The clerk asked if she had a typewriter. She did. It was the third time Ilona Haendel dodged the Nazis and snuck out of a Budapest ghetto to ask the clerk for a few Swiss protection papers for her friends and family.
The clerk saved her another trip by putting the official stamp and seal on more than 100 papers of Swiss protection for her to complete on her own typewriter for other Jewish people living in the ghetto.
With those papers, Haendel’s family and friends were able to live in buildings under Swiss protection.
Haendel’s daughter, Varda Ratner, shared the family’s story at the opening of San Antonio Public Library’s annual Holocaust Learn & Remember series. The 2019 theme, “Resistance,” focused on the many forms of resistance to the Nazis.
“This year’s Learn & Remember allows us to learn about resistors and to remember that we should make the kind of choices that they did when faced with brutal and unconscionable treatment of fellow human beings - to act with bravery and morality,” said Ratner, speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio.
Haendel and her mother were eventually rounded up by the Nazis and were part of a death march, which they managed to escape in a moment of chaos. They eventually went to the home of Ja'nosne Orosz, her friend and housekeeper, and stayed there until the end of the war.
“I am standing here before you today thanks to three holocaust resistors,” Ratner said. “If it weren't for their bravery and morality, my mother would not have survived, and therefore I would never have existed.”
NOWCastSA recorded video of three Holocaust Learn & Remember events, scroll down to replay them:
Replay video of the opening reception and Ratner’s remarks:
Replay video of “The Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto,” a presentation about the 1943 uprising by Roger C. Barnes, chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio:
Replay video of “Recovered Voices, music silenced by the Nazis,” a performance by soprano Kristina Bachrach and pianist Daniel Anastasio, designed to spread knowledge of these brilliant unknown composers.