Life in Occupied Hungary

In this video, Paul Herczeg describes the first day he had to leave the house wearing a yellow star, following the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944. Source: Montreal Holocaust Museum, 2007



Video begins with inter-title in white text on black screen while instrumental music plays and fades into the next frame: Paul Herczeg was 14 years old when German forces occupied Hungary in March 1944.



Cut to Holocaust survivor Paul Herczeg, sitting in front of a black background, and looking to the left of the camera. The camera shows his face and shoulders as he speaks during an interview conducted in Montreal in 2007.

>> Paul Herczeg: That night, March the 19th, 1944. From that moment on…



The name “Paul Herczeg” and the location of the filmed interview, “Montreal”, appear in white text above Paul's left shoulder.

 >>…things started to go very fast. The situation developed. Daily, daily, daily proclamations, laws, what we can and we cannot do. It didn't take very long. Two weeks after, edict comes out – I may be off a week or two, I cannot give you exact dates – but a very short time, every Jew must wear a yellow star. The first time I realised that I'm different. Even amongst my friends. So, by then we didn't go, we weren't allowed to go to school, to begin with, okay? We had to stay home. We didn't go to school anymore. But I remember the first time I had to put on the yellow star and go out on the street. And my mother sewed it up. I went out. I came back crying. Came back crying like a baby. I remember my mother hugging me and trying to calm me down. That is the first, first instance in my life, in my experience, in my mind, that I recognise that I'm in trouble. I'm different. I'm not the same.



Cut to black-and-white portrait photograph of young man looking directly at the camera. The photo caption appears in white text on the right-hand side of the frame, “Paul Herczeg, 1945”.

>> I'm discriminated against. What's me going with the yellow star? I don't know, I walked out maybe for an hour. But evidently I must have done something to hide it more or less.



Cut to Paul Herczeg in front of the camera.

>> I don't remember exactly, but I'm just thinking back what I would have done at that time that you hide it. You don't want to be so…

>> Interviewer Barry Stahlmann: And you saw other people that had it on?

>> Paul Herczeg: Yeah, so I came back but there were not that many people on the street. Evidently, everybody was trying not to go out. And see don't forget, this is not a ghetto. It's not the Jews or the Gentiles section. Jews were immersed in them. So the life was going on. And maybe Jews, the first day, they want to go out. I don't remember seeing too many people. But I went for about an hour. I came home crying. That was, till this day, one of the hardest times in my life if I remember. A very, very traumatic experience.



Music plays for the remainder of the video. Three credit pages appear in white text on black screen: Interview conducted by Barry Stahlmann, Witness to History Program, Montreal, 2007, Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre

Images: Paul Herczeg Family Collection

Directing: Helgi Piccinin; Editing and Colorization: Michaël Gravel, Helgi Piccinin; Audio Mix and Original Music: Pierre-Luc Lecours. [Logo for Chaire de recherche du Canada en patrimoine ethnologique]

Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, copyright 2017.



End of transcript.

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