Q: What is your birth name?
A: Birth name? Okay. Lea Jakubovic. J-a-k-u-b-o-v-I-c. Got it? Lea. L-E -A . No ”H”. Oh wait, this is my married name. I’m sorry – you said birth name: Mayarovic. M-a-y-a-r-o-v-I-c.
Q: What city and country were you born in?
A: At the time I was born, it was Czechoslovakia. 1927. January 6.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: At the same time I was born. In the Carpathian Mountains, they call them. Now is the Ukraine. But the school… in Carpathian. After the First World War, okay. So what else was the question?
Q: Whom did you live with? For example, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins?
A: I lived with my parents. We were 7 children altogether. And my grandparents lived across the street. Those grandparents gave us a lot to build our house. And the other grandparents gave us money for our house. My father was an only child.
Q: And did you grow up in a Jewish community?
A: It was about 200 Jewish families, altogether I would say, maybe about 8,000 population, which spoke Ukrainian. In house we spoke Yiddish, and in school, Czech.
Q: And what kind of schools did you attend? Could you describe them a little bit?
A: Okay, until 6th grade, Czech school was very good. We were ahead of the learning curve. Because in 1939, I was 12 years old. The Ukraine occupied us for about 3 months, and then the Bulgarians. So it wasn’t interesting really. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t learn much after 6th grade. They were behind. We were ahead. So it wasn’t interesting, this school. And Jewish girls, they wouldn’t let into the Junior High, which was 13 kilometers away. The boys they still let – and this bothers me. That bothers me to this day. It was very stupid.
Q: How did you learn your Jewish customs and Jewish religion?
A: The boys had Jewish school, we called it heder. My grandmother used to come across the street, wake them up at 5 in the morning, and brought them wherever the heder was. Each time in another house. And my grandmother happened to be a Hebrew teacher. So they were very religious. I didn’t know such thing existed, not to be religious. It wasn’t such thing. My father wore a beard. I knew how to make kosher chicken and to bake and to cook and I had to because I was the second of seven. So it was a pretty happy life.
Q: Was your family religious before the war?
A: Oh, yeah. And they were very formal. My last name was in the first 12 families. And then we had mixed, but everybody was religious. There wasn’t such thing as non-religious.
Q: What activities were you involved in before the war? What was your day like?
A: I didn’t have very many activities because my mother was a sickly woman. I was the second of seven. And the boys, unheard of, in our area should help in the house. Only girls. The next girl from me was 5 years younger. So I didn’t have much… play outside. I had to help my mother – she didn’t have to tell me, I knew my duties.
Q: When did you first notice signs of anti-Semitism?
A: When I couldn’t go to junior high. And also….Huszt… The biggest city was 13 kilometers from my town. Jewish people couldn’t go on the bus. It took us two hours to walk to Huszt. Only if we were able to get a horse and wagon, which was very seldom. So, we felt it, really. And nothing was available in my town, that’s why I nudged my mother so much. I nudged and nudged until she let me go to Budapest, when I was sixteen. My brother was a year older. In our area, was nothing available. No clothing, no candles, no petroleum. So he talked to store, and always shipped home. Until they took us, all women in Budapest, 16 to 32, no children, to work on the fields. They treated us like soldiers. But not for long. Then they came… it was, we walked. Outside of Budapest. Buda. Then, we were cleaning… it was fall time, they were cleaning the fields. You know, taking off the corn… and everything. They gave us black coffee in the morning, get up early, just like soldiers. In stables, we was. But then the Germans came closer, and they said, it’s more important to put the German horses in the stables than Jewish girls. So somehow, friends, we had connections, they put me with an old soldier… as, I’m his daughter, to bring back to Budapest. I come there, they say, ”Little girl, take your things, and come with us.” First I tried, he tried, to bring me to Red Cross. I was too old, I was sixteen, too old for Red Cross. Then he brought me to the house, and they were just deporting the people… in a brick factory. And from there, again, we found some connections. They took us to a Swiss house, Swiss not Swedish. And there…. We wasn’t so long. Where did I go from there? I can’t remember… ya… In Buda, in the film section, vilas they gave us… vilas are slaves for the Germans, that wasn’t very pleasant, either. But, it wasn’t as bad as the Bulgarians. They made a shoe-repair store… how you call that? Shoe repair. A kitchen… all from Jewish slaves. All families, yes. Me, they picked as a young girl because I was very handy, for an SS man who lived with a girlfriend. I did their housework, and made for them… handkerchiefs, you know, the design, I fixed her dresses, I was very good. But at one point it was not pleasant for me, since I cleaned, I come from a little town. For Passover, my father took raisins, he made wine. I didn’t know this existed, such thing as many kinds of wines. I wanted to clean up, and different wines was on the floor in those big bottles, you know? I put them all together… I thought he was going to kill me, but he didn’t. So I’m a naïve girl, I didn’t know!
