Brown (Braun), Alan A.

Brown (Braun), Alan A.

Miskolc (Hungary), Kosice, Budapest, Sopron, Feldbach, Neuhaus

Brown was born in 1928 and grew up in Miskolc in the northeastern part of Hungary. Miskolc had at this time a population of about 75,000, 14 to 19 percent of which was Jewish. After Brown finished public school, he attended a Catholic Gymnasium. His father was a grain merchant who lost his business during the Great Depression and later on worked as an independent insurance executive. His mother was a teacher in a Jewish public school until 1944 and Brown was brought up in an orthodox home. He did not experience any anti-Semitism until he entered the Gymnasium.

In 1941 Hungary’s recently established the anti-Jewish laws started to affect the family’s everyday life. Their financial situation grew worse, since his father was nolonger permitted to own a business and had to employ a non-Jew to run his company.In June Hungary joined Germany as an ally in the war against Russia. In 1943 his father was forced to serve in the Hungarian laborcorps. In March 1944 the German army invaded Hungary and began implementing the Final Solution. Brown states that before this point Hungarian Jews had not been aware of the Holocaust. The Nazis soon established ghettos, and all Jewish males between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were forced into the Hungarian laborcorps.

At this time Brown was 16 years old but pretended to be 18, a lie that helped save his life. He was sent to a coal mine near Kosice, where his father wasalready interned. Brown became an assistant to the physician who practiced inside the camp which was under Hungarian control.

On October 15 1944, the Arrow Cross, an anti-Semitic political party, assumed control of Hungary under Nazi supervision and aided the SS in mass deportations. The Jewish laborers in Kosice were shipped by cattle cars to Budapest, where they worked for a German factory under Hungarian control. Brown notes that the treatment and food they received were tolerable.

In December 1944 Brown and his father were deported to a camp in Sopron, where the inmates’ food consisted only of beans. No one survived longer than two weeks. After a few days he and his father were sent to the Feldbach labor camps in Austria, then later to Neuhaus. Both camps were run by the SS. There they built tank traps intended to stop the approaching Red Army troops. Brown’s first experience in this camp was the killing of a prisoner by SS guards and their desecration of the dead body. Brown comments that human life meant nothing to the SS. Brown’s father became ill with typhus and Brown carried him to work to keep him alive. All inmates who went to the hospital were executed at once. In order to obtain medicine for his father he escaped one night from the camp, which was not guarded as securely as the big concentration camps. This was dangerous because the camp was situated in a very anti-Semitic area. He went to a pharmacy owned by a woman called Rosa Schreiber, who quickly hid him since an SS guard was waiting in the shop. She risked her life toy provide him with food and medicine over the next months. Because of her help Brown and his father were able to survive the camp.

In April 1945, as the Russians approache the camp, the Nazis ordered the inmates on a death march to Mauthausen. By this time suffering from typhus, Brown himself was taken to the hospital, but was left alive when SS guards fled. Brown’s father died one day after the camp was liberated. Brown and a few other survivors traveled toward the Hungarian border, but were captured by Russian soldiers who, not knowing who they were, treated them like prisoners of war. After the Russians identified Brown as a former inmate of a German camp, he was allowed to return to Budapest and later to Miskolc.

All of Brown’s relatives, including his mother, were killed in concentration camps. To survive he bought damaged furniture, repaired it with the help of a friend and sold or exchanged it. Many Jews were accused of being black marketeers and were arrested by the Russians. Anti-Semitism was still very much alive, in 1949, after journeying through Germany and Austria, Brown immigrated to the United States. He settled in Miami, then New York, and then in Windsor, Canada.

Interview Information:
Date: December 12, 1994
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 1 hour 40 minutes
Format: Video recording