Oradea's 30,000 Jews shared the fate of the world Jewry and among the six million martyrs, we find the consecrated names of our own parents - children - brothers and sisters - loved ones. It is exclusively thanks to Colonel Imre Reviczky's humane attitude that the number of victims was not much higher.
Imre Reviczky remained a Human Being in the noblest sense of the word in a vast ocean of inhumanity. By all means available to him he tried to save the ill-fated Jews. He issued mass conscription orders to Labor Battalion units in Nagybanya (Baia-Mare) to save in this fashion Jewish men from sure death or suffering that otherwise awaited them, were they to be deported. He defended the Jewish slave laborers under his jurisdiction with unbelievable courage from the cruelty of the overseers, almost at the risk of his own life at times. He exerted his best effort in trying to mitigate their difficult situation. Among others, he gave special treatment to the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Halberstam of Kolozsvar (Cluj), exempting him from marching and all physical work by keeping him always at the district quarters. However, the gendarmes took advantage of a day when the Lieutenant Colonel was not on the premises and deported him to Auschwitz.
A street has been named in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Reviczky in the city of Sefad, Israel. The Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority awarded him the title of The Righteous Among The Nations.
|I tell you a story
to those who will not be
or perhaps were never before ...
Where the memories
of my childhood take me
to Oradea, in the bakerís court.
Age old Oradea,Of them whispers
thatís where my mother raised me.
She earned her living, found support
and was liked by all
in Oradea, in the bakerís court. .
Lots of children played,Or if Uncle Kohn, the baker,
showed quietly, half naked in white,
if you liked to carry wood
you already had no doubt...
there will be egg pretzels
for every kid, in the bakerís yard.
But on each Friday mornAnd when the pastries
are baked and done,
we feed on the sweet raisin aroma...
It feels, on my word,
like the long awaited Sabbath
arrives on Friday in the bakerís court.
They crowd in before sundownThe smoke stained stack
is a wonder itself;
its fume is a breathful of soot.
And the oven door,
when dusk has set,
food would no longer accept...
The piety of devotion at nightToday every child does right;
I have not even crawled,
my new clothes so nice and bright.
Such was it not long ago,
tonight, only a memento...
In Oradea, in the bakerís yard.
All this is dead and gone.And where the heart
sometimes recalls me,
today the wind picks up dirt and dust;
Not only the elderly,
but even the scores of children
met their untimely end.
The Friday is quiet,
|NAME OF STREET||DEPORTATION
|I.||Ghetto of OSSI (for all Jews from surrounding areas)
from surrounding areas)
Rimler Karoly St. -first section
Szacsvai St.- uneven numbers
|III.||Szacsvai St.-even numbers
Varadi Zsigmond St.-uneven numbers
Kert St. Blaha Lujza St.-even numbers
|IV.||Varadi Zs. St.- even numbers
Liget St., Menhaz St.
Blaha Lujza St.
Vamhaz St. - uneven numbers
Vamhaz St., Rimler K. St- even numbers
|VI.||Fuchs Mor St., Tompa Mihaly St.,
Tompa Mihaly St.,
Rimler Karoly St. - left over parts section
|VII||Jewish Hospital, Ullmann Palace
Armand Simpson (Ármin Simonovits),
a native of Fugyivásárhely/Nagyvárad.
Aside from thirty-some thousand Jewish people who lived in Oradea, some smaller and larger Jewish communities existed in the surrounding provinces as well. Most of them had a temple, ritual institutions, and rabbinates.
Today there are no Jews living in this important locality. The synagogue was demolished and the survivors immigrated, mostly to Israel. The same applies to former Jewish residents of neighboring villages Kiskereki, Érdolaszi, Érköbölkút, Hegyköz, Szentmiklós, Szentjobb, Nagykágya, and Csokoly.
Élesd (Aleshd) Originally, this locality belonged to the Chief Rabbinate of Oradea, however, Chief Rabbi Benjamin Fuchs relinquished it in a noble gesture, saying: "I wish to give an opportunity and assure a livelihood to young talented rabbis." The community in Élesd had a beautiful synagogue and the usual ritual institutions. It elected Ráv Sámuel Klein (Schmelke), son of R. Jákob Solem Klein of Halm, as its Chief Rabbi. The great Talmud scholar and popular chief rabbi shared the tragic fate of his congregants, including his wife and ten children. He was deported and did not survive. There were 372 Jews living in Élesd. The survivors of deportation resettled in part in Oradea, while others emigrated.
