(Article paru dans le journal du “Cummings Jewish Center for Seniors” de Montréal en mars 2004; c’est Susan elle-même qui a écrit l’article)
Susan is a survivor who has personal recollections of Raoul Wallenberg. She remembers the moment when the young Swede saved her and her family, along with others, from an imminent death march by being shot into the depth of the Danube. She remembers him as Wagner Lohengrin, saving Eisa. Her literary associations reflect a cultivated, bourgeois childhood in prewar Budapest where she was an only child of doting parents. Her father, an accountant, was also a published poet and passionate lover of arts. Susan had ail the accoutrements of a privileged childhood, a German governess, piano, English and ballet lessons, season tickets to the Opera and theatre. She attended a Jewish parochial school. After school, she spent many hours in an artist’s café with her beloved father and his literary friends who were Hungary’s foremost literati, artists and intellectuals. She clearly remembers the 19th of March 1944, the day the German occupation. The day her sheltered life ended forever.
Her family, like many other Hungarian Jews, always considered themselves assimilated and truly Hungarian. Now, as a fifteen year old, she realized that it was ail self-deception. As of April 1944, Jewish children were not allowed to attend school and Jews were obliged to wear the yellow star. She knew then that she was not like other Hungarians, despite the fact that according to family lore, her great-grandfather was a decorated horseman during the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. During the dark days that ensued, Susan’s mother worked for the Jewish community and she well remembered having taken minutes to a meeting that was attended by Eichmann. In October 1944, the family obtained their Swedish schutzpass and moved to a « safe house. » The « safe house » was not that safe however, and the family was marched several times to an uncertain fate. On such occasions, Susan and her parents were assembled with many other Jews and were made to walk in endless lines on the bank of the Danube, which served not long ago as the city’s famous promenade. In those frighteningly hopeless moments, Susan was deep in thought; « What is on your mind? » asked her mother. « I want to survive and see the Alps and the sea, » she answered. « You better pray now instead of daydreaming, » she was told. And then, just like a dream, a black limousine stopped near the crowd. A young man stepped out wearing a beige trench coat. He looked at the long line moving slowly in the dusk. With the help of an interpreter he demanded that those under Swedish protection follow him. About fifty people, amongst them Susan and her parents, were placed in a Swedish « safe house. » Lohengrin saved Eisa. However, in a few days, the family once again was marched across the city by the Hungarian Arrow-cross. This time, the unlikely savior was an air raid which decimated the group. Those who survived the machine guns from the sky dispersed. Susan and her parents hid in a destroyed clothing boutique. They took shelter behind naked dummies. Eventually, they made their way to the ghetto where they were liberated on January 18, 1945.
Susan, now in her early seventies has very poor vision, but in her mind’s eye, she can still see Lohengrin, who saved her and her family nearly sixty years ago. And yes, she has seen the Alps and she has seen many seas and some oceans.
L’ANGE DE BUDAPEST
Un documentaire de 52 minutes
Diffusé sur TV5
©PRODUCTIONS RIVARD INC.