mardi 8 décembre 2009

My first diary 10 to 14

My first diary 10 1/2 - 13 ½ years old
My first journal

Budapest, December 25, 1944 (translated from Hungarian) 

Julie begins to write a diary in a cave of Budapest under siege hiding under other name.

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas. I am filled with happiness! Yet it is war. We have pine branches on the lamp, we have decorated and added candies.

I also received many gifts! This diary, this pencil, a pair of slippers, leather for shoes, a large sledge, a pair of angora gloves, an ink-stand, a bunch of images to be cut and two books: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Great Day, I also received a nice box to store my treasures and eight handkerchiefs.

I am very happy - even if we are in a war!

For two days we were hearing the roar of cannons so strong that even the mother heard, at least the most violent ones.
This is what happened this afternoon during my gymnastics I hit my head, I almost forgot to make the bridge from standing.

We spent the afternoon in Tommy (a cute 2 years old boy!) Because at their place it is hot. (But I'm going to bed now.)

December 26 1944
Today was Mom's birthday.

The morning I was scolded and later I walked around the house, to the nearby streets with Dad.
I found some interesting things.

We now live in Rose Hill, the street LotsBlood. A small bomb fell in front of the church of St. Apostles' (but no one died). A shell struck the corner of Margaret Street and it destroyed the windows and brought down a few fences but caused no other damage.

The Russians are already 10km from us, at Warm Valley (I'm happy.)

As it was the anniversary of Mom, the afternoon we played Monopoly. It was great! At the end, the French (escaped from Germany on the Danube) has replaced mom. Finally, he won with 48 thousand, I am left with 24 thousand, Dad only 20 thousand in ... paper.

It was fantastic! ! ! ! ! !

I wonder what love is? What then does one feel in your heart?

Notes from the cellar

Written during the storming of Budapest. The Russians sent shells; the Nazis sought Jews and Food. We were sleeping very near each other in a cellar in Buda (hilly side of the town) and hoped, that it ends and we’ll remain alive. I went back in 2004 and found the house and cellar, in poor condition. Took a photo from outside, they did not let me in.

December 27, 1944, Wednesday

9 o'clock in the morning
Mrs. Kocsis enters and says: "I met with Hungarian soldiers and they said they had fought and defended the city overnight but they will no longer defend it. If it continues so, at noon the Russians will be here, they are no more than 2 km and a half.

I am delighted! I'm so excited!

9 am and a half, suddenly, everything became silent. We hear only the rattle of machine guns on top of the street.

9 hours and 35 minutes. There is no more light, nor radio. From time to time we hear the whistle of a shell. One can no longer pass over the Danube bridges. It is possible that the bang we heard this morning was due to their destruction.

9 and 37 minutes: my tummy aches!

December 29 1944

This afternoon there was a huge explosion. It was very interesting! A huge boom, then as if thousands and thousands of sheets of paper flew across the bottom of the hill.

All day we heard boom, boom, boom.

January 1, 1945
We have moved downstairs in the place of the water heater, and clothed we sleep on mattresses very near each other.

3 Jan 1945
One shell took the roof of our house. At first it was difficult to breathe in the cave where we were, but fortunately the entrance of the cave was not sealed as we feared at first. Just rubble, the men (my father, and the French) released us quickly.

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, January 10 1945
Four or five shells hit our yard and destroyed large tree fell on the terrace. What else? We cannot go to see.

January 12, 1945
The water flowed more and more from the walls and ceiling, so he had to close it. Now there is more water, either.

15 Jan 1945
I like to find a loving companion as understanding and sharing as I am.

Long live solidarity!

(After days and days of life together, too close to each other, disputes broke out in the cellar.)

January 18, 1945
At noon, two German soldiers came in stealthily through the door, they wanted to steal. When we have seen them, they pretended they were seeking shelter. Then they left.

The afternoon at three o'clock, an Arrow Cross (Hungarian fascist) came in ... He began to fire from our window, then suddenly ... we ended up with ten militiamen in the house.

Finally, they left.

19 Jan 1945
This morning two big shells hit nearby. Where? I will also describe the other booms.

20 Jan 1945
Today the Russians have occupied Pest and the Germans blew up the bridges connecting Buda to Pest. All the bridges. What a pity!

23 Jan 1945
The small boy and his mother are also moved with us in the cellar. This part also replaces the kitchen, all the other pieces now.

We are nine sleeping near one another, squeezed under the stairs in the concrete hole where coals were before: me Piri, Dad, Mom, the owner of this villa Mrs. Kocsis (50 years), his good Juci 30 years the valet January 22, and now, also Maria 
of 24 years old the wife the gardener and his little 2 year old son.

Budapest, Hungary, January 25, 1945,
Horrible disputes! I cannot stand it, they all find defects in me. They are the one’s stupid, idiot - morons.


Added in 2005:
Remembering that period I wrote the short novel of fiction several decades later, "The Barefoot Princess ..." where "he" thinks she is willing but she is just too shocked. Then... it is a whole story.

