Erika Rovinsky

"Don't be gullible. That was the problem of the Jews. We never thought it would materialize but there it was on top of us."

Name at birth
Erika Esther Schonberger
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Budapest, Hungary
Name of father, occupation
David Schonberger, Leather dealer
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Irma Mici (pronounced Mitzi) Singer, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and me
Who survived the Holocaust?
Parents, aunt, grandparents on both sides and me
When Erika was 7 years old, her father took her to a large Raul Wallenberg Red Cross children’s safe house.  Her father promised he come back to visit her but he was only able to come back once.  As a 7 year old girl, Erika felt abandoned and totally alone.  Later on she found out, that when her father came back to his barracks, he was taken to Mauthausen labor camp where he worked in the infamous stone quarry.  Later, he was taken to Gunskirchen labor camp.   
A non-Jewish friend of the family helped her mother and aunt found a hiding
place in a basement of a farmhouse in Angyalfold.   They asked this same person to come get Erika from the Red Cross safe house.  The day after he took her out, the Safe House was chain bombed, everyone in the house was apparently killed.  
 Erika estimates that perhaps 100 children were there.  
Erika lived in the farmhouse basement with her mother, aunt, and other families, “we were packed in like sardines.”  Her aunt was brave and would go into the city to get food.  
After war, they went back to her grandparents’ apartment in Budapest.  Her father came back with the key that he held on to through the war.  He said, “I locked the door with this key and I will open it,” and he did.  
In 1945 the family escaped from Hungary.  They fled to a Displaced Person’s (DP) camp in Czechoslovakia; she remembers the farmers helping them along the way.  In Czechoslovakia, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) directed them from camp to camp, they went to Salzberg, Vienna, Switzerland then to Italy, Trani and Bari port cities.  In 1949, the cargo ship Atzmaut, took them to Israel.  Her father could not find work in Israel.  In 1951, they came to Detroit where her aunt had previously settled. 
Where were you in hiding?
Angyalfold in a basement and a Red Cross safe house
Robert, Renee, Ronald, Mark, and Ruth
What do you think helped you to survive?
Mostly my parents’ fast thinking and maneuvering me into the right places. In the winter, I wanted to go out and play. My mother told me that I would probably be killed if I did so but if I stay inside, I will have plenty of winters to play in. I listened to my mother. I’m alive.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Don't be gullible. That was the problem of the Jews. We never thought it would materialize but there it was on top of us.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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