The Germans like to scare us, the Jewish people. If the kitchen wasn’t spotless, they shoot at the ceiling. At one time they got very scared, all the families, because of me, I was a young girl. At night, about 11 or so, they [the Germans] say I should come up. So I was walking up the steps, they [the Jewish families] all prayed for me. I come there, three SS people drinking, and they ask me if I want a drink. I say, ”No, no thank you.” I wanted to leave, I don’t want a drink! He says, ”Take my boots and bring them to the shoemaker. At 6 in the morning, it should be done, the soles, and put them in front of my door.” So… that wasn’t bad, but the scare was there. Then… they had to leave, I think… what was it? Where did I go from there? Let me remember. Probably I should go to the end, almost. There was about 5000 women prepared for the trains to go to Germany. I heard always, ”Do anything, but don’t go to Germany.” That was near the train station. So I heard rumors: if you’re old, if you’re sick, you can stay in the city, but you must have a doctor’s note. So I met with a friend, and we sat down in the line, it was late…. December or November, and it was dark… maybe 4 o’clock. We are sitting in the line to get in to the doctor. That we are old, sick… whatever that it takes. We put our kerchiefs [over our faces]…. Comes over with two Nyilaskereszt…. Nyilaskereszt is the management, the Hungarians [Hungarian Fascist Party]. They tell us, ”You two girls, come clean.” They saw we are not… not old. So, do we have a choice? Who are we to say no? They bring us into the office. They show us every room. They say, ”Here, here, here you clean. And here you gonna sleep.”
And I see there is no lock. And I heard what they do with girls. So I said to my friend, ”I’ll clean here, but I won’t sleep here, with open door.” I can’t come home to my mother with a…. as a pregnant woman or something. So….. G-d gave Wallenberg. He came to help us. And he announces, ”Who has Swedish papers?” Most people didn’t have. He wanted to save people. So who do you think registered first? The one you’re looking at. I was very fast. I registered my name, and my friend’s, and I kept on cleaning. I kept an eye… on the Nyilaskereszt, should they notice… it shook me on the spot. That was around 4 in the afternoon. You know when we got out? Four in the morning with the help of Bulgarian police. 14 people. No more, he could save. And he brought us into a villa. The name… the address was Karpet Unser… that means Karpet Street…..3. We was on the list. If they come… we had nothing in our hands. So we still was in fear. But they gave us already enough food, beans and peas… to cook, it was a pleasure. And later… nobody planned to survive. Came the Russians… in the middle of January. And they freed us. So that’s why we’re here, thanks to Wallenberg.
Oh.. there was a big house. Six stories. Near the train station. After that we was free. Soon as I was free, I went to the Czech Consulate to get my papers to go home. I thought I have a home, I thought I have parents, and siblings… I didn’t know what goes on. Because at that time, the majority, they didn’t free. Only in Budapest. So, since I worked in Budapest on the street… there was a very famous shul, and that people was taller than the building, frozen in January… and they were still shooting people, people falling in front of me. But some people went for food. I didn’t go for food, I went for the passport, to get home.