I have always asked myself, later, when the Russian soldiers have come in, did they violate Maria? Was she "willing"? With more then one? Did she go with them because of fear or the threats and their arms? And again, for the watch provided by dad so they do not do it also with Mom? 
Finally, she found his "lieutenant"; a Russian and lived with him for - how long? He was nice, and defended us from then on against the others. What happened to them afterwards? to one or the other?
Julie could not continue writing, it was too dangerous, even this few lines seemed so to her mother who read them, because in it, she told her parents feared the Nazis.

Finally the Russians entered Budapest in early February and the family managed (with some difficulty) to escape from them too (they raped the women), first crossing the frozen Danube from Pest to that portion of already for longer occupied city. For a few weeks, then they managed to return to Cluj, Julie’s hometown.


February 19, 1945 morning (arrived back in Transylvania, now Romania)
Yesterday all day I traveled on the platform of a truck, greatly shaken. Very, very tired

February 21, 1945
Finally we arrived at the border between Hungary and Romania.

February 23, 1945
Today we went to the theater! (1)

February 29, 1945
Yesterday, all morning we traveled with the fast and finally we returned home to Kolozsvár (now, since Transylvania is now part of Romania, it is called Cluj, its” Romanian name.)

It was the first request of my mother “go see a play”. 

My father has asked to visit a restaurant and have a good meal. 
I was so tired for a few days, not even realising that we escaped, we were home again.
A night on the train platform

We're now in 2004, late March, but I see before me that scene when we arrived to the train station in Budapest was like yesterday, not in March 1944, sixty years ago.

It was a dark and menacing, illuminated only occasionally by SS with their powerful flashlights. Silence reigned, broken occasionally by the barking of dogs leashed or those German officers barking orders or asking questions.

The train arriving from Transylvania was already emptied.
We did not know yet, but it was the last train out of Kolozsvár, my hometown, without control at the departure. From then on it was no longer allowed to any Jew to move from one place to the other.

We were alone, me and my mother, isolated in time and prevented from leaving the station. In fact, we were forced to stay near the exit door of the train wagon where we had descended. Mom squeezed my hand hard and I, stood near her, obedient: she had told me to be quiet.

It was hard to be quiet, I was kind of (and still am) talkative. Open.
But the shadows that let some people go off, had not left the station, and did not let us go out of it. My mother's hand trembled as she hold mine, under an appearance of calm and firm voice. Dogs and men in uniform barking, in the night. I froze.

I did not know yet.

I did not know at that moment my life was at stake: will I survive until tomorrow? Will I still live in a month?

Those minutes of icy silence gave me another sixty years of life.
I was white with fear even if I did not understand the great peril we were in, yet.

I knew nothing of the Nazi terror in the world, nor the persecution of Jews. 
I did not even know that I was one! 

My mother has told me five years before: "you are Calvinist (Protestant) and later at the school I followed the vicar's class, I celebrated Christmas, while my cousin, Judith, the same age as me, was taken by her mother, elder sister of dad, to the Synagogue, and my others cousins celebrated Hanukkah.
My great-grandmother Paula was the only “kosher”, even my grandparents were no more religious, also my grandmother Sidonie lit candles every Friday night. "It is in remembrance of the dead, Julika," she said me once, and she began to name them: “this one for my father, this one for…”. At the time there were still no more than seven.

I did not know either, then twenty-four hours before we were at the station, with SS and dogs around us in the dark, the 29th March 1944 the German troops invaded the territory of the “friendly” Hungary, of which Transylvania and Kolozsvár, its capital, were part (today is called Cluj).
I did not know that they came to put an end to the neutrality of the Hungarian government, to prevent the departure of the country from the alliance and, above all, to end fast the friendly attitude of the Hungarian government, "too kind" for their taste towards the Jews.

The Jews were in Hungary, until that evening, normal Hungarian citizens for many hundreds of year. Most of them fully integrated, patriotic, and not religious any more. 

My grandfather Emil had fought in 1915 with the Austro-Hungarian army as a lieutenant of Bridges and Roads and he has returned injured for life, however he was proud of having done his duty.
My great-great-great maternal grandfather, father of Paula, had received from the Emperor, instead of a barony, which he refused, a former Tutor of the children of the royal house of Vienna. This Tutor taught then all the son’s of the thirteen children they had but also my great great mother Paula who was curious and the youngest among them.
My great great-grandfather was considered himself Hungarian, even though his grandfather, a banker, David Hirsch arrived in Transylvania from the France, Alsace, from where he had fled with his family before the Terror, following the French Revolution of 1789.

We were first Hungarian, then of Jewish origin.

But me with my parents, and some others also from our family, were Calvinists, since my parents became Christians, when I was two years old. On paper at least. Really? I do not know. My parents, were not religious, at all. I was, when young till I was past 14.

I did not know, while trembling with fatigue and cold on the platform of the dark unenlightened station, to preserve the British bombardment threatening in the sky, but still rarely leaving their shells falling on the Hungarian capital. The Hungarian government "pretended to be allied with Hitler and the British pretended to bomb this country," said a history book recently read.

Until that day, the Hungarian government was also pretending to deal with the "Jewish problem" in their country. While in France had already sent all that they could caught in Germany, in Poland to be killed or deported, put into a ghetto, we lived our lives in Kolozsvàr, in Hungary, as if nothing had happened. Or almost.
Like the French before the war, going on vacation not doubting, not believing what will befall them, too, soon.

I survived because my parents questioned, doubted, prepared for the worst.

