Recollection of Gábor Farkas
I was born in the wrong year, 1942, and in the wrong place, Budapest. But by a miracle of luck, we survived the war years, I was released from the Great Ghetto in Pest with my mother and grandfather, and my father survived in Mauthausen.
In the fifties, all I knew about Győr was that an aunt of mine lived there, at 18 Arany János Street, whom we called “Mariska of Győr”. We visited the Éliás family at least once a year: Mariska, her tailor husband and their little boys. I knew nothing more about the Győr relatives. In 1955, they had their daughter was born, and in November 1956 they left the country, stopping in Melbourne, Australia, only, where they could make a good living as tailors. Our relationship was severed.
There was also a rumour in the family that an uncle of mine, surnamed Feit, was involved in the founding of the Győr synagogue, and his name is on a plaque there.
I must have been 65 when, by chance, I found a cousin of mine in Melbourne, who was born there, on the internet. There was a renewed connection with the branch of the family there.
In the meantime, I learned more and more about my family through Jewish search portals on the Internet, even finding a few documents. By that time, I really regretted that as a small child I had not asked my grandparents to tell me at least a little about their parents and grandparents.
To my surprise, I learned that one branch of my family came from the Győr-Nyitra-Komárom triangle, i.e. from the Jewish population there. Many of them settled and lived in the Sziget district of Győr. Sziget was just an intermediary station towards Budapest and, unfortunately, later also towards the concentration camps.
My great-grandfather Jakab Feit was a master shoemaker. According to the documents found, he lived at 4, later 11 Híd Street in Győr, later on at Országút and at Vásártér Street. His wife, Száli (Fáni) Kuttner, gave birth to five children (including my maternal grandmother at 4 Híd utca), one of whom died at the age of three months.
At the age of 31, on 2 July 1886, at 7 o’clock in the morning, Fáni drowned in the Rába river. A strange death – I don’t know if she didn’t knowingly try to escape his difficult fate. She left behind her husband and four children, including a one-year-old girl. The master shoemaker immediately remarried, marrying a young girl from the König family, whom he also called Fáni for simplicity’s sake. The second Fáni gave her husband four more children, while one of the girls died of measles at the age of two.
Cousin marriages were common in the extended family. Therefore, my maternal grandfather and grandmother were related to each other, and other relatives married also within the family. They all lived in the same block, preferably in Győr and later in Budapest.
Part of the family moved to Budapest, but some of the girls stayed in Győr because they got married there. One husband was Lajos Láng. A similar thing happened to him as to my great-grandfather. His first wife, Rózsa Reich, had three children, Maria, Sándor and Irén, and then she died young. Lajos quickly remarried, marrying an aunt of mine, Maria Feit. She and her son József were deported to Auschwitz, where they died in 1944.
The three children of the previous wife, Rózsa, survived the war, although one of them, Mária Láng, was sent to the Buchenwald camp. She survived. After liberation she married Miklós Éliás, a master tailor, and they lived in Győr until 1956. She was the “Mariska of Győr” whom I visited as a child. She died in 2010 surrounded by her loving family in Australia. The other two children were in hiding. One of them, Sándor Láng, eventually died in Canada, the other, Irén Láng, still lives in Melbourne, aged over 90.
The third child, Erzsébet married Sándor Keitner; they moved to Újpest, and from there they were sent to Auschwitz, with their children, on their final journey. The fourth, my aunt Sarolta, married Nándor Friedenstein in Győr, but the young husband was killed in the First World War, and then the widow and her daughter moved to Pest. This little girl, Stefi, born in Győr, was taken from the same ghetto apartment in Dob Street, Budapest, to Dachau, where our family was also housed. She came back safely.
Finally, here is our family tree.
Published by Gábor Farkas
Featured image © Farkas Gábor