Andrew Simon

I may well be a beneficiary of Carl Lutz’s efforts in Budapest. In 1944, when I was 6 years old, we lived at 32 Wahrmann utca (now Viktor Hugo utca). It was part of the so called International Ghetto, and I believe it was under Swiss protection.

My father had earlier been taken to forced labour camp. Around Christmas, as conditions became worse and the Arrow Cross began to ignore the building’s diplomatic immunity, my mother and I went into a safe house located in a glass factory at 26 Vadàsz utca (no longer there), which had been purchased by the Swiss Embassy, thus Swiss territory. In there were some 1,200 Jews in highly cramped conditions.

My father miraculously escaped from the train which was transporting his forced labour group to concentration camp before it left Hungary. He somehow made his way back to Budapest and joined us at the glass factory. One afternoon, I believe in January, the Arrow Cross violated our diplomatic immunity and entered. They lined us all up, three abreast, on the sidewalk, ordering us to keep our hands up. We (I mean the adults) were convinced they were preparing to march us to the nearby edge of the Danube River where, at this late point in the war, they just lined people up and and shot them into the river. We stood on the sidewalk on Vadàsz utca for some three hours, during which a couple of people were shot for letting their arms drop.

Then two miracles occurred: the first was a silent marchpast of some 20 senior officers of the Budapest city police, expressing their disapproval of what the Arrow Cross were doing; and the second miracle was an air raid which sent the Arrow Cross guys running off in all directions in mortal fear. We all just went back inside.

We were in the glass factory for some 7 weeks, until the early morning of January 18, 1945, when my father happened to be near the main gate shaving and heard unmistakebly Russian conversation. Indeed it came from Soviet soldiers, who had just liberated us. Two hours later, with our bundles packed, we walked, through the eerily quiet streets of a city in ruins, back to our apartment.

Carl Lutz was no doubt responsible for securing both 32 Wahrmann utca and the glass factory.

Andrew Simon