I survived, because my mother was determined that evening, before and several times later, she had the good instinct. I survived because my dad was smart, shrewd and informed and a German friend had given him good advices. I survived  also because I did not open my mouth that night, even to say my name.
Judith, my paternal grandparents, almost all members of my family who stayed in Kolozsvár, two months later did no longer exist. 

Gathered on the ground of an old brick factory, crammed into cattle wagons, sent to Auschwitz, most of them will be forced to "make a shower" and killed with Cyan, gassed then burned the same night they arrived.

Judith is not reached its ten years, I am seventy five now. I did survive her with 65 already.

My parents have warned this could happen in Hungary too, the mother of Judith did not believe. Her husband was taken away and killed in Russia, and she refused to deny being Jewish or not to enroll her daughter for religious lessons in the synagogue, as my father suggested, asked her. "I am the elder sister, you do not tell me what to do" she told my father.

My father has bought the identification papers from a family of 100% Christian in his village of birth, a family with a daughter almost the same age as me. Sixty years later I went and met that daughter.

 My father should have come to welcome us to the station, that night. At the time we lived in Kolozsvar. The invasion of Hungary by the German troops had surprised him in Budapest. 
He has called during the night and asked that we take the first train in the morning, without papers, we expected him to come into the station with the "good " papers.
He did not and had not arrived still and the SS forbade us to move forward from there before they see our papers. These papers were with my dad. Where is this “mystical husband” who did not appear? they asked again and again.

I understood nothing. My father was always there to take care of us when necessary.

My mother pressed harder my hand and her eyes told me "Shut up! "
I did not know why. She trembled, fearing they arrested my father and undressed him and saw that he was circumcised.

We were maybe not thirty minutes in the station, also for me it seemed many hours, until a miracle happened finally, my father appeared from far away waving our papers.
Later, he told us that the soldiers surrounded the station not letting anyone to enter inside. Finally, he managed to bribe an employee who let him in. But that evening, he said nothing.
It was mom who suddenly spoke in the silent night.

"This is my husband."
"You have their papers?" asked the SS officer.

Without words, my father handed the papers.
Once he reviewed them, the officer asked:
"Why are they with you those documents? "
"I am the head of household."
This response seemed to satisfy the officer.

We were finally left out of the station.
After this ominous silence, and released away from officers and dogs barking, I wanted to talk. Dad put us in a taxi and I immediately began to question him.
"Dad, why ..."
"Shut. It's late. Close your eyes and be quiet."

I did not know at this point I stopped being Julika Kertész and ten years old, and that my parents, until the end of the war no longer will be called Katy and Pista. From there on, we will spend a year with other names and take other roles. Instead of middle class Hungarian citizens, we have become "peasants refugees fleeing the Russians approaching Transylvania. "

The next day, out of earshot of strangers, they explained me the name change.

"Why? We are not Jews."
"According to the new decrees, everyone with at least Jewish grandparent is considered Jewish. Baptized or not, this does not count. And your grandparents ..."
"I know. Yes. Them, they are."
"You shall be called and then you Pirika and you are from now on eleven years old."
It was won. I was not yet ten years old and I was delighted to suddenly have more then one more year. Everything seemed to me, at the beginning, like a game.

I left behind me the heavy memory filled with vague threats, and more and more aware what happened then only one years later. I learned then, on our return to Kolozsvár, that I escaped. From that moment never took out the thin golden chain from my neck: so I be not naked in the shower as my cousin when she died, I felt, then I would live and not die like her.

The chain never left my neck until another beginning, another departure; when I escaped with my life without even really understand the new threat to me. But this I’ll tell towards the end of this volume, it will be almost twenty years later. And again, I should keep quiet to survive. Silent for very long time, until end of year 1989! Mom taught me to be "invisible" and without realizing it, that remained in me a long time after.

A few months later that we arrived in Budapest, we were hiding in a cellar. Threatened, not only to be discovered by the German SS and Hungarian SS of our true identity, but also by the Russian shells. All the others in the cellar living near each other, none of them in this house knew anything about us.

To help me stay silent, Mom gave me my first diary.
I let it speak with my voice of ten years, hiding, even inside the diary, at the beginning, our true identities. I did not put our real names or describes our anguish, only this innocuous sentence after a heavy rain of shells "and nobody died. " What I wanted to believe. 

And here is how I told, very shortly, at the Manchester townhall, this period of my life.

After we arrived at Kolozsvár, now Cluj, Romania and Hungary no longer, we found, after a whole year starting lived hidden, our old apartment and most of the furniture too. We even found Paula, my great grandmother, who survived miraculously in a Catholic hospital!
But we have not found the family of my father. His parents were taken to Auschwitz (someone betrayed them as they wanted the place they lived), and her sister as her daughter, Magda, my age never come back either.

