camp

Orv Iverson's Perspective
Part of the 1st Group of American's Witnessing the Liberation

of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp

The Children of Buchenwald: Child Survivors and Their Post-War Lives
a Book by Judith Hemmendinger, Robert Krell; 2000, Gefen Books

The Children of Buchenwald: After Liberation And Now
by Judith Hemmendinger, Ph.D.

Mauthausen Survivors
Survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp
Austria, May 1945
.
Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Fred Friendly's Letter from Mauthausen:
T
he Granite of Mauthausen

Map of Mauthausen

Testimony of Holocaust Survivor David Leitner
Born in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary
.

Photo of a Starved Hungarian Woman Who Receives Treatment
After Liberation of Mauthausen

Spanish Police Say 40-Year Manhunt Is Zeroing In on Aribert Heim,
Nazi Concentration Camp Doctor from Mauthausen

.

  

The Nazis' Last Victims
The Holocaust in Hungary



Edited by Randolph L. Braham
and Scott Miller
Last Victims - Hungary
Published
in association with
the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum

  


The Smell of Humans

The Smell of Humans -- A Memoir of the Holocaust in Hungary
by Ernö Szép


.