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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf People in Hitler's Europe

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                            Klara Erdosi’s family photo. At far left, Klara at age thirteen. Mid-picture
                            is her sister with her fiancé. Courtesy of Mrs. Erdosi, Budapest.

A woman found out, one of the soldier women found out that I was a hairdresser, and twice a month I had to go and do her hair. [Other times] I had to go to the toilet to clean, or to clean off the snow.

My sister got beaten very often, and it hurt me quite a bit because I couldn’t do anything to help her, because if I tried to help they would beat me as well. I have very terrible memories of this, my leg hurt terribly, I cried, cried.

Peter Farago: Experiences as a Ten-Year-Old Child at Bergen-Belsen

They sent us from the train and they separated us from our mothers. I was crying, I wanted to be with Momma, I wanted to be with my mother. They chased me back. Amongst the children I was there and I was completely disoriented, helpless. The only thing I was lucky that there was a saving angel. A Polish boy [named Pavel] was a child of deaf parents, about fourteen or fifteen years old, blonde, blue-eyed, tall boy. He took my hand, he said, “Don’t sign.” I was very scared, I was wondering why shouldn’t I sign. He said again, “Don’t sign.” I said, “I can’t hear.” He said, “Be quiet.” He was holding my hand as my brother and he said, “Just relax.” Amongst the children, I don’t want to make up stories, but there were about two thousand. I was amongst two thousand children. When I was a young kid, I didn’t care about this, but now I remember how spoiled and what a crybaby I was. And Pavel said, “Don’t sign. Don’t use hand signals.” And I always did whatever he told me and I followed his advice.

Everyday we went, we were taken to a place where we used oil cloth to wash the [munitions casings], and the German soldier gave me some bread. Every night he gave us some kind of a black soup and carrots and beets . . . . I couldn’t understand why, as a ten-year-old what—many children got sick and died.

Liberation

Pavel was much stronger than me, always stood by me, and he told me that American soldiers or Russian soldiers were coming, but I’d never forget there was huge bombing going on. There were dust clouds everywhere. You couldn’t see anything . . . . One child died from the–during the bombing. Many children . . . . Pavel was my savior. The war finished, Pavel said to me “The war is over.” He said he was returning to Poland to his home. Maybe his parents are still alive. “And what should I do?” I asked him. I felt I was all alone in the world.


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