Extract from the testimony of Marta Elian (nee Steiner)

"Dr Kupfer had a marvellous idea of genius: to establish a hospital for contagious diseases within the walled-in ghetto and populate it with men who had recovered from Typhus Exantematicus – popular name Flecktyphus – while in forced labour camps in the Ukraine.  Antibodies in the blood can still be demonstrated in these ex-patients after recovery.  The extraordinary idea was to proclaim quarantine for the entire ghetto situated in the heart of the town so around 30,000 Jews would not be deported and would remain confined within the walls of the ghetto in order to prevent spreading the potentially “highly contagious” disease to the roughly 70,000 Christian inhabitants of the town surrounding the ghetto.

On the Russian front several contagious hospitals were burnt down and the escaping inmates shot.  Dr Kupfer thought however the authorities would not find it practical/feasible in the middle of a prosperous town to do that, therefore the plan might be successful.

The patients were “fake” i.e. recovered, only showing antibodies and therefore not really contagious anymore.

Reliable non-Jewish collaborators with their hearts and minds in the right place were needed – a rare find in those days.

 “Uncle Gyula” as we children called him – Ladi by surname – was a sergeant of the gendarmerie, on duty in the ghetto.  He was one of the rare righteous gentiles around who although aware of the danger that if caught he would be court-martialled with very serious consequences, offered his messenger services for purely humane, perhaps religious reasons, not accepting a penny in return.  Even after the war when he lived in complete destitution in Budapest he continued to refuse any help or reward.  He was aware that the key figure of this extraordinary plan was the physician Dr Konrad Beothy, chief of the laboratory at the Municipal Hospital and longtime friend of Dr Kupfer.

The ingenious plan was that as soon as Dr Beothy received the “patient’s” blood sample containing the antibodies he would declare these were signs of active disease, report it immediately to the authorities and warn them of the danger this may cause to the entire town.

Dr Beothy (1898-1958) was also aware of the danger to himself and to his family if discovered that he was a “Jew’s henchman”.  As a matter of priniciple he did not accept any reward either.  Beothy originated from an old Transylvanian family, scientists, medical doctors, journalists and liberal politicians among his ancestors.  He studied medicine in Western Europe, spoke several languages, detested the Nazis and their Hungarian lackeys.  In 1947 he was appointed professor at the University of Pécs; he conducted scientific research and published several scientific books.

The hospital, an isolated island in the evacuated ghetto acted as temporary foothold for people hiding in lofts and cellars where they were also fed.  These hidden people were mainly “chasid” (religious) Jews, refugees from Poland and Slovakia.

Whenever a hiding place was discovered by the authorities Gyula Ladi immediately informed Dr Kupfer who instantly arrived armed with test tubes and syringes to take blood to be dispatched to Dr Konrad Beothy with the help of Gyula Ladi.  The “new patients” were admitted to the hospital “for observation” until Dr Beothy would “confirm” that indeed they were suffering from the highly contagious disease and report it to the authorities.

In the meantime many of these illegal ghetto dwellers/potential patients successfully crossed the border.  If caught in Rumania they were not harmed.

After three weeks in the contagious hospital Dr Kupfer was alerted by Uncle Gyula that the ghetto hospital would also be closed down with staff and “patients” deported to Germany.  He immediately made it known to all inhabitants, patients, staff and those hiding and fed at the hospital.  Most of them fled through the border to Rumania. Nobody was seriously harmed, denounced or deported, or murdered.  Thus they managed to stay alive. Some fled to Budapest or hid in Nagyvárad city – until liberated by the Soviet Army.

We do not know exactly how many Jews were saved - we estimate around 150 people.  Without the help of Ladi Gyula and Dr Beothy Konrad all 150 or so would have been murdered in the camps."