Magdi has been my playmate since my birth almost and my classmate from our six’s years. She was also my only friend, for years. I could not believe she has disappeared forever, and waited, and waited years, hoping she will return.
Comments on this text from my French blog:
Dear Julie,
Your story is very gripping, thank you for sharing this experience! I'm going after I am waiting impatiently. Amitiés Québec Franziska

This page is poignant and reminds me of the movie "Life is beautiful".
Thank you for this living witness of a very dark part of our history. Sylvain

I am very happy that you chose to share and your memories with us. Your words strike me as fists. It sad that you have known! It joy to know that you survived and you could tell us this story from your point of view of little girl?  Thank you very much ... for your thoughts, your comments, for the life lessons that everyone is there. Thank you very much. And now I entrust myself to read your story so interesting and intriguing! Danielle

Papillonclaire said ... hello julie, I just wanted to tell you that the beginning of your story (because I just discovered your blog) takes me to the "guts" as they say. part of my family is Polish and some have been deported during the war, and luckily survived his camps ...
And to read that touches me greatly. Thank you for this testimony.

Claire (23) Julie!
I just discovered your journal... I had not yet seen. You had a strange life, not easy. But it is certainly thanks to that today, you are strong. I will continue my reading.
It is exciting to see the life of a little girl, and your "add" today.
As you say so at the start ... some things have not changed ... damage :-(

Hello Julie, I have only just discovered this blog through a link on your Flickr profile.
At this poignant story that you lived at this time black, whose memory will never leave the people of our age story that touched me deeply, he must stop a moment I was reading the newspaper in your child to tell you, too, a big and warm thank you to share with us the precious witness.

okaitis I have only just discovered your blog ... and I'm delighted.
I will continue my reading.  

I can not refrain from reading these first texts to think about my grandmother (85 years) I have often asked about the war period. I often say that my family has been very lucky to never have to live all these horrors too closely.

You have new readers thanks also to this article published yesterday in the Romanian newspaper Cotidianul (I read on a blog suzi

I'm be EUMS read your stories of childhood and I thank you also for sharing with your readers the incredible memories (childhood and we'll see ...).Hats, vio:)

March 15, 1945, Kolozsvár (Cluj) 11 years old Julie (poem about family)
While I was doing embroidery, I invented this poetry:

For the anniversary of my dad
I would like to offer many gifts
But as I do not have yet money
Many gifts I cannot buy him
So  I want to cry, to cry.
I wish, anyway, my dad:
"Live long and happy! "

For the anniversary of my mom
I’d like to write many poems
But as I am no poet
And I'm not good at writing them
I can only cry, cry.
True, I am not a Petofi *
And I do not write poetry,
But anyway I wish my mom:
"Have many happy days! "

I forgot this:
And because I am not Petofi *
I write this poem only and
May God bless my parents
So they live very long.

Written September 15, 1945 at Kolozsvar

* Petöfi is the most famous Hungarian poet

I do not want to die!

September 17, 1945
I a'm sick! Nobody wants to believe. They are laughing at me!
Neither Mom nor Dad loves me, I'm unhappy, people are stupid!
This morning Radu arrived here (with his mother), he was bad all the time.

I will never have children bad like him!
A boy and a girl? Or will I have only one child?
Boy or girl? I will not behave with my children as mom with me!

Yesterday I had a role in a play and I also gave advice.
I want to dance in my tutu!
I will continue later because I got very tired while writing.

Shall I not die? I live anyway.
I do not want to die !!!!!!!!

The shower
I remember,  written in 2002 ...

A few months after home from the World War II, Julie usually wise, however, from one day to another, refuses to take a shower.

“The shower uses less hot water than a bath, we could not get enough wood, "said his mother.

“I bathe in the shallow water, mam.”

Later, her mother realizes that her daughter does not close the door of the bathroom and when she closes the door, soon, she finds it reopened again.

“It is not done, my darling, you'll soon be a little girl.”
“ Dad is not home, no one could see me.”
‘You must get used to close the door of the bathroom when you're naked.”

And why does not she get completely naked? asked his mother at once.

“I just want to keep something on me.”
“You're ashamed?”


“The necklace, in the shower? Well.”
“Yes, yes, provided it remains something on me.”

One day, Juliet finally exclaims:
“I'm scared!”
“Of what?”
“To die.”

After a pause, she adds.
‘To die in the shower naked with nothing on me! Locked in.”

Still silence.
“As my cousin who never returned from Auschwitz. I do not want to die as she, locked in a room naked! I heard ...”

“They said they would take a shower. To Magdi, my grandmother and my aunt. And then ...”
“ I understand, Julika. Thou shall not be afraid now, not here. But tomorrow we're going to make a bath for you, a shallow water, in it if you want.”
“Thanks, Mom.”

Very long, she avoided taking a shower, or a closed room, or to undress completely. It should have at least a thin gold chain around her neck. Her parents offered her one that never left her from then on, not until she was 27.

She has hold this chain for many years, until emigrating from the communist Romania, a Securitate officer asked her just before she went into the plane, to remove it and leave it, but, I wrote in my other journal about this. I have already exceeded this episode.

But for lots of  days, just remembering, while complaining of something or other in the youth newspaper, the chain is still around her neck and she does not go under a shower while all naked, like her cousin who could never exit from her’s.

December 7, 1945

The school has started. For me it's very hard - because I am in a Romanian school now and I do not know Romanian, I spoke only Hungarian until now.

Sabine, the Romanian student who helped me learn the language.
I was offered for Saint Nicolas candies in a pretty little basket fabricated by itself. For the first time in my life I have also offered gifts to all: cologne, coffee and cigarettes, packaged in pretty boxes made by myself.
On the 5th, we visited my Aunt Irene.
She returned from Auschwitz with short hair. We get along very well. She tells me everything that happened to them (she's 21, only ten years older than me).

