Shelaibi Eizikovits

Born 1938 - Sighet, Rumania

Shelaibi, the son of Alte and Sano Eizikovits, lived in Sighet, Rumania. Community life in Sighet was traditional and strongly influenced by religious trends. Sighet had Jewish schools, Zionist organizations, and Jewish newspapers and libraries. Shelaibi was only two years old when his town was annexed by Hungary in 1940. Over 10,000 Jews lived in Sighet, and it had the highest proportion of Jews of any town in the country. Shelaibi came from a large, religious extended family. Though most of the Jews of the region were poor, Shelaibi's father, a real estate broker, was able to provide his family with a comfortable life.

After the annexation, Hungarian authorities restricted Jewish economic activity. In 1942, the Hungarian government, an ally of Germany, conscripted Jewish men of military age for forced labor along the Russian front lines. Over 40,000 Jews were killed. The Hungarians refused, however, to permit their deportation to the German death camps.

In September 1943, Shelaibi began kindergarten. On March 19, 1944, the Germans invaded Hungary. Suddenly, the entire Jewish population, which had seemingly been safe from the Nazi terror, came under their control. Within a few weeks, tens of thousands of Hungary's Jews were driven from their homes in towns and villages, and forced into sealed ghettos, often located in brick factories or lumber yards.

Shelaibi and his family, along with the 12,000 Jews of his town and neighboring villages, were forced into an overcrowded, sealed-off ghetto. They had little food and poor sanitary facilities. Between May 15 and July 8, 1944, the ghetto was emptied. Shelaibi and his family were pushed by gun-wielding soldiers into horrendously overcrowded cattle cars. Those who resisted were shot. The Jews were not given food and there were no sanitary facilities on the cattle cars. Hundreds died during the journey. Others were driven insane by the horrible confinement.

When the train arrived at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, Shelaibi and his family were taken directly to the gas chambers and murdered. Shelaibi was six years old.

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