Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
Witnesses to History Keepers of Memory
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Leslie Vértes

The Vértes family together

Taken in Budapest (Hungary) in 1941, the following photograph that Leslie Vértes holds in his hands is the only portrait that he has of all of his family together. Leslie is surrounded by his sister Barbara and his parents. That same year, his father was conscripted into one of the Hungarian army’s forced labour battalions. Two years later, it was Leslie’s turn to be sent into forced labour in the Soviet Union. He only returned in 1947. The photograph, which one of his uncles had kept, was sent to him when he settled in Canada.

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On the right side is my late father and the next one it’s me, and in the middle, my youngest sister,
Barbara, who died not long ago, and on the left is my mother, Ilona. It was taken in 1941, in Budapest
(Hungary). This photo was given – a copy was given – to my uncle in Hungary, and they survived the war,
and they were able to keep the house and some pictures in Budapest. And when I came back to Hungary
from the Russian gulag in 1947, June 13, and I was living with them for a while to recuperate, and then
they gave me this picture. When we escaped through the border, we had only about 6 reusable diapers
for George, who was 18 months old, and that was it. Nothing else. We left everything behind. And we
escaped to Austria, 8 hours, night, mud, wheat fields, and spent six months in the refugee camp. And we
came to Canada in 1957, June 13. And when we established our life here, we asked the photo again. So,
they sent it to us. I don’t have many… All the pictures before the war, it was collected either by him, he
was called Ernest, or other family members who somehow cherished or kept these pictures.

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Liselotte Ivry

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