I was born on September 29, 1932 in Budapest, where I lived with my family in Pesterzsebet. In 1942, my father, like all Jewish men, was forced to join the Hungarian labor service. In April of 1944, after the Germans had occupied Hungary, at the age of 11 my mother sent me with my aunt to flee to Slovakia. She promised that she would follow with my 7-year-old brother, Tamas as soon as she could. Once in Slovakia, my aunt left me behind and I was hidden by several different families until I was captured in the middle of September, 1944. I was sent to a nursing home and then in the middle of October 1944 I was brought by cattle car to Sered’ Concentration Camp and from there deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
On November 3, 1944 I arrived in Auschwitz Birkenau. After a horrific period and barely alive, I was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. The Red Cross cared for me and on September 18, 1945 I returned to Budapest where I found my uncle and aunt, who then raised me. I trained to be a seamstress and in 1951 married Andor Szepesi. In 1952, I gave birth to our first daughter, Judith. In 1954, my husband received an offer to work in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. After 2 years, while on a brief vacation back in Budapest, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 broke out. Family friends of ours in Frankfurt applied for refugee status on our behalf, so we were able to return to Frankfurt where we remained permanently. In 1964, we welcomed our second daughter, Anita. My husband, who was a Furrier by trade, and I worked together in our Fur Boutique until he passed away in 1993. In 1995, I visited Auschwitz with my daughters for the 50th anniversary of the liberation. After that visit and waiting 50 years, I finally broke my silence and began to talk. I wrote a book and in 2011 my autobiography “Ein Mädchen allein auf der Flucht” was published.
I continue to go to schools to tell my story, for all of my family who were murdered and all of those who can no longer speak.
Today I have my two daughters, my 4 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
What does Auschwitz mean to you?
Auschwitz has two meanings for me: First, the past. It was hell, demons, the devil, fear, anguish, powerlessness! The second is in the present. I actually never wanted to touch the ground of Auschwitz again but, then I had the feeling and the need to return to the place where my mother and younger brother Tamas were murdered. It is now as if I am going to the cemetery, it is good for my soul when I can go there and light a candle and say a prayer for my beloved family.
My message for future generations is…
Young people should pay attention and open their eyes as they go throughout the world, self-reflect, do not hate! As I have lived to see what hate can do! Young people should be respectful of one another. When they see injustice, they should fight against them. Don’t look away! Never forget the story!!!!
Who will be accompanying you on this journey?
My first daughter Judith Szepesi (67 years old)
My second daughter Anita Schwarz (55 years old)
with my grandchild, Samuel Wurman, son of Judith (39 years old)
Please share any information you would like about your companion.
My daughter Judith Szepesi (widow), born in Budapest in 1952 🡪 living in Frankfurt
One daughter Sharon Wurman (42 years old, one daughter Naomi (3))🡪 living in Antwerp
One son Samuel Wurman (39 years old, two sons Léo (6) & Doron (2)) 🡪 living in Brussels
Daughter Anita Schwarz (married)
One daughter Celina Schwarz (22 years old, student in Vienna)
One son Leroy Schwarz (19 years old, student in Maastricht)