3. (1940-1941) The Institute
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THE INSTITUTE A YEAR HAD passed and it was fall again, September 1940, to be exact. I was excited that I could visit Budapest again. However, I was still unaware of the real purpose of our trip. The communication between my family and me was still limited to body language. My voice conveyed only grunts, groans, moans, screeches, and laughter. My knowledge was acquired strictly from observation. I was able neither to express my full thoughts nor to ask any detailed questions, specifically , the reason for our trip back to Budapest.Yet, I was curious. My mother was packing a tiny suitcase with a couple sets of my shirts and pants. The train ride to Budapest was wonderful. Any trip away from the farm was exciting. From the train station, we took a trolley to the institute . When we arrived, I recalled my visit to the institute from the prior year. The red-brick building stood out in an empty field. Dr. Kanizsai was there to greet us as we entered the building through the heavy, hardwood entrance doors. We immediately began our full tour. The walls in the building were very thick. All the floors were made from concrete and were quite smooth. Each room had standup heaters and double-paned, French-style windows with no curtains . By 1942, these windows would be covered each night by a wood frame enclosing black paper to fulfill blackout requirements during the war. The basement of the institute was a bomb shelter and a storage area for coal and wood. The ground floor contained the dining room, grand hallway, gymnasium, and machine shop. The first floor held the offices, classrooms, and social room. I was surprised to see a piano in the social room. It was for five blind students (three boys and two girls) who also attended the institute. However, the social room was primarily used for students to complete homework assign13 3 C H A P T E R (1940–1941) ch03_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:06 AM Page 13 ments, converse, and play chess. The second floor had more classrooms , the girls’ dormitory, and Dr. Kanizsai’s home at the end of the hallway. In front of the girls’ dorm room stood the nurse’s room and a room for the counselors. The third floor was the boys’ dormitory and the laundry room. After the tour, my mother and Dr. Kanizsai stepped into his office. They told me to sit out in the hallway while they spoke in private. I peeked in at one point and could see they were having an intense conversation. I noticed that my suitcase was no longer in the hallway. My mother came out of the office. She rubbed her stomach, which meant she needed to go to the bathroom. She told me to wait. What I didn’t know was that Dr. Kanizsai had suggested she leave me in the corridor and then wait in his office. As soon as she walked away, one of the counselors motioned for me to come into his classroom, which was filled with children. I refused, indicating that I was waiting for my mother. The counselor again motioned for me to follow him. Again, I refused. He came toward me and gently grabbed a hold of my wrist, pulling me into the room with the other children. I had no voice to say no or to speak up for myself. I fought with the counselor, and he failed to get me into the classroom. Finally, a couple of counselors grabbed me and pulled me into a dorm room. I was screaming with a lion’s voice. I could not scream words because I didn’t know any. For more than an hour, I screamed like a lion. The principal was one floor below me. Apparently , he couldn’t stand hearing my outcries. He came up to the dorm and grabbed me. He shook me, placing me firmly on the ground and telling me,“Shush! Shush!” He never smacked me, but as I continued to scream, he kept at me until I finally calmed down. Then, the nurse came and gave me some pajamas. I was very upset and cried myself to sleep. The next day, everybody went to class and I refused to follow. I was quiet and depressed. I wondered about what had happened to my mother. I felt abandoned. I didn’t eat, drink, or try to communicate for about two days. Sári n...



Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Hungary -- Biography.
  • Holocaust survivors -- Biography.
  • Dunai, Harry I., 1934-.
  • Jewish children in the Holocaust -- Biography.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Hungary -- Personal narratives.
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