1944 – A Year Without Goodbyes
Daisy Birnbaum and I were brought together by the pictures: by the moving pictures, that is, when she came to attend my film-club, with Csaba, her husband. It was as if a friend whom I had not seen for a long while had visited. She too felt at home, right away. During our subsequent meetings, we always talked about us being Jewish. She wanted to know the life story of a man who was born at Pécs three years after the Holocaust, how my parents had survived, how did they begin life anew. And how about Vera, my wife? Her family lived at Körmend, and a few years ago, Vera published a transcribed tape that contained her father’s recollections about the Marton family of whom more than fifty had been murdered.
In 2014, Daisy first mentioned that she wanted to write about 1944, and the preceding years, as she has seen the events with the eyes of a child. Perhaps our conversations encouraged her to believe that her story was interesting, that remembering was possible, and as a matter of fact, a duty.
Daisy’s album of memories contains the pictures of several small children. I too possess such a picture from the same period: it is of a little boy, Endrike. I grew up looking at this picture, mounted on a small marble block, standing on our mantelpiece. Endrike was born to my father in his first marriage and, on July 4, 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz with his mother. Both died in the gas chambers. What is it that Daisy and I share? We are both only children. Perhaps that is why we have many friends, filling in the sibling roles in our lives. And that is how I found an older sister in Daisy who had told me (and now wrote down) about life in Budapest, in Komárom, in the Hungarian countryside, before March 1944, and what happened thereafter.
I am delighted to have been a bit of a midwife at the birth of this book, and that Daisy, a cultural historian, and researcher of the Middle Ages, has shared with me her personal story. Now it belongs to both of us – and to the readers.
-- András Stark, M.D., Prof. of Psychiatry