The fourth of five children, Kato was born to a Jewish family who owned a successful furniture store and lumberyard in Ujpest, five miles from Budapest. As a young girl, Kato enjoyed singing and playing the violin in her family "orchestra" in their large home. She was also athletic, and loved to swim, bicycle and play tennis. Best of all, Kato enjoyed rowing on the Danube with her friends.
1933-39: Newly married, Kato moved to Zagyvapalfalva, a town northeast of Budapest with only five or six Jewish families. Her husband owned a large general store there; Kato worked as the cashier. They enjoyed picnicking and other outings with the notary, postmaster and other friends--until 1939. Nazi youths terrified them when they chanted antisemitic slogans and banged on their windows at night. One of them was the notary's teenage son.
1940-44: On March 19, 1944, the Germans invaded Hungary. Several months later, Kato and her baby boy were deported. Squeezed into a suffocating cattle car for three nightmarish days, she nursed Sandor and also the baby of a friend whose milk had dried up. Helping them off the train at Auschwitz, a man whispered to Kato, "Give your baby to an older woman who will stay with him while you're working. In the evening you will see him again." This calmed her some, and she passed her Sanyika to an elderly woman, and begged her to take care of him.
Kato, age 34, was selected for forced labor. She learned later that the babies and the elderly had been gassed upon arrival. Kato was liberated from the Mauthausen camp in 1945.