Letters to the Editor: Jul/Aug. 2013

To the Editor

With thanks for the kind review of my book: When Even the Poets were Silent. [“Breaking the Silence”, TVR May 2013] But I was surprised that there was no mention of how much help I received from the people of Vienna.

Holocaust survivors are usually very critical about Austria, but I have a different experience. I was in a work camp in Vienna, sixteen years old, repairing railway lines. We had to work; the food was bad and our clothing was tattered, but we were not treated badly; we received more help and sympathy from the locals than we did in our home country of Hungary.

Arriving at the frontier, ninety people locked in cattle wagons, two Austrian ladies ran alongside giving us water. The doors of our wagons were opened slightly to give us fresh air. Occasionally people slid a tomato or a piece of bread into my packet. Once an old couple invited me in for a plateful of food. These things couldn’t have happened in Hungary, and they gave us hope and restored our faith in the human race.

The most remarkable episode: I and another man were looking for ne ws at a moored barge transporting Young Hungarian Jewish men towards Germany, probably to a death-camp. The guard noticed us and ordered us to join the others. It was a death sentence, and we were desperate. His daughter ran and got an Austrian policeman, who had a heated argument with the guard, and in the end, he had to let us go, and we returned to our camp. No doubt, that this policeman saved our lives.

George Pogany 

Amsterdam, Nl

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