Nazi “Party Houses”
Strangely enough, one of the safer ways to spend a few hours was in the company of young Nazis. When I met a group of them on the street, they always wanted to know where I was from and where was I heading. After telling my sob story, they would invite me to their party houses, offering me food and sometimes shelter for the night. These party houses were set up all over the city, in abandoned homes, shelters and basements. They were used to house the young Nazis, and store food, weapons, ammunition and robbed loot. Some of the larger houses also had cellars used for holding Jews and other “suspect” characters.
But mostly, these houses were places for young Nazis to hang out in between raids, a place where they could boast about their escapades and adventures. Their stories were, without fail, about the atrocities they had committed against Jews. They would compete to see who could use the foulest language to describe their victims, and who had the most vicious stories to tell. Beatings, rapes, executions, every possible method of degradation was employed by these children and recounted in great detail. Boys between the ages of 12 and 15 raped and killed young Jewish girls and women. Then they bragged about their exploits!
I couldn’t compete with their foul mouths, but I told them my tale about being a heroic refugee from the east, and I recounted in detail the horrible way in which the Red soldiers behaved towards us good Christian Hungarians. My delivery improved with each telling, the horror stories became more detailed, the atrocities worse. They declared in loud childish voices that they would defend Budapest and that the Russians would never be allowed to capture the city. I was an eyewitness and my stories had a ring of truth to them. I became popular.
For a few months, I ate, slept and hid wherever I could. Every day, the challenge to survive became harder and harder. The temperature dropped below zero early on in the winter of 1944. Sleeping under rubble, I would try to cover myself with an old overcoat or a blanket, but I was perpetually cold. And the little food I could find was never enough; I would sometimes go for a day or two without anything to eat. After a while, the hunger became less painful and the gut-wrenching stomach cramps eased. I would gnaw on a dry piece of bread, or on a piece of leather just to satisfy my craving to chew on something.