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Frantisek K. Holocaust testimony (HVT-3854) interviewed by Péter Hunčík

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-3854

Videotape testimony of Frantisek K., who was born in Dunajská Streda, Czechoslovakia (presently Slovakia) in 1924, the youngest of three children. He recounts his siblings were thirteen and fourteen years older than he; his family's affluence; attending a Hungarian-Jewish school; his father's election to city government; his father teaching him German; his sister's marriage in 1933; participating in Jewish scouting; attending a Jewish school in Vrbové in 1936 and 1937 to learn Slovak; friendship with his future wife; Hungarian occupation in 1938; immediate confiscation of his father's business; a non-Jewish neighbor's unsuccessful attempt to prevent looting of their possessions; apprenticing in his father's tailor shop, then with another tailor after his father lost his business permit; moving to Budapest with his parents in 1941; working with a tailor whose clients were wealthy and famous; his father's arrest; visiting him in Komárom; incarceration with him for a night when he smuggled food to him; his father's transfer to Kistarcsa, where he became ill; visiting him in the hospital; smuggling food in and letters out; his father's release; returning with him to Dunajská Streda; posing as a non-Jew to work in a tailor shop; learning the owner was in the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazi party); training with the non-Jewish paramilitary youth group; meeting Ference Szálasi, national head of the Arrow Cross; working from home, fearing discovery; German occupation in March 1944; ghettoization; draft into a Hungarian slave labor battalion; his father being beaten, resulting in his inability to walk; deportation of his parents, grandmother, sister and his future wife's family (none survived); and slave labor in Komárom, then Győr.
Mr. K. recalls a privileged assignment as a tailor; one of the officers bringing packages to his group, a kindness for which he is still grateful; in November walking to the Austrian border; transport with the fifty-two men from his town to Buchenwald, then Schlieben; slave labor transporting pipes; Allied bombing destroying the factory; transfer to Flössberg, where there were no buildings; forming a work detail with 30 men from his town; diminishing rations resulting in many starving to death; a beating, then having to kneel in snow all night (his spine was broken in three places); transfer to the infirmary; assignment as the doctors' translator; train transfer to Mauthausen in April (three were left from his group); carrying the weakest from the train to the camp; liberation on May 5; finding two girls from their town; traveling with Czechs to Olomouc; assistance from the Red Cross; returning home via Prague; reunion with his brother (he survived in the Czech military); tenuous health; his brother caring for him; marriage to his childhood sweetheart; not being able to get back their family home or any property, despite having the deeds; finding the person who had his father's sewing machine (he sabotaged it before grudgingly returning it); his brother's emigration to Israel; remaining due to his poor health; losing his job in 1958 due to antisemitism; and the restitution law being structured so Jews could not benefit. Mr. K. shows photographs and documents and describes images of his experiences that haunt him to the present.

Author/Creator
K., Frantisek, 1924-
Published
Bratislava, Slovakia : Milan Šimečka Foundation, 1995
Interview Date
December 18, 1995.
Language
Hungarian
Copies
3 copies: 1/2 in. VHS master; Betacam SP submaster; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Frantisek K. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-3854). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.