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Page from a baby book showing Ernestine (Ily) Merei holding her infant son John on their balcony.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 32825

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    Page from a baby book showing Ernestine (Ily) Merei holding her infant son John on their balcony.
    Page from a baby book showing Ernestine (Ily) Merei holding her infant son John on their balcony.


    Page from a baby book showing Ernestine (Ily) Merei holding her infant son John on their balcony.
    1941 May 01
    Budapest, [Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun] Hungary
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of John and Daisy Merey

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: John and Daisy Merey
    Source Record ID: Collections: IRN 610207
    Second Record ID: Collections: 2015.571.1

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    John Merey (originally Merei) is the son of Ernest (Erno, b. 1897 in Wittenc) and Ernestine Munk (Ily, b.1904 in Oradea). John was born on June 14, 1940 in Budapest where his father was a civil engineer. Ernestine's father, Gabriel Munk, was the Hungarian distributer for the Manner Confectionery Company. The family lived relatively undisturbed until Germany invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944. Immediately the German's instituted antisemitic ordinances and restrictions and began rounding-up Jews in the Hungarian countryside. As news of these deportations reached Budapest, John's parents considered hiding with a suburban piano-maker, but feared four-year-old John might give them away. John's uncle, Dr. Nison Kahan, was a long-time Zionist who had met Reszo Kasztner, a Zionist leader of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee. Kahane learned that Kasztner was negotiating to secure a transport out of Hungary. Though there was no guarantee that the train would travel to freedom, he felt it was worth the risk. John's grandfather paid for the passage, and 14 members of the family joined the transport of 1600 Hungarian Jews. They left Budapest on June 30, 1944. The train traveled for several days before stopping at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There, the Hungarian Jews were kept apart from the other prisoners and had a few extra privileges such as maintaining their own clothing. After six weeks, 11 of John's family members were released, but John and his parents remained in the camp. His mother went up to the commandant and asked if they could join the rest of their family. The commandant shouted in response that she was crazy to challenge German authority. They were later freed four months later and placed on a second transport that left for Switzerland on December 3, 1944. John's parents had to walk to the train station in Celle, and he went by truck in the care of an elderly woman. It took some time, but they found each other at the station. They arrived in St. Gallen and then went to Montreux. They stayed in Switzerland for the next year and a half before immigrating to the United States on April 27, 1946. They were sponsored by Ernest's brother Dr. Ladislav Merei who had previously immigrated. John later married Daisy Breuer, the daughter of Hungarian Jews who had fled to Tangiers Morocco where Daisy was born.
    Record last modified:
    2017-08-14 00:00:00
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