The Stories of Eva & Istvan Wirth
Eva Wirth 1923 – 1997 and Istvan Wirth 1916 – 1982
Eva Wirth, née Szepesi, was born in 1923 in Miskolc, Hungary, a town with a pre-war Jewish population of around 10,000. An only child, she had a happy childhood. This changed in 1938 with the introduction of restrictive laws against Jews under the German-backed Hungarian regime.
Following the German invasion of 1944, Eva and her parents were deported to Auschwitz, where her parents were murdered. She was then transported to Germany and forced to work for seven months in a weapons factory. As the Russian army approached, she was sent on a death march. After liberation, and several months of wandering through Europe, she arrived back in her hometown to find hardly anyone that she knew still alive.
Istvan Wirth was born in 1916 in Budapest, Hungary, a city with a very large Jewish population. Following the German invasion of 1944, he was sent to the Budapest Jewish Ghetto together with his parents and two brothers. He was then marched to Flossenbürg Camp in Germany to become a slave labourer. The prisoners there at that time were forced to mine the ground for granite or to work making military aircraft for the Nazis. After a further spell in the nearby Hersbruck sub-camp, he was sent on a death march south to Dachau. Following liberation, he spent over a year recovering in a military hospital before returning to Budapest, to find that, out of his whole family, only his mother remained alive.
Eva and Istvan first met in Budapest and married in 1952. But the antisemitism openly expressed by some of the revolutionaries of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 led Istvan to flee Hungary, followed later by Eva. They were accepted as refugees in the UK. Their stories are told by their son David Wirth using family photos, maps, and video testimony of Eva.
Presented by David Wirth
David Wirth was born in Hungary, and at three years old came with his father to the UK as a refugee from the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, followed some months later by his mother and brother. David was placed in an orphanage in South London for over a year while his parents found their feet in the UK. The family settled in East London and started a market stall.
During his career as a secondary school languages and religious education teacher he led numerous trips to Germany, including visits to sites of Holocaust interest.
David’s interests include music, art, and German literature. He currently translates German documents and letters for the Wiener Holocaust Library and writes articles for the journals of Holocaust-related organisations.
David tells his parents’ stories as a way of honouring them, albeit posthumously, and to demonstrate where prejudice, discrimination and unkindness can ultimately lead.