Erika was born in Budapest, Hungary. When she was three years old, the Hungarian regime, then allied with Nazi Germany, arrested her father and sent him into forced labor. Shortly following the Nazi invasion, Erika, her mother, and her older sister moved to a “Yellow Star House,” a designated area where Jews were being forced to live. As the living condition in Budapest worsened, Erika’s mother managed to secure false papers for her family. Her mother temporarily hid her daughters as patients in a Red Cross Children’s Hospital. After two days at a hospital, where they feigned illness, the Nazis evacuated Erika, her sister, and the entire hospital and forced them to march through the entire city in the cold rain.
Later that day, a man who appeared as a young Nazi soldier, but who was really part of the Jewish Underground Movement, rescued Erika and her sister. For the rest of the war, she, her mother, and her sister lived in Budapest under Christian identities. It was not until the war was over that Erika learned that she was actually Jewish. Erika, her sister, and their mother left Hungary in 1956. She went on to develop a significant career in theater and travel photography where she traveled the world and published numerous books and articles.
Surviving the Holocaust: Stories of Life
An ongoing project of KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles
and Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park