the loss of those 19 members of the family is not just a statistic: it represents my lost childhood.
- Agnes Kaposi, speaking of those in her family who were murdered.

Agnes Kaposi was born in Debrecen, Hungary, in October 1932 to a Hungarian-Jewish family. At the age of 2, Agnes was parted from her parents, Imre and Magda. Hungarian politics were becoming increasingly influenced by domestic and international fascism, and Imre, well known as for his socialist activism in Debrecen, lost his job. He and Magda moved to Budapest seeking anonymity and employment, leaving Agnes under the dutiful care of her maternal grandmother and aunts.

By the age of 4, Agnes was reunited with her parents in Budapest. Magda had secured a job managing a dairy shop for the ‘Central Dairy’ chain. The family were poor, and Magda worked long, hard hours, but Agnes had a happy beginning to her childhood and grew up surrounded by learning and music.

Though relatively safe from anti-Jewish measures in comparison with other countries, life for Agnes and her family still became increasingly difficult as further anti-Jewish laws were introduced. A new anti-Jewish law prohibited her from going on to senior school, but she was able to join a different grammar school in September 1943.

Once the Nazis invaded Hungary in March 1944, Agnes and her parents managed to travel back to from Budapest to Debrecen to be with her maternal grandmother. This home fell into the boundaries of the ghetto that was established in April, and in total 11 of Agnes’ family lived in this house together, including three elderly grandmothers and two babies. Whilst in the ghetto, Agnes had to work making yellow stars. Agnes’ grandmother made each member of the family a bespoke backpack in preparation for having to leave.

In June, the ghetto was cleared. The family were taken to a railway where they were transported to Vienna, possibly by accident, whereas the other transports went to Auschwitz. The conditions during the journey were terrible, and Agnes became ill. They arrived in Strasshof camp in July 1944, and after several days they were taken to do labour on an agricultural farm. The work was brutal, and Agnes lied that she was 14 rather than 11 in order to get a food ration, which meant one more to be shared amongst her family since the elderly/young did not get one.

In December 1944, the family were transferred from agriculture to armament manufacture in Ostmarkwerke, where they worked in a factory on antiaircraft guns. In March 1945 they were taken back to Strasshof and were liberated by the Soviet army in April.

All 11 members Agnes’s family that were together in the various camps survived. The family returned to Hungary in the hope of reuniting with other family members and travelled together mostly on foot. When they eventually arrived home, Agnes and her parents discovered their flat was occupied by others in their absence and they struggled to regain occupancy of their home. Instead, they had to share it with the family in situ. After having to move multiple times, Agnes and her parents settled in Újpest until Agnes married.

Life remained difficult in Hungary under a Stalinist regime. Agnes and her husband left after the uprising in 1956, having decided they did not feel confident in starting a family life there. They arrived in the UK in 1957. Agnes’ parents were never the same, physically or mentally, after their experiences in the Holocaust, and they joined Agnes and her husband in the UK later in 1957.

Agnes has been a much-loved partner and member of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum survivor family for many years, dedicating much of her time to giving talks to school children and adults alike.

The Collection

The museum houses items donated by Agnes. It is our privilege to care for these artefacts and ensure they are available for future generations. The museum's collection provides vital, tangible, evidence of the Holocaust. We are committed to ensuring we have everything we need to continue to tell our speaker's stories into the future.