Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monument to 124 Jews buried in mass graves in Hungary to be unveiled on Holocaust Day

Holocaust survivor Shraga Shemer will travel to a Hungarian town on Holocaust Remembrance Day, (Yom HaShoah) April 21, to lead a ceremony and unveil a monument for 124 Jews, including his father, recently discovered to have been been buried there.
In the town of Hegyeshalom, archives have been discovered documenting 124 Jewish Holocaust victims who died between November 1944 and March 1945 and were buried in mass graves in the town's Christian cemetery. Names and descriptions of 84 of the victims have been found in the town's archives, in addition to detailed descriptions of the 40 bodies without names, according to Matan Barzilay, director of the archive at the Testimony House of Religious Zionism and the Holocaust in Moshav Nir Galim, near Ashdod.

Shemer has been traveling to Hegyeshalom for the past few years to research his own history there. In 1944, when he was 16, Shemer and his father were part of a forced labor platoon in the Hungarian army there. He said both he and his father, along with many other forced laborers, had fallen into typhus-induced comas, of which Shemer's father died.

Many of those buried in the mass graves also died in that typhus outbreak.

Hegyeshalom was situated along the Nazi death march route from Budapest to Vienna, according to Shemer.

"Many, many Jews died there during the death marches, from weakness and from Nazi murder, and many of those were buried in the mass graves," Barzilay said Thursday.

In his research, Shemer became friendly with Hegyeshalom Mayor Szoke Laszlo, who brought the archived information to his attention. The town's council had collected the information at the time for official record, Shemer said.

He will soon travel again to Hegyeshalom, to supervise the construction of the black stone monument that will be unveiled at the ceremony later this month. It will be placed at the gate of the cemetery "so that everyone who enters will know the history of what is there," he said.

"I knew my father was buried in the cemetery somewhere, but now I know with comfort where exactly he rests," Shemer said, adding that through his journey, "I am finally now closing the circle. I feel I have fulfilled my obligation to my father, and I can finally put my past to rest. I am now more at peace, a weight lifted from my soul." (JPOST)

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