Vasile Nussbaum was born in 1929 in Turda, a small town in the vicinity of Cluj-Napoca, in Northern Transylvania, where his family moved.
In 1940, Northern Transylvania was annexed to Hungary, upon a deal with Germany, and so, the antisemitic Hungarian laws were imposed here too. Jewish children could no longer attend public schools and universities, and many Jewish businesses were confiscated or closed down. A Jewish High School was set up in Cluj, so that children can continue their studies.
In 1944, the Hungarian government ordered the Jews to be deported to Auschwitz. In the early May 1944, Vasile Nussbaum, 15, was a student at the Jewish High School, and he lived in Cluj-Napoca with his parents and younger brother Sanyi, who was 9 years old. In one day all their possessions were seized and they were imprisoned in the ghetto, set up on the site of the former brick factory in Cluj. After less than a month, they were deported to Auschwitz.
Upon arrival in the camp, only a teenager at that time, Vasile was separated from his parents. His mother was sent directly to the gas chambers, while his father was sent to work, but died a little before the liberation, so they never met again. He and his brother remained at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The most dramatic period of his life was when Sanyi, his younger brother, was selected for gas chambers, and so he remained alone. After the death of his brother he was sent to work in labor camps.
1945 and Postwar Experiences
Vasile was released by the US Army in April 1945 in the Buchenwald camp. After liberation he returned to Cluj-Napoca and tried to start over his life. He went to university to study and became an economist. He got married and has a son. .