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[Page 37]

Meeting Minutes of Representative Bodies of Cigánd[14]

Among the leaders of the village there appear the names of Ernő Schreiber and Rezső Engelberth, too.

 

January 3, 1927

On the agenda was innkeeper Mayer Müller's application to extend his limited beverage vendor licence to an unlimited liquor license, given that the nearest unlimited liquor licence establishments are at least 500 to 600 m distance in any direction and the fact that near his limited establishment there are the Cigánd Rolling Mill and Oil Co. Ltd. frequented by people from the surrounding communities, such as Pácin, Karcsa, Luka, Kis – and Nagyrozvágy, as well as people from Tiszakarád and its vicinity, all of whom are compelled to satisfy their needs in the establishments, which lay at a distance of 500-600m from the said facilities... The representative body finds that the application has merit and approves it, especially considering the fact that the roads of Cigánd become muddy in the Spring and the Fall and thereby making the visitors' travel to the distant establishments very difficult.

 

January 26, 1928

Deputy clerk presents Miklósné Róth, née Dóra Rosenbluth's application to designate a place for a tent at market place, where she could sell spirits.

 

Aug. 18, 1928

Representative Rezső Engelberth presents that ... they want to eliminate and relocate the local headquarters of the Gendarmerie. This means that Cigánd would no longer have a Gendarmerie and that it would be assigned to the district of Pácin... The council notes the message with great dismay... and decides to protest it to the fullest extent.

 

December 5, 1928

Ignácz Heimlich and widow Mórné Bieber donate to the village their presently owned and operated private slaughterhouse with all its equipment, free and without any conditions, and that János Kertész, municipal judge, and Sándor Nánássy assistant clerk, accept it on behalf of the village.

 

April 22, 1929

Widow Sámuelné Veinberger's application in the matter of reducing her sales tax due...asking to reduce her dues by half or 156 Pengo. The chair recommends refusal of the application, but permits the dues to be paid in installments.

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November 19, 1929

Council regrets the death of board member Rezső Engelberth... He spent his time in the service of the community, his considerable business knowledge, experience and advice always enriched and benefited the people of the village...

 

October 31, 1931

Gyula Friedman presented a verbal request for a pair of boots to be supplied by the village, citing his endless poverty, and now, that winter is about to start, he is absolutely without any footwear, and as a result, given that he maintains himself by begging house-to-house he couldn't leave home barefoot. The Board acknowledged - the boots were granted.

 

January 15, 1944

Resident of Gorsó, Béla Elefánt's application: in that his land, wedged between the lands of the Baron and the lands of the Church should be watched by a field-guard employed by the reform Catholic Church, and that the fee paid to him (for the same task) should be paid to new field-guard, starting Jan. 1, 1944.

 

January 15, 1944

In order to provide for training grounds and sport activities for the youth soldiers, the village, through expropriation, should obtain Ernő Schreiber and partners' real estate properties, which are situated next to the Bodrogköz railway station.

 

June 24, 1944 (Note the date. Most of the transports reached Auschwitz by about this time! AR)

With the availability of vacated Jewish homes there is an opportunity to provide housing for the various municipal offices and acquiring land and buildings to accommodate housing for municipal officials. The representative body should decide which of the Jewish dwellings in the village they need and for what purpose.

County clerk's house: Property belonging to Ignácz Heimlich and his wife Hani Weisz.
Assistant clerk's house: Property belonging to Salamon Kornfeld and Salamon Weisz.
Village Office manager: Property belonging to Miksa Róth and Dóra Rosenblüth.
For the Youth Soldiers: Property belonging to Józsefné Ecker and partners.
Breeding station and bull barn: Property belonging to Ella Berger.
Public elementary school teacher: Property belonging to Ignácz, József and Záli Kircz.
People's House: The synagogue and rabbi's residence, belonging to the Jewish community.
Pharmacy and pharmacist home: Property belonging to Géza Müller.

 

[Page 39]

The “Other” Side

Q and A with Ella Revai (née Ella Kircz)

Q: How was daily life in Cigánd during your youth?

