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Fenyves family recipe book

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2014.317.1

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    Fenyves family recipe book

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    The Fenyves family recipe book was prepared by Klári (Klara) Fenyves and is written in Hungarian. After the Fenyves family was forced to leave their apartment before deportation in May 1944, the family’s cook, Maris, entered the apartment and saved this cookbook and some of Klári Fenyves’ artwork. The cook returned the artwork and the recipe book to the surviving family members after the war.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Steven Joseph Fenves and the late Estera Fenjves Votaw
    Collection Creator
    Fenyves family
    Steven Fenves (Fenyves, Fenjves, 1931- ) was born on June 6, 1931 in Subotica, Yugoslavia, a town of 100,000 inhabitants with a Jewish population of nearly 6,000. His father, Lajos (Louis, 1890-1946), managed a publishing house and his mother, Klári (Klara, 1897-1944), was a graphic artist. Although they studied Serbian in school, Steven and his elder sister, Estera Fenyves (later Votaw, 1929-2012), spoke Hungarian and German at home.

    The Axis invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941 and five days later Subotica fell under Hungarian occupation. On the first day of the occupation Steven’s father was forced from his office at gunpoint and his business was handed over to a non-Jew, a process referred to as “Araynization.” Klári knitted shawls and the family had to sell all of their possessions, including Steven’s stamp collection, just to earn enough money to survive. Until May 1944 the Fenyveses lived in one corner of their apartment while Hungarian officers took over the rest of the family’s home.

    In March 1944, Germany occupied Hungary and thus Hungarian-occupied Yugoslavia as well. In April Lajos was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. Steven, his sister, mother and maternal grandmother were forced into the ghetto in Subotica in May 1944. On June 16, 1944 the Subotica Jews were rounded up and sent to the nearby transit camp of Bácsalmás. They remained for ten days before being deported to Auschwitz.
    After days locked in cattle cars with no food or water, they arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Steven, Estera, and Klári were selected for work but Steven’s grandmother was sent to the gas chambers; Klári perished few weeks later. The barracks were supervised by German Kapos, or overseers, and because he spoke fluent German, Steven was chosen to be an interpreter. Eventually Polish political prisoners took over the supervision of the barracks. One of them made Steven his interpreter and, with his knowledge of Serbian, Steven quickly became fluent in Polish. He became part of the Birkenau resistance, working on a roof repair detail that went from compound to compound, smuggling lists of prisoners and trading black market goods. He met his sister and was able to bring her a scarf and sweater, bartered on the black marker, before she was sent on a transport to another camp, likely a forced labor camp.

    In October 1944, Steven was smuggled out on a transport to Niederorschel, a satellite camp of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he spent nearly six months working on the assembly line in a Junkers aircraft factory. On the night of April 1-2, 1945, the inmates were led out on a death march; they entered Buchenwald late on April 10. After being herded into one of the barracks, Steven went to sleep. The next morning the camp was liberated by American soldiers from the 6th Armored Division. Steven returned home to Yugoslavia where he was reunited with his father and sister, but his father died a few months later. Steven returned to school where he was forced to join a communist youth organization or risk expulsion. He and Estera decided to leave Yugoslavia and in 1947 they escaped to Paris, France. After three years they immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago. Steven was drafted into the U.S. Army eighteen months later. After he was discharged he studied on the GI Bill, eventually earning his doctorate. Steven entered the computing field in the mid-1950s and devoted his 42-year academic career, at the University of Illinois and later at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, to the development of computer concepts and tools for civil engineers. Steven retired in 2009. He and his wife, Norma, live in Rockville, MD. Steven is a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    After being transported from Auschwitz concentration camp, Estera Fenyves Votaw (1929-2012), survived the Holocaust as a forced laborer in a lightbulb factory. She was liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945. In 1950, Estera and Steven immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois. In 1953, Estera married Albert Votaw (1925-1983). They had four daughters. Albert Votaw, an employee for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), died in a bombing of an embassy in Beirut, Lebanon on April 18, 1983. Estera Fenyves Votaw died on June 30, 2012.

    Physical Details

    1 oversize box
    System of Arrangement
    The Fenyves family recipe book is a single item.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    Steven J. Fenves Ph.D and Estera Fenyves Votaw donated the Fenyves family recipe book to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-03-21 17:10:37
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