My Childhood 1918-1936

I was there.

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. László Keller 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.

László Keller (1928), Hungary

László Keller (1928), Hungary

Consider here what László’s childhood was like


László Keller talks about his family and their life when he was a child.

1) Listen to László Keller as he talks about his family and their life when he was a child. Answer the questions.

  • 1a. Do you keep traditions within your family? How do you think the way you celebrate or keep the traditions differs from the way other families do?

  • 1b. What do we get to know about the members of László’s family?

  • 1c. What does László tell us about the Mezőcsát Jewish community? Choose three keywords and answer this question by expanding on them.

  • 1d. What does László tell us about the religious life of his family?

  • 1e. What differences did you notice between orthodoxy and neology?

  • 1f. What similarities did you notice between Christian and Jewish religious traditions and vocabulary?


László Keller talks about his school experiences.

2) Listen to László Keller as he talks about his school years. Answer the questions.

  • 2a. Think back to your earlier school career (lower primary or middle school). How did you feel about going to that school? What experience do you remember?

  • 2b. What were your teachers like? How did your teachers impact your experience? Did you make friends with your classmates or fellow students from other classes?

  • 2c. What do we learn about the school career and experience of László Keller?

  • 2d. What does the fact that both Christian and Jewish kids went to the same school tell you?

  • 2e. What does the fact that Christian parents took their kids to the Jewish school tell you?

  • 2f. László mentions that he faced antisemitism from his teachers. How do you think the teachers’ attitudes would impact the students?


A slideshow about the history of Mezőcsát, hometown of László Keller.

List of Sources

Animation (slideshow) text sources


Photo sources


3) In pairs, watch the slideshow about the history of Mezőcsát, the hometown of László Keller. Then answer the questions with your partner.

  • 3a. What do you know about the history of your hometown? Share two pieces of information with your partner.

  • 3b. In what ways do you think your hometown was different from today’s conditions? What do you remember of the places from your earlier childhood years?

  • 3c. What is your opinion about historic buildings getting new functions? Do you think giving buildings new functions helps to pass on their historic importance?

Extra Material