Studio portrait of Ignat and Egon Blatt.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 75817
Circa 1925 - 1927
- Cluj, [Transylvania] Romania
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
LIFE BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST -- Romania -- Family/Friends/Portraits
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Edith Balas
Studio portrait of Ignat and Egon Blatt.
- Edith Balas (born Edith Lovy) is the daughter of Alexander Lovy and Klara nee Rooz Lovy. Edith was born on June 20, 1929 in Cluj, Romania where her father was a businessman. Her mother worked as an artisan, and her brother and sister, Irene and Karel Rooz, lived with the family and helped in the business. They lived in a mixed neighborhood with both Jews and Gentiles. Edith attended a Jewish schools and studied French, German, violin, as well as typical school subjects. The family spoke Hungarian and Edith first learned Romanian when she started school. In 1940 Hungary took control of norther Transylvania, and the national language switched to Hungarian. Her father was sent to a forced labor camp for a few months but returned unharmed. In March 1944 Germany invaded Hungary, and in April the Lovy family was sent to a brick factory where they lived in small cubicle-like rooms. Her father, mother, Aunt Irene, and Edith all lived together. Her Uncle Karel had been sent to forced labor somewhere else in Romania. After a little more than a week, Hungarian officials confiscated their belongings, and they were loaded onto cattle cars. Three days later they arrived in Auschwitz. A Polish prisoner spoke to Alexander and told him to have his daughter say she was 16, which saved her life. The men and women were separated. Edith, together with her mother and aunt, had her head shaved but not tattooed, was issued a new dress and taken to Lager C in Auschwitz. From there they were taken to a 1000 person barrack. Once a day they received a piece of bread ,broth and erzatz coffee. In Auschwitz she found her cousin, Eva Braun, who was from her grandparent's town who had been separated from her mother and younger sister. They looked after one another as they were very close in age. Edith witnessed frequent selections for labor or for death, never knowing for sure which was which. One day she was selected for what she believed was gassing, but she managed to grab a broom and get to the work side and thus was lucky once again. On August 11, 1944 she, her mother, aunt, and cousin, as well as many others, were moved to Lager B where they were disinfected, given new sets of clothes and finally had a decent night sleep with blankets and some space. The next day their dresses were taken. They stood outside naked for hours before once again being disinfected, given new clothes and loaded on a train which took them to Unterluess, a smaller labor camp for 900-1000 women. They worked from 5 am to 5 pm cutting wood and stone, and constructing roads. At first they were fed decently, but supplies soon dwindled. As Unterluess was in a heavily wooded area they were able to gather wild mushrooms to supplement their diet. In winter they stuffed paper from cement sacks in their thin cotton dresses to protect themselves from the wind. Edith became very sick with typhus while there and could not eat her daily ration. Her aunt worked in the munitions factory which was a highly toxic place and thus was given a glass of milk each day to help her health. Her aunt, knowing Edith was very sick, saved her milk each day and brought it back for her. Because of the poor health conditions many suffered from scurvy. A German medic told them they would need vitamin C injections which scared the women. He first injected himself to show them it was safe and gain their trust and then treated them. The women stayed in Unterluess until April 1945, when the German soldiers fled the approaching Allied troops. A civilian German cook came into their barrack, told them they were free, and gave them a few potatoes. However, the next day armed German civilians transported them to Bergen-Belsen by train. Upon arrival they saw horrors of the camp including piles of corpses and typhus running rampant. There was no food or water. A few days later, on April 15, British soldiers liberated Bergen-Belsen. Of the 900 women who arrived from Unterluess only 200 remained because of typhus and starvation. Upon liberation, Edith weighed only 61 pounds. After recuperating for a short while, Edith, her mother, aunt, and cousin returned home to Romania. They spent three weeks traveling by train before they finally made it to Cluj. In Budapest they found out her father had survived and was waiting for them. Out of the 10,000 Jews who were deported from Cluj hers was the only family to return whole. However, much of her extended family perished in the Holocaust. Edith returned to school, completed her studies and later married Egon Balas (formerly Blatt, b. 1922).
Egon is the son of Ignat Blatt (b. 1887,Somkerek, Romania) and Boriska Hirsch Blatt (b. 1Dej, 1896). He had one brother Robert b, 1926. Egon was he sole survivor of his immediate family. Ignat was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944, and Boriska perished in Stutthof in 1945. Robert was a clarinetist and played in the Auschwitz camp orchestra. He perished during a death march after the evacuation of Auschwitz. In 1952 Communist regime arrested her husband. For two years they were separated from each other. In 1966 they began to process of moving to the US. They spent 6 months in Rome, 4 months in Toronto before finally arriving in Pittsburgh in 1967 where Egon became a professor of Operation Research at Carnegie Mellon University. Edith obtained her Ph.D. in Art History. And has taught Art History at Carnegie Mellon University since 1977.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Edith Balas
Record last modified: 2019-02-08 00:00:00
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