Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Max and Martha

Today is the Feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Catholic priest who gave his life to save another prison in his concentration camp from death.  The story goes that after a prisoner had escaped ten men were selected at random to die of starvation in reprisal for the escape.  He suffered for two weeks of starvation before dying of lethal injection.

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Somewhere else in Europe at this time a young woman named Martha was being hidden in a barn.  She and her family had been rounded up and loaded into a cattle car to be transported to a concentration camp some time before hand.  Most likely this Jewish family from Kisvarda, a suburb of Budapest, Hungary were taken to one of the large and well known camps.  On the way there Martha realized what was going to happen to her and her family, she pleaded with her relatives to escape with her, but they refused to risk being parted from one another.  She alone, jumped from the cattle car and escaped into the woods were she was hidden in a barn until the end of the war. 

When she returned home years later the only thing left of her family was a ring hidden under a floor board and her.

There were many people like Father Kolbe in those years who gave or risked everything to save people like the woman on the train.

I know this because the woman in the story is my Great-Great Aunt, who is to our knowledge, the only surviving member of our family living in Hungary at the time of World War II and today I wish to add the person or persons who saved her, though we do not know their names, to the collective memory of the brave souls of that era.

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If for any reason you have come across this story, the fragments of it that I know and it sounds familiar to you please do not hesitate to contact me - Molly W. - mollymakesdo@gmail.com .  We would love to know more about our family the Lichtschein and Schwartz's of Kisvarda, Hungary and the family who saved my Great-Great Aunt Martha.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this Molly. What an interesting story. It makes me reflect what I would do if that situation. Thank the Lord for people that were willing to risk it all to save and hide those being persecuted against.

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  2. this is an amazing story. i lived in budapest for a semester in college and . i remember the sadness i felt at a concentration camp in germany to learn how many hungarian jews had been killed because i really came to love the country and the magyar people.

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