February 18, 1946 afternoon

I want to be sincere, very good, and have a true friend. I think my cousin Magdi is (was). Magdi lives still! I prayed a lot for her, even in Budapest. Alas, all my dear things from before, and letters, and the poems I wrote have been lost there, when the Russian’s come one night into our cave.

Maybe my cousin Susan was also a friend? (she is now in Palestine). I would like to see my cousins: Mariette she is in Palestine too. Pierre and Thomas are in Switzerland and my grandparents too. All live so far away now!
Everything is different now since we left. Nobody else is here.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to see Snow White, then a Russian ballet, dressed in my new black velvet dress. I was very elegant.

It is 3 hours and 5 minutes.

Mom is back home. I make order. Mom scolds me.
3 hours 8 minutes. I arrange my room.


I had long hoped that my cousin ten years would miraculously return from Auschwitz.
Three naked women

Sometimes, the experiences of others who have become mine, the images told, remain imbued forever before my eyes. They had a big impact in my life, so they belong to my life.

I was eleven years old. The Second World War has just ended.

Hidden and with false identities, gone far away, so that nobody recognizes us, our small family unit has survived a whole year. We returned home in Transylvania, we found our apartment, even most of our furniture.

Mom, Dad are with me.

But the others?

The toll was heavy.

My mother’s sister and brother, mother and father, survived, but they have spent six months in the concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen. I knew nothing about them and their plight, nor the legacy with which they’ll remain throughout their lives. They live far away, did not want to come back to that country who suddenly, did not want of them and others.

The parents and sister of dad and my cousin and childhood friend:are missing gone in smoke at Auschwitz. I can not believe it yet: my best friend, with hercunning, had to survive! I persist in believing very long time, still believing she’ll return, like some did.

Alas, Magdi has never arrived to her ten years.

Irene, the bride of father's younger brother (who survived hidden in a cave) did return.
She is 19 years old, has beautiful shiny hair, curly and very very short. She is ashamed of her short hair: “I had long hair before ", she said. Before Auschwitz.

She had been swept away with her family. Irene has never seen his father again, he was already "old" before. He had over 45 years ...

"But us," says she, we managed to stay together.
Mom, my younger fragile sister and me. Long time. In the same place, side by side.

I did everything to survive there. For all three. I managed largely by making the hair of female SS officers. They gave me potatoes peeler’s - and sometimes even one or two whole potatoes when they were especially pleased with the success of their hairstyles. And later, they even allowed me to choose shoes and warm clothes from the heap, from those who had been gassed.

We already knew what had happened with those that ran towards the left lane. Gassed, then burned. From time to time, the camp smelt so bad ...

We have survived the winter and, worse, too: the "Calls" in the morning. We should be standing at dawn, before work for hours without flinching. Before and during that, Mom was growing weak, my sister sick, but every morning I managed to make them turn the corner.

And with some gifts to the horrible "Kapos", Polish and Lithuanian Jews, I got even, occasionally a solid piece of meat or more vegetables in the soup if not all clear water. And they beat us less. We were left together, we warmed against each other.

Mom, my sister and me.

But one day, they ordered us to undress and put us one after the other. A new sorting! I put my sister in front, Mom in the middle between us and I after them.

From afar, I saw Mengele, tall, handsome, blond, he was there to decide of our life with his whip, decided who would go left, who right. Who would be eliminated immediately, which of us would continue to work. We were naked in the courtyard near each other in single file. I was ashamed of having my head shaved and  have nothing on me.

My sister goes first. In the right queue. I breathe.

Mom is now in front of Mengele. She recoiled.
That only small hesitation was enough and she was sent immediately to the left.

I watch, horrified. I dare do anything. The slightest movement or reaction would be my death.

Mengele made me sign, take right. I am behind my sister. Not Mom.

“Julie, I did not dare ...
“What would you have done, "said the little girl of eleven years.
“I feel guilty for not having dared.”
“There was nothing to do, you know.”
“ I let Mom go without acting ...”

I was eleven years old then, after the war, she was nineteen years, we became friends.

She spoke another time of the German worker, who had given her one day a slice of buttered bread; then of the German soldier who was found them hiding in a trench during the evacuation of Auschwitz, "he looked at us and then pushed us into the car, he did not shoot. "

She did not hate the Germans, only the Kapos. But most importantly, hated herself
“I dared not speak, flinching, " she said.

She began to tell me about the naked women, the handsome officer sending her mother before her death, and about herself not even dare tremble. Trembling, had condemned his mother.

No! The officer, the Nazi ideology looking at beings worse than at animals. It was that and him guilty not her, but she felt so very longtime and told me that story more then once.

This story did not happen to me, but Irene, she became my friend, later, she become my aunt. This experience, I still feel as if it had happened to me. It was rooted in me at my eleven years.

I wondered, then often: What I did for my cousin Magda did not die?

Why barely a month after leaving the city, she was swept away like cattle, stripped, shaved, pushed in a "shower" where the gas was killing in a few minutes?

I wondered if she had died quickly crushed the bottom of the pile of people fighting for a last breath of air, a second longer.

