Sara Greenfield

"Don't forget, have faith, be proud you are a Jew."

Name at birth
Sari Greenfield
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Satu Mare, Romania
Name of father, occupation
Sandor Greenfield, Scrap metal business
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and I
How many in entire extended family?
24, most were killed
Who survived the Holocaust?
Two uncles, one child and I
During the war my family lived in Budapest, Hungary in a small apartment.  Laws were passed limiting what we could do and where we could go.  I could not see my father; he was in the Hungarian army until 1941.  Then he worked in a textile factory and in forced labor.  He was sent to dig ditches, he escaped and hid.  We didn’t see him until 1945.  Out of 500 men taken away, only eight escaped and came back.  My mother was helped by an uncle who paid the rent for a small apartment in Budapest and gave us money. 
My mother and I lived in the ghetto and were always hungry.  My mother was very heroic.  She often snuck out of the ghetto to get food, giving small pieces of jewelry to trade. Food was scarce, almost non-existent.  By October, 1944 there was nothing to eat. A friend gave us potato peels from the garbage; we made soup for a week.  A horse died in the street, we used the meat and made a gourmet meal.
Bombing took place day and night. The Russians bombed during the day, the Americans in the afternoon, and the British at night.  Search lights were used to light up the sky after dark.
There was no soup, no water, and no medicine.  There were six women and seven children in the apartment.  One child died.  In September 1944 we were told we were going to Auschwitz, a former place where they kept horses.  We escaped and hid in a safe house under Raoul Wallenberg.  Eight people slept on the floor, no heat, no water. We wore whatever we had on our body. 
In the ghetto my mother was caught stealing food. She was beaten up. She was captured and ordered to go to an Austrian concentration camp. They marched ten in a row. My mother was on the outside and started to run. Guards shot at her as she was escaping. She ran to an apartment building, banged on the door, Jews were hiding in the building. She slept on the floor overnight, and returned to the apartment and me the next day. I was always afraid when she went out for food. I was afraid she would be killed, or I would never see her again.
In November 1944, the Germans ordered everyone to go to the courtyard in the center of Budapest, with only the clothes on their back. They marched everyone to the Danube River.  It was extremely cold. My mother was crying. She put her sweater on me to keep me warm even though she was freezing. Everyone was ordered to put their hands up. A German officer came by and for some unexplained reason told the Jews to lower their arms, and go back to their ghetto.
Towards the end of the war, there was street to street fighting with the Russians. We were still in the house, starving.  The Germans were killing Jews, the Russians were raping. 
The two oldest children in the house went out to find food.  The Russians captured the street and they were stopped by a Russian soldier by the name of Misha.  He took off his backpack, gave us bread, cheese, and showed us a picture of his family.  His friends brought food to families in hiding. 
My father found us after the Russians helped us. There was chaos at liberation. My father’s friend was a police chief and protected the family. My father’s parents (my grandparents) lived in New York. They sent us money; we waited under the quota, and came to the U.S. in 1948. I always felt my mother was heroic and saved us.  My father died in 1970. My mother died in 2008 at age 97. She never spent time in a nursing home, and was sharp and alert to the end. 
Name of Ghetto(s)
Where were you in hiding?
In the Budapest Ghetto
Where did you go after being liberated?
Kecskemet, Hungary
When did you come to the United States?
February, 1948
Where did you settle?
New York for six months, then Detroit
Occupation after the war
Scrap metal, HVAC
When and where were you married?
1966 in Detroit
Steven, financial advisor; Zevi, works at JARC
Two: one boy and one girl
What do you think helped you to survive?
Mazel (luck in Yiddish), faith, and mother who never gave up.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Don't forget, have faith, be proud you are a Jew.
Joseph Greenfield
Interview date:

Contact us

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive updates on the latest news

thank you!

Your application is successfuly submited. We will contact you as soon as possible

thank you!

Your application is successfuly submited. Check your inbox for future updates.