Eva Heyman began keeping her diary on her thirteenth birthday. Sadly, this happy event coincided with the tragedy of the occupation of Hungary – her home country – by Nazi Germany. Some Hungarian Jews who survived the Holocaust later wrote that they did not know what to expect with the arrival of the occupation. This was not true for Eva. Her family was politically active and well-informed about the Nazis’ attitudes and actions toward Jews. Eva knew what to expect from the Nazis and this foreknowledge made her seem wise beyond her years. Nevertheless, she was a young girl and it was unfair that she had to leave behind her childhood so soon.
On April 1st, Eva had several different problems on her mind. She wrote, “We are the only ones in the neighborhood who haven’t been thrown out of our home yet. Until the order about wearing the star goes into effect, I’m moving to Aniko’s house. Grandma Racz has her attacks very frequently now. When that happens I start to shake, and Agi doesn’t want me to see these attacks. Aunt Bora was here today and asked Agi if I could stay with Aniko, because Anni is so unhappy, practically in a state of depression. God, today is April Fool’s Day; on whom should I play tricks? Who thinks about that at all now? Dear diary, soon I’ll be going to Aniko’s house, and I’m taking along the little suitcase which Mariska packed and my canary in the cage. I’m afraid that Mandi will die if I leave her at home, because everybody’s mind is on other things now, and I’m worried about Mandi. She is such a darling bird.”
At a time when a young girl should have been able to concentrate on fun things like a beloved pet and April Fool’s pranks, Eva had to worry about weightier concerns such as Jewish star regulations and the possibility of losing her home. Physical and mental health issues for family members and friends just added to the burden. The Holocaust was made up of many crimes. The destruction of the innocence of childhood was chief among them.
Excerpts from Eva Heyman’s diary may be found in by Laurel Holliday.
You may learn more about the history of Jews in Hungary; before, during and after the Holocaust here.
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