I was born in 1939 in Budapest about a month after the outbreak of WWII.
Hungary as an ally of Germany in the early years of the War was not affected. We had a relatively good and peaceful life.
Around 1942 my Father was conscripted and sent to the Russian front as a labourer as Jews were not allowed to carry weapons. He became a truck driver, which saved his life as those who had to work digging trenches and other manual jobs in the extreme cold with little clothing and food had little chance of survival. My Fathers two brothers perished in this way.
Whilst my Father was starving in Russia we lived in relative comfort until March 1944 when the Germans occupied Hungary and started the transportation of Jews to Auschwitz.
My mother and I went into hiding, as did my Grandparents, my Mothers Parents, but in a different location.
In December 1944 it was my Grandfather’s birthday, so my mother decided to visit him. Whilst she was visiting, the Hungarian Nazis raided the building they were hiding in, they took all the Jews and some of the non-Jews who were hiding them to the bank of the Danube River and shot them all.
When the people we stayed with heard of what had happened they became worried that it may happen to us, so the following morning one of the man took me on his shoulders walked with me to the outskirts of Budapest – some 25 kms – and found a Christian family to take me in and look after me. This is how I survived the War.
About 2 months later the Soviet and US troops liberated Budapest. My Grandmother – my Fathers Mother found me eventually and took me to live with her. Around May or June, there was a knock on the door and it was my Father standing there, skinny and sick, but alive – arriving back from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.
Life eventually returned to normal. I started school, my Father remarried and we had a pretty good Family life until the communist take over when life became very hard once again. In 1956 the Hungarian revolution broke out against the Soviet regime and it gave me an opportunity to escape and I arrived to Australia 60 years ago last Sunday.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to bring attention to the people who helped me survive. People who risked their own lives to save a little Jewish boys. They were not bystanders; they had the courage to care. Courage is, to face bullies, and stand up for what is right; they were able to make a difference.
I hope my story serves as living proof of the difference people can make to another. To me: it meant life, literarily. This was my story, as we know there were millions of others. And fortunately, through Courage to Care, the legacy of my experience and others like mine continues.