Survivor STORY

Thomas Weiszbluth, later Reed, was born in Mezocsat, Hungary. When Tom was twelve years old, he and his family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and arrived there on June 18, 1944. His mother, sister, brothers, and grandparents were soon murdered. In July, Thomas and his father, Eugene, were deported to the Munchen-Allach labor camp and then on to the Muhldorf labor camp, a sub-camp of Dachau. In Muhldorf, they were forced to carry 110-pound sacks of cement while building a bombproof aircraft factory. After several months, Tom and Eugene were moved on to the Mittergars labor camp. Tom and his father were being transported back to Muhldorf in April 1945 when their train was liberated by American troops.

Tom and his father were taken to Feldafing DP camp, where Eugene became a teacher in what they called the Kindercasino. Eugene organized a newspaper for Hungarian survivors, which eventually took him and Tom to Munich. In 1949, the Weiszbluths emigrated to America and made their home in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tom was accepted at Case Western University in Columbus, but flunked his exemption test because his English wasn't up to snuff. He was drafted into the army, but was able to continue his education after he was discharged. Tom graduated with an engineering degree and was hired as a systems engineer for North American Aviation (later subsumed under Rockwell International, then Boeing). He still had some tuition money available through the GI bill, so he decided to go to law school at night. Tom was able to integrate his knowledge as an engineer and an attorney, remaining at North American Aviation in international operations, writing export licensing agreements and contracts and representing the company in its dealings with foreign governments. Tom was asked to relocate to the Atlanta area during the time he was handling agreements for the missile division of the company.

Tom and his wife, Lora, have three sons and a daughter and grandchildren. Tom occasionally teaches a class on the Holocaust for Seniors for Enriched Living. He is also an accomplished amateur artist.

Survival in Europe

All of a sudden, American fighters attacked the train. And they made one run, at that point, and a bullet that kind of skinned my father's forehead, not forehead, side head, hit the stove. There was a stove in that car. Naturally it was no use. I still have - and they killed and wounded tremendous numbers of prisoners. You know, everybody was in the train full of prisoners. Fifty caliber machine guns all over. We made a calculation; we had to get out of this train before the second run is made. So we jumped from the train, we jumped, you know, a running jump down this slope and started running. And all of a suddenly, I had this feeling on my left side, right here, like someone had taken a hot, wet towel, and hit me with it. I mean, I could feel the physical thing - hit me with a hot, wet towel. I kept running. Then I lay down when I thought was safe. And the airplane made another strike, and I couldn't get up. I got shot. One of the sentries, you know, who was in the ditch, "pow." My Greek brothers helped me back to the car. I could see people, didn't get any first aid or anything. I had a hole in here, no hole to - I couldn't see a hole going out. What happened, actually, the bullet landed in the bone, is still in there and it's encased by the bone. I saw people, I saw one person, the leg was opened up like you would, you know, like you would cut it open. And situations like that. So I was still lucky.

We were there in the camp maybe about a month. The Americans tried to get rid of us as much as possible, so they have organized waves of Jews going back home, quote, unquote. I remember the first Hungarian transport consisted of American Army trucks. And the Hungarian Jews, who were kicked out of Hungary, just like I was, and, getting on those trucks. I didn't mind that, but they had a Hungarian flag! That made me sick. I was a kid, but I was already an adult. Can you imagine? Being Hungarian after what they have done to you? And they went back home, and I said to myself, "You may go home, but if you stay there, I never, never will help a Hungarian Jew who got deported to concentration camp and went back home." And I'm still sick. I have some pictures of that. It's small picture, but it shows clearly, black and white, what they did. Later there was a railroad transport. Now, some of these people came back out. But you know, I stopped being Hungarian, I tell you exactly when. When we went from the ghetto to the Mezoczat to train station, on the way, I, twelve-year-old Tom Reed, Tom Weiszbluth, Thomas Weiszbluth, stopped being a Hungarian. And, to me, being Hungarian is offensive.

Coping

I was talking originally about the suddenness at which we ended up in concentration camp and the suddenness that, which we got liberated and the emotions that went with it. I believe that we were helped without the help of, without psychiatrists and psychologists, in that everybody had a story that was terrible, and knowing that you were not unique, that it happened to others. And if you talked to them, they were worse off than you were in many respects. I had my father. Most kids didn't have any parents. I managed to live through this thing, while, if you look at the children who I went to school with, they were practically without, except for two young girls, all dead. So, you could not feel sorry for yourself. You had to realize that, just to be alive, and having a parent and being so few of the people who survived. You were a very fortunate one. And that, I think, kept my emotional balance in check. Now, it was very difficult for years to try to think back of what happened. Naturally, being a younger person, it was easier for me than for my father, who lost his wife and children. Even so, I lost my mother and brothers and uncles and aunts. But, as time went on, I always kept looking forward. I did not feel that I can afford to look backward and go through the emotional strain and have the strength left to move forward at the rate that I had to go to achieve my goals. So, even today, I have a habit of looking forward not looking back. And that, I think, helped me a great deal.

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Tom Reed