The Kinszki and Gardonyi Families
The year was 1935, and two Jewish families gathered to celebrate the marriage of Erzi Gardonyi to Alfred Spatz.
23 people. Three generations. And very few of them would be alive in 1945.
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Jeno Gardonyi, my mother’s brother, was a tailor. His wife Margit was a trader in goose meat. He was decorated during World War I, and for a while, he didn’t have to serve in forced labor. He was even a member of the skeleton staff in Budapest. But then he was also deported and never returned. He had two children, one was a girl, Vali, and both of them were killed in 1944.
My father, Imre Kinszki served in forced labor brigades and was then sent to concentration camps in Germany. My mother and I would go to the train station to wait for him. One day a man told us he had been on a death march from Sachsenhausen with my father. This man slipped into a barn and hid under the hay. My father continued on with the death march. But until her last day, my mother never reported her husband as dead. She waited on him until she died.
Lajos, another of my uncles, was a baker and a very proud Hungarian. He had a great twisted moustache. And he said [during the Holocaust]– I can still hear his words − ‘Now I’m a stepson of my dear Motherland, but there will be a time when I’ll be a full-blooded son of my dear Motherland.’ He was drafted into forced labor service, disappeared and never came back.
Daughter of Alfred and Kriszta Gardonyi.
Her family lived in Zuglo and she was the only daughter of this family. They weren’t religious, her parents sent her to the Sacre Coeur School on Ajtósi Dürer sor, which was a civic school. She spoke languages well. Hedi got married and was pregnant during the time of the ghetto. She was hid with her family by her mother’s lover. The man even got Hedi’s daughter, Kati, on his name. Her husband didn’t come back. Judit doesn’t know what happened to Hedi.
Imre, another brother, was a doctor. In World War II, he became a POW of the Russians. He said that they were very kind to him. Well, they respected doctors. He came back, and became director of the district surgery here in Zuglo. He lived with us, and he was like a father to me. He got married and died very suddenly in 1953.
The son of Sandor and Olga.
Gyuri worked as a journalist, so he got many theatre tickets for free. Him and his brother Bandi took Judit Kinszki to teather often. He was in a truck with Bandi, driving through a forest, and they jumped off the truck, ran into the forest and later joined the partisans. He died quite early, there was some issue with his heart.
Sanyi, the oldest sibling, graduated from some kind of academy of commerce and became a bookkeeper. He had two children. We don’t know anything about Sanyi other than he was being deported in a truck with one of his sons. His son told him to jump with him. The boy did, and he survived. Sanyi stayed on truck and we never heard from him again.
Fredi Gardonyi was a doctor in Zuglo. His wife’s name was Kriszta Eckstein. During World War I Fredi was a doctor in Isonzo, and he was shot and wounded. He was considered a war casualty because of this. Fredi received a very high decoration and was exempt from the anti-Jewish laws for a very long time, and when he also had to hide, his wife’s lover hid the whole family. It was known and accepted that she had a lover.
Husband of Aranka.
Matchmaker paired him with Aranka. He owned a shop with his partner Belegrad on the Körút. Arpad was sent to forced labor, but he could come back and was saved by farmers, received food and could come back home. Judit doesn’t know when he died, she think he was alive when his wife, Aranka died.
Margit was wife of my uncle Jeno and she traded in goose meat.
Most tragical story, she survived the war in the Budapest ghetto. His husband died during forced labor and she decided to send her daughter, Vali to Kiskunfélegyháza where some goose meat trader friends of Margit’s could hide Vali. An arrow cross party reported this and the Arrow Cross Party shot Vali and her hideouts(not sure how to translate this, the people who hid her). Margit was always blaming herself for her daughter’s death. Judit didn’t know when exactly did Margit die.
When she was young, my mother worked in the same office as my father. He sailed a paper airplane onto her desk asking to meet her after work. She raised my brother Gabor and me. When she and I were sent into the ghetto, she made sure we brought my father’s negatives with us. That’s how they survived, even though my father didn’t.
My grandmother used to love reading and going to the theater. She became a big Hungarian patriot as well, and read nothing but Hungarian historical novels. She named her daughters after characters in the novels. Grandmother was a uniting force in our family. She died in 1943.
Erzsebet Spatz (Gardonyi)
Erzsi was a clerk; she was the head of a music shop all her life. She was an educated and intelligent woman. She was deported and didn’t come back.
Her marriage was arranged, but no one got divorved at the time so she didn’t either.
Husband of Erzsebet. He was in forced labor and sent to the Don River bend in Ukraine. He perished there.
Wife of Sandor.
Olga had two sons, Gyuri and Bandi, Olga lived right next door to Lajos and Imre Kinszki at Bethlen tér 3. She was a housewife. Sanyi got deported and Judit doesn’t know what happened to Olga after the war.
Wife of Alfred. Her parents had a transport company. She used to play tennis in a white skirt, and they went to the Tatra Mountains to ski in the winter, and she loved to play bridge – she was the bourgeois member of the family.
She and Fredi survived because her Christian lover took them in.
Aranka Pollak (Gardonyi)
Aranka was a glove-maker. She got married – it was a forced marriage; she felt very old, and chose to be the wife of a man called Pollak. She always said that she didn’t love him. She had two children, and the relatives are still alive somewhere.
She died before her husband, Judit couldn’t remember when.
The son of Margit and Jeno, he was killed, as was his sister, in 1944.
My father had us convert to Greek Catholicism and my brother Gabor became very religious, praying all the time we would survive. He suffered so much because of the yellow star, which couldn’t be taken off. They took him away. Then my mother found a young man who had worked with my brother. He told us that when they arrived in Buchenwald in winter, they were driven out of the wagon, and asked what kind of qualifications they had. My brother told them that he was a student. This young man told us that the Germans immediately tied him up and hosed him down with water just to watch him freeze to death. He was 16.
The daughter of Jeno and Margit, she was killed in 1944.
Her mother sent her to Kiskunfélegyháza to her non Jewish friends, but a sympathizer of the Arrow Cross Party found out about this and reported them. Everyone in the hosue got shot.
Sanyi and one of his sons were deported by the Germans in 1944. They were in a truck, driving through a forest, and Sanyi's son, a 17-year-old lad, screamed for him to run away. Sanyi didn’t dare, but his son jumped off the truck, ran into the forest and later joined the partisans, so he stayed alive.
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