Non omnis moriar… (Horatius)
For seventy-five years, at the bottom of the cupboard, lay notebooks and a letter, the last memories of our father’s first family, the innocent and senselessly destroyed, sweet little girl Veronka and her equally sweet little sister Mártika and their mother Natalka.
In 1944, human evil and hatred destroyed the Hungarian Jewish community in our home town Győr, which had raised with loving care, honest, educated, hard-working and successful generations, whose members considered Hungary their homeland. Between the First and the Second World War, however, they were gradually marginalised in the most despicable way and eventually even deprived of their bare lives.
Our father, having survived the loss of his daughters and wife, returned home from labour service and a Russian camp of prisoners of war and, after a few years, remarried. We were born into his second family, so his first children, Veronka and Mártika, who were killed in Auschwitz, became our older siblings. What a dramatic twist.
The three miraculously preserved family documents, following their print publication, is made public also in this way to preserve the memory of our murdered sisters.
Eight-year-old Veronka’s sketchbook faithfully reflects the high quality of education and upbringing in the Israelite People’s School of the time and confirms the statements made in the school’s 1942-43 yearbook.
The yearbook is not only a simple annual report, but also a summary monograph on the local patriotism of the Jewish community of Győr, the history, functioning and significance of the school.
The book also tells about the teachers, the prestigious school board consisting of notables of the Jewish community, and the geographical and natural features of the city of Győr. However, in the lines of the headmaster’s report, the ominous shadows of an impending tragedy are already looming.
Natalka’s last letter, sent to her husband, our future father, the day before she was forced into the Győr ghetto with Veronka, Mártika and five thousand of their fellow citizens of Győr, already indicates the imminent arrival of the deadly threat. The letter radiates endless loyalty, love and still hope, but in vain.
Transcript of the letter:
Sunday, 28 May 1944
My dear Berci!
I was going to write an exhaustive letter today, but fate has arranged it differently.
We had a terrible awakening this morning, there will be a ghetto in Győr too. We must go to Sziget. For the time being, there is no decree that the Christians there must move out, only existing Jewish flats (which are already fully taken under previous regulations) can be occupied or exchanged for Christian ones. Few people are willing to exchange because everyone insists on staying in their old dwellings. I rushed out to the Horváths at 7 o’clock, fixed an arranged transfer of the apartment whereby they would get Kato Opitz’s apartment with a nice street view. You can imagine how happy I was. Then the woman appears in the afternoon and says that they won’t change because they are afraid of being bombed. In the meantime, I ran to the Elemérs, where I found out that the Horváth family would get Elemér’s flat and that the Horváths’ flat would be taken by the Mérős, Böhms and Rózsi Krausz. I have a feeling that something happened behind my back. Sári came to us in a rush to say that she would do what she can for me to get an apartment.
Is everyone selfish and ruthless now, or is this the right thing to do? I have to move out by 8pm on May 31st, until then the good Lord will just help us find a place to live. Margit’s family is going to Zoli, Aranka to Ilonka, Mama and …. to the old Bakonyi’s, while Böske has no place yet, he may go to Ilonka as a last resort.
My dear Berci, it hurts me so much to write this and to cause you pain, but is it possible to hide it?
I waited until this afternoon to write something more positive, but perhaps I will have better news tomorrow.
I’m in a hurry, because I mustn’t go out after 8 o’clock.
My darling Berci, pray for us. I promise to be strong; I am fighting in the strong faith that one day I will be with my dear husband and our two sweet little girls.
God bless you! (?)
With warm love, hugs and kisses from your faithful wife,
They leave Győr in cattle wagons for their final journey. Among those deported is also our future mother, who later becomes one of the few survivors of Auschwitz.
These written testimonies found in 2018 encourage us to preserve the memory of our loved ones and to do our utmost to ensure that their tragedy is never repeated.
Non omnis moriar … I will not die completely…
Their immortality depends on us.
Published by András and Péter Krausz; all photos © Krausz brothers