Toth Istvan and Imre Reviczky

Testimony of Armin Simonovits in 1999 and 2002. Armin was a Jew from Oradea

on forced labour duty.

 

In 1944, Toth Istvan was about 55 years old. His rank was lieutenant. He was from

Oradea, a musician by occupation, and before the war, he played piano in a brothel.


Armin met him in February 1943. He was the commander of the then formed Battalion

108/59, which was to be taken ‘out of the country’. From the first moment he assumed

command, Toth Istvan made everyone feel that Jews were also men, compared to the

opposite behavior of some “keretlegenyek”.


Positive ways by which Toth Istvan raised Jewish morale:


1.  He empathised/sympathised with the Jews. For instance, a “karpaszomanyos lance

corporal” caught one the Jewish men, Tibi Kovacs, moving while under order to ‘stand’

and slapped him on the face. When Toth Istvan found out about the incident, he

personally saw to it that the lance corporal be removed from the unit.

2.  The “keretlegenyek” took their meat portions first from the pot, hardly leaving

anything for the Jewish men. Toth Istvan called together all “keretlegenyek” and

ordered that first, it was the turn of the workers (Jewish men) to eat and if any meat

left, the “keretlegenyek” would receive their portions.

3.When the battalion was transferred from Palota Ilva to Szentkiraly Szabadja, the

train went through Oradea. Since about 60% of the men were from Oradea, relatives

were notified about the approximate arrival of the train and they filled the train station.

The Jewish men were not allowed to get out, instead the train was sent to a small

freight train station on the outskirts of the city, the Ossi station. Relatives went to

Ossi, but there, the stationmaster ordered the train on secondary tracks, over a

kilometre out of the station, in a very dirty, marshy/muddy area, just so that relatives

would not be able to walk there. Toth Istvan took four armed gendarmes with him,

went to the stationmaster and told him to bring back the train within 10 minutes or

else, he would place him under arrest.

4.  Toth Istvan gave weekly one day off to the Jewish men and the possibility of taking

a few days leave.

5.  Toth Istvan referred to the Jewish men in his unit as “the children”. For instance,

when one of the men stopped him for a word in the street rather than ask permission

to speak to him as according to orders, he told the unit secretary, also Jewish, “to tell

the children” not to stop him in the street, because if his superiors notice that, they

would remove him from command.

Armin was drafted into unit 110/10 in Nagybanya (Baia Mare). His company was lent to

the Kassa subunit (zaszlo alj) 108/59, but it was officially on record for Nagybanya.

Imre Reviczky, a gentle and well-meaning man was in charge of the Nagybanya unit. He

once paid a surprise visit to the subunit where Armin was, while they were

constructing an airport runway. Everyone was impressed by his humane feelings and

attitude toward Jews. He went unannounced to inspect the unit, as he wanted to see

for himself how the men were treated. 

After liberation, the surviving Jewish men from the unit honored Toth Istvan and

Colonel Reviczky at a dinner party in Oradea and gave both men monies they collected

for them. After the war, both Colonel Reviczky and Toth Istvan had fallen on difficult

times.  


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