12. (1949-1950) Found: A Government School, but No God
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FOUND: A GOVERNMENT SCHOOL, BUT NO GOD BY THE FALL of 1949,Dr.Kanizsai had found me another deaf school, a government school with a dormitory. I entered the eighth grade. The communication among the deaf students at the government school was similar to the communication at the institute. Some signs were different, especially the numbers. For example, at my new school, the sign for the number twenty was made by sticking the thumb and forefinger out with the palm facing the ground. At the institute, the number twenty was signed by drawing the forefinger behind the ear. Luckily, we all were used to the oral method of communicating, so by relying on oral methods with the hand signals attached, we easily figured out one another’s signs. My new school provided me with the opportunity to continue with my Bible studies. I was beginning to learn the historical aspects of the Bible, which I found to be fascinating. Because of my interest, I began to question the Communist belief system. However, I was still not sure about the possibility of a God. My new principal was Pál Györfi. He had brown hair, was of medium height, and had a stocky build. He seemed to be goodnatured but strict at the same time. The school also employed two deaf teachers. He told me I would have a woman teacher named Zelky Gustavne. The ne at the end of her Hungarian name signified that she was a married woman and that her husband’s name was Gustav. I was surprised to see Mrs. Gustavne. She had been the vice principal at my former institute at one time. She was slim and about five feet, five inches tall. Her brown hair was highlighted by gray, and she wore it curled up at the back of her head. Having gotten special permission from Pál to leave the school grounds on the weekends, I socialized at the deaf club in the com89 1 2 C H A P T E R (1949–1950) ch12_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:17 AM Page 89 munity, went to the movies, and played table tennis and cards. I also became a member of the deaf club chess team, setting aside my Sundays for tournament play. Our chess team competed against the chess teams of the various hearing clubs. During my Saturday visit to Aunt and Uncle Balkányi, I was taken aback when they announced to me that it would be the last time I would see them. They were moving to England. Sári néni’s parents had already moved to Paris, France. Uncle Balkányi knew the Communist Party would win; he sold everything and quickly left the country. After class on school days, we children went upstairs to the study room. During this time, I practiced my chess game for the weekend tournaments. The study room was also a good time to talk about politics and many other subjects. Some of the younger children sat around to observe the conversations of us older students. Several of the teens would tell the younger children to get lost or would call them names. I always stepped in, telling them to allow the younger children to observe. I believed that the younger children could learn from the older ones because I had benefited greatly at my former institute by watching the counselors bicker and argue over politics. There, we young children had always been included as part of the group, and our exposure to adults had enabled us to learn. I tried to impress this philosophy on the older children of my new school. Here at this new school, I was more active than I had been at my former institute. The government school had more to offer and had better quality programs, including an excellent gymnastic program and team. I wanted to join the team, but I had minimal experience, so I struggled to master the basics in the gymnastics program. The downfall of my new school was the anti-Semitism that lingered among the students. They knew I was a Jew. Only one other Jewish student attended the school, but he didn’t live in the dorms like I did. Most likely, other Jewish children also attended; however, many students refused to proclaim their religious beliefs and backCHAPTER 12 (1949–1950) 90 ch12_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:17 AM Page 90 ground. They were frightened. In any event, I felt as though...


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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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