June 1944

Békéscsaba, Hungary

"Now my darling, we bid you farewell. I don't know if we will meet again in this life. Pray to the good Lord to be merciful with us, because we can't endure this situation for long…"

Bracha Igaz's Last Postcard

Bracha Igaz wrote these words in her last postcard, sent from the Békéscsaba ghetto in Hungary to her husband, Yaakov-Jenő, in a labor battalion in Debrecin.  Bracha and her five children were murdered at Auschwitz.  Yaakov survived.

Yaakov-Jenő and Bracha née Ziner and their children lived in Békéscsaba in south-east Hungary.  Yaakov had a small grocery store and Bracha helped with the customers. The family was religiously observant.

In March 1944, the Germans occupied Hungary.  During this period, Yaakov was drafted into a labor battalion and stationed in Debrecin.  Bracha and the children remained in Békéscsaba.

On 11 May 1944, the Békéscsaba ghetto was established, and Bracha and her children were confined there together with all the city's Jews.  She sent her last postcard on the same day the ghetto was liquidated and the Jews were transferred to the local tobacco factory, next to the Békéscsaba railway station.  On 26 June, Bracha and the children were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered on arrival.

Yaakov survived and returned to Békéscsaba.  He immigrated to Israel after the establishment of the State.  He never remarried, and lived alone.  A photograph of his wife Bracha, her last postcard and the memory of his five children were all that remained of his beloved family.  They were his most treasured possessions until his dying day.

In 1955, Bracha Igaz's relative, Rosa Gutman, submitted a Page of Testimony in memory of Bracha and her five children.  Rosa remembered the names and ages of the three oldest children: ten-year-old Tibor, 8-year-old Miriam, and Edita, six years old.  Recently, after extensive genealogical research, Bracha's family discovered the names of the two younger children: Arno and Agi. Their ages remain unknown. 

Bracha's brother, Yehezkel Shraga Ziner, was a forced laborer in the Hungarian labor battalions on the eastern front, and did not survive.  In 2011, Yehezkel's granddaughter, Lia Ben Zvi, donated Bracha's last postcard, on display in this exhibition, to Yad Vashem.

My darling,

With a broken heart, I am informing you that I am packed and ready, and waiting for a wagon. Unfortunately, we are going to the tobacco factory. What can I say? My heart is on the verge of breaking.  You can imagine my mental state.  I could have lived with the move to the factory, but I know that it won't end there.  Almost certainly, next week we will board the cattle cars and leave.  Where to? God only knows. 

Now imagine my state, the indescribable suffering of five innocent little children.  My heart is about to break.  I cry night and day.  For if you were here with us my dear, perhaps it would nevertheless be easier for us. 

But even so, try and write to us.  Maybe I will receive the letter.  Regrettably, I can't write again because we are not permitted to take as much as a pencil with us.

You can picture my life, my dear.

I hope you got the parcel.  If you are allowed more packages, do write.  Please write about everything. 
Now my darling, we bid you farewell.  I don't know if we will meet again in this life.  Pray to the good Lord  to be merciful with us, because we can't endure this situation for long…

The children are alright.  Goodbye once again.  May the good Lord let us be reunited in great joy and may we raise our darling children together.

God be with you.  Loads of kisses.

Your suffering wife and the children

Békéscsaba

  View the postcard