Interviewer: This is Bill Cohen from the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and I am at the home of Alice Klein in Bexley and the date is August 8th, 2019. We’re going to interview Alice Klein about her life. Alice, could we start by having you talk about what year were you born and where were you born?
Klein: Yes, I was born on June 21, 1925, in Budapest, Hungary.
Interviewer: And tell us a little bit about your parents. What were their names?
Klein: My father name was Ignac Steiner.
Interviewer: S-t-e-i-n-e-r, Steiner, and his first name was?
Klein: Ignac. I-g-n-a-c.
Interviewer: Okay, and your mother’s name, her m…
Klein: Maiden name, my mother maiden name was Antonia Guttman.
Interviewer: Guttman. G-u-t-t-m-a-n?
Interviewer: and were they both from Hungary? You were born in Hungary. Is that where they were from?
Klein: Yes. I born in Hungary but they was living in Czechoslovakia, but you know, Czechoslovakia was, before Hungarian and then Czech, because the Hungarian went, and so my parents went to school, one year went to school to Hungary learning Hungarian and then other year Czechan.
Interviewer: The Czechs came.
Klein: Yes, and then Hungarian again.
Interviewer: So, different soldiers came in and took over…
Interviewer: …the village where they lived.
Klein: Yes, that’s what I heard.
Interviewer: Okay, but you were born, when you were born it was Budapest and it was Hungary.
Klein: Yes, and my four sister, my three sister, four sister and one brother born in Czechoslovakia.
Interviewer: In Czechoslovakia, so they were not born in Budapest, Hungary they were born in Cze…
Klein: No, just me and my sister.
Interviewer: One sister and you were born in Budapest.
Interviewer: What do you remember about your very early years when you were a child, your very early years, before World War II? What do you remember? Did you have a happy childhood? What do you remember?
Klein: A very, very happy childhood, a very special father and mother. You know, I am myself a mother, but they was something very special. They was living just for us. My mother never “work” because she had six children. Just my father was working alone.
Interviewer: And what did your father do?
Klein: In Czechoslovakia he was, I really don’t know to what…he was a very strong man, a very, very strong man like you see that picture there and he was working with, I can’t say how…
Interviewer: Was it in a factory?
Klein: Yeah, I guess factory, but he was manager.
Interviewer: Oh, he was a manager.
Klein: He was a manager, yes.
Interviewer: In some kind of business.
Klein: Yes, and my mother’s parents, my grandparents had a little store.
Interviewer: That was in Czechoslovakia.
Klein: Yes, in Czechoslovakia, and my father went in to the store to shop things and he saw that my mother, she was, that, she was at that time 18 or 19 years old and my father was 30, older than 30.
Interviewer: Your father was older than 30. Your mother was 18 and they met in her parents’ store in Czechoslovakia…
Klein: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: …and they fell in love?
Klein: They fall in love but my mother was very young and my parents didn’t, my grandparents didn’t want it.
Interviewer: They didn’t want them to be married.
Klein: Yes, because was too much, 12 year different.
Interviewer: So, my father said, they told my father that “Look, we like you. You are very nice” and he made a business and he sent all the friends over there to shopping and then my father was big joker and he said, “ The firm,” you know before the store, there was a firm, out, right at such-and-such store…
Interviewer: There was a sign, a sign outside the store…
Klein: And he said, my [grand]parents said “Please don’t come anymore because you know she’s too young” and my father said, “Okay, [?] that should fall, that firm sign on my head if I come once more. So, the other day my father came and they said, “How you can say something. You are not free from God? He said, “I came in the back way so there was no, that could not fall…”
Interviewer: Let me make sure I understand. The grandparents did not want their daughter…
Interviewer: …your mother, to marry your father,
Interviewer: …so they put a sign up…
Klein: No, the sign was out, “the store where you can get everything.”
Interviewer: The name of the store was on the sign,
Interviewer: … and did the sign also say…
Klein: Yes. It was hanging.
Interviewer: It was hanging.
Klein: And my father said, “So, I should, that should, because as I said, you promised you wouldn’t come, okay, I promised, that sign should fall on my head if I come in.
Interviewer: Oh, now I understand. They, he, your father said, “I won’t come here because I don’t want the sign of the store to fall on my head…”
Klein: “that should fall if I come”
Interviewer: Yes, he said, “if I come, may the sign of advertising the store out front, may it fall on my head,” and then he came anyway and they said, “How did you come here? You said you wouldn’t come, “and he said, “Well, I came through the back door…
Interviewer: …so the sign wouldn’t fall on me,” so, he had a sense of humor.
Klein: Yes, he had something very special.
Interviewer: He was also very much in love with the 18-year-old girl who became your mother.
Klein: Yes, you know he was already going all over, he was in France, he was all over, my father. He was a young man and he had just, he was mourning the father. I think the father passed away early. The mother raised him.
Interviewer: So, in the end, the grandparents said, “It’s okay, you can marry our daughter. “
Interviewer: Even though they were 12 years difference.
Klein: And they were so happy. I never heard they fighting. I never heard in my, in our house fighting.
Interviewer: You never heard any fighting. You said they treated you and your sisters and your brother very well. Can you give me examples of how happy you were back then?
Klein: Yes, I went, you know in Hungary, the school, is middle school four year, and other four year a higher school and after that more higher, so, the first two four year when I went, and if you was a good student, you could go in the polgari
Interviewer: If you were a good student you could do what?
Klein: You could go to the polgari, higher school. If not you have to go eighth grade. That was [?] that called [?] school and then, and that cost money too, going higher school and we don’t have because my father was working for eight people so my, I was crying because I don’t want to go in the [?] school. I want to go in the higher school to polgari.
Interviewer: You wanted to go to the higher school and you could because you were smart but he didn’t have the money so, you were crying.
Klein: So, I was crying and my father came in our room, we had three people in one room and the other room was five people so, I was crying and my father came and he said, “Don’t cry. I will do everything get you go to the polgari.
Interviewer: He said, ‘I will do anything to make sure you can go to the higher school.’
Klein: Yes, and “Don’t cry. You are my youngest daughter.” So, I don’t know what he did but I went in the polgari.
Interviewer: You don’t know how he got the money but he did and you went to the, to the higher school.
Klein: “But,” he said, “Promise me that you have to be a good student. Then you get…” Yes.
Interviewer: And you were a good student.
Klein: I was a good student, not, not straight A but I was a good student, so, I went to polgari, four-year polgari. I was the happiest.
Interviewer: You were happy to be in the better school.
Klein: Yes, and my father was to all my sisters and he was very proud of the only son.
Interviewer: You have a, you have a little tear in your eye as you talk about your father.
Klein: Yes, yes, and my mother, with my mother was everything okay what my father say, that was okay. She was smiling. She was working because we don’t have any washing machine. My mother was washing the huge big blanket, with her hand.
