Yolanda Engel (nee Lebovics) was born December 11, 1937. She grew up in wartime Hungary, sheltered from events until the German occupation of 1944. Her father had been conscripted into the labour battalions by that time, and the remaining family members were taken into the ghetto. Shortly after that, Yolanda’s mother was taken away to Bergen Belsen, and Yolanda’s older brother Harry – not even a teenager yet – found himself the head of the family, doing whatever he could to bring a few scraps of food to the table. They survived incredible deprivation during that time, as well as the bombings and the Soviet takeover. That was followed by the return of her father, and later her mother – both had survived their ordeal at the hands of the Nazis. As Yolanda remembers, it took the family a while to find itself and to function they way they had in her early years; her younger brother didn’t even remember their mother when she came back from Bergen Belsen. They stayed in Hungary for a time: the family found its way and Yolanda went to school, studying to be a chemist. Eventually she met a Canadian, and they married, and Yolanda emigrated to Canada in 1967.
Yolanda was interviewed for this project at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa in Nov. 2019; she also visited us at Crestwood in January 2020. We thank her for her dedication to Holocaust education.
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