Help my grandmother find her first love.
November 6, 2008 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out where to start looking for my Hungarian grandmother's long-lost first love.

With increasing frequency, my grandmother has been asking me (and my sister, and my mother, and her aide, and her social worker, and her pharmacist...) to help her with something that has been nagging her for a long time: she wants to find the Hungarian army (or air force?) pilot (or Red Cross doctor?) who, she says, got into worlds of trouble for flirting with a young Jewish girl and tried to save her and her family just before the war reached the doorsteps of their tiny, eastern Hungarian village. Obviously the likelihood that he's alive right now (if he survived the war at all) is slim, but getting the answer to this one question and getting in touch with him (if possible) has become, I'd say, the most important thing in her life.

I know his full name, the neighborhood his family lived in in Pecs during the war, and that he participated in some military and/or Red Cross occupation in the town of Tarpa some time before they came to take my grandmother away to Auschwitz in 1943-44.

I suspect, though, that even if I knew more than eight words of Hungarian, I would not have a clue where to start, so:

If these records exist, where would they be kept? Would it be more useful to seek public records from Pecs or records from the various branches of the Hungarian military or Red Cross? Who might be able or willing to help? As you can tell from these totally vague questions, I really have no clue where to start. Any and all advice would be incredibly useful.
posted by thejoshu to Human Relations (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
You might start with the Hungarian consulate.
posted by headspace at 4:08 PM on November 6, 2008

MeFi member arco works at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They would be the first place I would check. I believe they just got a huge influx of records from the tracings service in the past few years. I'm aware that the Hungarian man was not a Holocaust victim but they have an incredible amount of town records there as well and they're just super-knowledgeable about the whole time/place.
posted by jessamyn at 4:09 PM on November 6, 2008

Yad Vashem has records of "righteous gentiles" - I know it's a long shot, but worth a try.
posted by chez shoes at 5:06 PM on November 6, 2008

I believe the Simon Wiesenthal Center also has an extensive records library.
posted by Yorrick at 6:47 PM on November 6, 2008

Best answer: The Red Cross has a Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center as well.
posted by mogget at 8:21 PM on November 6, 2008

Best answer: You could also try the Hungarian phone book at I know this may sound like a simple idea, but, I know, from personal experience that it works. I friend of ours, a Jewish Hungarian, was chatting about her long lost first love and my wife, who is Hungarian, looked on the above site, searched on the name and address. Lo and behold his name appeared. Calls were made and, believe it or not, they were reunited after nearly 55 years. Their love burned as strong as it did way back then. He came all the way to see her, here in New Zealand. They were like love-sick teenagers. It was simply amazing. He died several years later but we all had the joy of seeing them reunited after so many years. And all because of the Internet and an on-line phone book.
posted by vac2003 at 11:26 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Had you asked a few weeks ago, I would have gone to the neighborhood in Pécs myself and asked around. I was there, and I love this sort of thing (and speak enough Hungarian to make sense.) Families don't move much in Hungary, and there may still be a relative there. I've got friends in Pécs now, why don't you send me his name and any other information you have, and I'll see if I can't find something out for you . . .
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:31 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

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