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Oral history interview with Lily Kalman

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.271.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0892

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

Lily Kalman, born on January 27, 1929 in Berettyóújfalu, Hungary, discusses her parents and two brothers; her father’s death when she was seven years old; her family’s Jewish traditions; her mother’s decision to place her and her younger brother in orphanages when she was eight years old; her feelings about the all-girls orphanage; attending an all-girls public school; the relationship between Hungarian Jews and non-Jews; many teachers’ attitudes towards Jewish students; her mother’s work selling poultry in Budapest; sneaking out of the orphanage to go to her aunt’s house for food; her mother’s sporadic visits; her older brother’s and her uncles’ time in forced labor battalions; seeing Paul, her older brother, while he was stationed outside of Budapest during his forced labor service; learning about the Anschluss, annexation of the Sudetenland, and start of World War II through radio and newspapers and the general reaction of non-Jews in Budapest; rationing; hearing about ghettoization and deportations outside of Hungary; learning about the German occupation of Hungary; the closures of the girls’ and boys’ orphanages and going to live with her aunt; her guilt about telling Laszlo, her younger brother, to return to Berettyóújfalu, from where he was later deported to Auschwitz with her mother, grandmother, and other family members; being forced to move to a starred house and the living conditions there; her aunt going into hiding with her husband and stepson; going into hiding, with Paul’s help, in the apartment of a Christian woman; hearing rumors about the Arrow Cross shooting people at the Danube River; risking a visit to friends who still lived in the ghetto; the suspicions of a neighbor’s daughter, who was dating a German soldier; witnessing the beating of an older Jewish woman; learning about the deportations of her mother, brother, and grandmother from a friend from Berettyóújfalu, who was deported with them; never learning how Paul died in the forced labor service; leaving the Christian woman’s apartment during the Siege of Budapest and reuniting with her aunt at her hiding place; liberation by the Soviets; the scarcity of food and water during the Siege of Budapest and after liberation; hearing stories of rape and looting by the Soviet soldiers; returning to Berettyóújfalu with her aunt, uncle, and her uncle’s son; learning later that a cousin had given birth during her transport to Auschwitz; marrying her husband, a policeman and survivor of a forced labor battalion, in 1949; her work at the Ministry of the Interior; life under communism; the births of her two sons; her husband’s wish to immigrate to America and her reaction; her experiences in Budapest during the 1956 Revolution; her husband’s connections in Austria; her family’s trek to Vienna and later flight to New York; adjusting to life in the US; making her New York apartment a home; taking night classes to learn English; returning to Hungary many times over the years for vacation; meeting many other survivors in New York; buying a house; thinking about her experiences during the Holocaust more often now; and the importance of remembering the events of the Holocaust.

Lily Kalman
Katherine Saint John
2016 August 22  (interview)
creation : Benicia (Calif.)
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:26:49
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