An Officer of the Hungarian Army Lives Here...

Imre Irsay, his wife and son György

Hungary

The Wall of Honor of Hungarian Righteous Among the Nations in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad VashemThe Wall of Honor of Hungarian Righteous Among the Nations in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem
Imre Irsay, his wife and son György inscribed on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad VashemImre Irsay, his wife and son György inscribed on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem

Valéria Pál (Steiner) lived with her family in the city of Munkács. In February 1944, she traveled to Budapest to visit her sick brother, and in March 1944, the German army occupied Hungary. Pál could not return to Munkács, because it was forbidden for Jews to travel without special permits. All the members of her family in Munkács were sent to Auschwitz. Her brother died in Budapest some time after the beginning of the occupation. In the summer of 1944, Pál moved into a Yellow-Star House. She stayed there until a few weeks after the Arrow Cross Party came to power, when she was sent on a death march to the German Reich with other men and women of working age. Together with a group of Jews who had Swedish letters of protection, she returned to Budapest, and obtained false Aryan papers claiming that she was a refugee from Transylvania who had fled the advance of the Red Army. While in Budapest, Pál met Anna Kérői-Nagy. She gave Pál the address of her friends the Irsay family. Although the Irsays had never met Pál previously, Kérői-Nagy asked them if they would be willing to help her. Imre Irsay and his wife agreed to give Pál a place to hide for a few days. The family allowed Pál to stay on for a longer period however, because they understood the fate that awaited her if she attempted to survive on her own. The Irsays’ son, György, was an officer in the Hungarian army. He knew that his parents were harboring a Jew, and in order to reduce the chances of Pál being discovered, he hung a sign on the entrance door of their apartment, which read: “Here lives the first lieutenant of the Hussar unit in the Imperial Hungarian Army Irsay György de irsa”. To Arrow Cross members who might be looking for hidden Jews, this sign would immediately indicate that the residents of the apartment were above suspicion, because the Irsays were a well-known aristocratic family, and the Hussars were the elite of the Hungarian army. The Irsay family hid Pál for more than three months. After the liberation of Buda in the middle of February, she returned to Munkács. Out of all the members of her family, only her son, and her daughter Zsuzsanna, returned from Auschwitz. After the war, György Irsay moved to Venezuela.

On January 31, 1994, Yad Vashem recognized Imre Irsay, his wife, and their son György, as Righteous Among the Nations.

 

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Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.