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Csengeri family photograph collection

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.622.1

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    Csengeri family photograph collection
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    Overview

    Description
    The collection consists of pre-World War II, wartime, and post-war photographs of the Csengeri family, originally of Hungary. The photographs depict twin sisters, Lea and Yehudit Csengeri, who survived experiments performed by Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. Includes photographs sent by their mother, Rosalia, to their father, Zvi, while he was in a labor camp in Ukraine.
    Date
    inclusive:  1935-1948
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Yehudit Barnea and Lea Huber
    Collection Creator
    Csengeri family
    Biography
    Yehudit Barnea (born Yehudit Csengeri) and her twin sister Lea are the daughters of Zvi Csengeri (b. 1/7/14) and Rosalia (Rosie) Engel Csengeri (b. 4/25/16). Zvi and Rosie were married on August 2, 1936. The twins were born on June 6, 1937 in Simleu Silvaniei, Transylvania, Hungary where Zvi owned wine cellars and exported wine. The children grew up in Budapest cared for by teachers and governesses. The family was religious and Zionist. Yehudit and Lea started first grade at a Hungarian school.

    In 1942 Zvi, their father, was into a Hungarian forced labor battalion and taken to the Ukraine. Though he was told he was only going for four weeks, he did not return until 1945. In March 1944 Germany occupied Hungary and immediately began instituting anti-Jewish decrees. On May 4, 1944 Yehudit, Lea and their mother Rosie were taken first to a brick factory that served as a transit camp and from there were deported to Auschwitz. Rosie managed to send her husband a postcard telling him about the deportation. Besides Yehudit and Lea, there were sixteen other sets of twins on the transport, and upon their arrival in Auschwitz the twins were separated from the rest of the transport. Since Yehudit and Lea would not let go of their mother, Rosie was selected to accompany the children to camp II b. There the twins were tattooed and given short haircuts. Rosie asked another prisoner what had happened to the rest of their family. She was told that they were all being gassed and burned and she and the girls had been saved only due to the fact that they were twins. Josef Mengele and other Nazi physicians took blood samples, measurements and photographs of their bodies, and injected them with various pathogens. One day Rosie tried to stop Mengele from drawing her twins' blood; as a result he injected her with meningitis virus. After a second injection, she lost her hearing completely and her speaking was affected as well. Rosie worked disposing of bodies from the infirmary in Auschwitz in order to stay close to her daughters. She escaped being sent to the gas chamber three different times when it was decided that she was not needed any more.

    When the Germans evacuated Auschwitz in early January 1945, many of the twins including the Csengeris girls stayed behind and were more or less on their own for the next few weeks, until Soviet troops liberated the camp in late January. Rosie and her daughters settled temporarily in the nearby town of Katowice. When she learned that two other Mengele twins, Miriam and Esther Mozes, were living nearby in an orphanage, Rosie took them in and cared for them along with her own daughters for the next half a year. She brought all the children back to Simleu Silvaniei where they reunited with Zvi. The twins recognized their father instantly since Rosie had managed to keep photographs of him. Nine months later, Rosie gave birth to a son Michael, and Yehudit and Lea resumed first grade in a Rumanian school. Yehudit, Leah, her parents and younger brother moved to Israel in 1960, and Yehudit married two years later. Her parents lived to see nine great grandchildren born.

    Physical Details

    Language
    Hungarian
    Genre/Form
    Photographs.
    Extent
    1 folder

    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

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    Yehudit Barnea and Lea Huber donated the photographs to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:10:15
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn515221