My father was tall dark and handsome, a young man. I thought for sure he would survive. My mother was a little sickly, but I had a younger brother who lived until 6 years ago. He used to bring a piece of bread for my father, because he was also a personal maid for the Germans in Bergen-Belsen. And one day he comes, and my father is dead… that was in October, 25, I believe. Jewish date, I have. And he was dead. He [my father] gave up what little bread he had, what he [my brother] was able to bring him, for cigarettes, and died of hunger. Can you imagine? So if not for Wallenberg, I wouldn’t be here to tell this story. Because I would have gone to Germany, and from there…. Do you know how many times I ran away? I can’t remember. They were ready to deport. You know how I went out from Wallenberg’s office, I climbed between people’s legs. They should notice me. I was young, I was 16, that’s a big deal to climb. They didn’t plan to survive anyway. But, the instinct was dead.
Q: How did you first hear about what was happening to the Jewish people?
A: We really didn’t know the whole truth. We knew, that they take for work to Germany. That’s what we heard. But deep down, instinctively…. I was told, ”Don’t go, if you don’t have to.” That was in my mind. For survival you remember a lot of things. You figure out a lot of things. I was a naïve girl from a little town. But for survival I was very smart. I knew to register to Wallenberg, and keep an eye to what goes on. You imagine, from 4 in the afternoon to 4 in the morning, to get out, to save 14 people. And that went on for 100,000 people. 150,000, I don’t know. We didn’t know. Just the survival is so great. But nobody planned to survive, anyway. The way they treated us. But, G-d is good to some people. I can’t complain, look what I brought – generations… I have 17 grandchildren, I have probably close to 40 great-ones. So thank G-d for that. And I have wonderful children. You can see a sample of two here. Special children.
Q: What were your thoughts, feelings, and reactions when you heard about what was happening to the Jewish people? Do you remember how you felt?
A: The true… the true feelings we couldn’t have. Because we didn’t know which second we going … gonna die. I remember us teenagers in one of these houses in Budapest, we played hide-and-seek. So the grownups said, ”How can you play hide-and-seek?” I said, ”Should we wait for the bombs to fall in our mouth?” We were teenagers. Maybe the grownups had small children, at night had nightmares… I do dream that I have several children, and I could decide that I could only take along one. Are you married, do you have children? No, okay, so you know what it is. In the dream I have, they run after me, the Germans… but I never talk about it…. It hurts to talk. I try to forget. I know it’s very important. Because, you know, some people don’t believe it. So… next question? Shoot.
Q: What other changes did you experience during the war?
A: Yeah… during the war. We had Hungarian-Jewish forced laborers in the streets working.. from them I learned Hungarian, actually. We used to make lemonade, sell them. The kids, you know. That I remember. I didn’t know one word of Hungarian. Now I could speak fluently, but I don’t read or write, because I learned it on the street. What else? I try to forget, you know.
Q: How did the war affect your family’s cultural and religious traditions?
A: All I remember, 1939, my mother was crying that the Czechs are leaving. They knew, it gonna be bad. And they… they was right. It was very bad. I forgot to tell you – in 1941, they took the whole town to the Polish border, they said they’re gonna bring us to work in Poland. That was interesting. So, we slip over, in that building.. and in the morning, the trucks… the trains, they’re gonna bring us over the border. Now, they put us to sleep in a factory of wood, because in the Carpathian… that was the biggest export, wood. For furniture. And the floors, they were full of pieces of wood sticking out, and we wouldn’t put an animal to sleep there. My brother, the little brother, was a year younger, remembers that I was crying, and he asked me now, after the war, why was I crying. I said, because I figured it was…1941, so I was 14 years old, if they put a human like this, what waits for us over the border? That’s why I was crying. I didn’t expect something good. How could you? Plus, the train was like sardines. Okay, that I could a little understand. But, put us to sleep like that? You couldn’t stand, you couldn’t sit, you couldn’t nothing. No sleeping. But that train, I think Englander paid off and we came back home. We was the lucky ones again. The whole family.
Q: How did the war, if at all, affect your family’s religious and cultural traditions? Was there a change in your religious practices?
