Susanna Christensen* was born in 1933 in Makó, a small town in southeast Hungary. Her parents, Erszébet (Elizabeth) and József Lukács, owned a small grocery store situated in a street called Sirkert Utca. The family lived very frugally and owned no modernities like a radio or a telephone, though father had a newspaper during the war.
József was a really able fiddler. Sometimes an acquaintance visited and they played together. That was a bright spot in Susanna's life.
* As a girl Susanna was called Lukács Zsuzsanna.
Susanna attended a Jewish school for four years. She did well as a student and got one of two seats that were reserved for Jews in a middle school. There she and another Jewish girl called Erzsi were subjected to antisemitism by one of the teachers.
The Hungarian authorities withdrew rights from the Jews. Susanna's father was now no longer allowed to sell certain kind of goods. During the spring of 1944 the Germans forced all Jews in Makó to move into a ghetto. At that time Susanna was 11 years old.
In the ghetto Susanna came a bit closer to her Jewish roots. The warden of the old people's home, where the family stayed, was religious and invited them to celebrate one of the Jewish holidays.
Suddenly one day the military police (gendarme) banged forcefully on the doors. The Jews were ordered to pack and get ready. The people where then brought by trucks to Szeged, the second largest city in Hungary where they were placed in a camp. From a collection point at the brickyard, they were then deported further on in cattle cars.
In 1944 Susanna and her family were taken to Neudorf bei Bahnhof in Austria. There, the Jews were forced to do slave labour at a farm. At the end of November they were deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Every morning, the Jews were ordered to stand outside the barracks to be counted. "It was horrible to be there in Bergen-Belsen," Susanna recalls, "we saw no light." In secret, her dad wrote kept a diary and took notes about everything that happened in the camp.
1945 and Postwar Experiences
On 15 April 1945, Bergen-Belsen was liberated. Two days later Susanna's dad died.
One month after the liberation, Susanna and her mother had recovered enough to be able to stand up and walk. "It looked like a ghost town," Susanna recalls, "everyone walked around covered in sheets."
In July Susanna and her mother were offered travel to Sweden. After three weeks in quarantine and six months of rehabilitation, a new life eventually began for them in Sweden.