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Hanna Marton

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5008 | Film ID: 3148, 3149, 3150, 3151, 3152, 3153, 3154, 3155, 3156, 3157

Hanna Marton is from Cluj (now Romania), formerly the capital of Transylvania. Both Hanna Marton and her husband were lawyers and Zionists. Marton was aboard the train organized by Rudolf (Rezso) Kasztner, carrying 1684 'privileged' Jews that left Hungary for Germany, eventually bringing them to Bergen-Belsen on 9 July 1944. Claude Lanzmann asks questions in French, which Hanna Marton understands, although she replies in Hebrew. Her answers are translated to French by Lanzmann's female translator, Francine Kaufmann. The transcript is in French only. Cluj was also known as Kolozsvar and Klausenburg. Both Lanzmann and Marton use the names Cluj and Kolozsvar interchangebly in the interview. The interview took place over two days in Mrs. Marton's apartment in Jerusalem.

FILM ID 3148 -- Camera Rolls #1-5 -- 01:00:00 to 01:29:53
Hanna Marton sits in a chair in front of some bookcases in her home. She holds her husband's diary, a small brown book with the date 1944 embossed on the front, in her lap. Lanzmann clarifies the three names for Cluj: Cluj, Kolozsvar, and Klausenburg. Marton says there were 15,000 Jews in Cluj during the war. She gives some history of the Jewish presence in Cluj, but says that her husband, who died a year and a half ago, knew much more than she does. Both Marton and her husband were Zionists, and she had no contact with the orthodox community. Marton's husband managed to remain working at a high school until June, 1942, when he was sent to the Russian front, returning towards the end of 1943. [CLIP 1 BEGINS] Marton's husband told her that the conditions were terrible, especially during the winter. Lanzmann points out that the Jews were fighting in the Hungarian army, which was in turn fighting with the German army. Marton gives more details about how the Jews were treated by the Hungarians.

FILM ID 3149 -- Camera Rolls #6-8 -- 02:00:00 to 02:32:45
Marton received letters from her husband at first but then none came for eight months. The retreat of the Hungarian army was chaotic and the Jews received good treatment from some Russian peasants. Marton says that her husband told her there was an instance where Jews and Wehrmacht soldiers slept together in the same bed in the home of some Russian peasants. [CLIP 2 BEGINS] Of the 60,000 Jews who were sent to the Russian front only 5,000 returned. Marton says that as far as she recalls, in 1942 she did not know about the fate of the Polish Jews, but that she thinks she was aware by 1944, when the Germans took over Hungary. She thinks that most people knew but they didn't want to believe it, and that they followed the orders of the Germans because of a respect for the law. Marton describes how the Jews were ghettoized in Cluj, in May, 1944. They did not receive instructions from the Judenrat and the entire process was conducted by the Hungarians.

FILM ID 3150 -- Camera Rolls #9-11 -- 03:00:00 to 03:33:30
The Jews of Cluj were concentrated in a brickyard and slept outside. The first transport left the brickyard within days, and many people volunteered to be on it. Marton had never heard the name Auschwitz at that point. Lanzmann asks Marton about her relationships with the Danzig and Fischer families. Dr. Fischer was Rudolf [Rezso] Kasztner's father-in-law. Marton did not see Kasztner in Cluj. The members of the Judenrat were the last to arrive in the ghetto; they arrived on May 15. [CLIP 3 BEGINS] Marton describes how she first heard from her husband that there was a list of people who would be on a special transport, a transport that would not go to the same destination as the others (the so-called Kasztner Train). She says that she did not want to be part of this special group but her husband convinced her to go. They knew that their fates would be better than that of the Jews who were not on the list. Lanzmann asks Marton what she thought the selection criteria were and says she had no knowledge of a resuce committee in Budapest, that she thought that the list must have been compiled by "our people," the Zionists. Changes were made to the original list for various reasons. Transports were departing regularly and people had realized that the people on these transports would suffer a terrible fate. People made every effort to be a part of the special transport. [CLIP 4 BEGINS] Lanzmann lays out the accusations that have been leveled against Kasztner since the end of the war: that Kasztner chose only his own family and other important people to go on the transport, and that he did not warn the people of Cluj and others that they were destined for extermination.

