Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics

By Edward Teller; Judith L. Shoolery | Go to book overview
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IN THE HISTORY of the twentieth century, 1945 was the watershed year. I realize in retrospect that the year also marked a turning point in my life. I cannot discuss those events without including some international events as I know them today.

By January, the war in Europe was moving closer to its end. A few days after my birthday (the 15th), the Red Army entered Budapest. But it was more than half a year, some weeks after the Third Reich collapsed, before we received news of our families. We did not know, and certainly could not imagine, what was going on in Hungary. Since then, I have heard and read a lot about those months of terror, but even today I cannot really imagine them.

Hungary, hoping for the return of its lost lands and anticipating a German victory, joined the Axis in late 1940. That necessitated a purge of the army, because in Hungary, a convert to Christianity was no longer considered a Jew. Under Hitler's standards, a person remained a Jew, regardless of religious beliefs, even if only one of his or her grandparents was a Jew. Beginning in 1940, all Jews were removed from their posts in the government, the military, and the schools and universities. 1

Even with that change in Hungarian policy, until 1942, Jews from Poland and other neighboring nations were still fleeing to Hungary; and, until the spring of 1944, Hungarian Jews were free to live where they chose and not required to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing. The

From then on, conscripted Jews were assigned to military labor battalions, where they served without rights and with inferior clothing and rations. Tens of thousands died in those circumstances.


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Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics
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