Manuscript of Harry Friedman

My name is Harry Friedman I was born on October 22, 1931 in a town in northeast Hungary. I was the youngest in my family. I had two brothers and one sister. My father was in the beer business and was a beer bottler. In 1939 certain laws came out and he had to give it up. I started Hebrew and English school when I was six years old. When the war started in 1941 my father was called into the Hungarian army service company. It was not the regular army; Jewish people were not taken into the regular army. He worked for about six months then they discharged him and he came back home.


As the war continued on in March 1944, the Germans decided to fully occupy Hungary and the first thing they did was place all the Jewish people in ghettos. This included us in our town. Once we got into the ghetto the German government took us by train to Auschwitz. Auschwitz had three camps. Auschwitz 1 – was a distribution camp, Auschwitz 2 – was Birkenau the extermination camp and Auschwitz 3 – was the working areas. When you got into Auschwitz the first place you went was Birkenau. There they selected you, woman, men, children, old people, young people. Those that they selected for work was sent to Auschwitz 1. All the other people who weren’t selected for work were sent to the crematorium. I was chosen together with my father and brother. One of the main reasons I survived at that point was my father told me to say I was sixteen years old when asked how old I was, I was actually twelve and a half.


My father was the first one of us to be taken to work. He was sent to Buna, which was also a concentration camp. My brother was the second one taken and he was taken to a coalmine camp. I was the last one and I was also taken to Buna. I found out that my father was at the same camp and I met him there. There were around 20,000 people working at this camp. In October they made selections for people who were not qualified to work. My father was chosen because he was too weak and was not feeling well. He was sent back to Auschwitz 2. I stayed at Buna until January 1945.


That year the Russian front came in. I was sent to a place called Mittelbau-Dora. This place was a manufacturing place for the V1 and V2 rockets. The place itself was under a mountain in a tunnel and I stayed there until March. Then came the American forces. The Americans came and pulled everyone out from the camp. I landed in Bergen-Belsen. This was the last camp I was in. The British Army liberated the camp on April 15, 1945. After being liberated I was not doing well health wise.


The British doctors suggested I go to Sweden to recover. My first stop in Sweden was Mulberry, which is a town in southern Sweden. The doctors sent me a hospital. I stayed there for three weeks and then was sent back to Mulberry. From Mulberry they sent me to a school that was for survivors of the camps. I stayed there for almost a year. From there I was sent to another school in northern Sweden. In northern Sweden three was a lot of snow and skiing. While I was there I received a letter that they found a family willing to take me to The United States. In July 1947, I landed in Manhattan. I stayed with a family for about four years in New York City. In New York I went to school I worked in a retail hardware store.


I received a draft notice from the army in 1952. I served for two years and was sent to Germany where I served until 1954.  In 1954 I returned to the United States. I went back to school and studied electronics. I finished school after one year. I wasn’t enthusiastic about it because the parts we were using were giving off radiation. I went to work in a different field. I had a brother in Toronto who came in 1951. I went back and forth from New York to Toronto until I decided to stay in Toronto. In 1957-8 I came to Toronto as a permanent resident. My brother was in a bakery line and I was supposed to work there too but I didn’t like it. Instead I worked in the real-estate field. I first was a salesman then a year later I became a broker.


I met a young lady from Holland she was a twin. During the war she was in a convent for about a year and half 1943-44. In 1959 I married her. We have three children, and two grandchildren. I share my story because I figure some people will want to hear the history of what has happened from the original sources. It is physiological indulgence to keep the story alive.

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