A: Most of the Jews in the village were craftsmen and merchants. Most of them lived in very modest financial circumstances, except for a better off families. Many were extremely poor among them. The vast majority of Jewish families lived a very modest lifestyle, according to their faith and (religious) teachings. They worked diligently for six days a week, strictly observing the Sabbath.

Q: With whom did you socialize amongst the villagers?

A: In general, every Jewish family had good relationship with their (Christian) neighbors. We could say that until the beginning of the war, these relations were cordial. They lived peacefully and mutually respecting one another. Unfortunately, this peaceful coexistence abruptly ended, almost from one day to the next, and turned to the point of enmity. Analysing the causes would deserve a separate study. The introduction of the Jewish laws, and the drafting of men into forced labor camps made the Jewish families' livelihood even more difficult.

Q: Did you have separate schools?

A: I don't know exactly, but in 1930, when I went to first grade, there was no longer a separate Jewish school. The Jewish and Christian children went to same school. Our teachers' names were: Mihály Kantor, Dezső Nagy, Matild Móré, Jenőné Nagy, János Hadnagy and Ferenc Tömösvári. Earlier, when my husband (László Róth) went to school, there used to be a separate Jewish school. Later, when there was no longer a separate school, the (Jewish) boys went to religious classes (Heider) after the public school-day was over.

Q: How much did you tolerate each others' customs?

A: As I said before, people were mostly understanding of each other's customs. There were a few “loud-mouth” people, but the majority of the villagers accepted the different lifestyles of the Jews.

Q: Let's talk about the most difficult period. How did you spend your last days in the two-room school-house? Did you have any inkling of what was awaiting you?

A: On April 16, 1944 The Jews were rounded up and locked up in the two-room school. Till they took us - three days later - to the ghetto of Sátoraljaújhely, we slept on the bare, oily wooden floors. Besides the fear and uncertainty, we had no idea what would happen to us or where would they take us. Testimony to the latter, and typical of the Jews' Hungarian identity, that my father, Áron Kircz, a cobbler, said to me while packing our backpacks: “Where would they take us? Even my great-grandfather lived here. We are all Hungarians.

[Page 40]

To the school and to the ghetto, we were only allowed to take with us a little bag or backpack each. Gathering and transporting of the Jews were carried out by horse-drawn carriages under gendarme escort.

Q: Did the villagers, indeed, take food to the school?

A: There were a few good-hearted villagers, who tried to bring food to the school, crowded with Jews, but the gendarmes strictly prevented this.

Q: Whom do you know among the still living survivors around the world?

A: Unfortunately, besides the two of us (Lászlóné Révai and Jenőné Váradi) there are no more Holocaust survivors of Cigánd. There are some first and second generation descendants. We are in contact with some of them. Just an interesting coincidence, worth mentioning, that two of my youngest grandson's one-time classmates (here, in Toronto) were discovered to be also Cigánd descendants.

 

The Journey of Sufferings

Ella Revai's (maiden name: Kircz) recollections of her Concentration Camp Memories, written between Aug. 2010 and March 2011, in Thornhill. Ontario. Translation from the Hungarian original by Alex Revai.

After having spent about a month in the Ghetto of Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary, Ella, along with her father, Aron Kircz, and the rest of the Jews from her birthplace, Cigánd, Hungary, were loaded into cattle cars and sent off to Auschwitz on May the 25th, 1944

After a three days journey in cattle cars, we arrived in Auschwitz. 80-85 people crammed in each car, no water, no toilet. We were locked in and couldn't imagine where they were taking us or what our fate would be. We arrived in Auschwitz on May the 28th, 1944. They chased everyone out of the train. The women and men were herded separately, the children stayed with their mothers. Here, I was separated from my father, whom I never saw again...!

We were herded in rows of five and marched in front of the SS selection team. Here was decided our fate, life or death. Anyone, who was directed to the right by Dr. Mengele, stayed alive, for the time being. Anyone sent to the left were condemned to die in the gas chambers. (Translator's note: at the time they didn't know about the gas chambers. They learnt about them only later on)

The young ones, among whom I found myself, were taken to the sanitation facilities. They shaved our heads and our bodies. We couldn't even recognize each-other. Everyone received a single piece of shabby dress, without regards to size or fit. Later we exchanged them amongst each other so we could wear them. The insane-looking crowd was ready to march.