Interviewer: She would wash blankets by hand.
Klein: Yes, by hand.
Interviewer: Because you didn’t have a washing machine.
Klein: No. Nobody had washing machine yet, and she was singing and you know, in the kitchen was, like, pull, drying, pull drying big blankets and everything.
Interviewer: Oh, you dried the clothes on a rope hanging in the kitchen.
Klein: Yes, and we have to, that was on the top, on the ceiling.
Interviewer: It was on the ceiling.
Interviewer: And that’s one of your memories.
Klein: Yes, and we were very happy because my mother couldn’t, yeah [?]and “can you come, Aliskah?” she called me.
Interviewer: She called you what?
Interviewer: Oh, Alice, Aliskah, sure.
Klein: Yes, and “Can you help me?” because that have to be pulled up.
Interviewer: Youhelped her wring the wash water out of the blanket so it would dry better?
Klein: No, after she was washing it, she squeeze it, squeeze it out and then on the ceiling was five or six rope and that’s was coming down because that was [?] and when she put it out over there. Then we have to pull it back.
Interviewer: You had to put the rope back up…
Interviewer: …because it kept sagging down…
Interviewer: …because the clothes were so heavy with the water in them.
Interviewer: So, that’s one of your memories.
Klein: Yes, and we was laughing as I was pulling it. My mom was pulling it.
Interviewer: You were pulling on the rope to get it to go higher.
Interviewer: But you remember your mother singing as she worked.
Klein: She was singing. Every time she was singing Czech, German, Hungarian.
Interviewer: Your mother spoke more than one language?
Klein: Three languages and Yiddish, too.
Interviewer: And English?
Klein: No English.
Interviewer: Not English. So, what were the languages she spoke?
Klein: Hungarian, Czech,
Klein: German and Yiddish.
Interviewer: And Yiddish. Four languages.
Interviewer: How about your father? Did he speak?
Klein: Well, my father was going into school in Germany. He spoke perfect German and perfect, and he went to Paris. He taught French.
Interviewer: He taught French?
Klein: Yes, my father.
Interviewer: He taught French.
Klein: Yes, I have a picture what was made in Paris. You want to see it?
Interviewer: Well, not right now but, so you had a happy childhood.
Klein: Very, very happy.
Interviewer: Did your family, was your family very observant in Jewish ritual? Did you light the Sabbath candles?
Klein: Yes. Every Shabbos. Every Shabbos. And we was not allowed to light the electricity, no warming, nothing.
Interviewer: You weren’t allowed to use electricity during Shabbos.
Interviewer: So, you were very observant.
Klein: Yes, but my grandmother was very, my grandfather passed away early.
Interviewer: Your grandfather passed away early.
Klein: Yes. He was 46 when he passed away.
Interviewer: Only 46.
Klein: Forty-six and from that, because she was doing something in the store, and something where he [?], she said something break and she said standing in the back and my grandmother was working there and, in the store with her son and daughter but there was [?]
Interviewer: He was, your grandfather was trying to get something off a shelf in the store…
Interviewer: …and it fell?
Klein: Yes, something high up.
Interviewer: And it fell.
Klein: Yes, because he was standing, probably that’s the reason that my father, when he was not married, he was still not married he was helping very much in the store. He was first a customer and then when he saw my mom, a 18-year-old girl, then he was going there more often and find out that my grandfather was in bed. Ten years he was sick and my grandmother was working alone so probably that’s the reason they said, “Okay, married.” My….
Interviewer: I understand, so, when your father met your mother and fell in love, that was around the same time that your mother’s father was sick.
Klein: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: So, tell me a little more about the Jewish part of your childhood. You kept kosher? Did you keep kosher?
Klein: Yes, we have kosher, yes, but was not, one store was where you can get meat but was no kosher [store?], like [?] was not kosher. Cheese didn’t exist in my childhood, but meat was.
Interviewer: You had kosher meat in your house, growing up.
Klein: Yes. Yes, but the meat we had just twice a day, twice a week, twice a week, Saturday night, and Friday night and Saturday lunch.
Interviewer: That’s when you had meat?
Interviewer: For Shabbos.
Klein: For Shabbos.
Interviewer: Because it was expensive.
Klein: Yes, It was expensive, yes, very expensive.
Interviewer: Do you remember celebrating Jewish holidays?
Klein: We have, whole family was by us on seder night, yes, we have sometimes twenty, twenty-two people.
Interviewer: Sometimes 22 people would come to your house to celebrate a holiday.
Klein: Seder, for Seder, Passover.
Interviewer: For Seder.
Klein: And my father know everything, Hebrew, my son, my brother, even in the afternoon was a special school, Hebrew School, so we went in Hebrew School with the rabbi, every other day I think so, one or two hours. We was learning a basic Hebrew, no matter girls or boys.
Interviewer: Girls and boys both went to the school to learn.
Klein: Afternoon, a special school, if you want to and my parents wanted to, so we learned the basic.
Interviewer: So, you went.
Klein: I went. Yes
Interviewer: Just like the boys.
Klein: Yes. I know the Baruch Hu. I know the Ma Nishtan[u]a.
Interviewer: You learned all the prayers.
Interviewer: You learned how to read Hebrew?
Klein: Yes, and every, I do it, too, every morning and every night.
Interviewer: So, your childhood was happy in Budapest, Hungary, and then, then what happened?
Klein: Then, you know, ‘til ‘43 we don’t know nothing what was going on in the world.
Interviewer: Did you say 1943?
Klein: ’Til 43, 19.
Interviewer: What happened in 1943? Things were okay until 1943?
Klein: Yes. We heard that something is going on with the Jews in the whole world. We don’t know about what happening in Poland and in Poland that was long time. There was already a concentration camp. We don’t know about it. Was no television, was no nothing. Then in ‘44, in April, then we heard something and my father said, “Don’t worry, that is impossible, something like that, doing every…people. Don’t worry.” He don’t worry yet.
Interviewer: He had heard, you had heard reports that about what?
Klein: That they are deporting the Jews.
Interviewer: From Hungary.
Interviewer: You heard that they were throwing the Jews out from Hungary?
Klein: Out of Hungary, but we don’t heard, we don’t want to believe it, that is possible and then in ’44 in April we heard that, that the Germans came in Budapest.
Interviewer: With soldiers.
Klein: Yes. And then I think [they write it?] Then I was 17 or 18 when they came in the house and they said that “All…” and people were dead. My brother was a soldier.
Interviewer: Your brother was a soldier in the Hungarian army?
Klein: Yes, and I have pictures from it and then he can’t be anymore soldier, he was, oh gosh, oh gosh, ever again, they take him everyplace to work on making…. you know where the soldiers, they have to, hmm, how could I explain?
Interviewer: Your brother was in the Hungarian army…
Interviewer: …and then they told him to do something else.