I wondered if the Germans made soap from my cousin, as it was told that time. Have they used this soap to wash their hair?

I did not want to undress. I did not want to take a shower. I was afraid to close the door of the bathroom. Longtime.

I also heard other horror stories of the death camps. My father tried to learn what had happened to his parents and he invited all the survivors for dinner. Not even ten percent of Jews swept our city returned, remained alive.

Later, I had no right to stay at the table, listening. My parents have seen me pale, from then on I was sent to my room to sleep, immediately after such a diner. But I remained near the glass door separating my room and living room, my ear pressed against the glass. Often, I managed to open the door  a little bit without my parents realize. I wanted to hear! To understand. Magdi, could she have survived?

Only my future aunt told me, face to face, what had happened there, again and again.

And then another girl returned. She was almost of my age, but it was one of twins. 'Doctor' Mengele liked to experiment with the twins. Transplanting an uterus or an arm or leg, from one child to another. See, observe, note what happens with them. Judith (her name) survived, but could never have children. Her twin sister died a horrible death. Only a few years later, Judith was married to a very good husband but much older then she. They lived near my aunt. They tried to forget. As much as possible. To continue to live.

"But if they come back to us, I will wait with a sharp knife, this time, I will not let my children, my family, being carried away like sheep, and not oppose," said my aunt.

Irene had two beautiful daughters, my new cousins, they had magnificent long hair. One black, like her mother, the other a beautiful Titian auburn. They had no grandmother.

I had no more Magdi, cousin and friend, there was neither a miracle never, the long-awaited return.

2016: I did tell part of this story 3 times on stage, different places.

February 18, 1946
I have not written anything for a very long time since school resumed. In January, nothing special has happened, but I saw several plays.

I do not know what to do? The wind blew so hard, and blows again and again - I've still never seen (or felt) like it.

I would like to write a book and I could if I had time. Its title is "It happened so. " Its contents: from 1944 to 1946. I just decided to write at least every other day now in my diary.

7 hours and 6 minutes: The wind blowing so hard you hear the windows shaking and every 5 minutes the light goes out for a few seconds. 7 pm 9: I'm going to read – but first, to eat!

March 25, 1946, 10 am.
It i's terrible; I really have so little time to write. Today, I write only because I have the flu and I'm not going to school. 
This is how it happened. 

From Saturday to Monday there was no class, I fell ill on Saturday going down to the river to catch my beret who falled in the river before the house we live. I'm already starting to feel better.

We wrote a lot, homework from February 12 to March 2.
The fifth of March, we were distributed our first semester grades, I received:

5 French, Romanian 4, History 5n Geography 5
Calculation 5; Physics 6; Singing 6 Botanic 8
Health 4 Drawing 6 Gymnastics 9 and Behavior 10

March 8: the first snowdrops appeared, we have too.

Since March 12, there are already other spring flowers, but the violets have not yet shown their head. The groves of hawthorn blossomed; I even have some branches in my room.

O putin (a little)

Translating word for word from one language to another can hurt, offend. Otherwise, the reaction of certain malicious interpretation, deforming.

I am a Hungarian born in Romania. I am French of Hungarian origin.

I refuse to believe in gender differences in words. Why 'just' and not 'a little'? Why 'or a' table, chair, etc.. objects without sex? What is it to learn? In Hungarian, it does not assign gender to inanimate objects, this seems absurd.

During the first four years of primary school, six to eleven years, Kolozsvár was a Hungarian town, and my family forever spoke only Hungarian at home.

When the city became Cluj (okay, once again, she was already for twenty years after a thousand Hungary), my parents enrolled me in Romanian high school Regina Maria to learn the language. A few days ago, a Romanian student sleeping in my room for the winter taught me some basics of the language.

“ I speak a little Romanian.”
“You understand? A little.”
Just ... a bit ... I saw, I did not understand the difference.

I learned a "bit! "
Too? Too little?

First day at school.

I understand all the other girls a little bit, almost. In the girls' school of good Romanian families, they were all proud to be back into Romania. They have suffered (and not been as happy as me) when it become again Hungary; between 1940 to 1945.

The teacher of the class calls each by name. They get up each sais a few words about herself. Probably. I do not understand really what they say. Just a word of it from there.
“Kertesz Judith!”
I get up.
She told me something. What? Then she said something that I finally understand.
“Do you speak Romanian? Do you understand?”
“A little bit ... (in Romanian OPutin)
The class burst out laughing. Why do they laugh?
“Well, thank you.”

She says something that is too much for my knowledge, at the beginning of the year. Two words are enough. I was marked.

For two years following in this school, my nickname became 'Oputin' and I could not get rid of it, even later, when I realized it had a connotation of a very nasty world of a woman’s... Finally, you understand, I hope. Even in Hungarian, I do not know vulgar words like that.

Two years later, I managed to go away from that school, and spoke Romanian and had a clear understanding of it. Including, not admitting it. Just as they have never integrated the masculine and feminine objects stuck with me; I always hated that language learned in that unfriendly environment.

Since then, I have never liked, even after living twenty years in Romania, the Romanian language, like mine, and my sub-conscious rejects often still, even in French, to allocate one sex to inanimate things. My grand child of four, begins to oblige me to do it, I’ll learn from her, probably.

