Photo on right: Magda in 1947 at Feldafing, a displaced persons camp in Germany.
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Magda S. was born to a loving family in 1922 in Gyor, Hungary. Following the German occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944, the Nazis began systematically depriving Jews of their rights and forcing them into ghettos. They forced Magda and her family to leave their home and deported Magda, her brother, and mother to Auschwitz.
Through the window of the cattle car, Magda saw her father desperately trying to give them a package filled with food and essentials. The SS guards treated him brutally, but took the package and told him they would give it to his family. Instead, the SS guards kept it for themselves. Magda's father was held for forced labor in the coal mines, and the Nazis eventually transported him to the Buchenwald slave labor camp in Germany. Magda's sister avoided deportation thanks to one of the protective papers from the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, later declared a Righteous Among the Nations.
After riding for days in the fetid cattle car, Magda arrived in Auschwitz, only to be separated from her brother, 15, and her mother, 56. The Nazis forced Magda to processing where they tattooed a number on her arm.
At the end of June 1944, Magda was sent to the infamous slave-labor camp Plaszow (near Krakow). At the end of August, she was sent to Augsburg, Germany, to work as a slave laborer in a factory. She and other workers looked out a window and saw the first snow beginning to fall. In a chain reaction, one worker began crying, then another, until everyone was in tears and wondering what was happening to their families and loved ones. Were they out in the snow without any protection? Were they even alive?
At Mühldorf, (another slave labor camp) in April 1945, Magda met the man she would eventually marry: Mr. Izak S., a Sephardic native of Salonika, Greece. Their stay at Mühldorf was brief. The Nazis loaded them onto a cattle wagon with other survivors to be transported to an unknown spot to be murdered, but Allied troops liberated them along the way.
“When we heard about groups that denied the Holocaust, we decided that we had to speak out,” Magda said. “If you hear somebody deny the Holocaust, you can say, ‘I have seen and heard a survivor.’”
Magda was a beloved and active member of the Holocaust Center's Speakers Bureau. Today Magda's son, Jack, shares his mother's story.
More about Magda:
Survivor Encyclopedia - Video clips and photos of Magda
Biography Booklet - Magda Schaloum (student handout)