Research

Schey, Vera

Survivor/False Papers

Budapest (Hungary)

Vera was born in Budapest Hungary in 1922.  Her mother was Elisabeth Feher Laufer and her grandmother was Bertha Weiss Feher.  Her father died when she was very young and she was supported by her mother who owned a millinery shop.

Vera went to a German private school and because her mother couldn’t afford the tuition, the school offered her a reduced fee or scholarship.  Twice a week, a Jewish teacher came and gave her religious lessons.  

When the Hitler Youth marched into the school, the principal sent them home.

When Vera graduated, she learned the hotel business and got a job at Budapest’s largest and best hotel.

Her family was observant for the sake of her grandparents, but did not keep Kosher; however, they did observe the High Holy Days.  

Although the city was assimilated, Vera had very few non-Jewish friends.  She also belonged to a Zionist group.

She remembers that Jewish employment was limited but they were aware of Hitler.  Her family had cousins from Czechoslovakia who fled their home, and they told the Laufers about wearing armbands and also about deportations.

Daily life became frightening, curfews were imposed and armbands were issued.  Jews could no longer go into the main section of the city, just Jewish designated areas and apartments were assigned to them, only one room per family.  Their furniture was inventoried and then taken away.  Their apartment was put up for rent and they had to move in with their grandmother.  Their concierge kept their apartment unrented, hoping for their early return.

Hungary was annexed by the Germans in March of 1944.  She remembers being on an excursion with friends when she first saw torches and armored cars.  Her friend’s brother in law was a policeman who told everyone to stay home.

The Germans took over all communication, including the radio stations and forced the Jews to turn in all valuables, such as cars, jewelry and gold.  There were no longer any phone lines.

Jews, who worked in factories making war materials, were exempt.  She was taken in by one of them.  She didn’t have to do hard labor; instead she made electronics and got her mother the same job as well.

They got false papers from a friend and were hidden in an apartment. Her mother’s Gentile friend then employed her mother as a housekeeper.  Another of her mother’s former employees hid Vera on the outskirts of the city.

She eventually went to the authorities and asked for a Jewish apartment using her false name.  When the bombing began, they moved once again, this time to a boarding house where Alexander Nicolitch was hiding ten to twelve Jews, most with no papers.

The Nazis threatened to kill everyone with false papers.

There was no electricity, no gas, and no heat.  Because Vera looked German and spoke German, she escaped as the Germans were now shooting everyone and anyone.

The Russians and Germans were fighting and the Jews were not resisting, but moving into ghettos.  Vera risked her life to visit her grandmother and bring her some food.  She wasn’t afraid and had great confidence that she’d survive.

At the end of the war, she was still hiding in a friend’s apartment.  The Russians were now killing, stealing and raping, but she and her mother went back to their apartment which had been trashed and looted.  The Russians took their watches and left.  Their art, rugs, linen, etc.  had been kept by their gentile friends, but the Russians now took it all.

Vera opened her own drugstore/fragrance shop.  She married an old friend whose parents were in America. His visa was renewed and she got hers in October of 1946, first going to France for four weeks before her voyage to the United States by private boat.  Her mother came in 1949 by escaping from the Communists at night, via Vienna and Paris.

Vera found living in America difficult at first, although she could speak English and immediately found a job in a department store.

The Scheys have two children.

Interview information:
Interviewer: Donna Sklar
Date: October 8, 1990
Length: 1:08
Format: Video recording