In the larger communities of Bihar County, such as Bihar (108 Jews), Rév (63 Jews), the Jewish population reached a few hundred. However, there were smaller villages where only one or two Jews lived. They made their meager living from small grocery stores or taverns. Nonetheless, there were cases where Jews owned large estates and had important social standing.
She wrote these lines in the house of her grandfather, Dr. Rezso Racz. (Dr. Rezso Racz's father - Dr. Sandor Rosenberg - was Chief Rabbi of the Oradea Neologue Jewish Community and later moved to Arad.) Eva lived with her grandparents, because her parents divorced and her mother (whom in her diary she calls Agi) remarried. She became the wife of Bela Zsolt, the well-known writer and publicist. Because of the many problems Bela Zsolt encountered at that time, his wife did not move from his side. "This is my first birthday, for which Agi did not come - she writes. I know she will have surgery, but she still could have come. There are doctors in Oradea as well. She didn't come home for my thirteenth birthday. Agi is happy now. Uncle Bela was freed from prison..."
The last recording in the diary dates to May 30, 1944. The fate of the Oradea Jewry has been decided during these three months. The value of the diary consists in the fact that it reflects the atmosphere of those tragic days - the anarchy, the glimmering hope and the despair. Orders are passed in the first days following March 19: the Jews are gasping, perhaps they can hide a few things, perhaps something can be saved. The liquidation however, is prepared according to precisely worked out and psychologically tested plans. When the ghetto-order is made public, people virtually become paralyzed. We were waiting for three days that they come to take us. We were waiting in the house and watching for the arrival of the police. "Little Diary, I have never been this afraid" - confesses Eva.
Without a doubt, Eva's diary is a priceless document, left by an exceptionally talented thirteen year old girl, the honest testimony to the tragedy of the European Jewry. An adult could never arrive to such a level of honesty. This little girl sees everything, hears everything, takes note of everything. She is filled with death premonitions, and though she does not mention them as such, every line she writes is a cry for help to a different, better, more truthful world. As her contemporaries in the other ghettos, Eva Heyman is also writing, to leave testimony of the suffering and injustice. Let the world know what happened in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century!
Eva Heyman could not escape, but she tries to save the Diary. When her grandmother's former Christian maid, Mariska Szabo is allowed into the ghetto for a few minutes by a "friendly gendarme", she secretly passes on the Diary to her and entrusts her to keep it safe.
Mrs. Bela Zsolt published Eva's Diary in 1948 in Budapest, while the Hebrew version was published in 1964 in Jerusalem. Dr. Lajos Marton describes the history of the Oradea Jewry, its social and cultural characteristics, speaks about Eva's family and about the atmosphere in which the Diary was born, in a twelve page introduction for the Hebrew version. Additionally, he wrote explanatory notes to the text, to render in a concise manner ideas that are foreign to the Hebrew reader.
Otherwise, this was the first volume Yad Vashem has consecrated to the catastrophy that has befallen the Hungarian Jews.
In his introductory study, Dr. Lajos Marton also discusses some problems of the Diary. First, he raises the question of authenticity, then examines, whether the Hungarian published text of the Diary is the same with that of the handwritten version? After having considered the concrete facts and logical premises, he arrives at the conclusion that the "text of the Diary is probably authentic."
Dr. Marton spoke to Mrs. Friedlander, who according to the Diary wasAgi's best friend, and she said that after liberation she heard about the existence of the Diary. She also knew that Agi has weighed at lengthwithin herself the idea of publishing it.
We too, believe that the text of the Diary is authentic, but notnecessarily complete. It arrived to the press in a shortened version. This operation has been carried out by Agi. (Eva's mother).
The premise upon which we base our supposition is the following:
On the last page of the Diary there is mention of the fact that Bela Zsolt's family is preparing to escape from the Oradea ghetto. "Agi and Uncle Bela are whispering something now, that we may staybehind in a typhus hospital, supposedly we will say that uncle Bela hastyphoid fever. This may be possible, as he had it in the Ukraine"- writes Eva.
As we see, Eva was also included in the escape plan. However,when it comes to execution, only Bela Zsolt and his wife escaped. They first got to Budapest, then with the Kastner group via Bergen Belsento Switzerland.
