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A Young Nazi Is Born…

I had heard stories about young Jews stealing uniforms and pretending to be Nazis. I thought: ‘This is a brilliant idea! Why can’t I do that?‘ I just had to steal the necessary clothing and a few documents.

It was surprisingly easy. There were many bodies on the sidewalks and in building doorways, as they were no longer collected off the streets. Jews, people suspected of being Jewish, and soldiers who were caught hiding among the civilian population were all shot on the spot. Fortunately, with the cold weather, the corpses froze, preventing the spread of disease. So there was a constant supply of dead bodies with valuable documents, weapons, army and nazi uniforms, shoes, boots, and so on.

As the air raid marshals no longer supervised the streets, I could, in relative safety, scout around for a corpse to strip of its belongings. It had to be done swiftly and adroitly. I spotted the body of a young person about my size, lying under the ruins. Many of these poor soldiers were children who had been conscripted in the emergency rush of the past weeks. I crawled up to him, took his leather jacket, boots, money, and documents. From another corpse, I peeled off the nazi armband and wide belt with a holster. From a third body, I obtained a weapon and bullets.

Now I was dressed and armed like a little Nazi. The clothes didn’t fit me perfectly, but the streets were full of urchins wandering around in oversized overcoats, with hats covering their eyes. Budapest, in November, 1944, was no fashion show.

That first time I “robbed” a corpse, I had to fight the feeling that it was actually alive, that it would open its eyes, slap my hand, and say, “Don’t touch me!” It was so strange to touch a dead body, but after doing it a few times, I got used to it.

It also took some getting used to being a member of the “select race,” the worst scum my beloved city had ever produced. But with a little practice, I managed to shout the nazi greeting just as loudly as anyone else, while stretching out my right arm: “Hang in there, Brother! Long live Szálasi!

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