On the Threshold of Liberation – Reminiscences
Hannah Szenes was captured in June 1944 and spent the next months in a Nazi prison in Budapest where I, her mother, was also incarcerated. She was executed in November, while I was freed, whereupon I returned to my sister and brother-in-law’s apartment. The following day, together with many other Jews, I was force-marched away from Budapest towards Austria. A significant number perished on the way, particularly during the icy nights spent in the open. At Komaron near the border, a Hungarian woman let us into her house, fed us, and suggested we remove our yellow stars and return to Budapest by horse and cart, which we successfully did. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get help from the Advisory Bureau on Jewish Affairs. I now turned to a good Catholic friend who arranged for me to be hospitalized in a convent clinic, where I enjoyed good conditions and was well cared for. On Christmas Day the Russians reached Budapest and the city was intensively bombarded. All the patients and staff were transferred to the cellars where they remained for seven weeks. Towards the end of this time food supplies ran out, hunger supervened, and outbreaks of dysentery and typhoid took their toll. After seven weeks the city fell to the Red Army and I returned to my home, which had been completely destroyed. The Russians had plundered the provisions and yet another period of hunger began.