The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Susan Garfield

More Information

Map

Born
June 03, 1933 Budapest, Hungary

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1948 Winnipeg

In 1944, as Budapest’s Jews begin to suffer under German occupation, eleven-year-old Susie takes to her diary. Precocious and charming, Susie records the mundane along with the poignant, describing her family, friends and her daily life against a backdrop of war and persecution. Soon, Susie’s young life is marred by farewells — to her father, forced into labour service, and then to her mother when collaborators take her away. After the war, Susie makes a fateful decision to embark on a journey to a new country. Lonely and struggling to adapt in Canada, Susie’s diary is now filled with angst. In Too Many Goodbyes, Susan’s memoir picks up the story where her younger self left it — close to finding a place where she truly belongs.

About Susan

Born Zsuzsanna Löffler in Budapest in 1933, Susan Garfield immigrated to Canada as a war orphan in 1948 and lived in Vegreville, Alberta, before moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she still lives. Susan’s English translation of her Hungarian wartime diary was published in Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors (2010), and her story as a new immigrant to Canada was told in Holocaust Survivors in Canada: Exclusion, Inclusion, Transformation, 1947–1955 (2015).

Photos and Artifacts

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s maternal great-grandmother, Regina Lieber. Nagyvárad, Hungary, date unknown.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s maternal great-grandfather, Herman Lieber. Nagyvárad, Hungary, date unknown.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s father, Bernard Löffler. Budapest, 1928.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan's mother, Magdus Weisz. Budapest, 1928.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    The wedding of Susan’s parents. Budapest, 1932.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan as an infant. Budapest, 1933.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan at approximately one year old. Budapest, circa 1934.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan, age five. Budapest, 1938.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan and her parents. Budapest, 1938.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan at around age eight. Budapest, circa 1942.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan and her mother. Budapest, 1943.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s whole family at her maternal grandparents 45th wedding anniversary. Last row, left to right: Cousin Laci; Aunt Ilus; Cousin Bandi; Uncle Lajos; Great-uncle Miklos; and Susan’s mother, Magda. Next row, standing, left to right: Great-aunt Szeren; Cousin Éva; Aunt Ibi; Aunt Magda; Great-aunt Gizi; Aunt Bözsi; Cousin Ágnes; Uncle Géza. Seated in middle: Grandmother Eszter; Grandfather Farkas; Aunt Malvin. Seated in front: Susan (left) and her cousin Marietta. Budapest, 1943.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s passport from Budapest, 1948, before leaving for Canada.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan with friends. Calgary, circa 1949.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan and Harry, just engaged, at a stadium. Winnipeg, 1953.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan and Harry’s wedding. Winnipeg, 1954.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Left to right: Susan’s cousin Edith; Susan; her cousin Susan; and her friend Kathy Blum Griesz. Winnipeg, 1970s.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s graduation from the University of Winnipeg with a bachelor of arts (honours). Winnipeg, 1975.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan and Harry celebrating his 65th birthday. Winnipeg, circa 1988.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan (right) at the reunion of her friends from the transport of war orphans from Hungary in 1948. On the left is Kitty Salsberg; in the centre is Stephen Nasser. Toronto, circa 2007.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan’s children, David, Shelley and Gail (in front), at the bat mitzvah of Susan’s granddaughter Ashley. Winnipeg, March 10, 2006.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    The family of Susan’s daughter Gail Halbrich at Ashley’s bat mitzvah. In back, Michelle and Gail; in front, Alon and David. Winnipeg, March 10, 2006.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan, centre, with her granddaughter Michelle and her daughter Gail. Winnipeg, 2009.

  • Susan Garfield larger image and caption

    Susan (centre) with her grandchildren. From left to right: Michelle, Ashley, Lauren, Susan, Matthew, Hart and Alon. Winnipeg, 2010.

The Book

Cover of Too Many Goodbyes: The Diaries of Susan Garfield

Too Many Goodbyes: The Diaries of Susan Garfield

My mother tried to set my mind at ease, telling me not to worry, but she failed to reassure me. My fears were well-founded, as we soon found out.

More Survivors

Close

Too Many Goodbyes: The Diaries of Susan Garfield

I woke up to the sound of gunfire, and fear returned to my heart. I wondered what was going on. My mother tried to set my mind at ease, telling me not to worry, but she failed to reassure me. My fears were well-founded, we soon found out. Hungary wasn’t surrendering. The Germans kidnapped Horthy’s son, forcing Horthy to resign, and the fascist Arrow Cross Party, also called the Nyilas, took possession of the government, with Ferenc Szálasi, a ruthless Jew-hater, as its leader. The Nyilas were thugs, robbers and criminals. 

Rumours were rampant about the goings-on outside, about groups of people marching on the street — we heard that the Jewish houses on either side of us were emptied and that the Jews were being led to God knows where. I was frantic with fear and terrified for my life. There was nowhere to go. I was convinced that whoever was removed would be killed. What else could they do with us with the Russians almost on our doorstep? The gate to our building was locked and we couldn’t leave. I begged my mother to get a message to my gentile uncle to try to get us some false papers, to get us out somehow. I could not imagine dying. She agreed to ask a gentile neighbour to do it. My uncle himself came for us, but the superintendent refused to let us leave. I remember trying to figure out some escape route, but of course there was none.

We feared for the worst. A few weeks later the Arrow Cross men came with gendarmes and policemen. They entered our building and ordered us all to come down to the courtyard, where they sorted us according to age. My mother was among the women who were instructed to immediately pack and be ready to leave. One man timidly inquired whether he may remain, as his fiftieth birthday was imminent. He was allowed to stay.

The expression on my mother’s face as we said goodbye was familiar. I remembered it as the same one my father wore when I last saw him — an intensive stare meant to capture and hold my image.