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"My Story"

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2010.156

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    Overview

    Description
    Consists of one memoir, 42 pages, entitled "My Story," written in 2005 by Eva Biro Slott, originally of Szentes, Hungary. She describes her childhood in Hungary, the deaths of her parents in 1931, and living with various relatives. In 1944, she was living in Budapest and writes about the German invasion of Hungary. She was sent to forced labor but was soon released, returned to Budapest, and described life in wartime Budapest. After the war ended, she made her way to the American zone of Germany, reconnected with her brother, who had immigrated to the United States previously and was a member of the American Army, and immigrated to the United States.
    Date
    publication/distribution:  2000
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Robert and Irene Kawamoto
    Collection Creator
    Eva B. Slott
    Biography
    Eva Biro was born in Szentes, Hungary, on July 10, 1923, to Deszo and Regina Schelsinger Biro. Deszo was a prosperous merchant. Regina was from Kobanya near Budapest, and had eight siblings. Eva had a brother, Laszlo, born in 1925, and a half-sister, Anna, born in 1917, from her mother’s previous marriage. The family attended synagogue regularly. In 1931, Dezso died from a heart attack. Regina committed suicide. The family assets were auctioned and the money divided among the children. The children were placed with different uncles, all named Joseph: Anna went to her paternal uncle in Szentes and Laszlo to a maternal uncle in the US. Eva went to her paternal uncle and his wife, Elizabeth, in Mindszent, a childless couple who owned a leather business. In 1934, Elizabeth had a daughter, Judit. Eva’s half-sister did from complications due to childbirth. In 1937, Elizabeth died from breast cancer. Eva took care of Judit until Joseph remarried. After Eva graduated boarding school in Budapest, it was decided that, given the precarious position of Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe, the best preparation would be to learn a trade. She studied sewing in Szeged. After completing her studies, she left for Budapest where she found a job in a high end dressmaking salon. She lived with her maternal aunt, Janka Sipos, and her daughter, Elizabeth.
    On March 19, 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. On April 5, anti-Jewish decrees were issued: Jews had to wear a Star of David badge and obey a strict curfew. Eva, Janka, and Elizabeth were relocated into a Jews only building marked with a yellow star. People yelled and spit at them as they moved. The gate was left open and Eva snuck out to go to work. One day, two military cadets arrived from Mindszent, sent by her uncle to offer Eva a chance to return home. They would escort her home as a prisoner to get past the Germans. If Eva chose to remain, they had food and money from her uncle. Eva decided to remain, thinking it would be safer in a big city.
    On October 15, 1944, there was a German sponsored coup and the Arrow Cross, a fascist and viciously antisemitic party, was put in power. Brutality became the way of life. Outside Eva’s building, a Nyilas soldier held a man against a wall at gunpoint, yelled for everyone to watch, and shot him. There were frequent air raids. One night, their building was evacuated. Eva, Janka, and Elizabeth were marched towards the Danube River, and into the Dohany Street synagogue. They were held for two days with no food and water, then released.
    A decree was issued requiring all working age women to report to the horse track. Eva, Janka, and Elizabeth reported, and after a night in the stables, had to walk to a camp in Szentendre. Their guard, nicknamed Quasimodo, ordered them to dig ditches. Rations were soup and black bread, sometimes with excrement on it. The women told stories and recited recipes to deal with the hunger pains. Eva sent word to friends in Budapest explaining where they were. Their barracks were often searched for writing instruments and valuables. One day, some women were told to dig graves near the roll call line. Quasimodo came out with contraband and threatened to shoot every tenth person if the owners did not claim them. Eva stepped out of line to save her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth. But Quasimodo, satisfied with terrorizing the women, dismissed them.
