Agnes, the daughter of Eugene and Ilona (Roth) Ringwald, lived in the town of Pestszenterzsebet, a suburb of Budapest, Hungary. Agnes's father was a medical doctor. The town's 4,522 Jewish citizens were mostly laborers, but some were businessmen, lawyers, and doctors. A Jewish school had been established in 1922.
When Hungary allied itself with Germany, antisemitic measures were enacted, but the majority of the Jewish citizens were only vaguely aware of the large-scale destruction of the Jews elsewhere in Europe. Jews were considered important to Hungary's economic stability. Many Jewish men, however, were forced to join hard labor battalions and were treated harshly.
In March 1944, when Agnes was an eight year-old schoolgirl, the Germans invaded Hungary and immediately set into action their plan for the destruction of all Hungarian Jewry. Forced to wear the yellow star and herded into sealed-off ghettos, the Jews of Hungary refused to believe that they would be sent to concentration camps and to their deaths.
In July 1944, the 3,000 Jews remaining in Agnes's town were among the last to be deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
Eight and a half year-old Agnes and her mother were immediately taken to the gas chambers and murdered.