After all this, they herded us towards the lagers. My crowd ended up in lager “C”. I found myself in barrack #19. There were 32,000 people in the lager and 1,000 people in a barrack. There were bunk-beds. On every level, there were 12 people. We were crowded like herrings in the can. If one needed to turn, the entire row had to sit up and turn together.

In the mornings, when they woke us, it was still dark outside. We had to line up in rows of 5 at the side of the barracks and stand there for hours, twice each day. The name of this line-up was called Zählappell (roll call).

During these roll calls many fainted, but we were not allowed to help them, lest we would be beaten by the Aufsäherins (female supervisors). When the Zählappell was over, they took us to the latrines. From here, back to the bunk-beds. They brought us some

[Page 41]

soup. One portion for 6 people in an aluminium bowl. We took sips by taking turns one-by-one. The daily bread portions were handed out during the roll calls. Occasionally they gave us a spoonful of marmalade or some cottage cheese. The latter, they slapped directly into our hands. We had no cutlery.

Time-to-time, so that we wouldn't be bored, there came the selections. When there were not enough cattle cars arriving, they picked people from lager “C”. The crematoria had to operate continuously. Most of the time it was Mengele with his ontourage, who came to make the selections. Anyone not found to be strong enough, or even had some minor skin blemish, was taken away. It was during such selections, that we noticed that a friend here or an acquaintance there was no longer amongst us. They were taken away. Their disappearances were very painful every time.

My life in lager “C” lasted for three months. I'm unable to write down all the daily tortures we had to endure. I don't have the strength, nor can I bear the mental anguish. Every moment of these terrible experiences live in my mind and my heart.

I still have to come back to the selections in order to relate the degrading manner in which they were conducted. Most of the time we had to stand bare naked. On our left arms hung our rags that were our clothing. With our bald heads we looked like patients in an insane asylum. They turned us back-to-front (to check us out) and decided who stayed and who would be taken away.

After three months I, too, was selected. There came a man in a white gown, who inspected our hands. He needed 200 people. I was selected into this group. We heard that they would be taking us to work. This is where I lost contact with my friends from my village. Only a cousin from Bodrogkeresztur came with me. All that day we stayed outside the gates of the lager, until the evening. We thought to ourselves that the trucks would be coming to take us to the gas chambers...Miraculously, they walked us to another lager. This was lager “B”. It was even worse than lager “C”. There were only empty barracks. No bunk-beds, no toilet, no water, no kitchen. In this lager there were no selections, only the Zählappell, twice every day. They were just counting and counting us, as if we were important.

For breakfast they brought us some gooey, whitish puree. Sometimes tea. We were happy with the latter, as we could at least wash our eyes with it. Otherwise, there was no opportunity to wash up. The food was brought to us in containers from another lager. By the time it reached us, half of it spilled to the ground. We used buckets for our needs and then emptied them in trenches.

Time-to-time we were taken to the sanitation stations. They were very afraid of epidemics. Many people had the scabies. On one occasion, my cousin also ended up in the barrack, where they had people with scabies. I tried to sneak after her, but didn't succeed to stay with her. Every night a doctor checked out the people and if they no longer had the scabies, they were thrown out. When she checked me out and saw that I didn't have the problem, she beat me and threw me out. She asked why was I there if I didn't have any symptoms. As it were, I didn't see my cousin Lili (Feinsilber) until after our liberation. Her terrible demise (shortly after the liberation) deserves another, separate telling.

I continue with the events at lager “B”. As I mentioned, the barracks were totally empty. In a corner there were piled up rags and blankets. After Zählappell, we ran in and grabbed whatever we could. We threw them on the floor and lay down on them. If we couldn't grab one, we just lay on the bare floors.

