Julianna was born in Hajdúnánás, Hungary into a Protestant family with seven children. Her father was a farmer; they had their own land and he also farmed some rented land. Her mother was a housewife. Julianna was a regular church-goer and which is here she and her brother met Jehova’s Witnesses.
Her brother was baptized in 1935, and she and her sister were baptized two years later. Julianna went out proselytizing, and whenever she could, she went to other towns to lecture to audiences from the notebooks of the Biblical Society. Because she left the Protestant Church and also due to her proselytizing, she was constantly harrassed by the local priest. After her baptism in 1937, she was taken to prison several times. Only the help of her family saved her from starvation in her prison cell. Due to the conditions, she fell ill and had to stay in bed for a year, and never again able to do hard physical work.
In 1941 she spent a month in prison in Hajdúnánás and was then transferred to the prison in Budapest. She and other Jehova’s Witnesses were taken by train to the Ravensbrück camp, where the purple sign sewn on her clothes indicated her belonging to an ’other religious sect’. She was placed with 12 other believers from Hungary and with hundreds of other Jehova’s Witnesses from all over occupied Europe. The camp was liberated by the Soviet arm; Julianna first went to a friend in Berlin and then went back home to Hajdúnánás. She lived the rest of her life in the family house where she had been born.
Imre's father was a carpenter. He opened a furniture factory in Szeged and the family moved to there from Mezőkovácsháza. Imre started his studies at the Jewish elementary school in Szeged and continued at the Gábor Klauzál High School where his displayed outstanding talent in mathematics. His first experience with "numerus clausus" (closed number) was his rejected application to the Chemical Technical School. He was an active and devoted member of the Jewish scout movement. After Jewish scouts groups were excluded from the national Hungarian scouts movement the Jewish group, including Imre, continued to meet illegally.
Between 1941-44 he attended Gábor Baross High School and one month before his 18th birthday he was conscripted for forced labor. Imre was forced to work for 12 hours a day at a construction site at the Mühldorf camp. He was liberated along with the few survivors of the camp on April 30, 1945. He went on to pass his final exam in December 1945 after which he worked as a madrich (educator) at a Jewish orphanage. He later became a mathemathics teacher and became a renowned educator; many of his students went on to be among the best mathematicians in the world. "When at a Jewish cemetery, I always visit the mass graves. My father is in such a mass grave... I see the mass grave of the young forced laborers, they were born the same year as I was, they were from the same region... my first visit I always pay to them...”
Rudolf was born in 1944 to Paula Sárközi and Rudolf Weinrich at the Gypsy camp at Lachenbach. The camp was liberated by the Russians in 1945 and the family moved to Unterschützen, Austria where Rudolf’s only sister, Paula, was born. His parents soon got divorced and the children were raised by their mother. Because of his Gypsy origin, Rudolf was not taken to high school, so he had to start working at the age of 14. He worked in construction, first doing physical work and then as an electro-technician.
In 1964 he got married and moved to Vienna where his son Andreas was born. He continued working as an electro-technician and later as an electro-technical consultant, but started to become more and more involved in social causes. In 1991 he established the Cultural Association of Austrian Roma which was then supported by the four Austrian parliamentary parties. The Association went on to petition and establish recognition of the Roma as an acknowledged ethnic minority in Austria. In 1995 Rudolf established the Roma Education Fund whose mission is to close the gap in educational outcomes between Roma and non-Roma.
György was born in 1920 in Balatonboglár, and was raised there until 1930 when his family moved to Budapest. He was first conscripted into forced labor between October 1 and December 31, 1941, and was later called up several times until 1944. In November, 1944 he escaped deportation from Józsefváros Railway Station with a fake Swedish Embassy document and ended up at a Swedish protected house. He wrote about his meeting with Raoul Wallenberg and about his escape in his novel Rámpa (Ramp) published in 1984.
After the war he studied at the Péter Pázmány University and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He studied philosophy, Hungarian, and French literature and folklore. Upon his return from Paris he worked as a theater script-reader and was the editor-in-chief of the multilingual literary periodical Arion. He was a member of the Mallarmé Academy in Paris and the winner of several awards. His poems and novels were published in several languages. His son, Bálint was born in 1957. György Somlyó died in 2006.
The would-be Olympic champion swimmer Éva Székely’s talent was discovered in her early childhood. However, starting in 1941 she could not be the official member of any sports club because she was Jewish. During World War II, she lived at a Swedish protected house with her family. In order to keep herself fit, she trained by going up and down the stairs in her building one hundred times every day.
After the war she got back into sports and met her future husband, later five-time Olympic water polo champion, Dezső Gyarmati. Their daughter, Andrea was born in 1954, and she later became a champion swimmer as well. Between 1946 and 1954, Éva won 32 national and 11 international medals and became an Olympic champion at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics by setting a new olympic record in 200 meter breast stroke. She and her husband participated in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, which was overshadowed by the news of the Hungarian revolution. However, Éva went on to win a silver medal in 200 meter breast stroke and came 5th in 400 meter free style. She stopped swimming in 1958 and devoted her life to training young talents, including her own daughter. She wrote several books about her life, the most famous of which was Sírni csak a győztesnek szabad! (Only the winner is allowed to cry!) published in 1981. The book was later published in Czech and English as well.