Klein: Yes, they have to work all over making for the soldiers…
Interviewer: It’s okay.
Klein: …you know…
Interviewer: Digging? They had to dig?
Klein: Digging, digging, because there was a war and you know, the Germans, everybody, was a war, in ’43, ’44.
Interviewer: 43. He was still in the army, the Hungarian army but his job was to dig to help fight off the Germans?
Klein: Yes. I don’t, ah…
Interviewer: It’s okay. We’ll understand eventually.
Klein: [Starting to hurt/getting too hard?] already.
Interviewer: Was he digging trenches?
Klein: Yes, for the..
Interviewer: For the soldiers to hide in?
Interviewer: So, they could fight against the Germans?
Interviewer: Okay, so that was his job as a soldier to help dig.
Klein: Against, against the Americans, against, for Germans and from Hungary. Hungary when they came in, Germans and they said that all the Hungarian people have to, the Jews have to wear a David star.
Interviewer: A yellow Jewish star.
Klein: Yes, and then that’s…
Interviewer: You remember when they ordered that?
Klein: Yes, I was wearing, too, I have to wear it, too, and then after that one day they came and they said “All that, after 18 or 16, or I can’t remember anymore, gone from their [?] because apartment houses and we take them.”
Interviewer: The Germans said that everybody, younger than 18…?
Klein: Over 18…
Interviewer: Everybody over 18…
Klein: …to year 50, I don’t know, and they have to go down and they are taking us, they say they are taking us to work.
Interviewer: They took everybody over age 18 away…
Interviewer: …from Budapest, the Jews.
Klein: The Jews, just the Jews.
Interviewer: And you were one of them.
Klein: Yes, with my sister.
Interviewer: With your one sister.
Klein: With one of my sisters. My other two sisters, they was living in other place and they came the same day to the houses.
Interviewer: They took them to another place.
Interviewer: And so, where did you wind up going?
Klein: Brick factory.
Interviewer: A brick factory.
Klein: There was no food, no water, nothing.
Interviewer: Did you have to live in the factory?
Klein: No, we was there a few days [?].
Interviewer: We’ll read some of your written comments later. That will be a good thing to help people understand but just tell me right now, what do you remember about working at the brick factory?
Klein: We was working in a brick factory. We was there for one or two days…
Interviewer: Oh, just for one or two days.
Klein: …and then they came and take us to the train station and on the train station they put us in the wagon.
Interviewer: They put you in one of the train cars.
Klein: Train cars, 70 or 80 in one wagon and with two pails. One was water, the other was a toilet.
Interviewer: I don’t understand. Say that again? There were two…
Klein: Two pails, big pails.
Interviewer: Two pails.
Klein: You know, one was filled with water.
Interviewer: Inside the train car?
Klein: In the wagon, yes.
Interviewer: In the wagon of the train.
Klein: In the wagon, like the cows, cow wagon.
Interviewer: Cow wagon. Usually they would put cows but now they put Jews. Okay.
Klein: Yes. There was a little window on the top, a small little window, nothing else.
Interviewer: That was the only window in the whole car.
Klein: Yes. And there was two big pails. One was water, clean water. I don’t know how clean it was.
Interviewer: Oh, clean water was in one pail.
Klein: And the other pail was empty and you have to go to the toilet. Eighty people use it.
Interviewer: One pail was for people to go to the bathroom and the other pail with water was for what? For drinking?
Klein: For drinking.
Interviewer: But this was in a train wagon.
Interviewer: And how long were you on the train?
Klein: Few days, two, three days… we are not clean anymore but that was what happened. I don’t know how we did it. I don’t know how I went through.
Interviewer: You don’t know how you survived.
Klein: When my sister was [?]… I won’t survive that’s for sure.
Interviewer: Say that again?
Klein: If my sister, if I wouldn’t be with my sisters, I wouldn’t live through.
Interviewer: If it, if you hadn’t been with your sister, you would not have survived.
Klein: That’s right.
Interviewer: She helped you or she gave you hope?
Klein: She gave me hope. She was there all the time and I gave her hope. So, then we arrived to Rawensbruck.
Interviewer: What is the name of this place again?
Interviewer: Can you spell it?
Klein: Yes. [phone rings] Ay, Ay, Ay.
Interviewer: Let’s wait ‘til the phone stops ringing and they’ll leave a message and then when it’s quiet you can spell the name.
Klein: I sow you that. It was a crank call probably. Some days they all call me up. Ay.
Interviewer: Okay, so you’re going to spell the name of the place that the train took you to.
Klein: Yea. R-a-w
Interviewer: R-a-w-e-n-s-b-r-u-c-k. Rawensbruck.
Interviewer: Yes, in Germany. That’s where they took you in November…
Klein: Yes, Germany or Austria. I’m not sure.
Interviewer: Now also, above this on this written piece of paper you have which says ‘’November, 1944 until January 1945,” above the word “Rawensbruck” it also says “Buchenwald.”
Klein: Buchenwald. Yeah.
Interviewer: Is that the same place?
Klein: No. First Buchenwald, then Rawensbruck.
Interviewer: First you went to Buchenwald and then you went to Rawensbruck,
Klein: Yea, because at Buchenwald they ask if, who want to, who is willing to work. We was telling that I, we want to work. The rest, I don’t know. I lost my friend. I never see her again, so she didn’t came.
Interviewer: So first you went to Buchenwald and they said, “Who wants to work?” and you said, “I will work,” and so they sent you to Rawensbruck to work.
Klein: We was working there.
Interviewer: Your sister though, that’s when you became separated from your sister?
Klein: No, I was not separated. No. I was separated from my friend.
Interviewer: So, you and your sister both went from Buchenwald to Rawensbruck.
Interviewer: And what happened at Rawensbruck? What do you remember there?
Klein: Rawensbruck, then a few days later they took us to Penig.
Interviewer: They took you to another place.
Interviewer: “Penig.” P-e-n-i-g is what your paper says.
Interviewer: “Working in factory.”
Interviewer: So, what do you remember about working there?
Klein: There was ammunition.
Klein: Ammunition, yeah, and we went every day, over one-hour walk, to the work and come back, walking after work. We have to walk together. They pick us up. It was dark. We have to walk, to go to work.
Interviewer: You had to walk to work.
Klein: A hour.
Interviewer: One hour to walking to go to work and you were working in an ammunition…
Interviewer: …factory. So, what was your job? Do you remember what you actually did?
Klein: A machine, something I have to make some piece and I know where was it.
Interviewer: What was it like where you were living? You didn’t live in the factory. You lived an hour walk away.
Klein: In [?], in a [?]
Interviewer: In a ghetto? Did you say in a ghetto? I didn’t hear what you said.
Klein: No, that was, you know like, there was like good building like in Auschwitz and like you see in, that was…I think I have to stop a little bit.