In the neighboring lager was the infectious diseases hospital. Every night trucks came by to pick up the dead and half-dead. We were forbidden to go out from our barracks or even look at these happenings. Despite of the restrictions, everyone knew what was happening. On one such occasion, we were ordered outside. As we learnt, a young girl jumped off the truck and escaped to our barrack. As they counted us, they discovered that there was and extra person. They counted and recounted us. Finally, one of the SS soldiers told us that if the extra person doesn't step forward, he would start shooting every fifth person. After several nail-biting minutes the young girl stepped forward. They took her away immediately... Our days passed with such and similar excitements. We were starving, cold, rain-soaked and thirsty. There were always a few optimists, who encouraged us by saying that it would all end and we would be freed. We hardly believed that they would be taking us to work, as we were told earlier at lager “C”.

[Page 42]

Finally, one night, in October they came for us. They shouted for the 200 women, who were selected from lager “C”. We were very afraid to move. Three months had passed here, too, and we couldn't really believe that we would be taken away to work. They counted the 200 and took us from the lager to be cleaned up. We received clothing, coats, shoes and even some food. They loaded us into cattle cars and left Auschwitz during the night. We had lived for 6 months at that murderous pace...!

After three of four days of train ride we arrived in Horneburg. Horneburg is about 25 kms from Hamburg. From the train station they took us across the city. We found ourselves in a forest. There were two newly built barracks waiting for us. The third barrack was built for the supervisors. They gave us two blankets, a bowl and a spoon. Things we hadn't seen for 6 months. It was unbelievable. We were very happy and began to believe that indeed we were brought here to work. And so it was.

We worked for an airplane parts manufacturing operation. The sign over the entrance said it was the Lederfabrik (Leather factory). Here we had a surprise. The same white-gowned man, who selected us from lager “C”, assigned us to various work stations, again, by looking at our hands. We worked in three shifts. Every day we had the long walk from the forest to the city. The supervisors (Aufsäherins) made us sing all the way. We were freezing all winter long. We were bald, no socks and only had a rag-tag coat and wooden clogs for shoes.

Here, at least we had bathing facilities. Here, too, we had wooden beds, but at least one bed per person. Two women received one cotton towel, which we wrapped on our heads and alternated daily with our partners. Of course, the towel was wet from drying ourselves with it every day. There was a young girl with me. Her name was Edit, with whom we were together from the moment we arrived here. We shared everything. Since I was a few years older, she clang to me (as if to a mother). I was 20 years old at the time. Unfortunately, we became separated before our liberation and I don't know what happened to her. To this day I'm trying to find her, but no luck. Her full name was Edit Linzer (or Linzerova). She was taken to the Satoraljaujhely getto from a small, nearby Slovakian village. She had two other sisters, who, together with their mother, were gassed (in Auschwitz).

We worked in Horneburg from October to February (1945). In relative terms, this was the most bearable place of all the others. The SS Aufsäherins, almost without exception, were dreadful. They invented ways to make our lives miserable.

At the factory the food wasn't too bad. The factory manager wasn't treating us badly. Our immediate supervisor was a Dutch prisoner, who was exceptionally nice. Occasionally he brought us apples. He tried to lift our spirits by saying that it (the war) couldn't last much longer. I wish we knew his name. Today he could be acknowledged as a righteous gentile. His humanity in those circumstances meant the world to us.

For the SS Aufsäherins we were their Sunday entertainment. They had us stand (Zählappell) in our off-time. They counted us day and night. On one such occasion they took me and another girl from Maramaros. They asked what we were laughing at. They took us to their rooms and beat us with a wooden rod. For weeks we were turning and tossing from the painful stripes on our backs. We were not to tell anyone what they had done to us. Had they had any human souls, we could have been spared from these extra tortures.

And so was time passing. The air raids became more frequent. Hamburg was being bombed. Suddenly, one February day, they put us on a train to some place. We never knew where they were taking us or what our fate would be. We arrived at place, called Porta. There was a hidden factory, carved deep down, inside a karst mountain. They put us to work immediately. As we learnt later on, the place was being built by male prisoners, many of whom died as a result of the inhumanly harsh conditions. Here, again, we met with our Dutch supervisor, who was brought here before us in order to set up the factory for our arrival. Here we lived and worked in unimaginable circumstances. We hardly had anything to eat. Even if they brought some soup, by the time the containers arrived to the mountain, most of it spilled to the ground. There was hardly any left to distribute. While we worked, we heated some water on the gas burners (which were used to seal the glass tubes that we made) and we drank it so that we would have some strength to finish the shift. Here, at Porta, even our kind Dutch supervisor couldn't help us any longer. Often he said that he didn't have anything to pass on to us. He truly felt sorry for us.

