Segment 1


Eva Aigner was born in 1937 in Czechoslovakia in a small town on the Hungarian border. Aigner's family was middle class. Her father was a hat maker. They would travel all around Czechoslovakia visiting town fairs to sell the hats. Aigner's father would travel and sell the hats while her mother would help sew new hats at home. In 1939 Nazi's started to arrive in Czechoslovakia. One of the first discriminatory laws that was passed prohibited Jews from owning their own business. Aigner had a sister who was 8 years older than her. They lived a comfortable and Jewish life. Their family was close knit and they had relatives near. The family was affected by the laws that helped to strip the family's ability to make money. Aigner's dad could not find employment because of his Jewish status. Their non-Jewish neighbors refused to help. Aigner's father had a brother in Budapest, Hungary. After corresponding with him he decided that it would be best for Aigner, her mom, and her siblings to go to Budapest. They put all of their belongings on the train. Before that they said goodbye to all of their family members. Everyone they left behind in Czechoslovakia with the exception of one cousin were killed in camps. They moved to Budapest and with her uncle's help her father was able to find a job. The peaceful atmosphere around Budapest subsided quickly with the implementation of Nazi law in Budapest. In 1943 they established a forced labor camp and her father was forced into the labor camp. The forced labor camp contained all of the able bodied Jewish men. They had to dig ditches, build roads, and help the Nazi war machine. They were not given uniforms but were marked with a yellow armband. They were treated quite brutally if they did not do their job. A few months later in a new place Aigner found out that her father had died in a forced labor camp. The Nazi laws gradually increased and their implementation increased as well. Rules were established that kept Jew's off of sidewalks and in the gutters. Every Jew had to be marked with a Star of David armband. Aigner was a little girl at the time but she remembered her mom sewing on a yellow armband. Every time they stepped on the street they were made fun of or yelled at. Aigner admits that as a child it was hard to understand what was happening around her. Aigner was happy at school but 1 day the teacher made all of the Jewish kids stand up. They were told that they had to leave the room because from that day on Jewish children were not allowed to say the Hungarian national prayer. They had to go out in the hall and wait for the other children to finish the prayer. Aigner went home that day and cried in her mothers arms. There was nothing they could do because it was the law. They had curfews and they had to turn in all of their valuables. They were not able to have anything from their past life. One day the Hungarian militia came by and told them that the building they were living in was to become a marked house. They put a yellow Star of David outside and more and more people began to live in their house. As it turned out their three bedroom apartment ended up with three families in it. Little did they know how good those conditions would be compared to what was to come.


All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at