Interviewer: Did you say you need to stop?
Klein: A little bit. Yes.
Interviewer: Little bit. Okay.
Klein: Just a little bit.
Klein: I need to drink some [?]. Can I give you some orange juice or…orange juice or…?
Interviewer: Yes, that would be good.
Klein: ..cranberry juice?
Interviewer: The date is February 11th, 2020 and my name is Bill Cohen and I’m here with Alice Klein in her apartment in Bexley and we already talked with Alice once about her life up until about 1945 but we stopped the interview there and now we’re going to do Part II of the interview with Alice. Before we move on from World War II, she was telling us about being in some of the camps and how horrible it was, and I guess Alice, I just want to ask you is there anything you want to tell us about your experience in the camps?
Klein: I think I said, there almost everything [?] what was going on. You know, I have here…
Interviewer: You’ve written down some of the thing that you wanted and we’ll make a copy of this and we’ll put it into the record with your interview. I know you had a horrible time during the 1940s when you were in the camps and I’m not sure if I asked you this before or not, but, during that time, did you believe in God? Did you pray to God or did you say to yourself, “There must not be a God.”
Klein: No, I was very believing all the time in God. I never, I never failed and I was praying every single night when I went to sleep on my straw bed, full with bugs, but I never give up, no, not my faith and I was sure that my parents are praying for us and they were such a special people and that and God listened to them and we came back and I find my parents alive.
Interviewer: You found your parents alive…
Interviewer: …after the War.
Interviewer: How did that happen?
Klein: They save us in a ghetto and before a day they want to blow up the ghetto but the Russian came and they was liberating my parents and my niece and my two other small nieces. One was two-yeasr old and the other was six and the six year old was on her whole life was waiting for his father because [‘s] father, her father and so, and when he came home we find him too and that was a really miracle and [?Natan ]my brother who was [four year?] away, we don’t know nothing about him the whole time what was happening and he came home one night.
Interviewer: So, your whole family survived.
Klein: The whole, not the aunts, not the uncles, but my close family, my parents and my sister and my brother and now I believe even more in God.
Interviewer: Do you remember, you said the Russians, did the Russians liberate you from one of the camps? Are they the ones who came?
Klein: Yes, yes, my parents. We was liberating in Panig, with the American soldiers.
Interviewer: American soldiers.
Interviewer: They were the ones that came and freed you.
Interviewer: The American soldiers.
Klein: And they was very nice and I wish who was it. I wish I know. There was a Friedman who was, I don’t know other things about him, but he was praying, he was keeping for us Friday night because they took us to a to a sanitorium.
Interviewer: A sanitorium. They took you.
Interviewer: …because you were sick …
Interviewer: …from your time in the camps.
Klein: Sure, we was all just, just skeletons.
Interviewer: You were skeletons.
Klein: Yah, sure. Everyone, I am sure that two, three weeks and we are finished.
Interviewer: Do you know how much, how much, how, what did you, do you know what your weight was?
Klein: Yes, yes, I know. My sister, I was with my sister. My sister was thirty-five kilo.
Interviewer: Thirty-five kilos.
Klein: And I was, I was thirty-five and she was thirty-three.
Interviewer: You were thirty-five kilos and your sister was thirty-three…
Interviewer: …when you were freed from the camps.
Interviewer: So, they sent you to a sanitorium,
Interviewer: …or sanitarium and…
Klein: For maybe three weeks and they took us from, [?] we was already a little bit stronger. Then came the Russian and Americans give us over to Russian.
Interviewer: Oh, the Americans freed you.
Interviewer: Then you went to this place to get better and to get your weight up,
Interviewer: … and to eat good food and then the Americans turned you over to the Russians.
Klein: Yes, but I remember. Yeah.
Interviewer: That’s a very interesting fact.
Interviewer: So, what happened then?
Klein: And then they took, put us on a big car.
Interviewer: On a big what?
Klein: How should I say, car.
Interviewer: A big car.
Klein: An open car. They would take us and go there and they, we talk Hungarian and no English and a little German and I talk Czech so I don’t know, somehow the Russian and the Czech, somehow, we understand and we told them that we are going to go to Hungary.
Interviewer: You told the Russians,
Interviewer: …you wanted to go to Hungary.
Interviewer: …because you were Hungarian.
Interviewer: And so, what happened then?
Klein: And then, we [?] and they took us to a station and they put us up on the…
Interviewer: They took you to Hungary.
Interviewer: So, what were your feelings then? Were you relieved? Were you happy?
Klein: I didn’t know who I find because they said that we won’t find nobody that alive, so I don’t know it. The Americans said, “Come on, we take you to America.” They want to take us to America.
Interviewer: But first, did you go to Hungary?
Klein: Yea, I came after America. I will tell you later.
Interviewer: So, first you went to Hungary.
Klein: Yes, and I find everybody.
Interviewer: Were you alone or were you with your mother and father and brother.
Klein: I was with my sister and then we find our parents and we was there and living with them.
Interviewer: So, your family was reunited in Hungary.
Interviewer: You went with your sister to Hungary and then you found your mother and father,
Klein: Yes, and my sister and my nieces.
Interviewer: And your nieces.
Klein: And then we was in one room, all the whole family because there’s no, so they don’t take us so we have someplace back to go.
Interviewer: Your family for a while lived in one room with several people, in Hungary.
Klein: My father, my mother, my sister, my brother was married then and he find her, three weeks he was married before they take him in ‘40-some.
Interviewer: How long did you stay in Hungary and in that one room?
Klein: A while. Maybe a half a year? And then my sister, no, yes, and then my sister got back her old apartment.
Interviewer: She got back her old apartment,
Interviewer: …in Hungary. So, what happened then?
Klein: And then, we was…seventy years ago thinking back.
Interviewer: Yes, it’s seventy years ago. Yes. Long time.
Klein: Then I went to work and I met a young man and I got married.
Interviewer: In Hungary.
Interviewer: You met a young man and you fell in love.
Klein: Yea, we fell in love.
Interviewer: And what was his name?
Klein: imre, I-m-r-e.
Klein: I-m-r-e. Imre. I think the name is here Emory.
Interviewer: And was he Hungarian?
Klein: Yes, he was Hungarian.
Interviewer: You got married.
Klein: Yes. I got married.
Interviewer: In Hungary.
Klein: In Hungary and then, I met him in ‘47.
Interviewer: 1947 you met.
Klein: Yes, and in ’49, May, we get married.
Interviewer: Were you still living, before you got married, were you still living with your parents?
Interviewer: In one room?
Klein: Yea, in one room, but after I got married, no. Then I get a little apartment that was a store and behind it was two rooms, a kitchen and a room, so, then my father was buying that. I don’t know how he was. He was a very nice man my father and everybody like him, so they, I went over there to live and in 49, May, and then in’50, July I get my son, I had my son.
