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Eyewitness to History: Steven Fenves

Steven Fenves was born in Subotica, Yugoslavia, in 1931. Hungary occupied his home region in April 1941. After the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, Steven was deported first to a transit ghetto, and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Steven was chosen to be an interpreter for the German Kapos. He joined the Birkenau resistance and was smuggled out of Auschwitz on a transport headed for another camp. Following a death march, Steven was liberated by American troops at Buchenwald in April 1945.


Welcome. Thank you for joining us for First  Person: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors. My name is Bill Benson. I have hosted the Museum's  First Person program since it began in 2000. Thank you for joining us today. Through these monthly  conversations, we bring you first-hand accounts of survival of the Holocaust. Each of our  First Person guests serves as a volunteer at the Museum. Steve, thank you so much for joining us and being willing to be our First Person today. It is a pleasure to have you with us. Steve, you have so much to share with us we will start right away. You were born in June 1931 in Subotica, Yugoslavia, just  across the border from Hungary. Please start us off by telling us about your city and community in  the years leading up to the start of World War II. Steven: Okay. Subotica had been part of Hungary for  a long time. After Hungary lost in World War I, the Versaille Treaty allocated the city and  the region to the new state of Yugoslavia. Uh, the city had about 100,000 people. Serbs, Croats,  Hungarians were the three major ethnic groups. Much smaller groups of ethnic Germans, Gypsies, and Jews. There were about 6,000 Jews in the city, roughly divided about 4,000 belonging  to a, what was called the progressive community in practices similar to what something like the  modern Orthodox these days, and the rest were very small congregations  of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews. The place was not, not always very peaceful. We as children liked to go to the soccer games, round robin, between the three ethnic  groups not to see the actual play, but to see the mounted police storm the field when the  fans became engaged in fighting. So the Jewish community was  associated with the Hungarian group, Hungarian-speaking group. My family  was not particularly observant. They, here is my family: Mother, Father, my  sister, and I. My father wanted to have a small vineyard, and this is the tenant's house  on the vineyard, and we are inspecting the rabbit hutch. This was taken in the spring  of 1941. Bill: Steve, tell us about your father who we see here in that picture, of course. Tell us about his newspaper work. Steven: This is the editorial staff of the newspaper that was published by Fenves and Partners. The major owner was my uncle who was also editor-in-chief of  the paper, and my father was his second hand man and ran the, was director of the  printing, publishing house that produced the paper. When my uncle died in 1935 my father  became the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. He was always very pleased with the editorial  staff. There are Hungarians, several of them. Particularly the seated gentleman became very  well-known in Hungary after World War II. My father was very proud  of the plant, in particular he was very proud of the huge printing press  that he bought in Austria as a piece of surplus property during the hyperinflation  right after the war. It was a huge plant that never worked, and there  was a whole series of mechanics that had to be   kept at hand to fix the machine so that the  paper could be produced. Bill: That is an impressive bit of equipment, I must say. So I can see why he was so proud of it. Tell us about your mother. Steven: My mother was a graphic artist educated at the  university in Budapest. Afterwards she did travel, extensively travel in Austria,  then Italy, and then France. She did a lot of commercial work, very few fine paintings, but  a lot of lithographs and etchings. And this is her self-portrait out of a sketchbook sheet with women in hats but she displayed herself in one of them, and I always think it's the  sunniest self-portrait of her. Bill: Her name was Klara, right? Steven: Her name was Klara Gereb, yes. This is a lithograph of the castle at Fontainebleau in France. She did sketches on her travel and then she converted them into, reproduced  them as lithographs and etchings. The family lore was that my parents became  acquainted when my father, he hired her to do artwork for the newspaper including  the new mast, head mast, of the paper after the paper name had to be changed  when Subotica went from Hungary to Yugoslavia. She continued to do a lot of commercial  work. She had a few exhibitions, but she was not active as an artist. She was very  active in art education of my sister and myself leading us into all kinds of techniques and study of art. Bill: Steven, you also had  a sister. Would you tell us about Eszti? Steven: Well, here we are. My sister Eszti was two  years older than I, well-known in, all over town for her long braids. This is also taken  in spring of 1941. She's in, the insignia on her school uniform identifies herself as second  year student in the high school, namely a sixth grader. Bill: That is a very lovely photo, a very happy photo. Steve, tell us a little bit about what daily life was like for you and your sister prior to the occupation. Steven: Well, we,  I should say I lived a very happy, upper middle class life. Our family servants  were a cook, about whom I will talk later, maids, a German governess so that we would  study, learn