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Uncle Joe

Uncle Joe and the nieces. The two little ones died in Auschwitz.My uncle Joe was a master mechanic in the bicycle unit of the army. (Believe it or not, the mechanized units of the army rode bicycles!) He couldn’t repair a bike to save his life, but he had a few real mechanics who reported to him. Upon returning from trips to Hungarian towns and villages, Uncle Joe would tell us stories about Jewish life in the army and in the towns.

Although I didn’t personally experience racism in those early years, Jews in general did, very much so. At one time, Uncle Joe’s unit was ordered to confiscate all the bicycles from Jewish store owners. He went around, with his Hungarian mechanics in tow, advising the startled shopkeepers in Yiddish to hide their good bikes. Then he made a second round and collected the old, decripit bikes they had left behind in the stores.

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