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Oral history interview with George Denes

Oral History | Accession Number: 1999.A.0122.51 | RG Number: RG-50.477.0051

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

George Denes, born on September 9, 1936 in Budapest, Hungary, describes his family and early life; the fates of different family members; growing up Jewish but not Orthodox; the beginning of the war at which point his father was sent to the front to perform forced military labor and his return before the German occupation began; antisemitism before and during the war; Polish refugees arriving in 1939 and 1940; the belief amongst Hungarian Jews that the Nazi policies would not affect them; the German occupation and his father relocating the immediate family to another part of the city; his mother working as a nurse for a wealthy family while he and his brother stayed in a "private day care" for Jewish children; being discovered and escaping; his father acquiring false papers for the family (new surname was Faketta); staying with an older Christian woman until her son, a Nazi sympathizer, had the boys and their father arrested and taken to a local Nazi headquarters; being imprisoned in the basement of the building with other Jews and some other people arrested by the Nazis; being taken on December 29, 1944 with his family to the river to be shot by the Nazis and being saved when the German army prevented the Hungarian Nazis from shooting in this area; escaping the prison a few days later; reuniting with his mother and going with his family to the eastern side of the river; hiding for several weeks in the basement of a villa; having difficulties acquiring food and being near starvation by the time the Red Army liberated the city; being given food, baths, and clean clothes by the Russians; attending a Jewish high school after the war; being refused by the university because he attended a religious high school; befriending the head of the university's engineering department and being accepted the following year (1956) [note that the first interview includes family photographs]; the revolutionary period following 1956 as well as his life as a university student in mechanical engineering; everyday life in post-war Communist Hungary, including some analysis of the political and social climate of that period; his life after the revolution, including his marriage, the birth of his son, and his military career; his family's two attempts to defect, once without help, and once with help (the second one was successful); the time they spent in Vienna, Austria while their refugee status was established; the help given to them by HIAS; the medical care given to Robert, who had contracted typhus during their escape; his life in the United States, including his career as an electrical engineer working in semiconductors and his divorce; and his state of mind at various points in his life.

Interviewee
George Denes
Date
1992 May 28  (interview)
1992 July 28  (interview)
1992 October 14  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 videocassettes (SVHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, acquired from Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:51:56
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn507722