A: In our town, they didn’t bother us because we grew up together. In big cities, maybe it was different stories. Economically, maybe we was a little better off. Why? I know why…. Yeah, because they did the rationing, they gave us rationing food. And there became a baker, which never was before. So the population still made for themselves cornbread, and we got from them the rationing tickets, and we was able to buy plenty bread. White bread, it was a luxury. And also, we became teenagers. My brother was, from Hungary, getting material from Huszt?, doing little baskets, like you do here for Easter. I learned from my brother, and we made money, and they shipped it to Hungary. Baskets.
Q: How did your family manage to keep and continue to practice their Jewish religion during the war?
A: I don’t remember that should be hardship. Only, like I said, the higher education, they wouldn’t let girls. The boys still go to the big city to high school and so on. I couldn’t have. The religion we kept. They wasn’t bad to us, but when we came back on that train in 1941, they stole a lot of things.
Q: What happened to your family during the war? Your parents, grandparents?
A: They took all away. Everybody. Grandparents, parents. Oh yeah, in Budapest. I was in Budapest. They took, in the ghetto, around May, everybody. This little brother who survived told me that my father paid for a Hungarian soldier and the other girls, the 20 year old girl, also they paid he should bring us home. He took the money, and he came and he told us, ”Your parents are in a ghetto. And they said you should not start to come home.” Who knew that I won’t have parents anymore? So they went through plenty. Stay here, that’s the way they taught me as a soldier. To work in the fields. It was no picnic. Not at all.
Q: At what point did your family become separated?
A: They took the whole town, and put in a ghetto, in another town before Huszt, Isa – that is the name. They was in the ghetto, and they waited to be shipped because in Huszt there was the trains, already. We didn’t have a train in our town. They all went to Germany. They all got burned. My mother with five siblings. I was in Budapest. My oldest brother, they picked him… he happened to go home, so he got caught, too. My older brother, he was a mechanic, very handy, anything he could do. So they shot him. This older brother actually, the boy was telling me who survived, maybe one or two, that before the end of the war my brother was very smart, I was counting on him. He said, if we cross over that little bridge to Poland or to Russia, I’m gonna free the whole group.
Q: Did you hear or know of the Arrow Cross?
A: Nyilaskereszt? Oh, they was very bad. I told you what they did with the girls. They was…. Worse than the Germans.
Q: When did you first hear of Raoul Wallenberg?
A: He came, introduced himself, ”Who has papers?” So I was lucky, I was the right time, the right place. I was waiting to go to the doctor’s, say I’m old and sick. Does it make sense for a 16 year old?
Q: Do you remember what he looked like?
A: I remember tall and handsome. And he had two helpers with him. Did I concentrate on the looks, you think? I wanted to live! I watched the Nyilaskereszt … that they should notice I registered. I went around cleaning, and looking back. He introduced himself, he said he is from the Swedish Consulate, and asked who has papers. It was meant for me to live. Thank G-d for we have such people. And look what the Russians did to him. Can you believe that? Why? Can you figure out why?
Q: After meeting Raoul Wallenberg, where did he take you?
A: He puts us in a villa, in a safe house. But I had nothing in my hand.
Q: Are you familiar with the schutz-pass?
A: Yes. When I was in the Swiss house, they said, ”No more schutz-pass, now it’s schutzpass-pass.” I was lucky then, too, because they didn’t know what to do, now. I went to work… that’s when I went to work for the Germans, after the Swiss house.
Q: Can you describe the safehouse?
A: What we had, what we went through, was heaven. Regular house, regular food. We was living, before, only on pea soup and I was very finicky since at home a girl who was with me, her name was Esther, used to give me her tiny piece of bread because she saw I didn’t eat the soup. Because, how do I get attention from my mother? If I didn’t eat. I went to school without food, so teacher said, ”You look like you don’t have enough to eat.” But they gave me, I just didn’t eat. Because if I came after school at home, my mother would take me in her little corner of the kitchen and say, ”You want a cookie? You want milk?” You see.
