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We Look Back at the City

Translated by Dorothy Gross Nadosy

Our nostalgia for our “hometown” likewise perished in the Holocaust. Not only that, but positive emotions did not remain with the city of our youth, whose residents had not stopped any human and social trials there in those times. Doubtless, there were some who silently rejected the inhumane steps of their government, but they did not dare to act, perhaps they could not: Magyar courage and honor did not extend that far. We do not know of any one from another religion, a single “righteous person” in the Sodom of Beregszász and Subcarpathia. The relationship between the two peoples led only downhill and did not arouse nostalgia or sentimentality.

Of course, we will not wipe away or falsify the past. Again, we will show you the city that has been ruined in our eyes, in which there will never be a free Jewish community. But to wipe away the beautiful years of our youth, where our parents and grandparents lived, built, planned for decades, and founded their future – we cannot do it. These few pictures depicting the city, the streets, the houses, and the surrounding area are an important part of the album, the silent part of it, which complements the memories. Maybe the pictures will awaken curiosity in our friends who do not remember the city. But the majority feel indifferent. But to see the pictures, to recall the arena of our childhood and adolescence – why not?

Memories can be forgotten but not denied. Fact: we were born there; we lived there, on the banks of the Vérke. We walked there daily at the “promenade”, before the splendid courthouse building. We sat there on the great synagogue's stone wall, sprinkled with sunflower seeds. In the garden area of the community courtyard or in the “Bath Garden,” we kicked the ball until sundown. From the streets of the city we could see the mountains (among them the “Great Mountain” was no more than 360 meters high) and the vineyards. Most of the owners were Jewish, naive, optimistic Jews who were enjoying the fruits of the new democracy, and wanted to tie their future to the land. But this was not allowed, not even for a single generation. The pictures show signs of lively commerce driven primarily by sharp, diligent, straightforward and faithful Jews. Nothing remains of them except in the old pictures.

There stands the district court, the city's pride. On trial day, the corridors and halls bustled with many people. The main speakers were the Jewish judges and lawyers. We have mentioned the banks and the two “bazaars” around the shops, with Jews in almost all of them. The good Jews, who remained a part of the Hungarian culture and (irony of fate) sometimes even dominated it, even moved into the turreted Uri Casino, near the Vérke. There is the elegant building of the state wine cellar; we penetrated there too because the wine merchants were Jews as well.

Beregszász, even in the Czechoslovakian times, was the “most Hungarian” city. The Hungarians accused the Czechs of wanting to wipe out the Hungarian character of the city. Indeed, it was brought up against the Jews that they “invented Jewish nationality” to declare themselves Jewish rather than Hungarian. We admit the “accusation.” Zionism was clearly Jewish nationality. We were not obligated to acknowledge “Hungarian” nationality because we were Jews with minority rights!

Apart from these buildings, our rural city did not boast “historical” creations. Only the gymnasium appeared in solitude in the quiet neighborhood, across the city canal, which was referred to as a very serious “river.” In the short time we have outlined, Jewish intelligence was bound to this building. One of the three Christian churches' outstanding steeples was there, connected to a legend, but the people did not know much about it. And with distinction, there was also our great synagogue; the most beautiful and most prestigious building, with its facade and interior as excellent architectural work.

Most of the city's houses had just a ground floor. Only the state and financial agencies had one or two more stories. There was only one four–story building at that time (the Legion Bank). Only the center of the main street was asphalt; the other inner streets consisted of cobblestones or gravel. Roads were not available throughout, but walking paths were (covered in winter with thick ice on which young people slid, and old men injured their feet.).

Yes, daily we wandered in these streets beside the well–known buildings, and today we still feel that the city was “ours.” Today we do not even know the names of the streets. The leaders of the new government did not forget to name Beregovo's main street after Bohdan Khmelnytsky. “It is for him”, the bloody pogrom leader, to have this street name in the one–third Jewish city since “6,000 citizens” – as expressed in the Russians' propaganda pamphlet – did not return to this city after the war.

And yet, there are descendants of our brothers and sisters who still maintain contact with their acquaintances who have “emigrated” to Hungary. There may be some who offered their help to the Jews before they were locked in the ghetto, but the general facts cannot be changed. Those who remained in Beregovo (allegedly there are nearly 300 Jewish families living there) have to live “in peace” with their neighbors. But there is only one Beregszasz to us: the Jews who settled in Israel or in the free world; together we all form a Jewish community whose headquarters are in the Jewish State; we feel with in a family only with them, and if we have sentiments about Berehovo–Beregszász, they only represent the community whose members live outside the city! Not the name of the city, but rather the memory of Judaism and the Jewish community keep us together!

In summary, of our brothers who were there – we wrote. The small number of survivors – we mentioned. The city buildings and streets that we still remember – we have not forgotten. For our families' posthumous property – houses, shops, factories, and vineyards – we said “Kaddish.” The face of the new Beregovo, the new authorities, who falsify and forget about the past do not interest us. In the pictures in this chapter, you will find only a remembrance, a comparison, a history lesson. It is enough if we see the pictures and remember. conscientiously fought for survival, try to remember those families that not only have no photos but also no memories left!

 

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You will recognize the street?

 

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The railway bridge next to the “Strand” (bathing beach)

 

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The Gents' Casino with the tower

 

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The big bazaar in the central square

 

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The Catholic church with its historic past

 

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Yet another “palace” of Berner's in the main town square

 

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On the right, the post office; on the left, the income tax office

 

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The high school
(head gymnasium, royal gymnasium)

 

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The weigh-bridge, the fish market, and the old Verke [river]

 

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Town center
(The Hausman residence before the Legion Bank)

 

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The state-owned wine cellar

 

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The county seat
(government offices and police headquarters)

 

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The Jewish cemetery

 

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A street

 

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The impressive building of the district court

 

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Seven small views
(picture postcard published under Russian rule)

 

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Who owned the vineyard?

 

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Cafe “Royal” part of the “Corso” (promenade)

 

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When the Vérke still looked like a river

 

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A “peaceful” picture of the “palaces” of Méhes and Kubovich

 

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