Posted in Manuscript Projects on March 9, 2015
My name is Marta Green, I was born in Hungary in 1929. I was an only child born to two Jewish Parents – Dr. Andor Bodrogi and Elizabeth Manheim. Before the war my family lived in a nice apartment in Budapest with my grandmother. We weren’t religious, but we were proud to be Jewish and my father who worked for the Hungarian parliament was a strong believer in Zionism. I spent some time at public school and then transferred to a Jewish school a couple years before the war broke out. I spent my free time taking dance lessons and figure skating.
I always faced anti-Semitism growing up but when the Nazis took control of Budapest on March 15th, 1944, my life was changed forever. I was no longer allowed to go to school and we were forced to wear the yellow star when we went out in public. At first my father was able to keep his job because he was needed in the Hungarian parliament. Although as the situation got worse, the Arrow Cross Party (Hungarian Nazi’s) took over parliament and my father lost his job.
As time went on our lives only got worse. We were forced to have two other families move into our apartment because of the lack of “Jewish homes”. Every night the Arrow Cross Officers would round up Jews for deportation, but we went out to hide in a typing school owned by my fathers colleague to avoid deportation. One morning we returned to our apartment to find out that everyone who was there the night before had been deported. The Arrow Cross Officers returned later that day looking for me and my parents. My parents hid me behind a piece of furniture, I was more scared then I had ever been before in my life. While I was in hiding the superintendent of our building saved our lives. He got the Arrow Cross officers drunk and convinced them that we had already been deported.
After that night we decided to stay at the typing school permanently. We hid behind a stack of furniture on the top floor of the building, where we couldn’t talk or make any noise during the day. At night my father’s friend brought us food and the newspaper so that we knew how the war was developing. We stayed in the school for two months.
The Russians started heavy bombing of Budapest and we were no longer safe in the school. My father’s friend managed to get fake identity papers for my mother and I, but my father was too well known in Hungary to use fake papers. My mother and I went to live in the cellar of my fathers friends house, but my father who didn’t have papers was taken to hide in a storage room in the parliament building with only three days worth of food. The day after we left the school it was destroyed by a Russian air strike. After ten days in the cellar I was out getting water when I saw my father walking towards me exhausted and hungry. He had been bombed out of his hiding spot in the parliament building.
We dug a hole in the cellar floor just large enough for my father to fit in and we covered the hole with a blanket. We were constantly scared that an officer would show up and find my fathers hiding place or discover that our papers were fake. Thankfully, Five weeks after we had moved to the cellar we were liberated by the Russians, but we did not have much to celebrate. When my father emerged from the small hole he had to learn to walk again and we soon figured out that 28 of our close relatives were murdered during the war. Most of them were taken to Auschwitz where they died in the gas chambers.
After we were liberated we went back to our apartment and discovered that it had been bombed down during the war. The building’s collapse killed a total of 300 people, including the superintendent who saved our lives and one of my best friends. We ended up moving in with one of our relatives, and later we were able to get a new apartment, when my father got his job in parliament back. Sadly the stress of the war had taken a toll on my parent’s health and both grew very ill. My father passed away from his heart condition not long after the war had finished.
I had met a Jewish Belgian man by this time and I decided to move to Belgium with him where I got married spent nine years of my life. My mother passed away from her illnesses in Belgium and my marriage was not working out, so I decided to move to the United States where I had some relatives. Because of quotas and waiting times it seemed much more practical to move to Canada, so I ended up immigrating to Canada. I felt very lonely upon my arrival until I was able to find some old family friends who helped me get a job. I learned English on the way to work everyday and came to appreciate my life in Canada.
Although I lived a happy life after the war I was always haunted by my memories of the holocaust. To this day I still have nightmares depicting my life back in Hungary.