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Oral history interview with Louis Bakay

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.338.1 | RG Number: RG-50.037.0001

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

Dr. Louis Bakay, born in 1917 in Hungary, describes growing up in a non-Jewish family in Budapest; his father being a professor of surgery at the medical school in Budapest; attending the medical school; becoming a surgeon in the Hungarian Army around 1942; conditions in Hungary during the war; antisemitism in Eastern European countries, especially in the lower classes in the cities; restrictions on Jews; the German occupation and the emergence of Hungarian Nazis; the atrocities against the Jews starting; the deportation of Jews, including some of his friends, in 1944; Admiral Horthy being unsuccessful in his attempts to limit the deportations; people not believing the stories of exterminations; listening to BBC broadcasts in Hungarian, which were full of obvious misinformation; the story of a respected Jewish lady in a university town, where the whole faculty came to the deportation station to see her off as a sign of solidarity instead of trying to hide her; Jews being hunted down during the last few months of the war; working for the Red Cross in the fall of 1944; meeting Wallenberg and the Catholic Church saving a number of Jews; Jewish refugees and working in a large monastery where he performed many operations under difficult conditions and had unqualified assistants (he shows a photograph of one operation); his hospital work during the winter of 1945 and 1946; the difficult conditions in Hungary after the war; seeing the return of concentration camp survivors; not knowing if his parents survived for two years but finding them later; deciding to leave Hungary in 1947; going first to Prague, Czech Republic and then to Stockholm, Sweden; being invited to Boston, MA to work at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard where he stayed until 1961; moving to Buffalo, NY; getting married to a Canadian woman in Boston; his daughter and son; believing he is better off in the US than he would have been in Hungary; visiting Hungary with his children; a book published in Hungarian in the 1970s which credits him with his surgical work in the monastery; and his reflections on the war and Holocaust.

Interviewee
Louis Bakay
Date
1990 March 05  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:36:38
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn511760