Holidays are over
April 7, 1946
This winter I have seen many plays and operettas. Their titles:
Sibyl Sings Gypsy, The Replacement Child, The Student beggar ...
 I'll see the "Land of Smiles", I already have tickets. Soon we will have spring break.
May 1, 1946
The holidays are over. Aunt Irene and my uncle came to live with us for a few days and as we have had good  time, I helped Mom. I baked my first cake (quite good) alone!

Alas, my father did not allow me to go to the festivities of May 1, yet I longed to see.
And now I will write letters to my cousins and grandmother. (The ice cream has finally appeared, it costs 500 lei - I get 2000 per month.)

For the second half semester I will probably have the following notes, none below average:
Romanian 6 French 6 Physique 8 Religion 10
Calculation 8 Geography 8 Citizenship 5 Hygiene 9
Botany 7 Kitchen 7 History 6 Songs 8
Design 5 Couture 6
I underlined  the subject where I deserved more.

June 29, 1946, in holidays with other children
Dear diary, if you knew everything that happened since I wrote last time, you'll have a shock!
Here it is.
Late May, we started the compositions and this time, I have not had a single grade below the average!
At Pentecost, I went to my great-uncle in the town of my great-grandmother Paula, were my grandmother was born too and I have felt wonderfully. The Gypsies have played the violin for the big dinner party. It was great!

After our return, our oral questioning began, they were fairly easy. I already speak Romanian well enough, they begin to understand me!

And now it is I would notes to my teacher!
Romanian 10 French 7 Botany 10 Hygiene 4
Geography 7 Calculation 7 Gymnastics 8 History 6
Physics 7 Music 10 Trav. Housewares 6 Drawing 5
I do not know if I've rated them well?

Soon we'll be on vacation!

After the exams I was removed my tonsils.
It happened thus: June 24th I went to the doctor and he said he would withdraw the next day at noon. On 25 they gave made me sleep with chloroform (I thought I was going to suffocate), the doctor removed my tonsils and I woke up in bed. My throat made hurt a lot, I spit and vomited blood. I have not eaten or drunk all day.

27, imagine I'm on vacation on the platform of a truck. I can not speak very well yet. Last night I ate an omelet with bread crumbs. This morning I could only drink tea with a teaspoon of jam. When I swallow, it hurts me a little and when I say it irritates me. I spare my voice and I'm right.

During all this time I received a lot of library books under my name but also as my mother. Poor mom, I made her very tired.
I love a lot

October 20, 1946
There are months that I have not written, at least three. To describe everything that happened, I must write about what happened since the vacation until the baby Marietta was born, she is my new cousin.

Our journey to the vacation center lasted a day and a half! That was because the tires of the truck were punctured 10 times on the way! At night, we had to sleep under the stars on the open platform of the truck. We should have arrived in the afternoon, in 4 hours.
But all went well as I managed to get to know the other children on the way there, including Edith and Vera. I wrote about from the colony many letters to Mom, in which I described my stay there. I'll add them here, instead to copy them and they will tell what happened in the colony I also wrote a play there! I'll add it here too.

My best friend is now Vera, then Martha, even Edith, I think.
I have to stop because I'm very worried, is that my letters still exist or not.
The friends of Julie after the war:
Vera, age 9, his widowed mother, German Christian, her Jewish father died.
Martha, age 12, spend six months at Bergen-Belsen camp and 1 year in a Suisse school.
Edith, age 8, whose parents hid separately have divorced after the war.

September 8, 1946
I am back. It was very hot this summer, but I can swim 500 meters! Alas, the school begun.

January 2, 1947
Again, I could not write for a very long time, I was too busy. Yet, many things have happened since. But I describe this Christmas, now.

We lit the Christmas tree to 7 o’clock. I received many gifts!
A pair of skis, a game of ping-pong, a muslin handkerchief, hot pants, a beautiful china plate and a wonderful, huge Christmas tree! From Edith the Jungle Book. From Eve, mother's cousin, the Journal of Mary Bashkirtseff (boring) and my aunt bought me a book that is not at all for me - but also a small wall dwarf, very funny. It's a lot, isn’t it?

This is the third time that I describe in my book my Christmas presents; it is possible that I will have no more room for the fourth.
For the new year I received an orange, alas it was very sour. I stop because I am hungry.

April 2, 1947
I managed to make a great April Fool's for Mom and Dad!

The servant woke me up at 6 o'clock and I changed all the clocks, advancing them by one hour. Then I woke my parents. How mom would hurry! Papa too! And when Mom was about to go to work, I slipped a note into her hand: "ask for the time" - and it was only 7 am, mom thought it was already 8 o'clock!

They give us a lot of homework, but I hope I will have at least an average of 15 at the first semester, this time.

I have problems with the repetition of"Land ofPrincesses" theatre piece that I wrote during the summer - my friends will not come regularly to learn it well. I'm sorry because Edith Princess (she is not capable of learning her lines).
I hope to become famous! Journalist, gymnast, dancer, actress or chemist, even what is inside a clock interests me.

August 2, 1947- 13 years old

I just returned from my vacation. I was in the same place as last year, but this time I have felt bad there.


Resist, persist
I was twelve years old and for the second time I went in the same private vacation camp with some girls of my mom’s friends.