Who knows what happened within the emotional world of the little girlknowing that her mother escaped without her? Without a doubt, EvaHeyman, who so honestly and openly spoke about everything in her diary, did not hide her life's biggest disappointment.
The text we have in our possession however, makes no mention of any of these items.
The unfortunate mother found out after the war that on October 17,1944 Eva was selected, or as she expressed it in her own words, "the 13 year old Eva fought for her life with the executioners of the Third Reich, but the German wild beast defeated Eva". Later, Mariska Szabo came forth and handed over Eva's Diary to Agi. The complete one. - The authentic one. Mrs. Zsolt is in a dilemma. Should she publish the Diary or not. If yes - how? This Diary should not accuse her, as her own self recriminations are more than she can endure...
According to us, this is the explanation why Agi has "considered at length within herself the idea of publishing the Diary."
Finally, after two years of inward conflict, she made her decision. She wrote a short foreword and published the Diary under the title of "My Daughter Eva". She published as much of it as she wanted... She published from it what she considered good and proper...
The mother's dilemma, however was not solved by this either. It has not calmed her raw emotional state.
Eva's Diary hardly saw the light of publishing, when Agi reached for the poison and ended her greatly agitated, bumpy, unfortunate and conflicted life.
My little Diary you are the happiest, because you cannot feel the great misfortune that happened to us. The Germans came to take over! What only uncle Bela feared, has indeed happened...
This is the first day that Agi got out of bed for lunch, grandfather even noted that she is as week as an autumn fly, yet she sat and ate with us. There was excellent punch cake, wine and expresso. No one turned on the radio all day long. At noon, uncle Bela wanted to listen to the news, but Agi begged him not to and said: Today, let's not worry about politics, let's live our private lives...
Somehow, word got around that uncle Bela and Agi were here and in the afternoon, Agi's girl friends came over. Uncle Bela was visited by his best friend in Oradea, uncle Sandor Friedlander. A large crowd has gathered, when uncle Bela and uncle Sandor Friedlander went out to a cafe. Less than ten minutes later, uncle Bela and uncle Sandor Friedlander came back, both of them white as the wall. I can still here uncle Sandor's voice: We are all ruined, the Germans are in Budapest since this morning.
Juszti came by again today. Her eyes were red from crying, as if she were Jewish herself. She says she will die because she can't save me - whom she loves most in this world - from possibly what awaits me.
I have no idea how it will be later, I always think this is the worst, then I realize on my own that everything can become even worse, actually much worse. Until now, there was food to eat, now we won't have any. On the inside of the ghetto we could visit one another, now we are not allowed to get out of the house...Agi doesn't mind anything if they only leave us alive, that is what she keeps constantly saying... Last night I dreamed of Juszti, my little Diary, and in the morning I woke up crying.
Patience daddy, this can't last forever!
Much do the town's people care. If the Aryans didn't want it, they could have stopped our ghettoization. But they were rather enjoying it and even now they don't care what will happen to us.
This gendarme, whom uncle Bela calls a friendly gendarme, because he never yells at us and doesn't address women in the familiar form, came in the backyard and told us that he will live the police force, because it is inhuman what he has witnessed in the Rhedey Park.
They forced 80 people in freight cars and they gave them altogether only one bucket of drinking water. But it is still more awful that they are sealing the cars with padlocks. People will surely suffocate in this terrible heat! The gendarme said he truly didn't understand these Jews. Not even the children cried. They were all like sleepwalkers. They got into those cars stiff, without a word.
The friendly gendarme didn't sleep all night, while other times, he said he is fast asleep as soon as he puts his head down. This was such a horrific view, he related, that even he could not sleep. Even though he is a gendarme!
Now Agi and uncle Bela whispered something about us remaining behind in a typhus hospital. Supposedly, we will say that uncle Bela has contacted typhoid fever. This is possible, because he had it earlier while in the Ukraine. I don't know, I trust mostly nothing, I can only think of Marta and I am afraid that the same thing will happen to us as it did to her, even though everyone says that we are not going to Poland, but only to Balaton.
Yet, my little Diary, I don't want to die, I still want to live, even if it means that only I remain behind from this entire district. I would wait for the end of the war in a cellar, or in the attic, or any hole, I would, my little Diary, I would even allow that cross-eyed gendarme who took the flour from us to kiss me, only not to be killed, only to be left alive!
I now see that the friendly gendarme let Mariska in, I can't write any further, my little Diary, I'm crying with tears and I am in a hurry to see Mariska...
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