FILM ID 3151 -- Camera Rolls #12-14 -- 04:00:00 to 04:32:39
[CLIP 5 BEGINS] Marton says that perhaps if the people of Cluj had been warned that the deportations meant death then a minority of them would have tried to escape. She says that the Jews simply could not escape the ghetto and that these events were happening all across Europe, not just in Hungary. On June 7th the last transport left Cluj for Auschwitz, so that only the 388 people who were assigned to the special transport remained in the ghetto. Lanzmann asks Marton how they lived with that, how did they look each other in the eye? Marton says that they were in a state of shock, and further that they did not know at the time exactly what awaited them, where they would go, or that it was certain that they would live. Lanzmann and Marton consult Mr. Marton's diary, which provides some detail about who was on the list. Most of those on the list were Zionists. Marton insists that there were some poor people who were part of the group. Marton tells a story about two people from the train who ended up being imprisoned in the Nojverod (??) ghetto. They met Marton's father and were able to assure him that she was on her way to Palestine. Her father said that now he accepted his fate, knowing that she was safe. The transport reached Budapest and they stayed in the Columbus Kasse until June 30th. By the time they left Budapest the transport had swelled to 1684 people. Lanzmann quotes Kasztner about the makeup of the transport and asks Marton how those in the transport were selected, but Marton says she has no idea. She does know, however, that some people refused their places on the transport. One of these people was Jeno Heltai, a Hungarian writer and a couisn of Thedor Herzl. Lanzmann and Marton discuss the composition of the list.

FILM ID 3152 -- Camera Roll #15 -- 05:00:00 to 05:10:36
They continue to discuss the makeup of the list. Marton says that Kasztner's use of the the term "Noah's Ark" to describe the transport was correct, and that there were people from all classes on the list. She says that by the time they were travelling on the transport they knew the fate of the rest of the Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz. There was a rumor on the transport that their train was going to Auschwitz. Lanzmann points out that a panic broke out because the passengers confused Auschwitz with another town that they passed through (Auschbitz?). Marton quotes from her husband's diary about this panic.

FILM ID 3153 -- Camera Roll #16 -- 06:00:00 to 06:11:27:30
Lanzmann reviews what Marton has told him about two panics that occurred among the members of the Kasztner transport: one when the passengers confused the words Aushbitz (? a town in Czechoslovakia) with Auschwitz, and another panic that occurred in Linz: when the passengers were ordered into showers for disinfection the Polish Jews thought they would be gassed. Marton says that during the journey they did not know where they were being sent. They arrived eventually at Celle and walked to Bergen-Belsen. Marton checks her husband's diary and states the number of people of various age groups who were part of the transport.

FILM ID 3154 -- Camera Roll #17 -- 07:00:00 to 07:11:18
[CLIP 6 BEGINS] Marton describes the conditions at Bergen-Belsen. She says that the group was lead by Dr. Fischer and that the Jews participated in holiday observances, lectures, and other activities. She does not remember the Germans entering their barracks and thus they were free to pursue such activities. Dr. Fischer had the contacts with the Germans. The group stayed at Bergen-Belsen from July until December, 1944, although a group of about 300 left for Switzerland in August.

FILM ID 3155 -- Camera Rolls #18-19 -- 08:00:00 to 08:21:40
[CLIP 7 BEGINS] Lanzmann asks Marton how those Jews who were on the Kasztner transport could live with themselves, knowing that the other Jews of Cluj were killed, and Marton says that they asked themselves why they were chosen. She says further that one should blame the Nazis for instituting such a system, rather than those who were forced by the Nazis to make the decisions about who would live and who would die. Hermann Krumey, Eichmann's second in command, announced to them that those Jews of Hungarian citizenship would leave for Switzerland first. Marton describes crossing the border from Germany, which was dark and gloomy, into the well-lit territory of Switzerland. They spent their first night in St. Gallen. Marton did not return to Cluj until 1968, having made a vow never to go back there, and she regretted it when she did visit in 1968. Marton still keeps in touch with friends from Cluj. In response to a question from Lanzmann Marton says that she still lives with the guilt of being one of those who survived, although her husband, being a fatalist, did not feel guilty.

FILM ID 3156 -- Camera Rolls #20-21 -- 09:00:00 to 09:17:10
Marton knew Kazstner for many years before the Holocaust, and she thinks that the Kazstner trial was one of the most terrible things she has seen since coming to Israel. [CLIP 8 BEGINS] Lanzmann asks her whether she thinks that perhaps Kazstner went too far, and Marton says no. Marton says that in Israel she feels like she can never be hunted down again. Lanzmann asks her why she has had tears in eyes throughout the interview. Marton says it is a problem with her eyes but that sometimes she is crying real tears, especially since the death of her husband. The camera focuses on a portrait of Marton's husband.

FILM ID 3157 -- Camera Rolls #5A,1A-B,21A-C,19A,9A-B,13A-C,15A,18A-B -- 10:00:00 to 10:14:03
No audio. Panning shots around Marton's living room, including books and art. Marton looks through her husband's diary. Lanzmann sits across from her while she reads. Shots of Lanzmann as he listens to Marton speak (she is not in the frame). Close-ups of Marton and of the diary.

Event Date
October 10-11, 1979
Jerusalem, Israel
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
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Record last modified: 2018-03-07 13:22:43
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