László Keller was born in 1928, in Mezőcsát (near Miskolc, Hungary). His father, Béla Keller established a print shop. László’s parents and family weren’t strictly religious, although the town had an orthodox Jewish community. When he was a child, they kept Passover, the fast of Yom Kippur, during Sabbath, sometimes they went to the synagogue. In the town, Jews and Christians were living together peacefully, however, among the town’s prominent figures, there were antisemites. He studied in the local elementary school for four years. It was a Jewish elementary school but Christians also studied there as it provided good education. He had a good relationship with his classmates, but some of the teachers were antisemites.
The anti-Jewish laws had an emotional effect on their lives. As a child, he didn’t understand what the reason was behind the discrimination. Later, the relationships between Jews and Christians changed, some of them got looser and others even ended. He continued his secondary studies in Miskolc where he made some new Christian friends. László’s friends were bullied for having a Jewish friend. Being a Jew, he experienced varied reactions: reserve, prudence, hostility, solidarity. Antisemitism, first of all, was manifested in small events, e.g. when someone broke the window of their house. Jews around him were trying to find reasons why hatred was accumulating against them. In spite of all this, they still didn’t feel or anticipate what was about to happen.
In May 1944 the ghetto was set up in Mezőcsát. Most of the residents reacted passively, without emotions or reflections.
His father was conscripted to forced labour from the ghetto and three weeks later, László was conscripted, too. He met his father during the forced labour and he believes that his survival was due to his father’s presence. Then, they were taken to the Front.
1945 and Postwar Experience
They came back to Hungary in October 1944 but in March 1945, German soldiers took the people who worked in forced labour to Vienna. Whoever refused to go, was shot to death. They finally got back to Hungary on foot, in April 1945. His mother, grandmother and elder sister were killed in Auschwitz. A year later, he went to the medical university and this is where he met his future wife, Terézia Mike. His father died in 1949. Terézia and László got married in 1950.