    One Sunday, Quasimodo called Eva’s name. He gave her a Schutzpass, a Swedish protective document that allowed her to return to Budapest, and a train ticket. It had been sent to her by a family friend, Endre Szervanszky. In Budapest, she went to her cousin Zsuzsa’s building. It now was a Swedish protective house, marked with a Red Cross, for those with Schutzpasses. Eva did not find Zsuzsa, but settled in her two room flat with eleven others. The building’s owner, Mr. Polgar, was visiting and expressed concern that too many people lived there. Eva told him he should be more concerned with helping people survive.The next day, the building manager brought Eva to meet Polgar, who offered to hide Eva in his apartment. He provided her with false papers and a cover story that she had left to escape the Russians and was his maid. Afraid his housekeeper would be suspicious, he made Eva hid in the closet during the day. They eventually told the housekeeper the story and she helped protect Eva.
    Eva heard from a friend that Elizabeth had a baby boy, George, and that they, and Janka, had gone into hiding separately. Elizabeth and George pretended to be the family of Endre Szervanszky. Eva visited Elizabeth and, after talking it over with Polgar, decided to move there, posing as the maid. Air raids were continuous and everyone moved into the basement. Sheets partitioned cots for privacy. Food was scarce and George cried a lot. Other residents were annoyed and commented that there must be Jews hiding with them. Panicked, Eva went to the Szervanszky home and they decided to take her in. On the way back to Elizabeth, Eva was hit in the arm with shrapnel. She awoke in a Red Cross shelter, but there was no doctor and she lost a lot of blood. The next day, she was treated at a hospital. She went to live with the Szervanszky family, Endre, his parents, two sisters, and a brother; the boys had false documents to evade military service. Eva was given false papers.
    On December 13, 1944, the Red Army surrounded the city. Water was cut off and food scarce. They made meatloaf and soup from dead horses, they drank river water, and Eva scavenged for food. Buda was liberated on February 13, 1945. Eva found Elizabeth and George living in a church rectory. She retrieved her original papers, then went to live with Zsuzsa. One of first things she did was debug by having a bath and burning her clothes. Her Aunt Janka came out of hiding and another aunt and her two daughters returned from Auschwitz.
    Eva returned to Mindszent. She did not find any family or friends. Her guardian, Uncle Joseph, had been shot during a death march to Dachau. His wife, Sara, and daughter, Judit, were murdered in Auschwitz. Her Aunt Mariska was murdered in Auschwitz. Her old house had been looted of all furniture and Eva went door to door with a policeman and to retrieve the stolen items. She took in a family and an orphaned girl. Eva restarted her uncle’s leather business. She married a Catholic, Michael, and they prepared to escape Soviet controlled Hungary
    Before leaving, she learned that her brother, Laszlo, was in the US Army and searching for her. She got his picture and Army Post Office address. She and Michael were smuggled out by truck, but arrested at the Austrian border, transported back to Hungary, jailed for a few weeks. The day after their release, they escaped to Austria and arrived at the Rothschild Hotel, a distribution center for Eastern European Jews. They were put on a train for a dp camp in Austria, but jumped off and swam across the river to get into the American zone in Germany. They reached a displaced persons camp in Ulm. A letter Eva wrote to Laszlo was returned. She snuck into a building with a US flag and showed Laszlo’s picture and address to an officer who telephoned him. Laszlo did not speak Hungarian and Eva did not speak English, so the officer took the receiver and gave Laszlo Eva’s Ulm address. They finally met in Amberg. In November 1947, Eva received a call from her uncle, Joseph, in Los Angeles, California. He told Eva that he could only get her to the US if she divorced Michael. She reluctantly complied and arrived in LA on December 25, 1947. She worked as a dressmaker, then trained as a phlebotomist and began her career as an assistant to her uncle, a physician. Eva married Jonathan Slott. Eva died, age 86, on June 10, 2009.

    Physical Details

    Language
    English
    Extent
    1 folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    The donor, source institution, or a third party has asserted copyright over some or all of these material(s). The Museum does not own the copyright for the material and does not have authority to authorize use. For permission, please contact the rights holder(s).

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    Robert and Irene Kawamoto donated this memoir to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010. They were friends with Eva Biro Slott, who, before passing away, asked the Kawamotos to send her memoir to the Museum.
    Record last modified:
    2024-01-10 08:09:01
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn39785

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