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Daring to Resist


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Shula with fellow Zionists
Shula, in the woods of Budapest,
with her Zionist group


shulamit gara lack (cont'd)
Shula joined a Zionist youth group at the age of 13, despite her parents’ strong disapproval. The idea that educated people would go work the land in Palestine struck them as ludicrous and they saw Zionism as akin to the Communism they hated. But Shula persisted.


The War Years
By the time the Germans invaded Hungary in 1944, Shula’s father was hospitalized in a sanitarium. Her mother was among the first Jews taken to the camps. This left Shula, at age 19, alone in the family apartment. With no family to protect, Shula threw herself into the underground network of young Hungarian Zionists who were trying to save Jewish lives.

 


"I felt sure that anyone I saved might go to Palestine and build a homeland. It wasn’t important that I survive — but to help others survive so they can build Palestine."


Shula’s apartment became a Jewish "safe house." Shula and other young Zionists developed a complex system for procuring identity papers from city offices.

"You never knew if you were getting back from that mission alive."

At Shula's apartment, Zionists would falsify these identity papers so that Jews could pose as Christians and flee Hungary. The resisters would also prepare escapees for the dangerous trip to Romania and from there to Palestine.

 

Nazi roundup in Budapest
A Nazi roundup of Jews
in Budapest in 1944

When an escapee was caught and betrayed Shula, she had to abandon her apartment and fled. Shula was caught while trying to escape to Romania and, after a series of prisons and transit camps, was sent to Auschwitz. She barely eluded the gas chambers — only to be sent to a work camp where women were forced to dig anti-tank trenches in the Polish forest. Even in a concentration camp, Shula continued to "resist" the Nazis, tricking them into assigning her group of prisoners a smaller workload.

After "liberation" by the Russian army in 1945, Shula endured two more horrifying months of starvation, hostility and combat, trying to get home to Budapest. At every step along the way, Shula used her intelligence, creativity, command of several languages, and fearlessness to help keep others alive.

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