"Dear Daddy – we are well – goodbye"
Sisters Suzan-Zsuzsa and Lili wrote these words in the last postcard that they sent to their father, Hugó Klein, who was in a labor battalion in Margitta-Marghita, near the Austrian border. The girls were deported with their mother to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered. Hugó survived.
Hugó Klein and his wife, Matild née Szabo, lived in the town of Hencida, in the Bihar district of Hungary. In 1930, the Jewish population there numbered 81. Matild and Hugó had two daughters, Suzan-Zsuzsa-Shoshana (b. 1935) and Lili-Lilka (b. 1937).
In 1938-39, the Hungarians enacted anti-Jewish legislation, which affected the ability of Hencida's Jews to make a living, and in 1941, the recruitment of men for forced labor began. Hugó was drafted to a labor battalion in 1943, and Matild remained in Hencida with the children.
In May 1944, the Jews in the Bihar district were moved into a small ghetto in the suburbs of Nagyvárad and were settled on agricultural land in deplorable living conditions. On 24 May, after weeks of starvation and suffering, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, arriving on 29 May. Matild and her girls were amongst the deportees. All three were murdered.
Hugó survived the labor battalions. In 1946, he married Ilona Mezei, a cousin of Matild's who had survived Auschwitz. In 1947 their son George was born. In 1957 they immigrated to Israel.
In 1985, Ilona Kertesz submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of her sister Matild, her nieces Suzan-Zsuzsa and Lili, and other relatives. As part of the "Gathering the Fragments" project, Ilona-Ilana Klein and her son George donated the postcards that George's half-sisters had written to their father, together with locks of their hair that had been cut off in their infancy and preserved as mementoes.