The Klein family – David (b. 1899), Ilonka-Leah (b. 1904) and their children Oskar (b. 1928) and Tibor-Yehoshua (b. 1933) – lived in the village of Batyu, some 30 km from Munkács in Subcarpathian Rus’. Ilonka’s parents, Moshe and Tzila Klein, lived with them. David and Ilonka were first cousins – their fathers were brothers. David’s parents, Chaim Tzvi-Hirsch and Nina Klein, lived in Munkács. David was a metalworker by profession. David’s sister, Dora Lichtman née Klein, lived in the USA. In 1938, Dora travelled to Munkacs and Batyu for a family visit with her husband and daughter, and captured their trip on film.
As a result of the Munich Conference and its subsequent agreements, Czechoslovakia was carved up, and in November 1938 the Subcarpathian Rus’ area was annexed by Hungary. On 19 March 1944, the German army invaded Hungary and occupied Subcarpathian Rus’.
In April 1944, David Klein, his wife Ilonka and their children Oskar and Yehoshua (Tibor) were forced into the Beregsas ghetto together with all the Jews of Batyu, and in May 1944, the family was deported to Auschwitz with Ilonka’s parents. David passed the selection, but perished in 1945 on the death march from Auschwitz III – Buna-Monowitz. Ilonka was murdered in the gas chambers with her younger son Yehoshua, aged 11, and her parents, Moshe and Tzila.
Ilonka had two sisters – Aliza (Bazka) Klein, who survived, and Gizi Horshtein née Klein, who perished in Auschwitz.
David’s parents were sent to the Munkács ghetto. In May 1944 they were deported to Auschwitz, where they perished. David’s sister, Marishka Schwartz née Klein, who lived in Hungary before the war, also perished in the Holocaust.
David and Ilonka’s older son Oskar passed the selection at Auschwitz, and was assigned to forced labor in a coal mine at Jawiszowice. On 18 January 1945, he was sent on a death march with other Auschwitz inmates, and eventually reached Buchenwald, where he was liberated. In February 1947, he immigrated to Eretz Israel on the ship “The Unknown Ma’apil” (illegal immigrant), which was intercepted by the British, its passengers sent to Cyprus. In 1948, Oskar reached Eretz Israel and fought in the War of Independence, in the battles for the Jordan Valley.