Interviewer: In July of 1950 you had your son.
Klein: Yea, in July.
Interviewer: And his name is?
Klein: Gabor, G-a-b-o-r.
Interviewer: Gabor, and he lives in Columbus now.
Klein: Yes. He told me that he meet you.
Interviewer: Now tell us about your husband. What did he do? Did he have work?
Klein: His father was killed.
Interviewer: His father was killed by the Nazis?
Klein: Yes, and he had a little place where he had, where he had, where he was, he have a little workplace. He was making, he was making materials, but with hands. That was, he had some machines and with hands he was,
Interviewer: He was cranking machines?
Klein: Yea with materials.
Interviewer: With his hands. And what would he make?
Interviewer: Materials. Oh, cloth.
Klein: Yes. The father was doing it and so the father had that little store and when they came in, they are not supposed to have Jews, nothing, so, my husband’s father was, looking for somebody that was not Jewish because they said Jews, couldn’t have nothing anymore and he sign [?] to woman and he went to her and after [?], he take my father-in-law and killed him, the man, and my husband came back from Gunskirchen he was in Gunskirchen and Mauthausen.
Interviewer: Those were two camps.
Klein: My husband, yea, and he get typhus. He get typhus there, sickness.
Interviewer: He got sick.
Interviewer: Typhus. Oh yes, there was much typhus in the camps.
Interviewer: He had typhus but he survived.
Klein: He survived and he came home and that woman who was not Jewish, she was really nice and she was giving to my husband half. She don’t have to.
Interviewer: She gave your husband what?
Klein: Half of everything they have.
Interviewer: Half of the…
Klein: Half of the little store.
Interviewer: So, your husband was able to use machines…
Klein: To use machines.
Interviewer: To make fabric or did he actually make clothing?
Klein: Fabric. Yea.
Interviewer: Fabric. He made the fabric.
Klein: It was a big thing.
Interviewer: Big sheets.
Interviewer: Big sheets of fabric. You are motioning with your hands and somebody else then would take that fabric and make clothing from it.
Klein: They sell it, the fabric. They sell the fabric.
Interviewer: He would sell the fabric.
Interviewer: And somebody else would make clothing.
Klein: Yes. He bring me some beautiful, I’ve never have so beautiful clothing.
Interviewer: He brought you beautiful clothing.
Klein: Yea, and he was working very hard, so, then in the Revolution in ‘56, we, we came.
Interviewer: Oh, you had your son in 1950 and six years later was the Hungarian Revolution…
Interviewer: …where the people rose up and rebelled against the Communist…
Klein: Right. Right.
Interviewer: …dictators, but the rebellion was not successful but, you were able to escape and come to the United States?
Klein: Yea, many people came, not just Jews, every kind of people from Hungary.
Interviewer: How were you able to do that? They allowed you to leave.
Klein: No, we were escaping.
Interviewer: You had to escape.
Klein: We were escaping [? horror] night. We was, in fact my son was writing, you remember? Journey to Freedom. He was writing down the whole thing.
Interviewer: Your son, Gabor, he helped listen to your story and wrote up…
Interviewer: …a story about what happened to you.
Klein: Yes. In the school we arrived in America.
Interviewer: Yes. Can you just describe a little bit right now how you escaped? Did you come by, how did you get out of Hungary.
Klein: Three o’clock in the morning, I wake up my family. I pack it up everything. I pack up a loaf of bread, a salami, and a bottle of, of..
Klein: No, whiskey.
Klein: Because we want to, because I told to some other people that on the border they have men who are taking us over and if we give him a bottle of whiskey, he will take us.
Interviewer: You brought bread, salami and whiskey and you weren’t going to drink the whiskey,
Interviewer: …you used it to trade to give it to somebody else…
Interviewer: … to help you escape.
Klein: Yes. Right. Right.
Interviewer: Wow. And so, did you walk out of Hungary or were you on a train or a car? How did you get across the border?
Klein: We went on the train, first on the train and then we arrived almost on the border, the Austrian border.
Interviewer: The Austrian border.
Klein: Yes, and we were spending the night over there, and but my son was writing, lest we should we probably we made it up. Journey To Freedom.
Interviewer: You’re telling me that there are all the details…
Interviewer: …in the text that your son wrote. So, maybe we can get a copy of that…
Interviewer: …and put it with your interview.
Interviewer: So, you got to Austria.
Klein: Not yet, still in Hungary.
Interviewer: You were still in Hungary.
Interviewer: You were almost to Austria.
Klein: That’s when he was working. My son was writing it down, exactly how it happened and then so we went to Austria, a camp.
Interviewer: A camp. You had to stay in a camp.
Klein: Yes, many people were there at that time. Thousands.
Klein: Sure, coming to the border.
Interviewer: So, you were, there were many other people just like you, escaping.
Klein: Right, but not just Jews. Everybody.
Interviewer: Not just Jews. So, you were in a refugee camp.
Interviewer: Okay. Was that outside or were you inside a building?
Klein: inside a building.
Interviewer: You were inside a building. So, what happened then?
Klein: Then, they took us to Kohlbruck?
Interviewer: To where?
Klein: Kohlbruck in, I am not sure that was in Austria, I think in Austria or Germany.
Interviewer: That’s a city or a town?
Klein: Yes, and my, I cannot tell everything because…
Interviewer: I understand. It’s hard to remember.
Klein: In the same camp where we was, my father told us later that he was that soldier in the First World War.
Interviewer: The place you went to in Austria after you crossed the border…
Interviewer: …and got away from Hungary…
Interviewer: …was the same place that your father was a soldier in…
Klein: Yes. In First World War.
Interviewer: …in World War I?!
Interviewer: Wow and there’s a picture. Wow. Hmm.
Klein: And then we was, they was telling us where we going to go. My sister-in-law was in Cleveland. My husband’s sister…
Interviewer: Your husband’s sister.
Klein: …so, she was sending that she would take us.
Interviewer: She wrote you a letter and said, “You can come to Cleveland.”
Klein: Yes, to America, yes,and then somebody wrote my husband that [we should come to?] Australia. But my father said don’t go to Australia because we cannot go after you. It is too far.”
Interviewer: Somebody said, “Come to Australia” and your father said, “It’s much too far.”
Klein: “No, that’s too far. We cannot go after you.” He was hoping that he will come after us.
Interviewer: So, at some point you got onto a boat and came to the United States?
Klein: A plane.
Interviewer: A plane?
Klein: Yes, with a plane we came.
Interviewer: Was that from Austria or did you have to go somewhere else?
Interviewer: You went from Austria to America.
Klein: Yes, but that was an American plane.
Interviewer: It was an American plane.
Interviewer: Wow. And where did you land? New York City?
Klein: In New York City.
