Eva Heyman: March 28, 1944

Eva Heymen was 13 years old when she began keeping a diary in February of 1944. She started writing only a few days before the German invasion of Hungary, her home country. The Hungarian Jews were the last major community of Jewish people to fall under Nazi rule during World War II. By this time, the world was fully aware of the Nazis’ genocidal intent toward Jews. Eva’s diary revealed that she knew about her likely fate from the earliest moments of the German occupation. Partly, this was because she had a friend named Marta whose family was Polish and had been deported before the German occupation. Eva knew that Marta and her friend had been killed shortly after their return to Poland. She also knew, through her mother, that roundups of Jews had already begun in Budapest and that many killings had occurred. She had even heard that children were not spared. Now Eva was afraid that her time had come.

She concluded her diary entry on March 26th by writing, “Dear Diary, until now I didn’t want to write about this in you because I tried to put it out of my mind, But ever since the Germans are here, all I think about is Marta. She was also just a girl, and still the Germans killed her. But I don’t want them to kill me!” Eva continued in her next entry on March 28th to describe the arrests of known Communists and Socialists. She had first-hand knowledge of this through her aunt, whose husband was taken. Some of Eva’s other relatives were also Socialists, so her mother was desperately burning any letters and books in their apartment that might be incriminating. Eva lamented the burning of one of her books, in which she deeply identified with the death of a main character. She wrote, “I cried so hard when little Nemecsek was killed in the book. I always cry when I read about someone dying. I don’t want to die, because I’ve hardly lived!”

Eva lived with the terrible knowledge of the Nazi crimes that had happened earlier throughout occupied Europe. Now, the killers were quickly approaching her home. It is impossible to imagine the full extent of the fear and stress she must have experienced, but her words give us a small hint. Sadly, her foreknowledge was accurate, as she was one of the nearly half-million Hungarian Jews to perish in Auschwitz.

You may read more of Eva’s diary in the book, “We are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust”. You may also find out more about the fate of the Jews of Hungary here.

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