Elli’s Story

In order to earn a living during this difficult time, Elli’s mother started sewing and selling clothing, and Elli helped. Her father taught Hebrew school .

“I started to work with her late at night after I did my homework.”
—Elli Friedman

In August 1943 Elli’s brother left home to study at the Jewish Teacher’s Seminary in Budapest. Mr. and Mrs. Friedmann were very proud of his accomplishments. Elli hoped that the next year she would join him to continue her studies in Budapest, as well. She turned 12 years old that year, and her brother was 17 years old. But all their dreams changed on March 19, 1944. On that day, Elli’s brother watched as German troops entered Budapest and began their occupation of Hungary. He immediately bought a train ticket to return home and told his family about the arrival of the tanks and the crowds of locals shouting, “Heil, Hitler!” It was difficult for Elli and her parents to believe that their homeland was invaded so quickly and easily, but within several days everyone in Samorin learned the truth about the situation.

After the invasion, things began to deteriorate further. Elli and her classmates were dismissed from school. Jews were ordered to deliver all valuables to the authorities. Elli and all Jewish residents were forced to wear a yellow star and paint a yellow star on their home. Elli was devastated. She refused to leave her home for nearly a week because she did not want to be seen in public with the yellow star . Her brother, on the other hand, made a brave joke out of the situation. He decorated his star to look like a gold military medal, and walked the streets in triumph. Soon, other boys imitated him, wearing decorative yellow stars as a mark of distinction rather than humiliation. Elli couldn’t understand how her brother could show humor under these serious and dangerous circumstances.