Born: April 2, 1898
The Nagys were one of several Jewish families in Zagyvapalfalva, a town 45 miles from Budapest. They owned a general store that served the many coal miners in the mountain valley town. As a young man, Lajos served with the Hungarian army in World War I. He then studied in Budapest to be a diplomat, but a 1920 law restricting the number of Jews in certain professions kept him from pursuing his career.
1933-39: Lajos's father passed away. Lajos took over the general store in Zagypalfalva with his bride, Kato. The antisemitic prime minister pushed through a law prohibiting Jews from selling basic items like sugar, tobacco and liquor, and business slacked off drastically. Sometimes at night, hooligans banged on the windows of their home, chanting, "Jews, go away!" One was the son of their good friend, the town notary.
1940-44: The situation in Zagyvapalfalva got so bad that Lajos and Kato had to rent out their store and house and move to Kato's family home outside Budapest. While they were there Kato gave birth to Sandor Michael. Their Sanyika was just 3 months old when the Germans invaded Hungary. It was only a few weeks later that Lajos received orders—along with hundreds of other men aged 18 to 48—to report for labor service. He has been put to work outside Budapest laying new roads and clearing the rubble caused by Allied air raids.