2. Life With My Aunt
SOME OF these memories only came back a year ago, up until then I didn't remember much of my youth at all. Memory is a funny thing.
My aunt was a very wealthy lady. We lived in a restaurant and hotel, in the living quarters to the right. I had privileges I never had at home except, unfortunately, here I never had the privilege of love. My aunt was amazing, but she was a business woman and she had no clue how to treat a child, so I missed that warmth from a mother – something I missed all my life and that loss is still with me today. I went to this beautiful school called Liceul Domnita Iliana up to the age of 15. I had a won-derful time in school and an amazing education. My best friend at school was Cica Hertig and we are still friends today. She lives in Israel now, she went there with her mother after the war.
In 1940 through the Vienna Congress, Hitler gave back Transylvania to Hungary because Horthy, the leader of Hungary, was an ally of Hitler. So literally, overnight, you became Hungarian and from speaking Romanian one minute you now spoke Hungarian. I couldn’t go to my school which was closed because it was named after a Romanian Princess. Sari insisted on me going somewhere, so I went to a convent school for one year. As hard as it was, that year in that convent school gave me strength because they were so horrible, so cruel. I said to my aunt: “If you send me back there, I am going to commit hari kari! There is no way I’m going back there.”
In 1940 and 1941 the Hungarians brought in the first, second and third Jewish laws, and upper schools were not allowed for Jewish people. Sari sent me to a Jewish School called Kolozsvari Zsido Gymnasium, in Cluj, the capital of Transylvania. I was boarded into a Jewish family. I could-n't enter or leave my room without going through their apartment so I was not able to gallivant around, but I did - I went through the window! The family was very nice and very warm and I stayed with them for two years, from when I was 16 until I matriculated at 18, which was in June 1943.
To be quite honest with you, from the age of eight this was the happiest part of my life. I used to get 110 Kroner pocket money and I would spend most of it on tickets to the opera, which I abso-lutely loved. The town itself was a beautiful place but the opera house and the theatre were extraor-dinary. I would go there with my boyfriend, he introduced me to it. But remember, we stood right at the top otherwise our money would have been spent much quicker! To this day I am a very keen opera lover. I love the music and the romantic arias are just incredible. Verdi, Puccini, they are amazing. I know every one of them!