Klein: And I was scared to death because they was taking us up, up, up, up I don’t know how many stairs but some twenty more…[?] was in New York or what, very very up and was looking down the window and I was so scared that where I am. Where is it? Where’d they take us?
Interviewer: You had never been in an airplane before.
Klein: No. Never.
Interviewer: And you were scared.
Klein: Ah, no because was a very nice-looking pilot and he came and give for my son chocolate and for me.
Interviewer: They gave you chocolate.
Interviewer: How many other people were on this plane?
Klein: Ah, I think that it was full. I don’t know how many people but that was full.
Interviewer: But was it an airplane like people are on today where there are a hundred people in the plane?
Klein: Mmm, I think so.
Klein: I think so, that was a big plane and he came to me. That time I was not so…
Interviewer: And on the plane with you were, who else was there from your family?
Klein: My husband, myself, and my son.
Interviewer: And your son.
Interviewer: So, your parents stayed behind in Hungary.
Klein: Yeah, they was, yeah. They couldn’t because my father was already in the bed.
Interviewer: He was sick. He was old and sick.
Klein: He was bed-ridden. He was 84 years old.
Interviewer: When other Jews have come to America, they often came by boat…
Interviewer: …and when the boat would come close to New York City all the people would see the Statue of Liberty. When you flew to New York City did you see the Statue of Liberty?
Klein: I am not sure.
Interviewer: You’re not sure. Okay.
Klein: I am not sure.
Interviewer: So, what happened after you came to New York City?
Klein: then they was, they said that they was noticing my family, my husband’s family from everything was noticing and I was getting, what I was getting? I can’t remember which was it. So, they said that they could come and pick us up.
Interviewer: Who was going to pick you up?
Klein: My husband’s sisters.
Interviewer: Your husband’s sister was going to pick you up at the airport?
Klein: Yea, not the airport…
Interviewer: And did they?
Klein: Gee, I don’t know (whispered).
Interviewer: I guess what I think is important to find out is did you live in New York City for a while or did you leave there?
Klein: Maybe one or two weeks.
Interviewer: Just one or two weeks…
Interviewer: …in New York City and then where did you go?
Klein: Then to Cleveland.
Interviewer: to Cleveland to be with your sister…
Interviewer: …your sister-in-law
Interviewer: and her husband who was your brother.
Klein: That’s my husband’s sister.
Interviewer: Oh, your husband’s sister lived in Cleveland and they took you in.
Klein: …and her husband and two children…
Interviewer: Ah. Did you actually live with them?
Klein: I was there. They said that they would look for apartment if I want but if not was upstairs [?] room. We could live there, so they said I could live there a month there, doesn’t matter. So, I told my husband I want to go out, so, after two weeks, my husband was, you know he talk Yiddish and he went to the shul over there, in the tem…in the synagogue and he find some friends there because he talked Yiddish. He didn’t talk English.
Interviewer: He didn’t talk English? Is that what you said?
Interviewer: He spoke Hungarian.
Klein: Just Hungarian.
Interviewer: But he went to the synagogue and made friends.
Klein: Yea and find some friends. My brother-in-law didn’t know he went yet and we find a room.
Interviewer: They found a room…
Interviewer: …for him and you…
Interviewer: …and your son.
Klein: Yes, sure.
Interviewer: So, that way you had your own place.
Klein: I have my own place and then later I get right away job, babysitting job.
Interviewer: You got a job as a babysitter.
Klein: As a babysitter, from nine o’clock in the morning til three o’clock in the night.
Interviewer: From nine o’clock in the morning until three o’clock the next morning.
Klein: The next morning.
Interviewer: You babysat.
Klein: Yes, and after two weeks I collapse.
Interviewer: Say that again.
Klein: I collapse. I fainted.
Interviewer: You fainted.
Klein: After two weeks I couldn’t make it longer.
Interviewer: Because you were up so long, you were working so much…
Interviewer: …you fainted.
Klein: Yes. Yes, and my husband. I don’t know. He didn’t talk English and he get hardly job. Then they took him and he was working in a Forest City Lumber Company. Did you ever hear that?
Interviewer: No, but you’re saying he worked for a lumber company? Do you know what his job was? Did he…
Klein: Day and Night.
Interviewer: Day and night he worked.
Klein: Not day and night, wintertime and summertime, outside.
Interviewer: Oh, he was outside all the time. It sounds like it was hard work?
Klein: Very hard work, very hard work. So, and he was not used to that, you know. He was not a huge guy.
Interviewer: He was not a huge guy.
Klein: No, he was average.
Interviewer: He was average. So, this was hard on him to work.
Klein: Very hard but he needed to have it because I have a small child and I don’t say nothing about my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law. I don’t say no good and no bad because they have family, too, and they have hard life, too.
Interviewer: They had a hard life too.
Interviewer: And you each had your own place to live.
Klein: Yea, they have a little house.
Klein: So, and, but it was nice that we could go someplace, you know? and she was a very nice girl. My brother-in-law was working very hard.
Interviewer: Yes, and did you actually live in Cleveland itself?
Interviewer: There were beginning to be things called suburbs but you lived right in Cleveland.
Interviewer: So that must have been the early, oh, that was the late 1950s, right?
Klein: In ‘57 we are.
Interviewer: 1957. So, what happened t hen? Did you get another job?
Klein: Yes, my husband met a man in the synagogue who have a nursing home and I, they give me a job. First I said, I didn’t talk.
Interviewer: We’ll just let the telephone ring, okay? So, you were working.
Klein: Just see, my son, and I will see, say to him. Okay. Maybe my son because he is in California.
Klein: Okay. So,
Interviewer: So, you were working at a nursing home and what was your first job in the nursing home. What did you do at the beginning?
Klein: Washing in the basement after the people. Washing. Washing machine.
Interviewer: We’ll wait a few moments ‘til the telephone message gets done here:
Interviewer: Okay, so I didn’t’ quite understand. What did you do, what was your first job in the nursing home?
Klein: In the nursing home, washing after the people, dirty sheets and everything.
Interviewer: You washed the dirty sheets.
Klein: Yea, and everything, the washings.
Interviewer: The washings. Yea. And then you got better jobs at the nursing home.
Klein: Yes, and then one day my boss came down and he asked me that could I talk English and I said, “Sure.”
Interviewer: He asked you what?
Klein: “Talk English good?”
Interviewer: Oh, he said, ‘Can you talk English good?’
Klein: Yea and I said, ”Sure, I talk English good,” because my sister told me even if you cannot you just tell everybody that you talk English.
Interviewer: Your sister-in-law…
Klein: My sister.
Interviewer: …told you even if you can’t speak English well, tell people that you can speak well.
Klein: So, they said, they put me up in the kitchen, working, not working in the kitchen, managing the kitchen.
Interviewer: Managing, you became the manager of the, of the kitchen.
