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Railway Transports

Jews rounded up for deportation by the Hungarian gendarmerie.Railway stations were guarded by soldiers and declared out-of-bounds to the civilian population, so we were unable to help the victims with food or water supplies. But the railway workers were there and heard the cries and pleadings. Some risked their own safety to smuggle cans of water into the cattle cars or to pick up little pieces of paper thrown out through the barbed wire-covered windows, with names and phone numbers of relatives to call. The workers delivered these sad messages and proved to be decent human beings.

Our home was close to the railway line. I often felt tempted to watch these trains roll by. But that was one thing I never found the courage to do. I was afraid to see those trains. Perhaps I feared seeing the face of one of my relatives peering out through the wired-up small windows. Or hearing their cries for help, as the trains rolled by. We had countless family members– grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and others–living outside Budapest. Mother and I knew that we would probably never see any of them again.

We in Budapest were protected from deportation for the time being. We were kept alive so we could be used as pawns for future negotiation. As long as the liquidation process was going on in the countryside, Eichmann was satisfied and was willing to bide his time.

Jews at a transport camp near Budapest, awaiting deportation.We knew which towns were being emptied and when. Frequently, pieces of paper were thrown out of the train windows, naming the locations the “passengers” were from and sending messages to their surviving relatives in Budapest. We also knew that the whole horrendously large and complex exercise was carried out entirely by the Hungarians. Usually the gendarmes were responsible for the rounding up of Jews at the train stations. There, mostly Hungarian and a few German soldiers assisted in the loading onto the cars. Supposedly, the liquidation of the Hungarian Jewry was carried out by fewer than 200 German soldiers.

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