Hungarian Jewish teenagers climb a wooden tower in a Zionist summer camp.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 10645
Circa 1940 - 1943
- Photo Designation
NAZI SATELLITE STATES -- Hungary -- JEWS -- Daily Life/Families/Weddings -- Before the German Occupation
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Paul & Anna Ornstein
Hungarian Jewish teenagers climb a wooden tower in a Zionist summer camp.
- Anna Ornstein (born Anna Brunn) is the daughter of Wilmos (b. 1883) and Zsofi (b. 1898) Brunn. She was born on January 27, 1927 in Szendro Hungary where her father owned a building materials and hardware store. She had two older brothers, Paul (b. 1922) and Endre (b. 1924). The family were Orthodox Zionists but spoke Hungarian at home. Anna attended elementary school in a one room Jewish school attached to the synagogue, but she and her brothers had to go away for high school. Anna attended the Jewish Gymnasium in Debrecen where she lived with her Aunt Piri. However, since there were very few Jewish Gymnasiums in Hungary, Paul attended a Catholic high school and Endre attended a Protestant high school, both in Miskolc. While in Debrecen, Anna met Paul Ornstein, a cousin of her aunt, who stopped to visit on December 24, 1941. In July 1942 Paul rode his bicycle to Szendro for a surprise visit, and the two maintained a long distance romance through letters and infrequent visits. Though the Hungarian government discriminated against Jews, their lives were not in danger until Germany invaded on March 19, 1944. A few days later, Paul's younger brother unexpectedly arrived in Debrecen to escort Anna to the Ornstein home in Hajdunanas. However, after a few days, Anna decided that she needed to return to her own parents in Szendro. She arrived home to learn that her brothers had already been conscripted for forced labor. Anna and her parents were sent to a small ghetto consisting of three buildings was and then transferred to a larger ghetto in Miskolc. From there, Anna, her parents and grandmother were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in June 1944. Her father and grandmother were killed immediately. After approximately two weeks, Anna and Zsofi were taken to work in a stone quarry in Plaszow. Three months later, in September 1944, they returned to Auschwitz where they were tattooed. Anna's number was given number A20071. Six weeks later, Anna and Zsofi were transferred to the Parschnitz labor camp in Czechoslovakia. Anna worked in the airplane factory while her mother worked outdoors with other elderly women cleaning rusty scrap metal. While in Parschnitz Anna contracted typhoid fever, but Polish prisoner nurses protected her to prevent her deportation back to Auschwitz. Anna and her mother were liberated from Parschnitz on May 8, 1945 by the Soviet army and returned to Budapest with about fifty other women. They then moved to Rakosszentmihaly where Anna finished high school, and Zsofi Brunn directed a Jewish orphanage. They discovered that neither Anna's father nor her two brothers, Paul and Endre survived the war. However, Anna did reunite with her boyfriend, Paul Ornstein.
Paul Ornstein is the son of Lajos (b. 1896) and Frieda Cziment Orenstein (b.1903). He was born on April 4, 1924 in Hajdunanas Hungary. After serving in World War I, Lajos founded a bank only to lose his fortune in the 1929 crash. He then became an accountant and tax advisor for a flour mill. However, after anti-Jewish legislation prohibited him from working for non-Jewish firms, he again switched professions and became a secretary to the Jewish community. Paul helped support his family by tutoring younger children. Paul had four younger siblings: Judith (b. 1926), Zoltan (b. 1928), Tibor (b. 1931) and Lazlo (b. @1936). The family was religiously observant but spoke Hungarian at home. Paul attended a secular elementary school and cheder. Paul had hoped to immigrate to Palestine in 1939 but was unable to receive the necessary papers before the outbreak of the war. Instead he went to Budapest to study Jewish history and philosophy in the Neologue rabbinic seminary. His two brothers attended the Jewish gymnasium in Debrecen, and his sister studied to become a dental technician in Budapest. Paul's father, Lajos Ornstein, was conscripted into a forced labor battalion for six months in 1941. After the March 1944 German invasion, rabbinic students were forced to work in a transit camp at site of the seminary, though they still were permitted to live in their dormitory. However, in June Paul had to join a forced labor battalion on the outskirts of Buda where he was put to work building an airfield. After six weeks he was sent to the Russian front to dig ditches for brutal Hungarian soldiers and barely avoided being shot. After the Russians broke through the Carpathian Mountains, Paul escaped by feigning appendicitis and returned to Budapest. He went to the home of his aunt and uncle and learned that sister had been Judith was killed during the American bombing of Budapest the evening of Yom Kippur. Paul then discovered that Zionist friends from the rabbinic seminary were hiding in an annex of the Swiss consulate. Paul moved in with them and worked for Zionist underground from October until early January when Russians liberated Budapest. During the last days of the war, Paul and a friend escaped to Debrecen and made their way home to Hajdunanas to try to find relatives. He learned that his brothers and mother had been deported to Auschwitz where they perished.
After liberation Paul went to Bucharest in the hope of eventually going from there to Palestine and enrolled in a Hungarian medical school in Cluj. However, after he learned that his father and Anna survived, he returned to Hungary. His father, Lajos Ornstein, survived a death march and was liberated from Mauthausen. Paul brought his father and Anna to Cluj where they regained their strength while he finished a semester of medical school. Then they returned to Budapest. Paul and Anna married March 1946 in the Rakosszentmihaly orphanage, and the following month they fled to the West together with Paul's father and his best friend, Steve Hornstein. They spend a month in the Rothschild hospital in Vienna which was serving as a station for Jews fleeing Eastern Europe on the Bricha. From there they went to Germany where Paul and Steve enrolled as medical students in Munich. They later transferred to Heidelberg where Anna and Steve's wife Lucia, also enrolled as students. In 1948 Paul's father, Lajos Ornstein, immigrated to Israel in 1948. The same year, Anna's mother, Zsofi Brunn, fled to Germany after an informant told the government that her orphanage was preparing children to immigrate to Palestine. Zsofi joined Anna and Paul in Heidelberg and worked as a cook for the Jewish Student Union. Anna and Paul immigrated to the United States in June 29, 1951. Anna returned to briefly to Germany in 1952 to complete her medical degree and then returned permanently to the United States. Her mother joined them in America the following year.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Paul & Anna OrnsteinSource Record ID: Collections: 2006.102
Record last modified: 2006-07-10 00:00:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1160166