[Page 43]

The Germans urged us to produce more. They thought it would help (their cause). Later on, even this place was no longer safe. The allies were approaching. There was some hurried construction of new barracks at Porta. Our worked was stopped. One day, they brought us up from the cave factory and marched us on. Perhaps even they didn't know where to. They took us to the new barracks built at Porta. There were many prisoners crowded here. That's where they were trying to hide us from the approaching liberators. There was total chaos. Soon they took us further from here, to Fallersleben and Haldensleben. Sometimes by train, sometimes on foot. Here or there they left 50-60 prisoners (Heftlings), depending on how many the lagers (on the way) would accept. The situation was horrific. Finally, we were liberated in Salzwedel, on April the 14th, 1945.

Here, too, there was a concentration camp with who knows how many people. We were starved skeletons. When they started shouting that we were liberated, we didn't even have the strength to walk to the gates. As it turned out they (the Germans) wanted to blow up the lager. Fortunately, there were some already liberated Italian Jewish prisoners in town. They noticed what was being prepared and they managed to cut the wires. The Germans had no time to repair the damage, because the Americans arrived. We owe our lives to these Italian prisoners. The same night they (the Americans) took us by trucks to an emptied military base. They gave us beds and fed us. There was plenty to eat and they were very mindful of our cleanliness.

All the survivors started searching for their relatives and friends. There were lists prepared with everyone's names, which were copied and taken to other liberated groups at nearby facilities. Many found relatives or friends this way. We started moving about. The situation was quite chaotic. The Germans were gone, we were free. Five of us (girls) kept together: three from Bodrogkeresztur, one from Sarospatak and I, from Cigánd. We even managed to return home (to Hungary) together. A truck took us to Hillersleben, where we heard about some people from my village. Hillersleben was a picturesque little city. Beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, just like a vacation spot. Tidy houses with flowers everywhere. Cleanliness all around. After a hellish year everything looked miraculous.

The Americans took good care of us, except they were not in a hurry to get us back home. We, in turn wanted to return, hoping to find surviving family members. Unfortunately, we had to be very disappointed. Only a handful of younger folks survived and returned to our village. My entire family perished. Only an uncle returned from a Russian prisoner camp.

That's how we started our lives, from nothing. I'm not going to detail my return trip to Hungary. It was quite complicated. The rails were damaged, train traffic was very sporadic. There were many stops and waiting. This, too, has passed.

I'm 86 years old now. I know I'm missing lots of details. Many a thing I don't even remember any more. When I was younger, I didn't have the time to write everything down. I'm finishing the writing of the story of this very sad part of my life on March the 3rd, 2011.

 

List of Cigánd Interviewees

  Year of
Birth
  Year of
Birth
Fodor Bertalan 1925 Oláh Józsefné, Szabó Ilona 1933
Fodor Béláné, Dócs Erzsébet 1934 Terjék Dániel 1928
Fodor Erzsébet 1914 Tóth János 1932
Fodor Józsefné, Fodor Ilona 1931 Tóth József 1928
Fodor Miklós 1931 Tóth Józsefné, Dámóczi Etelka 1928
György János 1929 Tóth Józsefné, Stofa Irén 1930
Németh Barnáné, Ócs Aranka 1937 Vajda Sándorné, Herczig Julianna 1921

 

[Page 44]

The Stigmatized[15]

The other day a strange, phantom-like figure stumbled in front of me here, on the street. A thin, striped, prison uniform hung loosely on his emaciated body. From his eyes animal fear and the apathy of endless misery stared into nothingness. He opened his mouth, as if to speak. I see that his teeth have fallen out, his gums are covered in sores, his wasted lungs wheeze and whistle as he tries to speak: “Please, Sir, I came from Birkenau, I'm hungry, I have no place to stay, help me.” On his right arm he pulls up the sleeve of his tattered coat and I'm taken aback...On his arm a tattooed number etched with a stamping iron. I'm staring at it. “What's that?” “That's how the Gestapo marked the deportees out there. Like they do with cattle, taken to the slaughterhouse. In reality that was our fate.” We walk side by side, I need to slow my steps; the groggy man grabs me, he is unable to stand. We enter a restaurant, they put some food in front of him, the poor soul eats like a hungry, starved animal, gobbling the food, sweat trickling from his forehead and tears flowing from his eyes. While he eats, he throws out some choppy sentences.

