Pen Pals

pen1-300x199Jessica Corais, a student of history in in Rio de Janiero, Brazil wrote to Mr. Nasser as part of her research on the Holocaust. Her questions to him – and his responses – seem appropriate to share, especially at this time as Mr. Nasser prepares to return to Budapest to witness the installation of six “Stolpersten” brass memorial plaques in front of what used to be called Nasser House. Commissioned by a German organization and designed by German artist Gunter Demnig, the plaques will named in memory of his mother, father, brother Andris, aunt Bozsi, cousin Peter, as well as one in Stephen Nasser’s name.

1. Tell us a little about your life from your childhood to the present day.
I was born in 1931 Budapest, Hungary. We lived in the Nasser House (established by my grandfather In 1872) until 1944, when the Nazis took me and 20 other family members to concentration camps Auschwitz and Muhldorf. I witnessed the murder of my baby cousin, Peter, and his mother, Bozsi. I wrote a diary on cement papers in the concentration camp at Muhldorf under the nose of the Nazis.
My brother died in my arms in Muhldorf on March 30th, 1945. I was the sole survivor who returned at age 14.

2. What was the most difficult moment that you lived in Nazism? What are the most striking scenes?
Witnessing the murder of cousin Peter and aunt Bozsi.

3. How did you survive the Holocaust?
The strength of love between my brother and me. Determination, and to carry on the promise I gave to my brother. The Nazis controlled me physically. But mentally, they could not touch me even with beatings or starvation. At one point God became my best friend. I adjusted my attitude. Every morning I woke up to a nightmare I could not control. But at night time all my thoughts were memories of family and the good life. I kept on believing, that when I awoke, it was just a nightmare.

4. How were the concentration camps?
It is hard to imagine, even in your worst nightmare. Each day was a challenge to survive.

5. Who are you to Adolf Hitler?
Hitler used his power for destruction of all the Jews and political opponents alike. To solve Germany’s economic disaster, he picked a scapegoat. The Jews. It has been tried for thousands of years. He is in the place he deserves. In Hell.

6. Nazism today is something condemnable in the world, but some people also make many criticisms of Jews, with respect to film industry. How do you see this situation?
People should be condemned, for terrorism, destruction, crimes, murders etc.
We live in a free country, able to get ahead by studying hard and being creative. When people are generalizing against race and religion they are following in Hitler’s footsteps. You will find good and bad people, in every creed.

I was in Germany in 2011. My book was published in German: Die Stimme meines Bruders. I was interviewed on TV and featured in many articles and got standing ovations. The papers wrote about my comment I made on TV: “I came here without hatred in my heart.” Since then the Germans have made two documentaries: End Station Seashaupt and Die Muhldorfer Toads Zug.

7. How were the days for you and your family before being caught?
We were a very close-knit family. My grandparents and then my parents had a jewelry store since 1875; they worked hard for it.

8. How was life in Hungary before and after Hitler?
Before Hitler we had lots of friends. Religion did not matter. After Hitler some Hungarians started on the Jews. Not the majority. I chose freedom and left for Canada.

9. Until your family and you were caught, did you knew who Hitler was?
We had plenty of information about Hitler; only the concentration camps were kept away from public knowledge. My brother and I went to a gymnasium, where we had the opportunity to study hard.

10. And how is the feeling today in Hungary about Nazism?
Most Hungarians detest the Nazis, but there are always some loud sympathizers who point fingers like Hitler did. That’s why my motto is “NEVER AGAIN.”

11. How would your life be if Nazism did not exist?
We would be one big family. My brother, Andris, could have been a doctor, and me an architect.

I’ve lectured internationally, over 760 times, to audiences in excess of 150,000. I’ve received over 10,000 letters from all over the world. My lectures are about family value, appreciation of freedom and how I survived the Holocaust at age 13.

God Bless you, and have a great life.

Stephen Nasser “Pista”