17. (1957) Farewell to Budapest
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FAREWELL TO BUDAPEST SHORTLY AFTER the New Year, I received my passport. Again, my excitement was the same as when I had received my first passport to visit Komjata. However, this time, I decided not to share my excitement with anyone at the deaf club—only with a few chosen friends and the Kentners. Kálmán wouldn’t be able to say good-bye to me because he was very involved with soccer at the time and was a star at the sport. He had to go to Bulgaria and Romania for competition. He was satisfied with his life even though he was limited to ventures only within Eastern Europe. For him to leave Eastern Europe, he had to have proof of family ties elsewhere. I immediately went to the Swedish Embassy for the visa stamp. On the same day, I bought a ticket with an itinerary to go to Borås, Sweden, departing January 23. I went home and wrote a letter to Magda, telling her I’d send a telegram to her from Berlin, Germany. Then, I went to the bank to obtain some Czechoslovákian currency and German deutsch marks for my arrival in Germany. I even made another attempt to obtain western European or Swedish currency but was denied. I was now totally prepared to leave Budapest. A couple nights later, György and Maria Weltner gave me a secret farewell party. Many deaf Hungarians were present, many of whom would have been against my leaving. Only a handful of my friends knew the real purpose for the party—the others thought it was just a social event. On January 23, I was ready to say farewell to Budapest. I bought five pounds of winter apples to give to Magda and her husband Meir. The Kentner family accompanied me to the train station, along with the handful of cognizant friends who had attended my farewell party. On the way to the station, the Kentners told me they would miss me 126 1 7 C H A P T E R (1957) ch17_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:34 AM Page 126 but were not sad that I was leaving. Rather, they wished me luck for my future and toward my new life in a new land. Although, I wasn’t sure whether I’d stay in Sweden, they had the feeling I would. I promised the Kentners I would stay in touch. At the train station, everybody advised me not to come back. I hugged and kissed them all, not knowing when I would see them again. I boarded the train that afternoon with only two suitcases, leaving behind most of my clothing and supplies. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself by looking suspicious. During the evening, the train traveled through Czechoslovákia. It was freezing cold, and I couldn’t help but fall in and out of sleep. The train had no heat whatsoever. I dreamed about the ghetto, waking up feeling relieved that I was free. At the Czechoslovákian border, I remained on the train while the engine car changed—a change that brought relief because the new engine had the capacity to heat the other cars. I remained awake until the train arrived in Prague. My plan had been to stay in Prague for a few days. However, when I exited the train, I was amazed at how freezing cold it was—minus fifteen degrees Celsius. I decided to put my luggage in a holding locker while I checked out the city rather than drag my suitcases with me. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to stay. That afternoon, after enduring frigid temperatures, I retrieved my luggage and decided to reboard the train en route to East Berlin, Germany. The train ride was very warm and comfortable, which allowed me to take a nap. I focused my thoughts on the future rather than on the past. Not knowing the Czechoslovákian or German languages, I kept to myself. The train arrived late in the evening in East Berlin. I decided to send a telegram to Magda, notifying her of my estimated time of arrival . I found a post office but was having difficulty figuring out how to send the telegram. A German man approached me and offered his assistance. He told me what to do, then took me over to pay for the telegram with my deutsch marks. I was thankful for his explanation and assistance. Believing...



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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