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 (09-008.09-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 293

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Date: July 7, 2008

Participants: Mezei, Margit. Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler.

Location recorded: Oradea, Bihor County, Romania

Language: Yiddish, Hungarian

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Romanians

 Recording Content:   

The recording is a formal interview with Margit (Malke) Mezei, nee Rosenberg, born 1921 in Sighetu Marmatiei. (Part 1 of 3. See MDV 294 and MDV 295)

00:00:00 Mezei provides personal information and speaks about her family. She and her husband were deported to Auschwitz in 1944 and returned to Sighetu Marmaţiei after the war. Mezei mentions that she and her husband moved to Oradea in 1958. Her brother made aliyah after the war. Mezei visited Israel three times. Her father owned a textile shop and was born in the Maramureș province. Mezei grew up with one sister and one brother. She explains that she and her sister returned home from the war and her brother was sent to Donbas, Russia, as POW. Her brother was a forced laborer serving in the Hungarian Second Army. He returned home in 1948.
00:08:27 Mezei speaks about her childhood memories. She explains how her family lived with her grandmother in a poor neighborhood and then moved to a different house in a better off area. Mezei attended a preschool at three and then a Romanian school, which she finished in 1939.
00:13:41 Mezei speaks about her life during World War II, in particular the Hungarian occupation (1940), then ghettoization (April 1944) and deportation to Birkenau (May 1944).
00:15:28 Mezei explains her school grade photo of 1939. She then speaks about her school education at a Romanian school and prewar Jewish life in Sighetu Marmaţiei. Mezei also addresses her activities as adolescent, including dancing and attending meetings Hashomer Hatzair, Hanoar Hatzioni and Trumpeldor. Mezei then speaks about her husband's family. Her husband held a doctorate in law and worked as lawyer.
00:25:31 Mezei speaks about prewar Jewish life in Sighetu Marmaţiei and addresses holiday celebration, including Sabbath. According to Mezei, fifty percent of the population was Jewish. She then addresses Sabbath food customs and recalls how strictly her grandmother observed kashrut. She then talks about her husband's life during the war. He was a laborer serving in the Second Hungarian Army and Mezei explains how he was not identified as a Jew and worked at a stone factory.
00:35:18 Mezei speaks about her husband's return to Sighetu Marmaţiei. Mezei also mentions how the Jewish community was assembled in the Great Synagogue before deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Mezei then speaks about her father who founded a Zionist prayer house before the war.
00:38:03 Mezei speaks about Passover celebrations, including food customs, before the war. She also addresses her neighbors and family. Mezei's father learned in the textile industry in Budapest. She then shows a photograph of her father in World War I uniform.
00:49:02 Mezei speaks about contemporary Jewish press and life, as well as her childhood friends.
00:53:19 Mezei speaks about her imprisonment in the Birkenau c-sector and her encounter with Josef Mengele while undergoing selection. Mezei also mentions encounters with other prisoners.
01:02:32 End of recording.