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Meisels, Ron - Oral History of a Holocaust Survivor

https://www.cjhn.ca/en/permalink/cjhn67766
Collection
WITNESS TO HISTORY COLLECTION (MHMC-02)
Description Level
Item
Material Format
moving images
Physical Description
01:53:20
Archival / Genealogical
Archival Descriptions
  1 video     1 image  
Collection
WITNESS TO HISTORY COLLECTION (MHMC-02)
Description Level
Item
Material Format
moving images
Physical Description
01:53:20
Creator
Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre
Language
English
Notes
Ron was born on June 7, 1935 in Budapest, Hungary, an only child. While his father's religious background was very orthodox, his mother's family was less religious. This led to tensions in the marriage, and they divorced in 1938. Ron's mother began a relationship with another man, Mor Makover, who later became Ron's stepfather. Ron still went to synagogue and had Sabbath dinners with his father's family every Friday night. He attended a neighbourhood Jewish elementary school, where he learnt to speak Hungarian and Hebrew. Ron remembers the day when German troops invaded Hungary and the fear that entered into his family's life from then on. Soon they were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. As Ron's father was a Polish citizen, his mother had become Polish too, and was now forced apply for residence documents. On May 1, 1944, she was arrested while waiting at the Polish embassy. She was taken into an old rabbinical college, where many Jews were held before being deported to Auschwitz and Dachau. After about two months, Raoul Wallenberg arrived at the college and, setting up a chair and table, proceeded to hand out Swedish passports to the captives. Ron's mother asked for additional passports for Ron and his father. Having been made Swedish citizens, they were now permitted to leave, and Ron's mother came home again. Soon after, in August 1944, Ron and his mother were moved into a designated "Swedish house," which was only for Swedish citizens. By this time Ron's stepfather, Mor, had been taken to a forced labour camp. Ron's mother took great risks to bring him food several times a week, passing as a Hungarian gentile by not wearing the yellow star. One time, when she went to bring him food as usual, she found out that he had been put on a train for deportation. Rushing to the train station, she found Wallenberg standing on the platform in front of the train. At her request, Wallenberg told the officials that there was a Swedish citizen on the train, and Ron's father's name was called out. Mor recognized it, and was able to pass as his mother's ex-husband. He was taken off the train and reunited with Ron and his mother. Only four inmates were to survive that particular deportation. By December 1944, all Jewish residents, irrespective of their Swedish nationalities, were ordered to line up in front of their houses and were sent to the ghetto. Ron thinks that by this time Wallenberg had lost some of his influence and was not able to stop the ghettoization of the Swedish citizens. By sneaking away from the line, Mor managed to save Ron's mother's wedding ring, which he was later able to trade in for a sack off flour. During their stay in the ghetto, there was heavy bombing of the houses and their own building was hit, completely destroying their living quarters on the top floor. A falling cross beam injured Ron and his mother. After having been treated at the hospital they were forced to move into the basement, which was extremely filthy and unhygienic. In January 1945, the Russian troops arrived and the ghetto was liberated. Mor found a cart, and took Ron and his mother back to their old apartment. A Christian woman had moved in, and Mor had to threaten that he would denounce her as a Nazi sympathizer before she finally moved out voluntarily. Mor and Ron's mother finally married in August 1945. After some years in Hungary under Communism, the family decided to leave in 1954. In order to save a man who had been selling arms to Israel from Hungary, as a cover-up, the Israeli government issued passports to Polish Jews in Hungary. Ron's family was among the lucky ones and was able to leave to Vienna and then Lim, Austria. There they waited for papers to enter the United States or Canada. Ron remembers being extensively questioned by the CIA on their lives in Communist Hungary. Finally their papers for Canada arrived and the family emigrated in November 1954.
Accession No.
WTH-183
Name Access
Meisels, Ron
Places
Budapest, Hungary, Europe
Archival / Genealogical
Archival Descriptions
Repository
Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre
Video Tracks
Images
Less detail
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