Detail Left Out of the History Books

Today I was indexing some July 1944 death records from Budapest, Hungary and noticed that Boldizsár Klein and his wife, Regina Leichtmann, died only one day apart from each other. We don’t index causes of death, but I looked at their causes of death because their deaths were so close to each other. The same word was used for both causes of death. I wasn’t sure of all the letters in the word, but it started the same as a word I had seen before, öngyilkos, which literally means self-murder.

First I consulted my hardback Hungarian dictionary, but I didn’t find the word. Next, I looked at two online Hungarian genealogy dictionaries. Finally, I typed what the letters most looked like to me into Google Translate. After a few trials and errors with different letters of the alphabet with and without the prefix, ön, I found the word and their cause of death, önmérgezés, which means self-poisoning or intoxication.

Why did this happen to them?!!

From the record, I knew that both 74-year-old Boldizsár and 66-year-old Regina were Jewish. I googled and learned that the Nazis invaded its previous ally, Hungary, only a few months earlier on 19 March 1944 and mass evacuation of Jews to death camps began immediately. Since this couple lived in Budapest, the horrors of this occupation must have been felt most intensely. I cannot imagine what they went through, but trying to put ourselves in their shoes may help prevent history from repeating itself.

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