proper German rather than the rough Swabian stock spoken on the streets, and a  chauffeur. Before you say, "Aha, all this wealth", keep in mind that Yugoslavia was a dirt poor country  and the social convention of my parents' level was that if you could afford a car -- we had  a car maybe there were 100 other cars in the town if that many -- you could also afford to  support another family by hiring a chauffeur. So we had a very rich life, lots of parties,  lots of places of entertainment. Two movie houses was a big thing, theater,  ice skating rink in the winter, recreational swimming in a nearby lake. It was a  very comfortable and exciting life with lots of, lots of things to do. Bill: And of course,  Steve, that would all change profoundly on April 6, 1941. The Axis Powers involving  German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian military units invaded Yugoslavia, and five days later your hometown was occupied by Hungarian forces. Hungary had anti-Jewish laws and regulations similar to  those in Germany which severely restricted Jewish life. Please share with us what happened to you  and your family on the first day of the occupation. Steven: On the first day of occupation, a  Hungarian officer with a drawn revolver expelled my father from his office. The  plant was, plant and newspaper were confiscated and a Aryan administrator was appointed who  made a formal statement that his intention was to pauperize the family, which he very  successfully did. And so by law all the employees had to be discharged.  Jews could not employ Gentiles. Our German governess didn't even wait for that. On  the very first day she marched out of the house declaring that she was not going to  spend another night in a Jew's house. So that was the beginning of a very  constricted life with further and further pressure, humiliation coming  from the Hungarian government. Bill: Steve, there were all kinds of restrictions  and increasing forms of humiliation that were piled on the Jews in your town.  Describe a few of those to us. Steven: Every month there was a call. Something had  to be, either, was confiscated and that had to be carried out, carried over to the police  station or some further restriction. All of them intended to humiliate and expose the people to  the rage of the community around them. For me, in terms of entertainment,  movie houses were closed, the popular local beach was closed to Jews, but the  most severe restriction was schooling. Hungary from 1920s had a law limiting the  representation of Jews in places of higher education that included academic  high schools. So I had a brutal, grueling exam intended in atrocious way to flunk you, and  eventually I was one of nine boys out of probably 45 or so who were admitted to  fifth grade, first year of the gymnasium. Admission meant nothing. For the following three  years, we nine of us sat in the back row. There was no point in raising your hand. No  teacher would ever recognize your presence there except when he, he or she wanted to  say some derogatory thing about Jews or just discharge a curse on the fly  while lecturing on whatever subject. That was, that was very difficult. My father became quite ill from all of this, and the restrictions were just, kept  piling on, on, and on. Bill: Steve, with your father's, with the  family newspaper being confiscated so brutally, income stream stopped for the family. How did  your family make ends meet during that time? Steven: By selling everything we had. The dining  room furniture went first. Whatever was valuable including the stamp collection  that I labored on so, quite hard. Everything had to go. It was not unusual for my mother to  go to the market with a couple tablecloths in her basket and return with a basket of fruits  and vegetables and occasionally a piece of meat. That was the norm. Bill: Steve, as it became clear that Nazi  Germany would lose the war, Hungary began attempting to negotiate peace with the  Allies. As a result, in the spring of 1944, Germany moved quickly to occupy Hungary including  Subotica, your town. Tell us what happened to your father and how conditions for your  family changed when the Germans occupied your town. Steven: A few days after the German occupation, very early one morning, my father was arrested  by a group of Hungarian plainclothes policemen and taken away. We watched it, him go from the window. With his health and condition none of us ever expected to see him  alive again. They were taken to a nearby village and from there we lost  track of him for the duration of the war. Bill: And then of course you were forced to leave your home. Tell us about that. Steven: That's one of the darkest days of my  life. I don't know how the event was advertised, papers or whatever, but the fact is that we  lived on the second floor and as we were leaving as per the orders, and descending  the staircase, every rung on in the staircase was occupied by a person waiting to get in the  apartment and ransack it. They were yelling at us, cursing us, screaming at us, spitting at us  as we trundled down with the little bundles. Bill: And I assume these included neighbors. Steven: I presume. I did not have, I didn't look up, saw their faces. I just felt their spittle in my, on my face. Unbeknownst to us, our former cook whom we had let go, had to let go, three years ago was with the crowd. She went in and very methodically collected my mother's recipe  book, a diary of my mother's from her bedroom, and in her former studio stuffed  a big cardboard folder with as much artwork on paper as she could, and carried  it away and returned it to us after the war. Bill: Including the art that we just  saw a few minutes ago of your mother's. Steven: Including, right, right. Bill: Steve, so once you were out, forced out of the house  and it was ransacked, and your father was gone, where were you and your family sent? Steven: Into a small transition camp set up in a nearby village where the Jews from the region were collected and then from right there lined up in front of a row of  railroad cars and packed into the boxcars, 80 people to a boxcar.  