In September we featured László Kiss, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, as our Portrait of the Month subject. Incredibly, a family member of László’s found the post on Facebook and put us in touch with him. We asked one of our Hungarian partners at the Zachor Foundation for Social Remembrance to help us translate some questions and found out that she and László are good friends, and she was happy to interview him on our behalf. It’s experiences like these that remind us how amazing it is to be a part of such a wonderful community of survivors and storytellers.
Read the interview below:
Memory Project: What do you think about having students learning your story and making portraits of you as a young boy? What does it make you feel to see these portraits?
László Kiss: It was very moving and surprising for me to learn that hundreds of young people work with my portrait as a little boy. I hope that this together with learning about my story will help these young people to develop an attitude of tolerance, solidarity, and mutual respect for fellow human beings.
MP: Do you have anything you would like to say to these young people today? Is there anything you would like them to know about you?
LK: It is an important task for the young today to learn about and from the past so that the horrors we survived could never be repeated anywhere in the world. In my whole life I was trying to create around me both in the family and in my work place a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, where everybody could feel relaxed and happy. I would be pleased if the young people of our day followed my example in doing that.
MP: The story we tell ends with your liberation. We’d love to know more about your life after the war.
LK: After liberation I graduated from Ybl Miklós High School in Székesfehérvár, Hungary in 1947.
I got my degree in Chemistry at the University of Szeged in 1951. After that I became a lecturer at the Physical Chemistry Department of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest: a demonstrator first, then an assistant professor, a senior lecturer and a university professor. As a result of my scientific work I got my degrees: PhD, DSc. I was the head of the department for 28 years, I published several books, one among them in in English ( L. Kiss: Kinetics of Electrochemical Metal Dissolution, Elsevier 1988. p. 260.) and one in Russian. The latest book came out in 2011 (Kiss L., Láng Gy.: Elektrokémia, Semmelweis Kiadó, 2011. 260 old.).
I consider my loving family the major creation in my life. My wife, my daughter and her husband, my son and his wife and my four grandchildren make up for the tragedy I had to suffer in my youth.