Leslie A

Leslie Aigner

Leslie Aigner was born in 1929 in a town of Czechoslovakia called Novezamky. He grew up with his parents and two sisters, at times when his father was busy at work, Leslie would go with him to help him out moving furniture, to make deliveries to merchants, and meet the freight trains when they came into the station.

In 1939, Leslie’s father had his business license revoked as did all the other Jews. Later that year Leslie started attending school and going to Torah studies after his classes. This is where he first encountered prejudice from others, as some of the kids would hurl objects and attempt to fight the Jewish children.

Leslie’s father moved to Budapest-Hungary in search for work in 1941, and the  entire family followed, except for Leslie, who stayed behind and lived with his grandparents in order to finish the eighth grade. When he finished his schooling in 1943, Leslie joined his family in Budapest and started attending a trade school. By this time Leslie’s father  was taken a forced labor Camp, and later to the Russian front to dig trenches and do hard labor.

Leslie’s older sister was taken to work in a factory, while his mother and younger sister was moved to a Ghetto in outskirt of Budapest, called Csepel. After two months in the ghetto, Leslie and his family were told to pack their bags, and moved to a deserted brick factory. A few days later, they were loaded onto a train and traveled for three days, crowded by others and given little food. When they arrived to Auschwitz, Leslie was separated from his mother and sister, his head was shaved and he was put to work in the kitchen.

At one point during Leslie’s work in the kitchen, he was injured when a guard threw a pitchfork at him. The pitchfork hit his foot and  it soon became infected, forcing him to go to the camp hospital. The doctor was kind to Leslie, sent him back to his barrack the day before all the patients in the hospital were sent to the gas chamber. By doing so, he saved Leslie’s life.

Leslie saved up two rations of bread, trading it for the clothing of a man who was selected for a transport. He did not know where he was being taken, but went regardless and ended up in Landsberg Germany. Once there, Leslie did slave labor on constructing an airplane bunker. One night in 1945 while sleeping by the fire, boiling hot water spilled on Leslie’s already injured foot, and being in such a weak condition he contacted typhus and fell unconscious with fever for a week.

As Ally forces were closing in, Leslie was put on a train to a camp called Dachau. The train was called the death train, since more dead bodies arrived to Dachau then living people. Leslie was finally liberated in Dachau by the American troops. Later Leslie returned to Budapest, met up with his father and older sister, but his mother and younger sister were exterminated in Auschwitz. Only two cousin of his survived in Czechoslovakia. He lived under communist ruling in Hungary till 1956, the year he married his wife Eva, also a survivor. The same year they were able to escape the Hungarian/Austrian border, and emigrated to the United States of America.

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