The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Eva Shainblum

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Born
September 16, 1927 Nagyvárad, Hungary

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1948 Montreal

Eva Shainblum is thrown into chaos when Germany occupies Hungary and destroys her peaceful childhood. In the spring of 1944, as Eva is sent into ghettos and then to Auschwitz, she takes refuge in the one constant in her life – her older sister. Get a glimpse into the fierceness of a sister’s love and her remarkable path to survival.

About Eva

Eva Steinberger was born in Nagyvárad, Hungary, in 1927. She immigrated to Canada in 1948, settling in Montreal where she worked as a bookkeeper. Eva married Max Shainblum in 1959; they have two children. Eva Shainblum lives in Montreal.

Photos and Artifacts

  • Eva Shainblum  larger image and caption

    Dora and David Rosenberg, Eva’s maternal grandparents, circa 1922.

  • Eva Shainblum  larger image and caption

    Eva’s mother, Esther (far left) with her parents, Dora and David (centre), and siblings. Halmi, Hungary, 1922.

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    Wedding photo of Eva’s parents, Esther and Béla Steinberger. Halmi, 1923.

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    Eva’s siblings Ella and Paul. Nagyvárad, 1927.

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    The Steinberger family, circa 1933. From left to right: Eva’s mother, Esther, Reizi (Eva), Paul, David, Ella and Eva’s father, Béla.

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    Eva and her sister, Ella, wearing the watches given to them by their parents. Nagyvárad, 1943.

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    Eva (right) and her friend Adele in Oradea, 1946.

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    Eva (left) and her cousin Zsofi. Germany, 1946.

  • Eva Shainblum  larger image and caption

    Eva and her boyfriend, Tibi Goldberger, in 1946.

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    Eva and Max Shainblum on their engagement day, 1959.

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    Celebrating their wedding on September 24, 1959.

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    Max and Eva with their son, Mark, and daughter, Esther, 1982.

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    Esther and Mark at a friend’s wedding, 1989.

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    Eva at the gravestone of her sister, Ella. Oradea, 1992.

  • Eva Shainblum  larger image and caption

    The Shainblum family, 1997.

The Book

Cover of The Last Time

The Last Time

All we wanted was to be together, but not together like this. We could not get out.

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The Last Time

The New Normal

Above all, I remember feeling fearful. The police and gendarmes wore terrifying uniforms with rooster plumes in their hats. I would literally shiver when I saw them coming. We watched what we said and tried not to make our presence obvious. Still, how could we hide? The Hungarians, and later the Germans, did not need a reason to make trouble for Jews; our mere existence seemed to give them the justification to hurt and torture us.

We were humiliated and dehumanized each day. The Hungarian gendarmes followed Nazi orders, rampaging through our streets, picking up people and demanding our valuables. They built a torture chamber in what used to be a beer factory. They would grab Jewish men, take them to be tortured and force them to reveal where their possessions were hidden. One morning, they grabbed my father and tortured him.

The gendarmes came to our house and demanded our valuables. They pulled my mother’s wedding ring from her finger; she had been too proud to hide it. They also ruined a treasured gift that my sister and I had recently received. Our birthdays were in the same month, and in 1943 our parents had given us our first watches. When the guards banged on our door in the ghetto, we pulled off the lovely watches, smashed them hard and threw them into the fire. There was no way that I would give them up to the antisemites. After the war, my relatives gave me a photograph of us wearing the watches.

Our schooling had ended when the ghetto started. We were deprived of education, while our parents and all Jews were denied the right to run businesses and stores. I don’t know how we bought food – perhaps the grocery stores were able to sell whatever was left. My parents did not want to burden us with frightening details. My father was sensitive and cried all the time when he saw what was happening to us. He had no answer. Nobody did. It was a tragedy that we had not expected. But who could have known that despite our current conditions, worse things were still to come?