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Szép, Ernö

  • Christoph Gann

A Hungarian Poet in Difficutlies

Ernö Szep sensed personally the immediate results following the occupation. He had to vacate his appartment to make room for German officers. Szép was born in Eastern Hungary in Huszt in 1884. His first volume of poetry books were published in 1902. He was 19 years old when he became a journalist in Budapest. Through his poems, short stories and novels he became popular. Some of his works were also published in Germany. All of this could not exempt him from the anti-Jewish measures.

“No, no, I won´t be seen with the star.“ Szép made this statement and instead he directed his attention to the Swedish Legation and their “Protection Papers“.

“As we all know, soon it became a flood, a veritable River Tisza bursting its floodgates.“

Szép pleaded the embassy for protection passes for himself and his relatives. On the same day about five hundred others had the same wish. By chance Szép was recognised by the son of an emloyee from Wallenberg. Szép did not have to prove any Swedish connection, his name as a writer was enough.

Szép, Enforced Labour

A few days following the Arrow Cross Coup thousands of Jewish men were hauled out of their homes. Szép was ordered to a particular group and they marched from Budapest. After six hours they reached a race-track. They spent the night there. At five a.m. they were woken and the march was resumed. A seventy year old man was shot because he was too sick to carry on marching. The same evening the remainder arrived at their destination. A brick works in Erdövaros. In the time to come they had to dig trenches. Other victims were lamented.

Rescue, Thanks For The Protection Passes

End of October, Szép created new hope. The protection passes were recognised again. The holders of these passes were treated with respect. Szép didn´t have his pass with him but he knew the number. Following days of fear a controll was carried out by an officer. The following morning Szép and some others were allowed to return to Budapest. Szép happily discovered, „I also pass as Swede.“ Wallenberg had already put in a word for Szép by the Hungarian External Office. Ernö Szép died on the 2nd of October 1953.

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