Q: Do you have any other descriptions of the safehouse?
A: Regular rooms. It was, two or three stories. It was a villa, you know what is a villa. But we stayed in the basement, because there was bombing. Small house, two family house, you would say. Not many. We was 14 people. That’s compared… very little compared to what we had before. And I remember regular food, ingredients. It was really heaven. Heaven. But we never knew when the Germans were coming. The Hungarian and Czech… ”Who has papers?” This was the only house that was safe, Swedish. There was other houses, Swiss also.
Q: Did Wallenberg visit the house? Did you ever see him again?
A: No… I didn’t speak much to him. He had many houses.
Q: How long were you there?
A: I can’t remember. I hope only a few days.
Q: At the safehouse?
A: Oh… yes, there I was longer. Middle of January I was freed. Maybe a month, or so. That was a pleasure. I didn’t feel any danger. Only if they [the Germans] come check. But it was written ‘Safe house of Sweden’.
Q: While you were there, did you hear any stories about how the safehouses were created?
A: No… no, we were teenagers. We wanted to play hide-and-seek… everything to forget what goes on. And who did? We didn’t know which minute we gonna be gone. If a bomb fell, or they come check and we had nothing in our hands. How could you plan in a situation like this?
Q: Do you know how Wallenberg found out about the cattlecars rounding up Jewish people?
A: I have no idea, I was too young for politics. All I know, ”I want to live.” Don’t go to Germany.
Q: Do you know about how Wallenberg rescued people at the Danube River?
A: I didn’t know that about Wallenberg. Never heard. I heard some rumors that.. there was many safe houses. Then I found out that Wallenberg’s was the safest, Swedish was the safest. You know, not schutz-pass, schutzpass-pass. You know schluss? Finish, finito.
Q: If Raoul Wallenberg were sitting with us today, what would you say to him?
A: I would kiss his hand, and his feet. That there exists such a good people. Such a person. What can I say? What would you expect me to say?
Q: What do you think Wallenberg would say to the world today?
A: That he was a lucky man, what he was able to do. Who could do that? You had to have the heart, the will, the money, the education. Everything. You ask me a tough question. How could you answer? Unbelievable. So he paid with his life.
Q: What happened after the war?
A: I came to Huszt, the main city, and there was about 250 boys and 6 girls. That was the beginning of February or the end of January. It took me two weeks, with the trains, right after the war, to get from Budapest to Huszt. My next big town. And out of those 6 girls, I was the youngest. All the boys stood around me, they thought, that’s it nobody knew… because they was in laborers… labor camps. Forced labor. In Russia. So they came, that’s it. I didn’t think of marriage. I wanted to see my parents, I had no idea. So one of those boys, who was from my mother’s town, walked with me to Huszt, which is 13 kilometers. The sun was shining… I had to see my house. When I saw the house, windowless, doorless, then I believed. But still, I was living in Huszt by a first cousin of my father, who had a wife and kid, who was in Russia. And he was waiting for his wife to come. And I was waiting for my parents. Because it was still only beginning of February. So he used to say he’d make me a nice wedding when life comes. But I had to convince myself, that was my main thing, that there is nobody. Nobody. In town was about 4 or 5 boys… I went back, and then the girls start coming. Sometimes we slept 4 girls in one bed. And they start to come. Then one of his friends asked me out. So, I went out with him. Sun was shining. In those times, already, girls start coming. And some had lice. And he tells me, that’s funny, ”You know what I noticed on you?” I started thinking, ”What, what??” I thought a lice! [He said] ”That your cousin is jealous and he wants to marry you.” I come home and he [my cousin] ask me like he ask a child, ”How was the date?” And I’m laughing, I’m busting from that, and he say, ”What did he say?” and I say ”He say you jealous,” and, he was an older person he was 20 years older than I am, and he says, ”Would you?” and I didn’t want to insult him so I said ”You would see.” Every day he ask me from that time. ”If my wife don’t come, will you marry me?” I didn’t want to insult an older person! And after a year I married him, that was her father. He was so good to me, you know.