Klein: Yes, and I was there some, I have pictures from it. They was working some nine or ten people.
Interviewer: So, you supervised nine or ten people…
Klein: Supervise, yea.
Interviewer: …and you told them how to cook things or…
Klein: Yes. There was very nice, good cook there and I told him and my boss told him that I was doing it in Hungary but I wasn’t so they should help me with just with the language. So, pretty soon, I pick up the language and, and was everything okay and then I went to a course and I get a Food Service Supervisor and I was working there 28 years at one place.
Interviewer: You worked 28 years for that nursing home.
Interviewer: And you supervised the cooking and the kitchen.
Interviewer: You said you picked up English. How did you, how did you do that? Did you go to classes or did you…?
Klein: Night. Night classes. I went to night classes because I want to bring out my sister and my niece, because my other niece and she want to come very much to America. She was a beautiful young girl, 19-year-old.
Interviewer: You wanted to bring them out of Hungary…
Interviewer: …to America…
Interviewer: …and you felt that learning English would help?
Klein: Yes, because I had to be a citizen. I had to be a citizen that I could bring out somebody.
Interviewer: You had to be a citizen and you were not yet a citizen.
Klein: No. No and after five year and then finally they came out. I bring out my niece, my sister and in ‘73 I bring out my mother.
Interviewer: Wow. So, you had to become a citizen first.
Interviewer: And so that’s why you learned the language.
Klein: That’s why, and anyway, I would like to.
Interviewer: And after you became a citizen you were able to get…
Interviewer: …your other family members to come here and in 1973 you, your own mother.
Klein: My mother and she was 87 years old that time, my mom.
Interviewer: She was 87. Did she come by airplane, too?
Klein: I went to pick her up.
Interviewer: You went back to Hungary and then you both got on a plane.
Klein: Yes and she never was on the plane and she said, we were sitting on the plane and she said, “My child when is going the plane? I am waiting, waiting.” She was holding me. She was waiting. I said, “Mom, we are already flying.”
Interviewer: So, just as it was your first time on an airplane when you came here, it was your mother’s first time on an airplane.
Klein: Mine was the first time in ‘57, and my mother’s was in ‘73 so 16…
Interviewer: Many years apart.
Klein: …16 years I don’t see my mom but every single day we was writing each other.
Interviewer: You were apart for 16years, yes, and you wrote each other.
Klein: Yes. I have a bunch of letters from my mom, that is already coming apart.
Interviewer: You have saved a lot of those letters in a big stack…
Interviewer: …and you’re indicating with your hands that it’s a foot, more than a foot tall.
Klein: Yea, because I couldn’t bear my life without them, so first I bring over my older sister who was taking care of us when I was little. She was 15year older than me.
Interviewer: Your sister had been taking care of your mother in Hungary.
Klein: That was my other/older? sister, yea.
Interviewer: How did your mother feel about coming to America?
Klein: She was at that time already, we have a little house. We bought a little house that time already. When, in ‘73 we have already a little house.
Interviewer: Oh, you had a little house to bring her to.
Klein: Yes, and she was feeling very good but I was working and she was staying home, but I was cooking everything because she was 87. She was living with me ‘til she was 94.
Interviewer: She lived with you until she was 94. So, she had more than 20 years to be with you.
Interviewer: Oh, I’m sorry, she was 86…
Interviewer: …when she came here.
Klein: And she passed away, she came in ‘73. She passed away in ‘81.”
Interviewer: So she had about eight years…
Klein: Eight years, yes.
Interviewer: …with you. Yes, I understand. So, did she speak English?
Klein: No, but she was learning. I still have, shall I show you?
Interviewer: Well, you’ll show me some pictures later.
Klein: Yes, and she was learning that if something was happening, she’d know how to phone. I teach her how to do the, how to phone on my work.
Interviewer: You taught her how to use the telephone…
Interviewer: …and call you at work.
Klein: Yes, and she was writing, “Please Mrs. Klein.” I write it down, that she should just say that in the office. When they pick up the phone, she just should say, and she was writing it down and once she called me.
Interviewer: Once she called you at work.
Klein: She called me because she couldn’t turn off the water.
Interviewer: …couldn’t’ turn off the water, but that was the only time?
Klein: Only time…
Interviewer: …she called you in eight years.
Klein: Eight years.
Interviewer: But you made sure that she knew how to call you.
Klein: Yes, yes, if something is wrong.
Interviewer: Wow. So, let’s talk about your husband. What kind of, he was working for the lumber company but it was hard work so did he find another job?
Klein: No. No. He was working very hard and then he get sick. He got sick in ‘83…
Interviewer: He got sick in 1983…
Klein: …and he passed away in ‘86.
Interviewer: …and he died in 1986.
Klein: Yea. He was young. He was 60, 62 or 63.
Interviewer: 62 or 63. Young. Yes. And do you think he died because he was working so hard? Was that part of why he got sick?
Klein: God knows.
Interviewer: So you had your one son with you, Gabor…
Interviewer: …and you had your mother for a while with you.
Klein: Yes, and ten I bring over my niece and my older sister.
Interviewer: And did they also live with you in your small house?
Klein: For the while, just for the while. Then she get married and they went to California with the mother and step-father.
Interviewer: So, you lived in Cleveland for a long time and then when did you come to Columbus?
Klein: In 2…2006.
Klein: Yes, 14 years ago…
Interviewer: 14years ago,
Klein: …because I got sick and, when I was 80and my son said that, he was living in Columbus, my son, and he said, “Mom, that’s enough. You have to come to [?] because I am nervous. Three hour I have to wait going to, from Columbus to Cleveland. It’s too much. I want you that you should come’’ and then he get me that apartment.
Interviewer: And the apartment you are living here in Bexley? Is this the same one you’ve been living in for 14years?
Klein: Yes. Yes, but now it’s too big for me. My niece was living with me and my other cousin here, ‘cause it’s a three bedroom and it was okay you know, because they was paying Social Security. They was helping me pay but now it’s too much, too big, the house and it’s hard to pay for me.
Interviewer: So, you’ve had other relatives staying here with you.
Klein: Yes, before, but now they passed away, so now you are alone here, and all the time I think that I would move but last year I was so sick I was thinking I don’t move because, because who know? I am so sick and I am old.
Interviewer: Yes, you were sick last year but you survived. Here you are.
Klein: Yes. I have to for my son. He’s not married.
Interviewer: But your son is still here in Columbus.
Interviewer: So, you’re close.
Klein: He call me every day, three times, every single day, in the morning, afternoon and night.
Interviewer: He wants to make sure you’re okay.
Klein: Yea, and he bring me things. He’s good. He’s a good son.
Interviewer: He’s a good son.
Klein: Very good. God bless him. Yea.
Interviewer: That’s a blessing.
Klein: Yes. It is a blessing and he remember my parents and he loved.
