“In just two months, Hungary deported 440,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Of the 440,000, 330,000 were murdered immediately when they got there,” says the daughter of two Holocaust survivors.
The room went silent and reality sunk in.
The speaker was Julie Mittelman Berman, and she is one of many speakers as part of the Holocaust Series sponsored by Alpha Epsilon Pi and the Dallas Holocaust Museum.
However, today was unlike any of the other hour-long presentations.
While it was filled with stories of grief and horror from a first-hand source, the ending made it all worth it.
Every year, AEPi hosts a series of speakers throughout the semester in a look back to one of the most tragic times in history. With a $5 entrance fee, the money supports the Simon Wiesenthal Center combating hate speech, antisemitism and terrorism.
Other speakers throughout the semester have included Holocaust survivors Jack Repp and Rosa Blum, two of the last of the many who were victims.
The words from this story, however, come from the mouths of Les and Magda. Throughout her presentation, Berman showed clips of interviews with her parents discussing their heartwrenching experience.
“I just wanted to so much to go back and say a goodbye,” Madga speaks of last time she saw her father as the family marched into the concentration camp.
Les started off as a member of a Hungarian work battalion in Szolnok. After escaping the Nazis, he joined a partisan group that sabotaged enemy lines. Even after he was shot 13 times up and down his body, he still managed to escape to Hungary in search of his long lost love.
Towards the end of the war, Magda was transported from country to country on foot to different camps and factories. When the war ended, Madga, her sister and her cousin returned to Hungary in search of their family. Madga traveled from town to town in search of family, but also with a secret agenda. She left notes and breadcrumbs instructing where Les should go next to find her. He did, and when he caught up to her, they were married the next day.
The one takeaway Les was determined to share for those who ever heard is story rings true, especially in today’s global climate: “If you think that something like the Holocaust couldn’t happen again, you’re wrong. And if you think it couldn’t happen in the U.S., you’re wrong. And if you think it could only happen to Jewish people, you’re wrong.”