Azriel (Peter) Dansky

* 1937  

  • "When the Russians came, this judge, this neighbor of ours, he would run away. Back then, we were living, or maybe just spending the nights, on the second floor, in this one room that belonged to the Jewish family they took away. They would bang on the door at night: 'Open up!' They were still fighting down there in the streets. A Russian soldier had been shot in front of our house. So those Russians came looking for weapons. We were sleeping. As I told you, there was this single bed for the three of us. They kept banging and shouting, so my father went to open the door. Russian soldiers came in, looking for weapons. My father managed to communicate with them in Slovak. He told them that the flat didn't belong to us. But they didn't care. And there was this cupboard. 'Give us the keys!' - 'I don't have keys, as this is not our flat.' They would break this cupboard open and what was it they found? A WWI uniform. As it turned out, this Jew was a Hungarian army officer. And there was also a WWI rifle. So this Russian decided that he found what he was looking for. So he would put my father against the wall. And at that moment, I woke up, because of all this yelling and shouting. My father was standing there, shaking all over, and they were just yelling at them. I understood my father was in danger. So I sprung out of bed and I would kneel in front of the Russian soldier who wanted to shoot my father. I would cry, I would scream. And maybe this Russian also had a kid like me at home. As he was moved by those tears of mine. He would kick me, so I would just leap a few meters aside. And then they would just leave.”

  • “At that time, the Germans already started retreating from Russia and the Russians would pursue them. And those Hungarian 'szálasiak' hated the Jews even more than the Germans did.” - “You mean the Arrow Crosses?” - “Yes, the Arrow Crosses. And why am I calling them szálasiak? As Szálaszi was the prime minister back then. After the Germans got rid of Horthy, they would install Szálaszi. And he would carry on with this anti-Semitic policy, he would help Germans with the deportations of Jews. And when there were no trains going anymore, they would gather all the Jews who were hiding underground, in all those houses. They would line them up at the bank of the Danube river and just shoot them, so they would end up in the water. And there was this case, this seven-year-old boy who was hiding with his aunt, and they would bring them to the Danube as well. And by chance, they were the last ones to go. And there was this Hungarian officer, in a uniform. He would yell at him: 'Come here, my child.' And as this seven-year-old boy approached him, he saw that the man was his father, although in a Hungarian uniform. Then they would shoot the aunt and she would end up in the Danube with the others. And this boy would accompany me in 1969, as I would emigrate to Israel.”

  • “My father said he took me there. We would sit on a bench at Tisza Kálmán tér (Tisza Kálmán Square), that's near to Mosonyi utca. And there's a prison at Mosonyi utca. Back then I didn't know it was in Mosonyi utca. My father said on the record we would sit on this bench at Tisza Kálmán tér. I managed to locate the prison in 2016-2017. My father described the situation we were in on this record. That he went to put me in a toloncház (a prison), while I wasn't even a five-year-old. Something terrible. What was he thinking about, as he was leading his child to be sent somewhere. What if he would get lost, so he wouldn't see him again? I was in May, or in June maybe. How do I know? I remember my father buying me some cherries. And as my father would recall: 'I knew Petrík liked cherries, so I would buy him some along the way. But I told him I would have to lead him to this institution. And after they would ask him where his parents were, he was supposed to say he didn't know. If they would ask him who took him to the gate, he was supposed to say: 'Some uncle I don't know.' Why do I mention those cherries? As this story was heard even in Lučenec. That's what we learned in 1976. Remind me to tell you about it later. So my father would let me stand in front of this gate, he would ring a bell and quickly run to the other side of the street, hiding behind a corner, watching what's gonna happen. He would just ring the bell and run. The gate would open and I would get inside. What was it like? Like five thousand years ago, when Jews were slaves in Egypt and this pharaoh gave an order to kill every firstborn son. Jochebed, the mother of Moses, didn't know what to do. So she would put him in a basket and let him flow down the Nile river, and Miriam, Moses's sister, would look what's going to happen. Like my father would watch from behind the corner, like what's going to happen, as they would open the gate. Similar story, just 5000 kilometers and 5000 years away. They would open the gate and I would get inside. They started asking me who I was. And I told them exactly what my father ordered me to tell them. That I had no patents, that there was this 'uncle' who found me roaming the streets. And this inspector asked me: 'Those are some good looking cherries, where did you get them?' And I told him that my father bought them.”

