That night was unquestionably the worst I’ve experienced during my 100 years on this earth.
I was born in Budapest in 1921 and was living there when war broke out. I received my army call-up in May 1943; at the time, Hungary was one of the Axis powers and had been fighting the Soviet Union on the eastern front for the past two years. I received basic military training but, because I was Jewish, I wasn’t given a regular uniform. Instead, I was conscripted into a labour corps and sent with 3,600 others to the mines in Bor, Serbia, which provided copper for the German army.
The labour camps were harsh environments, but I spoke good German and was able to secure a job as a stoker on a train that carried rocks from the mine, which meant I managed to stay warm. In September 1944, the approach of the Russian army led to the hurried closure of the mine and, to our delight, we learned we were to head back to Hungary, accompanied by the Hungarian guards from the camp.