Q: And from there what happened?
A: I went… when we got independent in Israel, since I am Jewish, I said, ”I have to be there. I have enough of the Germans. Of the Hungarians. We have our own country – I have to be there.” My husband wouldn’t want to go. I had her sister, who is three years older, she was one and a half years old. He didn’t want to move. From Czechoslovakia. We lived after the war in the Sudetes, which the language was German. We was very well-to-do there, we had grocery, everything I had plenty of food there, but I didn’t want to be with the German language. So he said he wouldn’t. ”Give me your hand if you go by yourself,” I gave my hand. We waited three weeks in Italy, to get a boat to Israel. He says, ”Lea, change your mind, before you step on the boat.” I said, ”I’m going. I have my own country, I should be there.” I’d had enough persecutions. So we came there, after 10 years, he had a heart attack and he died. I had two small children, she was 3, her sister was 8. So what else you want to know? Then I came to America after a year because I was afraid to sleep alone. This man knew my husband, knew me, I knew his wife – she also died in America. And I wanted to secure a country for the children, because I want it for the children, not for me. I said, I’m ready to give away my children to a Jewish family and I’ll go, finally I have a country. But comes a man, he wants to take me with the children… anything wrong, you see? Love? I never heard such thing. Never. Not the first time, not the second time. I didn’t know. I thought this is from the books, from the movies. But I made it up pretty good, since I have darling children. I am lucky, let me tell you. G-d knows better what’s good for me.
Q: Why is it important to keep Raoul Wallenberg’s story alive?
A: That’s right, 100%. Doesn’t he deserve? And also the people should know that it could be done. There is a will, there is a way. Like I said, he had the education, the good heart, the money, he had it all, right?
Q: Is this the first time you’ve told your story?
A: Yes. You need courage for this, determination. At my age, it’s an effort, let me tell you, but I feel that much I can do. I think Wallenberg deserves the most.
Q: Do you think you’ll tell your story again?
A: Not so fast. Not so fast.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: Us survivors, no matter where we survived, we was wild. We came out like from a jail, I can’t explain. I remember some people from my town, we were dancing, so they threw $100 bills from the balconies. Wild, we was! Because they treated us like animals… I just figured it out, that was why. For instance, her father was a Rabbi in business school, a very educated man. But since he lost a wife and a child, he didn’t want to keep [his religion] after the war, nothing. I wanted to keep, because I never saw any other life. He used to laugh at me, ”What you need this?” So 10 years with no religion. I bought new dishes in Czechoslovakia to come to Israel, I thought I’m going to start new everything, kosher, because in Germany where I lived for 3 years I had a German woman, a housewife, because I worked. So in Israel, the neighbors, they all was wild. She says, ”You didn’t cook today fresh, you cooked yesterday.” So I see that I am not kosher anymore. I came here to America, his father met me in Israel, we married there and he didn’t want to tell me that he was religious because he saw that I don’t keep. He told me one thing, to send the kids to yeshiva. I say, no problem. It took me a year and a half to get used to that a fork is not a fork and a knife is not a knife, it has to be kosher… it has to be dairy, and meat… and after a year and a half I threw away all the dishes and bought new ones and said ”I’m kosher.” And that was no problem.
Q: Now you keep your traditions comfortably?
A: Oh yeah, oh yeah. The kids went into yeshiva, so I put in my two daughters too, I didn’t want two different religions, you know. For somebody it would be hard, but for me it wasn’t hard, I don’t know why. So, when I came here. My husband had an autistic child, we didn’t speak about her. His two children, which was 10 and 5, knew Yiddish and English, I didn’t know English. I had private lessons, but I never used the language. So I said, ”You know what children?” If I’m going to give up duty to this children, I have to learn 3 languages. I said, let’s have one G-d and one language. So, we had no difficulties with the children. I say again, because G-d is good to me. I’m a super sensitive person, so he gave me the perfect children. Because I couldn’t handle. We love each other.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
A: Nothing, nothing. I have nothing. Going home from Budapest I had my last diploma, the Russians took it out under my hands, in Debrezen, while we waited for always another train. Took away my last documents.
