Erzsebeth Buchsbaum

Erzsebeth Buchsbaum

Born: December 9, 1920

Stebnik, Poland

Erzsebeth was raised in Budapest, where her Polish-born Jewish parents had lived since before World War I. Her father, a brush salesman, fought for the Austro-Hungarian forces in that war. The Buchsbaums' apartment was in the same building as a movie house. There was a small alcove in the apartment, and Erzsebeth's brother, Herman, made a hole in the wall so that they could watch the films.

1933-39: Every summer Erzsebeth, Herman, and their mother took a special trip to Stebnik, Poland, to visit Grandma. Their father stayed back to work. Erzsebeth loved Grandma's village. They'd walk near the train station and smell the flowers. Erzsebeth would play with Grandma's dog, Reyfus, and sometimes they would travel by horse and buggy to the nearby spa, where a band played and people sat and sipped drinks. In 1938 when Germany annexed Austria [the Anschluss], Herman immigrated to America.

1940-44: Since they were Polish-born, Erzsebeth and her family had to leave Hungary in 1941 when all "foreigners" were forced out. They went to Kolomyja [Kolomyia], Poland, where a ghetto was imposed in 1942. Thousands were killed, and by summer Erzsebeth decided to escape back to Hungary. A smuggler took their small group through the woods. They slept by day and walked all night. On the 12th day, they heard a German shout: "Get up!" After Erzsebeth crawled into a hollow tree trunk, she heard shooting and voices crying "No!" Then it was silent. The smuggler had been wounded. The others were dead.

Erzsebeth escaped Hungarian work camps and many brushes with death before liberation in 1945. She moved to the United States in 1951.

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