The doors were shut, clanged shut, and we were off. Eight days, something like eight days nobody could  keep track, eight days locked up. No food, no drink, no sanitation facilities except the bucket  that filled up in here. People are going mad, people dying which we considered a benefit  because the bodies could be, would be stacked in one corner giving us a little more space  to scrunch down. That was, that's how we spent several days. Bill: Steve, so June 16th, 1944 was when you, your family, and others were forced onto the train that took you to Auschwitz as you described.  You arrived in Auschwitz with your mother, your sister, and your grandmother. Share with us  what that was like for you to arrive there. Steven: Well, we didn't know where we were anytime in  this trip except we had the sense that we were crossing the Carpathian Mountains and deduced  that we were being shipped into occupied Poland. Suddenly the doors clanged open and we were  surrounded by noise of dogs barking, men yelling, batons hitting, but even more  violently by a horrendous stench that which is still sometimes seems like  it fills my nostrils, and shouts, yells. Anybody who could not jump out, jump off the train  was thrown out. We're told to leave all of our belongings on the railroad siding and  eventually men and women separated as shown on the slide. It's definitely can't  be our group, but there were trains arriving daily. And then eventually a SS officer  stood in front and waved people right and left at which, at that time  none of us had any idea what right or left meant, but we soon found out. I happened to be in the  group that was sent to live. The other group was sent to the gas chamber in the crematorium. Bill: Steve, at this point did you know what happened to your mother, your sister,  and your grandmother? Steven: My grandmother had in her youth an accident and she had, her  leg was amputated and she had a artificial leg. So she must have been carried to the gas chamber.  My mother and sister were lined up  that I waved to them from the parallel  line. That's the last view I had of my mother. She perished very soon after she got to Auschwitz. Bill: Steve, Auschwitz, which is located in German-occupied Poland, consisted of multiple camps including a killing center at Auschwitz-Birkenau. What were conditions  like in Auschwitz, and what was daily life like for you in the camp and  what happened to you on that first day? Steven: On the first day we were marched off from the  siding into a huge building. We were stripped naked, all body hair shorn, a cold shower with no  towels, eventually thrown unsorted pieces of prisoner clothing and unmatched shoes. And  so after a while we managed to trade and get something that could be worn. We didn't know that  it was going to be worn for months without washing. And we were marched into this huge compound. Auschwitz is well-known as a, an extermination camp where at least a million and  a half people were killed in the region on the upper right of the screen, but if you look at  this region in the middle it will remind you of something like the stockyards in Chicago and kinds of city where cattle are stockpiled waiting to be slaughtered. Bill: So what we see  here, Steve, is an aerial view of a close-up of Auschwitz. Steven: Taken in September 1944 and I was  standing somewhere there while, somewhere in the barrack marked by the white signal. Bill: If we we could just spend a moment here, Steve, just to reiterate what you said. When this photo  was taken in September 1944, you were there and that white highlighted space is a barrack um and it just it's it's impossible to not see the analogy you gave to the stockyards just  thousands and thousands of people in there. How many were in that one barrack that you were  in? Steven: A thousand. Bill: A thousand in that one barrack. Steven: Okay, so Auschwitz you know beyond the  killing center was this stockyard where inmates were stocked to be lined up for  inspection as German officials, military and civilian, came to select suitable slave  laborers available cheaply to be worked to death. That was the function. The people who survived  Auschwitz are those who, in four or five days, managed to get out on an outgoing transport. I  was there for five months because this entire barrack full of youths where I was was simply a  mistake by the officers at the railroad siding of letting a few of us undersized skip the  gas chamber, and of course if any self-conscious manager of a plant or quarry or mine  looking for cheap slave labor who could do hard work obviously bypassed 15, 16 year 13, 12 year old  kids and didn't bother, went on to one of the other barracks to select prisoners. So we were  there, had no other duty than waiting to die. Bill: And yet somehow you managed to  become an interpreter at the age of 13. Steven: Yes. If any of you have ever seen a Sing Sing or  Alcatraz movie, you know that in a penal colony there are, the inmates feared the guards and  feared the internal people who are in control. And they fear the latter more because  the guards are locked out at night. The SS used this method very effectively. The trustees who were in  charge of the individual barracks were at first common criminals, many murderers who  were brought in from the prisons and given the task of supervising, managing the  inmates. They were vicious, more vicious than the SS and