Interviewer: I’m not sure what else to ask you other than as you look back on your life, what are your thoughts? You’ve lived such a long life.
Klein: That I was, that was a miracle, all my life. My whole life was a miracle. Whole family came back, my close, closest family and we was very close all the time, was living not like here you live in New York or Massachusetts or someplace. We was living around one corner, so, saw each of them at least once a day.
Interviewer: So, you’re saying it’s a miracle, first that your family survived the Holocaust and then that your family was able to live close…
Klein: When I bring them over, yeah.
Interviewer: It’s quite a story and you’ve written. You’ve told your story to your son and he’s written down parts of it about coming from Hungary here, so, we have some, you’ve documented your life in some ways.
Klein: Yea, as I could, but I don’t think I could tell everything what’s was happened, such a thing. My sister was very sick and I was going take her food and I don’t have myself but I still take her what I had and I was helping just who I can. Some girl said that my stomach hurt and I get some heavy bread so, I was bending down and toast a little bit so she could eat and I was taking care of my sister. They told us you are not supposed to leave the barrack, the barrack where we was living…
Interviewer: The barracks. Yes.
Klein: … and I went in the dark to my sister at least a block away. I was alone and I was not afraid it was dark and I went where she was, just sick, where the sick people was.
Interviewer: So, you’re talking about in the camps you would help your sister.
Interviewer: She was your younger sister?
Klein: No, she was older, three years.
Interviewer: Older than you, but you were helping her.
Klein: Yes, because they had a [?short] of food and they cut up the food and they took her away and, Oh my God. They took her away and out of the camp because she had infected, her feet and they said they can do nothing for her in the camp.
Interviewer: She had an infection so they took her out.
Klein: Yes, and then she have a shawl and she was throwing to me and she said ‘’Bye. I won’t need it anymore,” and I collapsed and I fainted…
Interviewer: You fainted.
Klein: I fainted and there was a, with a gun a SS soldier, by that gate and he kick me, kick me twice.
Interviewer: The soldier kicked you.
Klein: Yes, because I was fainting.
Interviewer: You were fainting.
Klein: … because my sister said she don’t need it anymore. She was thinking that I [fear] her and a woman, a woman from the camp, a girl who was like me, she pulled my two legs and she was pulling me away from there that he couldn’t kick me anymore. She was playing with her life. Easily he could kill her.
Interviewer: She pulled you away by the legs…
Interviewer: …and she was risking her life…
Interviewer: …doing that.
Klein: Yes. And now I read that this girl was in the same camp that I was. I have, I read the Hungarian Jewish paper, Jewish newspaper on my cell phone. On my cell phone, my son make me that I should take a look what’s going on in Hungary.
Interviewer: Are you saying you tried to get in touch with the woman from the camp or you wanted to see if it was the same woman?
Interviewer: You read about a woman who was in the same camp…
Klein: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: …you were in and you wanted to make, to get in touch with her and you called?
Klein: No, I didn’t’ call. I just read it in my cell phone. I have her name. What you think? Should I call her or what? She’s two year younger than me. She’s 92.
Interviewer: And so, you’re trying to figure out whether it would be good for you to get in touch with this woman who was in the same camp…
Interviewer: …to share memories to see if what you can remember?
Klein: I don’t know. Maybe she was who was pulling me away. Who knows?
Interviewer: She might be the one who helped save you?
Klein: Maybe. Maybe.
Interviewer: Maybe, maybe not but either way you could…
Klein: But you know, I would like to say one more thing…
Klein: I hopes, I hopes that you understand the [?]. When they took us from Hungary, when they, from the houses out, when they took us…
Interviewer: When the Nazis first took you…
Interviewer: …from your house…
Klein: …and the Hungarian. Then they was, they was taking four, they said that 400,000 people and we was on the way to Auschwitz straight but there was seven soldier, Hungarian soldiers on horses and they pick out who they can catch and we was in it so that’s not a miracle. Seven people, my sister and myself and other five people, they was, pick us up on the horse and going I just feel that one that I am flying and they took us to a horse, where the horses are.
Interviewer: A place, a stable where all the horses were.
Klein: A stable, yea, and they said, “Don’t, don’t, don’t say nothing. Stay here. We will come pick you up. We try to save you.”
Interviewer: So, originally you were going to be sent to Auschwitz where you would have probably died…
Interviewer: …but instead some Hungarian soldiers on horses picked you and a few other people up and took you to another place instead, the horse stable so you did not have to go to Auschwitz.
Interviewer: And you say when you were on the horse, you felt like you were flying?
Klein: Yes, like flying.
Interviewer: You remember that well.
Klein: I remember the screaming and I don’t know. I was not scared, nothing. I was young. I was 18, 19-year-old. What I know? I was living all the time with my parents and our aunt, safe. I didn’t think that something like that could happen.
Interviewer: But, even though you did not go to Auschwitz, you still were in other camps.
Klein: Yes, Bu..and after that, and they catch us again.
Interviewer: After you were with the horses, they found you again.
Klein: They find us again.
Interviewer: But they did not send you to Auschwitz.
Klein: No. No.
Interviewer: They sent you to work camps.
Klein: Yes, because they already gone.
Interviewer: So, you had told us about the work camps where you had worked. Yes. As you…
Klein: And you know what? I cannot sleep. All the time I am dream about it and I dream that is, that is just a dream, that was just a dream, that was not happening with me.
Interviewer: 75 years later you still dream about this.
Interviewer: You still have nightmares.
Klein: Oh yea. So, I wish, I wish they, I was praying about them at seven, boy, was the young man save us, probably 25something and I, I, they probably they are not living anymore because they was older than me but I am sure that they talk about the family, they family, about what they did and maybe the family knows. How could I somehow write to the Hungarian Jewish News that I want to thank them and who was it? How could I do it? I wish I could. I was praying for them and their whole family every single night.
Interviewer: You prayed to the because, you’re talking about the young men on the horses who saved you and you’re thinking that they are probably dead but some of their family may be alive and you want their family to know that their relatives saved you.
Klein: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: That’s a wonderful thought. You could write a letter to the Hungarian News and just tell briefly your story and people will read it, not just the families of the people on horses but other people will read the story.
Klein: Yea. You see, you know, I am not working from when I stopped working, in some ‘88 or ‘90 I stopped work and from the time I hardly talk English with somebody ‘cause I didn’t work and I talk all the time Hungarian or Czech or something, so, my English is already how, can I forget besides my age. I will be, God let me, then I will be 95 in June and I try to not using the walker. I try to walk you see.
Interviewer: Well the fact that you will be 95 years old soon, I think that’s probably a good note to end our interview with Alice Klein…
Interviewer: …on this February 11, 2020 and my name is Bill Cohen for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. Thank you very much Alice.
Klein: You’re welcome. Thank you very much.