German Aggression Continues
In August 1940, following the partition of Poland between the Nazis and the Soviets, Horthy was once again called upon to express his support of Nazi Germany. The reward was not long in coming: Transylvania. This large, mountainous region, with some one million Hungarians forming the majority of the population, had been given to Romania after World War I in the Trianon Peace Treaty of 1920. In 1940, Hungary went to “liberate” the oppressed and reoccupied the region.
Father was called up to participate in this campaign and returned shortly afterwards, shortly after my eighth birthday. But not for long. The international jockeying continued, with Germany making more and more demands. This time it was Yugoslavia. When Father returned home, he never talked to us about his military exploits but we heard him telling mother in hushed tones about the last campaign. Antisemitism was now rampant in the army and Jewish servicemen were subjected to every kind of humiliation and physical punishment. I didn’t know what Father’s personal experiences were but he looked taut, pale and tense.
Our family intensified efforts to obtain American visas. Letters went back and forth to New York, but the only tangible evidence we had of our family there were pictures showing fat, smiling, content people, wearing fancy fashions we had only seen in the movies, leaning on a large, shiny car. With their careless, carefree, self-satisfied smiles, our American relatives looked to us as if they were living on the moon.