A group of Hungarian police sat drinking and laughing, their uniforms reeking of alcohol. One man spit out the name of a Jewish family that he was going to arrest the next day. After a few hours, all of the officers were passed out on the floor, all but one. He slipped into the night and ran down the city street towards a small house, a shadow amongst the darkness. The next morning the Hungarian police barged into an empty home. The family was nowhere to be seen (Michelson 1). The liberator of this family was Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum whose individual heroic actions during the Holocaust resulted in the legacy of the lives of approximately a thousand Jews and a pattern of humanity for generations to come.
Just prior to World War II, persecution of the Jews began with changes in civil law, which increasingly restricted their opportunities and participation in society. According to Marion A. Kaplan, author of Between Dignity and Despair, Nazi-controlled governments confiscated Jews’ “personal property and limited food and clothing purchases” (145). In 1938, the first anti-Semitic law was passed, restricting a Jew’s choice of profession and involvement in the economy. That same year hatred culminated in an event forever known as “Kristallnacht,” “The Night of the Broken Glass” (Ellis and Silinsky). The Germans used this term to “describe the tons of shattered glass spread over public areas, streets, and squares from the ruined homes and shops of Jews” (Kaplan 125). This uproar started when a seventeen-year-old Polish Jew named Henry Grynszpan walked up and shot an embassy official, Ernest Von Rath, after he was not able to free his family from Germany.
This act gave Hitler the excuse to turn Gentile against Jew and inflame a horrendous pogrom. During November 9 -10, 1938, 1,350 Jewish synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish businesses were confiscated, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated, 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps, and 91 innocent Jews were murdered (Karsai). The next year another law was passed, granting Jews even less part in the economy. By 1941, Hungary was full of hate and discrimination. The Hungarian government then passed a law, leaving almost 16,000 Hungarian Jews without a country. They were regarded as aliens and many were deported to German territories in Galicia, where they were slaughtered in Kamenec-Podolskij. This was known as the first “five-digit massacre” (Karsai).
Hungary was not an easy place for Jews to live. They were ordered to turn in all valuables: jewelry, radios, vehicles, etc. All Jewish books, documents, and Holy scrolls were tossed into fires to be destroyed (Jackson). Jews were even forbidden from talking to Hungarian Gentiles. Another restriction imposed on the Jews included a curfew of 7:00 p.m. (Leitner). Not only Jewish adults suffered persecution, but also Jewish adolescents experienced discrimination. Jewish children walking home from school were constantly watching their backs,...