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Her Name is Agnes.   

Her name is Agnes. 

She misses her mother. 


The shards of her broken life frame a story that redfines tragedy.  I listened to bits and pieces as we sat in her third floor apartment outside of Chicago—a long way from her childhood home in Budapest, Hungary.  At the age of eleven, she awoke to the sound of a gunshot in her front yard, announcing the arrival of German storm troopers.  Black booted soldiers forced their way through the front door—in search of Agnes’ mother. 


One week previously, the Nazis hauled away her father in a similar early morning assault after which he was forced into a large truck transport heading for a death camp.  Ironically, the Nazis needed a Hungarian who spoke German to assist them with navigation.  Agnes’ father was fluent, so he volunteered.  Upon arrival, the Germans—perhaps as a thank you gesture—released him and he eventually made it back to Budapest. 


November 20, 1944. Agnes recalls that her mother was “herded away at gunpoint, bundled up in her Persian lamb coat with a backpack containing mere necessities.  She tried to put on a brave face as she kissed me goodbye.”


Agnes never saw her mother again. Not that she didn’t try.  “For years, I walked up and down streets looking for her.”  Nor was this to be Agnes’ only loss at the hands of the Nazis (her mother died of “natural causes” in a concentration camp. 


On a cold winter night, they took her aunt and uncle.  “Along with many others, they were taken to the shore of the icy Danube river where they were shot and left to die in the frigid water.”


Only later did she discover that their deaths at the banks of the river were as likely to be the result of drowning as gun fire.  “As ammunition dwindled, the Nazis improvised by wiring several people together before firing one shot…killing as many as ten people with one shot.  They had become masters at exterminating Jews.”


Peering into a black and white photo on the wall of her apartment, my eyes locked briefly with this couple whose lives were snuffed out.  I try but cannot process any of this emotionally.  


Proudly—and still with a smile—Agnes shows me a photo of her mother and father.  The smiling little kid—the one without a care in the world—is Agnes.  She lost that world nearly 75 years ago.  


How could it be that 75 years later one man—Hitler—is still causing so much pain to people like this lady?


Her name is Agnes. 

She misses her mother.  








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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016