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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                EVA DUKESZ FRIEDLANDER

INTERVIEWERS:        JOHN KENT

                                    RUTH EINSTEIN

LOCATION:                 ATLANTA, GEORGIA
DATE:                          MAY 7, 2008

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Eva Dukesz was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1921. She was the only child of Margit, an actress, and Geza, a civil engineer. After her parents separated when Eva was a teenager, Eva and her mother struggled financially. Eva dropped out of high school, completed a secretarial course and went to work in a law firm.

When World War II began, the Hungarian government allied itself with Germany, imposing more and more restrictions on Jews. By 1944, Hungarian Jews—including Eva’s father—were being deported. Eva and her mother obtained false identity papers and went into hiding. Margit lived with a family for whom she worked as a nanny, while Eva spent the next many months changing where she lived and worked frequently to avoid questions from suspicious Hungarians. Finally, in late 1944, Russian troops liberated Budapest.

After the war, Eva and her mother were reunited, reclaimed their apartment and opened a small business offering clerical and translation services. Eva’s father never returned. In 1947, Eva married another Hungarian survivor, George Friedlander. The couple moved to Rome, Italy, where George worked as a chemist and Eva worked for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

In 1950, Eva and George immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta, Georgia. The couple had a son and daughter. Eva worked as an antique buyer, interior designer and art appraiser, while George started his own business. After retirement, Eva began speaking about her experiences at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. She also co-authored a memoir, “Nine Lives of a Marriage: A Curious Journey,” detailing her survival and life after the Holocaust. George died in 2004 and Eva died in 2017.

Scope of Interview:

Eva introduces her family and describes her early years in Budapest. She describes the growing antisemitism in Hungary before World War II began. Eva shares what she knows about her father’s and other family member’s experiences in the Holocaust. She recalls how the situation for Jews worsened as the Arrow Cross Party came to power and deportations began. Eva details how she and her mother survived the rest of the war in hiding. She details the last days of the war and how she and her mother began to rebuild their lives. She talks about breaking off her engagement to her fiancĂ©e and meeting the man she later married. Eva recounts how Hungary changed after the war. She describes moving to Italy and then immigrating to the United States and settling in Atlanta, Georgia. Eva describes her mother’s later years and the fates of other surviving family members. She reflects on her visits to Hungary and the role of Judaism in her family’s lives. Eva shares her knowledge of her husband’s wartime experiences. She discusses his final years and what her life is like. The interview closes with Eva’s wishes for her grandchildren.

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