It was directed by an Austrian friend of Mom who made me discover Bibi from Michaelis. A friend of hers was the owner of the house where we lived and also the cook, a very good one, she even taught me how to make two desserts. A village in the countryside, but it had a small swimming pool, woods with great spots.
A wing of the house was for girls, one for boys. Three children per room, from six years on, we were 9 girls in total. This year too, I was in the same room as Vera, who became my girl-friend, she was two years younger than me, and Edith, a beautiful and capricious girl, four years younger. The year before, we  understood well each other, but this year it had become unbearable.

"Do not touch that! Do not do that! I want this! "said Edith, but she touched all that was mine.
I did not know at the time that she was spoiled more then before, because the new husband (former communist when it was still illegal) of her mother had become Secretary of the Communist Party in Transylvania. At that time, that was the more important in the entire province. Edith could not be wrong, never from then on. I was only told: "because Edith is smaller." Later, he became assistant of Luca, Minister of Finance (1).

One day, the boys laughed at us at the pool and at night they came under our windows singing a serenade, of course only for her, the most beautiful girl. Furious, we took a glass of water and throw it out the window. After, they avoided us when we approached them on the street.

Edith complained about me several times and the instructor gave her reason each time. Wrongly, once, wrongly twice, wrongly thrice. Finally, I had enough, I did not want to stay there any more, I wanted to go home. There, they loved me, did not accuse me falsely.
I wrote a letter to my parents, "This is impossible here, just take me home. "
They called me: 'we’ll come Sunday, do not cry. "

Sunday arrived. My parents, too.

They took me to  the village bakery.

I burst  out and recounted all the injustices suffered. And the fact that the instructor does not change my room or give me reason and it was always me, accused wrongly because of this little pest, Edith. And now, even Vera began to take her part.

- I want to go, go home with you!
- Well, Mom said, you can.
- Come, walk with me in the forest, said Dad.
- I'll show you the source, I answered with pleasure. And you, Mom?
- Go ahead, we meet at the colony.
We started our walk.

I do not remember many arguments of my father, the fact is that during our walk he succeeded to convince me of the importance of persisting despite adversity and difficulties, not to leave, not to retreat.
Clench my teeth and wait for my hour, fight and not give up.

Enjoy the rest of the holidays in full, despite the Menace.

"There are only eight days and the holidays will be over. You can come back with us, but it would be better truly if you do not retreat, do not let to be overcome by adversity, learn to resist, and remain despite all! said my father. "

Back from our landlady, mom awaits us.
- So?
- So what?
- What have you decided, "asked Mom. Do you come with us?
- No, I’ll stay.
- I told you, Dad said with a grin. That's my girl!
They left.

I do not remember what happened next, during my vacation, except that I wrote a paper on the wall with humor and paintings about things that happened that year around us, and that even if they were not excellent, the rest of my vacation was not all bitter either. Edith and I did not quarrel so much and instead of crying, I read and swam.
I waited patiently or impatiently to return, again to be pampered by Mom.

Back home, Dad was waiting with two gifts: a bag and a suitcase. He had bet with my mom that he’ll be able to convince me to stay, not leave with them. Those were the rewards I got from him, because he succeeded teaching me, clenching teeth, to persist.

My mother drew different conclusions from the history. Then her daughter is old enough and it should not be petted any more! Oh, how I missed it by now! Be considered at age 13 as a grown up and responsible girl, was not much to my taste. It took a long time for me not to regret having given up, because my mother, especially no longer considered me or treated me as the little girl of the home.
I learned, to persisted despite the difficulties.

Today, I realize how much I owe to both parents. It was a big step to my becoming an adult, to get along in later life without running away. Learning to bite the bullet and continue.
December 25, 1947
I have not written in my diary since summer. it can’t even be called "diary" because I did wrote the most "important" only. I write "wrote" at past tense, because I am writing on its final pages.
I started with Christmas and will end with Christmas. The first date in this journal was December 25, 1944. I described four Christmases: 1944, 1945, 1946 and 1947, the latter, I will describe now shortly.

In rereading this "book" I see some development. I also I feel a big girl now, I am no longer a child. 

A few minutes ago, I looked in the mirror and I could not recognize myself, I've become so big, serious and (in my opinion) pretty girl.

Today I was down with flu and I stayed in bed. Vera and Edith came to visit me. They cut the braids of Edith, we’ll cut mine too, soon.

I will describe in this book this last Christmas.
We waited for Dad, he should have returned from Bucharest [1]. I was heartbroken as he could and would not arrive. My aunt and uncle were here, with my little cousin, and finally we lit the tree at 9 pm. I received five books, lots of postcards, three vases, a sweater, ski pants, a pencil and a beautiful, huge Christmas tree. So one could say, Christmas was good and rich. For now, I am the most pleased with the cards with my name on it and a blue chain.
It is the evening of December 25, 1947 
10 am and 17 minutes.
Dear diary
good night to you
I say goodbye!

[1] He worked more and more often in the capital by then

1 commentaire:

  1. I've read so far up to the comments on the first part... your account is fascinating and horrifying and harrowing in equal parts. I had no idea just how much you went through in your childhood; it's no wonder you've come out as such a strong person.