“After a terrible journey – hundred people in a sealed cattle car, travelling for several days - we arrived. Once there, there were two groups. SS “doctors” did the selection. Left the able bodied, the weak to the right. The latter were the fortunate. They were killed right away. They herded them by the hundreds into bathing facilities, opened the taps and instead of water gas spilled from them. The little ones they finished with less fuss. They banged their heads against barracks walls cracking their heads open; or stepped on one of their foot and grabbing the other, they tore them in front of their parents.”

He already finished what was in front of him and now looking with a longing eye towards the bowl on the counter. The waiter puts it in front of him. He falls on it.

“The other group – those of the able-bodied – suffered more severely. On food not fit for a dog, they had to perform the hardest physical work, till they wasted away. When they could no longer work, they killed them. Their methods of execution demonstrated an incredibly refined, sadistic ingenuity. Those to be shot to death, had to dig their own graves. Those to be hanged, were pulled up and lowered down several times from the gallows, accompanied by the hearty laughter of the Kulturvolks. Many people they burned alive. Their stronger peers stoked the furnaces, knowing that if they weakened, they would be next in the flames. Others were drowned in such a way that they held their heads under the heel of their boots and kept them under water till there was life in them.”

We light some cigarettes. A faint shadow of joy flits across his colorless face.

[Page 45]

“Then - came the Red Army – those of us, who survived a last minute bloodbath, were headed home. We're here now. We arrived.” His hands resting on the table curl into a fist. “ Our families are dead, our properties stolen, our houses burnt down. We lived here, we worked here, we dearly desired to come home, like one, who desires heavens...and being at home...at home...” A bitter grimace stretches across his bloodless lips.

“But we would need so little. Just a nook, where to lie down, a piece of bread, a rag that should cover our studded whip inflicted wounds. And above all: a friendly hand that squeezes our hands, and an honestly ringing voice: I am happy dude that you're back.

Less apathy and more willingness to help. Does it hurt that we came home? We are at your mercy in need. Would it be that our hand asking for help is pushed aside, or that bored, uninterested eyes are averted from our pathetic rags covering our wounds?”

The cigarette butt is already burning his fingernails. We start slowly for the door. Soft, spring sunshine plays on the pavements, yet he is shivering with cold. Then he offers his hand, I see from his eyes he is not sure whether I will accept it. Then, slowly, along the walls, he staggers down the street, alone, left alone, among the merry, hurried, indifferent people.

Dr. Sz. L.

[Page 47]

P.S.

Dear Sandor (Alex Revai),

The publication is ready to be printed. I incorporated your comments. May we proceed with the publishing?

Sincerely,
István Nagy

Dear István,

It seems the publication is progressing faster than I thought. If my comments were captured, I have no objection to printing the book. Could it be that you might publish it in electronic format? It would be easier to share it with the interested Cigánd descendents. In any case, please notify me when the book becomes available and let me know about the ordering information.

Once more, we thank you for having thought of publishing a book of this nature. I tell you honestly, given the currently prevailing political climate in Hungary, I find it (the publication of such a book) greatly respectable. I know that there are (and were) decent, well-intentioned people everywhere and at all times. It's a pity that they are mostly the minority and very quiet at that.

Sincerely,
Sandor

[Page 49]

Archival Photos

They are not being published in the translated version. They may be viewed in the Hungarian-published book, or on line, at the following web site: http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/cigand/index.html

 

Footnotes
  1. Documents from the Archives of Zemplen Return
  2. Népújsag – political weekly – Satoraljaujhely, March 3, 1945. Return

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