Sanyi Papp


This testimony is taken from the Lempert Family Foundation website and the

additional testimony from 2005 can also be found there:


"A person had to help, and he helped."

Testimony of Sanyi Papp

June 17, 2002


Oradea was a mixed community, with the Jews, the Romanians, the Hungarians. But

there were no differences, it didn't matter if you were Jewish or Hungarian until the

Iron Guard came and then the Arrow Cross, and then it was terrible. Between 1940 and

1944 when the Hungarians came in, it was a terrible time.

Then came the deportations, they pulled all Jews together, here at the end of this

street they locked them into the wagons. It has a terrible effect, the memories of

crippled people, small children, pregnant women.


About sixty or seventy people stayed behind, sick ones with typhus. Among them was

a writer. His book tells about what I did. This is the writer whom I rescued and who

was then able to write the book. The book is in Yad Vashem in English. Here he writes

how I saved them, out of good will, how I saved him and the others, there were many

others and the border was nearby, in Felix Furdo. And I took them [those I could save]

out to there and then they went on into Romania.

These 60 or 70 people stayed here, they had typhus. I would go to the market -- he

writes about this in the book -- to go shopping, and when I saw them there inside the

ghetto guarded by the gendermes, they would throw notes to me, listing things they

needed. I helped them with medicines, food, whatever I could, and I talked it over

about this writer and it cost about a thousand pengos, I was in a good financial

situation, they should let him leave one evening. And I took him out to the train station

to Budapest, and he went with his wife.


I met him after the liberation at Janos Hospital in 1945, I was playing soccer [able to

travel for that reason]. He was terribly distraught, like someone who had decided that

he'd had enough of this life. He was very depressed. His daughter had gone with the

grandparents, she hadn't stayed in the ghetto, but went [to Auschwitz, where she

died]. And a few years later he also died.


Yes I think so, they put the Gypsies in [the ghetto, after it had been emptied of Jews].

The Gypsies enjoyed themselves, in the evenings they made fires and they danced and

sang as though there was nothing wrong. They made them work here, I don't know if

they deported them. This is what I saw with my own eyes, here at the end of the

street. When they packed them up, it was in May, it was very hot, and they packed

them up and took them away. But then who knew where they were going [to

Auschwitz]? They didn't know it.


How should I say it? What did the people look like, who spent weeks crowded together

like animals, I don't want to speak about myself or brag, don't misunderstand me --

what did they look like? They were terribly distraught, it was very very hot, these

rooster-feather gendermes treated them like animals, and then they closed the doors

of the wagons and took them. They looked terrible, the old, the pregnant, the children,

they threw them in.


The thing I can't understand from a political standpoint -- there are those who deny

the Holocaust. There are those, and mostly in my opinion, they are the ones who were

responsible. If they ask us here, in Oradea, was there a Holocaust, then we can say

that we saw it with our own eyes, here, how the Holocaust started and we don't need

to say that we heard about it. We saw it with our own eyes, and how they were

fenced in here in this big area, and how they took away their valuables.


The Jewish people are a talented people, a good people, this is what I say.


Supportive commentary


The writer referred to by Sanyi Papp is Bela Zsolt and his book which describes his time

in the Oradea ghetto hospital is Nine Suitcases. Professor Ladislaus Lob, the translator

of the English version of Nine Suitcases, has kindly given us permission to reproduce a

selection of the many references to Papp:

"the patients relations, who were up and about, also became aware of a young man on

bicycle who turned up six or seven times a day and threw things - cigarettes, bread,

onions, newspapers, sometimes even flowers - over the fence every time he zoomed

past, without slowing down, so that the policemen wouldn't notice......"

"He was a tailor's apprentice and the best striker of the Nagyvarad football team. His

name was Sanyi Papp, his father was a Hungarian, his mother a Romanian. The hospital

had established direct contact with him. Somebody was always waiting for him to

approach on his bicycle, and at the last moment threw out a paper pellet. The

footballer, like a galloping cowboy, bent down from his saddle at full speed and picked it

up. If somebody, in his despair, remembered a last, unlikely address, the footballer

forwarded an SOS or at least a farewell message-in-a-bottle from a sinking ship on

their behalf........."

"Thanks to the bribed policeman, the women and children had been escaping steadily,

almost methodically, after sunset. So far we hadn't heard that any of them had been

caught - the football-playing Pimpernel was functioning magnificently."