KH: Hungary is a horribly anti-Semitic country, always has been, still is today.
KH: And today it’s getting worse and worse.
INT: And your second cousin carried on living in Hungary?
KH: Oh yes, I have four second cousins in Hungary.
INT: Oh right.
KH: My granny’s sister had two daughters as well.
KH: And one of them had a daughter and a son and the other one had two sons and they have their own children. But it’s one of the sons and his daughter that I have more contact with. And the granddaughter Alla is the one I have most contact with.
INT: And did you always know, did you know them in Hungary?
KH: Yes I always knew them in Hungary.
INT: And they didn’t know that they were Jewish even though they knew your family? Wow.
KH: I knew them in Hungary yes. They were all younger than me seeing as their grandmother was ten years younger than my grandmother.
I went through a course, learned about export, about exporting and that stood me well when I came here and I got a job in a factory which manufactured metal detectors and I became export manager there for a few years. In the meantime I did other things, I got myself a degree in philosophy.
KH: Open University; finally I could do what I wanted to do.
So when I did my degree here I did it in philosophy and enjoyed every single moment of it. It became my degree and my passion.
KH: And then in the last…maybe eighteen? Seventeen/eighteen years of my working life I worked as a journalist at the local newspaper and retired eleven years ago and I enjoy every minute of my retirement.
INT: What do you do with your time? Just to finish off.
KH: I still read a lot, I’m still a bookworm, always have been a bookworm. I still am. I play bridge and I teach bridge. I do a lot of crafting and I also teach Hebrew nowadays and just enjoy my life. Being retired is like being on holiday 24/7- it’s wonderful. It’s only a pity you can’t enjoy it when you are younger.
INT: Yeah. So how did the teaching Hebrew come about?
KH: Well, because of you I met certain people who are kind of half Jewish/semi-Jewish…happen to like Israel.
KH: Happen to go and visit Israel every so often and they wanted to learn Hebrew and they nagged me into it as it happens and nagged me into it is about the right way of putting it. I’m happy doing it, and still doing it.
INT: Yes. So do you get books from Israel or something like that?
KH: No, no, no; just out of my head.
OK so as it happens I taught Hebrew before because in the kibbutz for some time we used to get volunteers, mostly from Switzerland or other parts of Europe as well, and some of those occasionally wanted to learn Hebrew and I was in charge of teaching them. And occasionally we got new kibbutz members, for example we had a family from America.
KH: And they came without knowing Hebrew so they had to learn Hebrew as well, so somebody has to tell them to learn.
INT: And that’s you.
KH: So I did that as well.
INT: So you’re a craftswoman, a Hebrew teacher, a journalist, a stamp and coin person…
KH: Not any more. But we all do more than one thing throughout our life.
INT: A philosopher.
KH: We all do many things throughout our lives.
INT: Yeah. So just to finish off, what you didn’t do…perfect timing…what you didn’t do is tell me the story that you told me in the café that time, that you wrote in that thing, about the train. Would you mind just telling me that story?
KH: I don’t know it.
KH: It’s not a fact of life, it’s out of my head.
KH: I know that when I was stolen out of the Munkacs Ghetto the person who had done it, who was paid by granny and my aunt to do it, but who risked his own life to do it, went back a week later and there was nobody there. So in that week of…nobody…I don’t know the date, Obviously, I was a baby.
KH: Nobody remembered the date but in that week of end of March/beginning of April the Munkacs Ghetto was emptied and there maybe…there were a thousand people there, all of them old people, women and children because all the fit younger men were taken beforehand. So the only people left there were the old people, the women and the children. They were put on a train to Auschwitz. I don’t know what happened on the train; it is just my imagination that is working overtime.
KH: I was not there, nobody who was there lived to tell the tale. I think that my six week old sister Eva would have died on the train. I think that my mother could no longer breastfeed her, I think that my mother could no longer breastfeed her because my mother didn’t have anything to eat. I do know for a fact…no, not for a fact but I do know nearly for a fact that when they arrived in Auschwitz three or four days later a selection was made.
All the old people, all the mothers and their children were taken to the gas chambers immediately. All the, all the children…maybe fifteen/sixteen year olds, especially the boys, all the younger women without children may have survived for a few more weeks. They didn’t come back; that is what I do know.
I have written about that. A friend of mine who lives in London, who is ten years older than I am, was on one of those trains.
KH: And she came back. She has read what I have written and she says that what I have written was too optimistic. I have, for example, written that there was a bucket with water on the train. This friend of mine who was on one of those trains she said ‘No, there was a bucket, an empty bucket, to be used as a toilet’. There was no bucket of water. She said there was not enough room in the wagon for people to ride and to sleep overnight.
She says that people were suffocated on the train, because they were lying on each other, they were suffocating each other. So even though my idea, my imagination of how horrible it was… was not horrible enough