Q: You and your brother were the only survivors in your family?
A: Yes. He heard that I am alive, he found me in Czechoslovakia after the war. And he waited until I was married. He wanted to leave me alone. I married, I moved to Israel. He married an Israeli girl, very nice girl. I was 18, he was 17. The way he found my friend, who was my age, she was in the army, a telephone operator. And he wants to walk in, he didn’t know she was there. So she says to him, in Hebrew, ”Forbidden to come in.” So he recognized her because she was a year older. She was a soldier.
Q: Do you remember the names of the other 14 people saved with you?
A: No…. no. But when I went to the Czech Consulate to get my papers to go home after the war… when the Russians freed us, you must have heard of this… they was very mean to the women. Across the street from where we lived in that house…. They asked who knows Russian, I knew a little bit because of the population, I used to speak a little. So there was a young woman, 27 years old, with a kid of 7, ”Who knows the language?” They need interpreters. So she says to me, ”Let’s go.” I said I don’t want to go to the, either, I don’t know what they’re doing. They raped women in front of their husbands. She went there, across the street. It was winter, in the snow. They threw her down… everybody.. she’s a grown up…. They threw her down on the floor, in the snow, there was about 15 Russians there… I was a young girl, scared to death. I remember she came back, crying, the women had hot water, washing. I find her at the Consulate. I was so naïve, I said, ”Now you gonna have at least triplets,” Because I’d heard of triplets, but no more. She says, ”You’re so naïve. What one does, the other undoes. I won’t get pregnant.” I was just afraid for her for pregnancy. And while I was traveling home, those two weeks, I think I was with a friend, in Huszt, I can’t remember… yea, I was with a friend. There was another Russian. Misfortune. But me, thank G-d, they never touched. But they wanted. So two weeks it took to get home, because the train always stopped. This was right after the war. So, there was two Russian soldiers… one was sitting across from my friend in the train station, and one was sitting next to me. Because we spoke their language a little bit. It’s a Slavic language, you know, and Czech….so, her Russian was a plain soldier, he wanted to save her from the others. Mine was a high-ranking officer. But he was telling her, and she told me in Hungarian, what he say, ”Oh, I’m Jewish.” This officer wanted that I should go for a walk with him outside, because he couldn’t do nothing in front of the people. I remember I lost my voice from nerves, I said, ”I can’t go with you, I go home to my mother, I have to see my mother first.” He bothered me so much. So the other one gave a message through my friend that I should make believe I collapse, I faint. I fainted, make believe, you know. In that moment comes in the conductor from the train, believes it. And he started running, he was afraid they were gonna tell them he was an officer, that he was bothering me. You know. I was so scared, that we went back in the train, the other one gave me a cover, between people’s legs with a cover, you know… I was afraid he would come after me. That was the scare of my life. Never was so scared, because I knew what they’ve been doing. And then another time on the route, another train waiting, the Russians came that we should come work for them in the kitchen. And an old soldier, one of the managers, wanted I should become a soldier. I was a tall, young girl. I said, ”I can’t be a soldier because I don’t sleep with boys.” He showed me, he said, ”Here the girls sleep separately.” I said to go home to my mother. They gave us food, plenty food. Again, I had to so much convince him that I can’t be a soldier. That I have to go home. Finally, after two weeks I arrived home. Now, my first husband, was 19 years older than me. I come there, and he had a store. When a Russian soldier came in, I thought I’m in Hungary. I went under the counter, he said, ”They don’t bother you here.” Because those people spoke the language, see in Hungary, they bothered you. It was wild. They used to take away watches. So slowly, slowly, I got used to that they don’t bother you. But it’s a miracle… if not Wallenberg I wouldn’t be here telling you this story. Bring up a few generations. So thank G-d for that, right? You see anything wrong? Such miracles I survived.
Thank you so much.
Transcription by Adriana Lee