Pál was born into an established merchant family in Halas; his father was loved and respected in the town. "He was a good Jew and a good Hungarian at the same time. He fought for his king and the country in World War I and returned with several decorations, but at the same time he was active in the Jewish life of the town,” Pál later recalled. His early childhood years were also the years when anti-Jewish laws were enforced; Jewish shop-owners found it more and more difficult to run their businesses until their shops, including Pál’s father’s store, were ordered to be closed. Men in the family were conscripted into forced labor. Pál was nine years old when they were forced to move into the local ghetto, and his father was taken to forced labor again. This was the last time Pál saw his father.
In May of 1944 the Jews of Halas were deported to the Szeged ghetto – among them Pál, his mother, grandmother and other members of the family. From the ghetto in Szeged they were deported to the Austrian camp of Strasshof, where conditions were severe, but the families could stay together and adults were forced into slave labor. At the beginning of winter, inmates from Strasshof, including Pál and his family,were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen camp. Later, as a result of an inmate exchange, they got sent to the Terezin camp near Prague, established by the Nazis to deceive Swiss Red Cross delegations. In the last weeks of the war a serious typhus epidemic killed masses of inmates there. The camp was liberated by the Soviet troops on May 8, 1945 a little after Pál’s tenth birthday. "Two brothers of my mother never returned from forced labor in Ukraine...my father’s sister did not return from Auschwitz... and neither did my father. I kept dreaming of him for a long time...”
Éva Wimmer (née Éva Bihari) was born in 1927 in Budapest into a Catholic family. Her father was an electrical engineer and worked in different parts of the world while her mother raised Éva and her brother, Józsi. Her mother was an open-minded, humanistic spirit, which impacted and influenced Éva for her whole life. "In a human being human dignity is the most important, it is more important than life,” Éva said as a summary of her mother's philosophy. Her brother was working for the Swedish Red Cross and was killed by the Nazis.
Éva herself started working for the Swedish Red Cross at the end of September 1944 and then upon the recommendation of Valdemar Langlet, and because of her excellent knowledge of German language, she became the interpreter and aid to Raoul Wallenberg. She was the translator during discussionsabout the establishment of the protected houses between Wallenberg and influential people including Ferenc Szálasi and Minister of Internal Affairs, Gábor Vajna. Éva participated in the rescue activities, helping the people living in protected houses and rescuing people from the death marches on the road.
After the war Éva studied law, diplomacy, economics and international business. She participated as a witness in the Szálasi trial in the autumn of 1945 based on the meetings and discussions with Wallenberg. Later she became a Board Member of the Wallenberg Association and her main task was to talk to young people. She married young, got a divorce after the war and remarried again. Her second husband was a childhood friend who had just returned from forced labor. They had a son who went on to pass stories of his mother and her work on to the next generation.
Jerry Rawicki was born in Plock, Poland where he was raised with two older sisters in a middle class home. He had religious training and completed one year of law school before World War II broke out. His father managed an agricultural machinery factory. In 1939, when the German army took over Plonsk, Jerry fled. For awhile he dug graves in a small town to save his family from starvation.
Jerry escaped with his oldest sister in 1942. After a perilous journey he joined his father in the Warsaw Ghetto. There he joined the ZOB, a Jewish Fighting Organization, as a courier. His job was smuggling goods and messages in and out. During the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto, he ran out of ammunition, and hid in an abandoned cellar. He was ill for weeks and was caught by German satellite troops, but escaped. His father, mother, and one sister were killed. Jerry left Warsaw in 1943, pretending to be a Gentile. He worked on a farm and became a member of Polish Peasant Battalions, a group of partisans fighting the German occupiers. He was liberated by the Soviet Army in 1944 in Lublin, Poland and remained for three years in Wroclaw (Breslau) Poland, then spent one year in Sweden.
In 1949, he arrived in the United States. Jerry married and has two children and six grandchildren. As of January 2015 he was living in Florida.
Marietta Drucker was born in Vienna, Austria and was raised in a middle class traditional Jewish family. Her father owned a shoe store.
After Kristallnacht, she was sent on the Kindertransport to the United Kingdom. There she lived with a Jewish family in London for nine months. Her parents arrived in England prior to the war without any belongings. Her father was then interned in a camp in the United Kingdom, and was unable to work when released. Her mother worked as domestic help. Marietta was evacuated to the countryside because of bombings and lived in many foster homes. It wasn’t until after the war that she was reunited with her parents. Her mother died in 1946 and her father in 1960.
She came to New York City in 1951 and lived with her aunt and obtained work as an executive secretary. In 1952 Marietta married another Survivor. She has two daughters and five grandsons.
Mary Wygodski was born in Vilna, Poland and was raised as the eldest of three sisters and one brother in a traditional middle class Jewish family. Her father was in the leather business.
After the Nazi occupation, her family was sent to the Vilna Ghetto. In 1943, she was separated from her mother and two sisters at a boxcar and never saw them again. Mary was transported to the Kaiserwald Labor Camp in Riga, Latvia and then to the Stutthof Camp in Germany. From there she was transferred to Magdeburg Labor Camp where she made artillery shells in the Polte factory. After the war, she learned that her father and brother had been executed in a concentration camp in Klooga, Estonia.
Mary has two children and two grandchildren.