  • “After they came to the border, they were apprehended. And my mother would bribe them, as she told me in 1976. She had two thousand crowns with her, so she would give them five thousand and they would let them go. They came back home, my mother was desperate, she didn't know what to do. Someone she knew told her: 'Go visit this old granny, as she knows much about spiritualism'. If it wasn't my mother who told me what had happened at that place, I wouldn't believe a single word of it. As this old lady could speak to the dead. As in a spiritualistic seance, you have this kind of a map on the table, with an alphabet on it, and you would take a glass, you would turn it upside down, and everyone around the table would just heave a finger above it, but no one would be allowed to touch it. I wouldn't believe such a thing, if I wouldn't learn about this from my mother. But this woman told my mother she should ask her deceased father. And the glass kept moving, from letter to letter. There were words and then even sentences emerging. To make it short, the answer was she shouldn't be afraid to cross the border once more; that she would meet this friendly person in the woods who would help us to cross the border. Just unbelievable. My mother came home and told her friend what had happened during the seance. She wanted to give it another try. This friend of hers said she was afraid to try it for the second time. So my mother took me, I wasn't even five years old then. My mother was quite thin, and I was also quite skinny. So we would go there. I don't remember whether we just went there, or took a bus or a train maybe. My mother didn't tell me about that.” - “We were talking about this moment when your mother attended the seance and dared to venture into the woods for the second time.” - “My mother would carry me on her back. I was just a little boy, I wasn't even a five-year-old. We crossed the border. She was thin, and I was also quite skinny as a child. We came to the border. What I can remember: it was raining, so all this rain, the darkness and the forest... My mother went on, carrying me on her back. It's hard to understand when you think about it. As on a normal occasion, one would be afraid to go to the woods after dark: all this darkness, the forest, all those animals. But I think she was still under the influence of this seance, which gave her such strength, both mentally and physically, that what had happened was beyond all understanding. The fact was that she went to the woods – and she went on and on – carrying me on her back, we were drenched as it was raining all the time... And all of a sudden, there was this person coming towards us. Someone we didn't know. And he was quite friendly. He helped us to cross the border. As the border was somewhere in the woods maybe. And he would lead us to this house at the end of a village.”

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    Haifa, 21.03.2019

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    duration: 01:22:17
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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    Haifa, 21.03.2019

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    duration: 01:14:06
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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My name means ‘the one who was saved by God’

Azriel Dansky before leaving for Israel, Banská Bystrica, February 1949
Azriel Dansky before leaving for Israel, Banská Bystrica, February 1949
photo: archiv pamětníka

Azriel Dansky (Peter Danzinger) was born on 24 August 1937 in Banská Bystrica. His father, Alexander Danziger, was a successful hide merchant. After the Slovak state was established and its anti-Semitic laws were passed, his father’s business was ‘aryanized’ and his father fled to Hungary to hide at his relatives’. He was soon joined by four-year-old Peter and his mother. In Hungary, his parents were living under false identity. But the boy, who spoke only Slovak, could endanger them all. So his parents would pose Peter as an orphan and give him to their relatives, Milka and Viliam Rosenthal from Lučenec, for adoption. Peter lived with the Rosenthal family from 1942 to 1944. In spring of 1944, as transports of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz started, Peter was saved by his parents in a dramatic event. He lived through the war with them in Budapest, witnessing the arrival of the Red Army. After the end of the war, the family returned to Banská Bystrica. In 1948, Danzigers emigrated to Israel. After his arrival, Peter took a new name, Azriel ( ‘the one whom God saved’). For two years, he was living in the Gan Schmuel kibbutz, then he studied in Haifa. He trained as an aircraft engineer and had been working in a canning factory. In 1983, he took over his father’s shoe-making factory. He has been sharing his story on meetings with young people. He brought up three children with his wife, Nicka.