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Oral history interview with Sándor Gombita

Oral History | Accession Number: 2011.288.10 | RG Number: RG-50.670.0010

Sandor Gombita, born in 1928 in Vásárosnamény, discusses his close relationship with Jews and their integration into society before the war; how his father worked as a postman and delivered mail to Jews; how Jewish twin sisters taught his sister how to cook and allowed her to visit the mikvah; his best friend, a son of a Rabbi, who would purchase wine for his father from a Jewish vintner; his memories of hanging out with the Ragged Guards (Rongyos Gárda) in Vásárosnamény; his memories of two Ragged Guards visiting a clothing store and mocking the Jewish store owner who then gave them four sets of clothes for free; his childhood Jewish friends cutting off their payos when new antisemitic laws were introduced in 1938; joining the military in accordance to a new 1939 law requiring boys over 10 years old to serve; working as a gendarme messenger to the Jews; reporting how wealthy Jews must pay 500 to 1000 pengos; his memories of friends leaving for mandatory military service; working patrol duty at the Bran Castle where 50 to 60 poor Jewish families were captive; the unsanitary living conditions at Bran Castle; accompanying a boy named Sanyi Ehrenfeld from Bran Castle to the boy’s house; finding out the Jewish families at Bran Castle had been relocated to an unknown location; his Jewish teacher at school who said goodbye to her students in 1939; attending Szalasi’s speech in 1940 where he announced Jews were causing oppression; his father slapping him when he sang Arrow Cross antisemitic songs; graduating from high school in June of 1943 and working in factories; working as an administrative officer in finance and county chief offices; witnessing the closing of Jewish stores and restaurants; writing a letter of protection for the Jewish stationary shop owner when gendarmes threatened to close his store; seeing Jews deported in horse carts to Kisvárda; hearing about Jewish clothes taken to a warehouse; his mother’s work on a team that organized and mailed clothes to an unknown location; his mother stealing clothes for him; the organization of Jewish furniture and valuables and items used as dowry for women; his memories of playing the piano in the Bran Castle; being sent to the KALOT Catholic Association’s secretary where they replaced his Arrow Cross with a Catholic cross; seeing vacated Jewish houses; hearing that people requested property ownership from the government postwar; his friend Sanyi Grunberger forging a document stating his leave from the military, and the chief administrative officer signing the document to make it legitimate; hearing about Arrow Cross members brought to trial and sent to the detention camp at Mátészalka; hearing about the looting of furniture and goods in storage at a synagogue in September 1944; and hearing about the military guarding particular furniture and returning it to the appropriate Jewish families after the war.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Sándor Gombita
Borbála Kriza
interview:  2011 October 03
3 videocassettes (DVCAM) : sound, color ; 1/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2021-03-25 09:06:11
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