Taking the train: final destination Budapest.
Tuesday 3rd November 2015
It’s been very last minute but I am on my way to a country I have never been to, to meet a man I have never met.
I am finally fulfilling a personal journey that started in the bitter cold of Auschwitz in 2007 and will end tomorrow in the Autumn sunshine of Budapest, on the banks of the River Danube. So why am I making this journey?
As part of my military career I attended a course which included a study of genocide. What better place to see its grim reality than at Auschwitz. So on a bitterly cold day, trudging through the snow covered ground, I found myself at the heart of the Nazi’s most notorious extermination camp. During the visit I was advised to buy a book called “I Was Dr Mengele’s Assistant”, written by Doctor Nyiszli who was recruited to perform the post mortems for the infamous Nazi torturer. On my way home from Poland I read the book in one sitting; it was so compelling.
Towards the end of the book, I read about a boy who had been hidden by his Father in a monastery in Hungary, to avoid being rounded up by the Nazis in 1944. The boy was the son of Doctor Görög who had been sent to Auschwitz with his wife and daughter (who were both killed on their first day at the camp). Dr Görög was recruited by Dr Nyiszli to ease his workload, such was the volume of post mortems.
Auschwitz, a place without birdsong.
At the end of the book, when Doctor Görög was close to death, he pleaded with the author of the book to adopt his son after the war. Whilst Dr Nyiszli agreed to this request and wrote this in the book, he never did fulfil Dr Görög’s final wish.
The boy was called Sándor Görög and he was 12 years old.
With no further mention of Sándor, I was intrigued to know what had happened to him after the war. I searched for him online when I got home to the UK and I found a Sándor Görög, who was around the right age, and like his Father, he had become a successful scientist.
Next to this information there was also an email address. So I wrote to Sándor Görög to ask if he was the boy in the book.
One hour later I received a reply and he confirmed that it was him.
He then wrote to me at length about his family’s story and Hungarian Jews in general. Over the years we have exchanged many pictures of our family, especially at Christmas time.
And today I am flying to Budapest to meet him for the first time.