“Well, the accent, ‘not from these ere parts’ as they say in South Carolina. My mum was spirited out of Budapest shortly before the Nazis arrived in 1944. We knew if they did come it would be our own Kristallnacht before the inevitable one way trip to Auschwitz.
It would be one of the first things they did to address their ‘Jewish Question’; you know this as the ‘Final Solution’. Our Hungarian National Socialists were by this time totally mesmerised by Nazism, they managed to self-believe that whatever the Nazis were about, it was the right thing. They formed their own ‘Jedenkommando’ and set about with lightning speed. Within two months four hundred and forty thousand Jews from various regions were on that one-way trip. They had by then formed their own version of the Nazi party, the Arrow Cross. Thugs. Hatred based on self-belief and misguided ideology.
But my grandparents saw this coming. My mum was four years old when gran told her she was going on a long holiday with some friends. Gran’s tears told mum her lies. But even then mum knew she had to go. I think there was around twenty five other children with my mum; from those just who had just started to walk to those ready for high school. And they all had the same apprehension. Without understanding what was happening they all knew they would never return. Or see their own mum and dad again”.
Orsolya took a long drink.
“But the Nazis had underestimated the onslaught of the Soviets and the determination of the Jewry to survive.
Budapest became a major battleground of that war but that did not reduce the cause or the drive of the Nazis. They did their damndest to wipe us out. They failed, with our ghetto being the only one that survived that goddam war.
And then the Soviets came. Jews, like Christians, like any other sect in what was a society starting to find its roots, were systematically destroyed”.
She took more wine.
“I was born in the US in 1988. Everything was just so stable. Work hard, get educated, vote, and see the US go to unnecessary wars. All that stuff. My mum died 2005, when I was seventeen. After the funeral I was handed a personal letter by my dad, it contained all the information I just told you. And more, much more. So it was a ‘no-brainer’, I told dad I had to go to Budapest to find out more, to go home. Dad’s reaction was instantaneous. He said ‘let’s go’. Dad had had some investments as well as some cash. Within a year we were living in Budapest where I finished my university in the now free and thriving society. I made friends easily with everyone. You see, we share a drive. To protect our country and to make sure we keep our freedom”.
At that moment Janos reappeared with another bottle of Zsolt’s Bock. Orsolya looked at Janos and said ‘Hi’ with a little nod. Orsolya then turned to me and said, “Meet Janos…….my dad”.
Not only was I starting to really understand, I could now feel that understanding as well.