10 July 1944

Army forced labor battalions

"My dear Rózsi, please take care and make sure that nothing happens to any of you."

Jenő Rosenfeld's Last Postcard

Jenő Rosenfeld wrote these words in his last postcard, which he sent from a Hungarian Army forced labor camp to his family in Budapest.  His wife Rózsi and their daughter Agnes survived in Budapest.  Jenő perished.

Jenő-Moshe Rosenfeld and his wife Rózsi-Rachel née Roth lived in Miskolc, Hungary, surrounded by their extended family.  In 1931, their daughter Agnes-Agi was born.  Jenő worked in a shoe store and Agnes went to the local Jewish school. 

In 1939, following the enactment of anti-Jewish legislation by the Hungarian authorities, Jenő was stripped of his livelihood.  In 1940, Jenő and Rózsi moved to Budapest in an effort to find work, and lived with Jenő's brother Zoltánné, who was married to Rózsi's sister Ethel.  Agnes stayed in Miskolc with her maternal grandmother Magda Roth, until she finished elementary school, and in 1942 they both moved to Budapest where they were reunited with Jeno and Rózsi.  Jenő found work in Budapest and Rózsi and Ethel earned money sewing dresses at home.  Agnes started studying at the local Jewish high school.

In 1943, Jenő was drafted to the Hungarian Army labor battalions, and kept in contact with his family by letter.  He also came home on leave from time to time.   On 19 March 1944, the Germans occupied Hungary.  Jenő, who was home on leave, vacillated about going back to the labor battalion, but ultimately decided to return to base, and continued sending postcards from there.  The last one was sent in July.  Meanwhiile, Zoltánné Rosenfeld and his 15-year-old son George were sent to forced labor.  Magda, Rózsi and Agnes were placed in one of the "Yellow Star Houses" designated for Jews in Budapest, together with Ethel and her daughter Vera. 

On 17 October, Arrow Cross men forced all the residents of their  house into the courtyard, and led them on a march lasting several hours to a horse-racing stadium, during which time they had to keep their arms raised and all their jewelry was stolen.  After a period of time, they were allowed to return home. Several days later, Rózsi and Ethel were caught and taken by Arrow Cross men.  Agnes and Vera stayed with Grandmother Magda. Rózsi and Ethel returned the following day.  Ethel managed to obtain Swiss certificates of protection, and the women entered one of the safe houses in Budapest.  Magda moved in with her non-Jewish daughter-in-law.

One day, Hungarian policemen arrived at the house and took away everyone's certificates, planning to transfer the residents to the ghetto.  One of the residents bribed the policemen, with the result that they were all allowed to remain in the house, but their certificates were not returned.  Several weeks later, the residents were all moved to the ghetto in Budapest. 

A few months after the liberation, Rózsi was notified that Jenő had fallen into Russian captivity, and had succumbed to typhus while in the Bolcz camp in March 1945.  His brother Zoltánné survived, but his son George did not return.  The family members who remained in Miskolc were deported to Auschwitz and murdered.

Agnes joined the Maccabi Hatzair movement in Budapest.  In 1949 she immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) and married Emil Sperber.  Magda, Rózsi, Zoltánné, Ethel and Vera stayed in Budapest.

In 1999, Aviva-Agnes Sperber submitted a Page of Testimony in memory of her father, Jenő Rosenfeld.  In 2014, she donated documents, letters and photographs as part of the national "Gathering the Fragments" project. One of the letters is the last postcard from her father displayed in this exhibition.

  Father's Last Postcard  
Holocaust survivor Aviva Rosenfeld Sperber talks about the correspondence between her father, Jenő Rosenfeld, who served in the Hungarian Army forced labor battalions, and her family in Budapest.

July [10? 16?]

My dearest,

I have arrived safely without any trouble on my way or at home. The boys were a little worried though, wondering whether anything had happened to us. Have you received news about Gyuri and has Zoli [Zoltánné] sent a letter already? Once you have any news let me know immediately because I'm very worried about them. My dear Rózsi, please take care and make sure that nothing happens to any of you. Write me immediately, kisses, Jenő

To Rosenfeld Zoltánné

Budapest
Teleki Square 23. III. floor […]


*Translated from the Hungarian by Zoltán Kékesi

  View the postcard