Massacres in the Last Days of the Siege of Budapest, 1945 II

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An eyewitness’ description of what has happened with the employees and patients of the Jewish institutions in Városmajor during the siege of Buda

On the 14th of January, 1945 grenades whizzed above the Városmajor. The Russian outposts were just 2-300 meters away from us and we were all quakingly waiting for the liberation. Around 4 o’clock in the afternoon in addition to the constant, accustomed sound of machine gun shots a different kind of duller sound came to our ears. The sound came from the direction of the Jewish hospital, named after Dániel Bíró. I ran to the window, I looked out and staggered back in horror. One of us fainted from the terrible sight. Four-five nurses in white veil were standing in a row, facing the coal chamber in the yard of the hospital. Behind them some Arrow Cross in uniforms, one of whom shot and the nurses screamingly collapsed. We could not stand to look at the horrible sight, and because we could not help – a dozen guards armed with submachine guns stood guard scattered on the street – we sat, sunk into ourselves and listened to the repeated gunshots and death screams for another hour.

The following day, Ferenc Joksa, employee of the Jewish nursing home at Alma-street told in details what happened. The Arrow Cross appeared in the Dániel Bíró hospital at 11 o’clock in the forenoon of Sunday, on the 14th of January. Their leader was a red-haired marauder with a wicked face, and two German soldiers were with them too. Apparently the Germans acted upon, but by the time when it came to implementation, they had left. The Arrow Cross previously sorted out those, who had Christian papers and sent them to the basement. Then they gave the order that anyone who can walk should get out of bed and get dressed. These people were sent in smaller groups down to the hospital’s courtyard, where they were ordered an about-face and they were shot with submachine guns in the back of their head and their back. Some were sent into the coal chamber and were shot down there. Already around 4 o’clock, dead bodies on dead bodies were lying all in a heap. When the ambulant patients and the Jewish employees have all been lying in the courtyard, the Arrow Cross comrades continued to work in the wards. They were walking from room to room and were done away with everybody. Old people, seriously ill people, and small children were equally shot dead. The dead bodies of two little boys were found later on their mother, embracing her. The director of the hospital also died there. Chief physician named Zuber was laying under two dead bodies in the courtyard, groaning for a long time. Residents of the house on the opposite side wanted to lift him out, but the Arrow Cross guard who was standing in the courtyard threatened to shoot them, but he begrudged the grace shot for the unfortunate chief physician. All together 130 people died here in two hours. – On the next day Arrow Cross guards stood in front of the house and would not let anyone in. On Tuesday morning, the dead bodies, lying in the courtyard and covered with a red carpet, were spilled with petroleum and then they were set on fire along with the building. The building was burning for two days and the corpses partially burned completely down, some were only charred. The dead bodies were later transported by the Russian authorities, but some limbs and human bones are still visible in the ashes. There is for example a woman’s shoe with a charred leg in it. Here and there some bones. This is all what left behind from the residents of Dániel Bíró hospital. The residents of the Jewish nursing home two blocks away lived in horrible terror since the 14th of January. Their terror only increased when German soldiers appeared there and took away a large portion of their food. It began the same way in the Dániel Bíró hospital... On the 19th of January, Ferenc Joksa, the Christian employee of the nursing home, went over to the commander – who was a general - of the military hospital operating in the school over against [the Dániel Bíró hospital], and asked him for protection. The general said that “he is so insignificant” that he cannot help, maybe the Germans... But their “help” had already been known by the residents of the Városmajor street… Hence, Joksa told the very old residents of the institute – younger than 71 years old was barely among them – that, who can go, go wherever he or she can. Shells were falling the entire day and the poor old people did not dare to leave. In spite of that four of them decided to go, and they escaped. However, the other seventy people waited shivering. The green-shirted comrades appeared between 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening. They declared that the patients should be transported off. They separated the men and women. They lead down the women into the Városmajor [park], and they made them stand in triple rows on the Szamos street side. They took down those who could not walk in sedan chair and put them down in lines onto the ground. Then the submachine guns rang out. Not even a minute had passed and 70 old people “dangerous to society” fell on the snow. Some of them were only wounded and they were pleading to do away with them completely. Their hangmen threw 3 hand grenades between them. Only one of them exploded and the clothes caught fire from it. The fire and the frost then completed the “people’s” work.

The chronicle of the “state-building” in the Városmajor would not be complete without mentioning the operation in the other Jewish hospital on the Maros street. Here the Arrow Cross chased 170 undressed Jewish men and women to the street, way back in the first days of January. They shot all of them down as well.

So much the people of the Városmajor street can tell, the rest is to deal with is the People's Prosecutor's Office’s duty.

Budapest, April 3, 1945

Emil Böszörményi Nagy