certainly with more hatred and, hatred towards Jews than probably most of the SS. Their mode of conversation  with an inmate was through a whip or a baton, and in our barracks with the young kids, the  normal outcome of a conversation was that the other person was dead from the beating  administered as part of the conversation. So eventually they decided that  something else had to be done, and interpreters were appointed. I was fluent enough in German  to become one of those interpreters. Bill: At age 13, yeah. Steven: The reward was that after the inmates were fed  twice a day with soup out of these big cauldrons, I was allowed with my spoon to clean out  the bottom of these barrels and take whatever was left there. My intervention  in interpreting was of very little value. Whatever I was called for, the argument between  a inmate and the trustee, the overseer usually ended in a violent death of the inmate  who dared to offend the trustee in some way. Bill: Tell us, Steve, about the night of August 2nd, 1944  and how that then affected your life? Steven: Unbeknownst to us in the barrack that I  showed you, two compounds further north was the Gypsy compound. Several thousand, several thousand  Gypsies, older men and women and children under horrible conditions were living in these  barracks. They didn't have to stand for the morning and evening roll call, but they  lived in miserable conditions and on that night, in one night, they were exterminated.  We were locked into our barracks, all of the camp was on a lockdown, and we heard the screams,  the shouts, and the repeated shots, and the following morning when we were allowed out, two  compounds over we could see inmates cleaning, emptying the barracks and eventually whitewashing them. This was a momentous day for me because that was the day I  stopped preparing for my own death. Up till then there was certainty that no  kid from our barracks will ever be picked out and allowed out and would not die there in Auschwitz  of starvation because with this change in the camp, the SS authorities decided that  the German criminals were just not bright enough, clever enough to impose discipline,  and they replaced all of the criminal overseers with political prisoners, most of them communists  who they knew one thing: knew how to organize. So in our compound all of the overseers  became Polish political prisoners. One of them came over to our barrack  and said he was looking for a interpreter who could interpret  with Hungarian, Polish, and German. Now coming from Yugoslavia, I knew that Czech,  that Polish was another Slavic language and the reason that it could not be too different from  Serbian, which I had in school, and so I volunteered. And he accepted me. It turned out that Polish  was quite different. It took me quite a while with the help of several of the overseers to  learn Polish, but I began working for the Polish political prisoners.  They made it clear that they are a resistance organization and that working for  them requires the same commitment to fight, to resist, and to work towards freedom as  they themselves had. So I was, they gave me my life back. I had a purpose, I had something that  I could fight for, and that's what I did for the rest of the years and the rest of that year  in concentration camp. Bill: So you were you were part of an internal resistance then... Steven: Yes. Bill: ...inside Auschwitz.  Tell us what kinds of things you were doing. Steven: Okay, two things: legal and illegal.  Legally, it was my job as an interpreter to meet a German official, escort him to  whichever compound he was directed to, serve as an interpreter while he interrogated  and chose slaves for his, for whatever trade he represented. That was a big responsibility.  You quickly learned to embellish the responses. If they were looking for somebody in  lumber yard, forest clearing, whatever, as soon as I heard the word "wood"  then from any of the inmates, I immediately start describing to the German that "This is a  seasoned lumber man," et cetera, et cetera. You have to be very careful not to over-embellish the story. They  counted your words comparing to theirs so that you didn't elaborate, didn't embellish the  story, but under those constraints you could help a lot of people get out of  that hell. That was their official duty. Unofficially I was part of the resistance  organization, and being small and slight, on trips that full-size men couldn't. In  particular there was a roof repair detail. Even the SS realized that with the coming  winter the miserable barracks needed some improvement. So we worked on a cart, a hand  pulled cart. One overseer, four or five workers and I tagging along as interpreter. And we had  the freedom to move from compound to compound including visiting the women's compound.  You ask why? Well, the woman political prisoner overseer in that, of one of the barracks in  that compound had been the prewar girlfriend of the Polish Kapo that led our group. So we  frequently made social visits there. On one of those, I encountered my sister. She was on the  way, she was being sent out on a outgoing transport. I met, she told us, she told me that she  was separated from our mother immediately but that she understood from others that our  mother's condition became worse and worse, and one morning she was carted away with the  with the night's dead and directly taken to the crematorium. That was normal practice  there was no, no point of wasting another dose of Zyklon gas on people who were mentally, emotionally already dead. So I  eventually cashed all my black market goodies to make sure that, and I got her a sweater and  scarf before we went out. Bill: A sweater and a scarf to help her as she left. Bill: Steve, you you managed to get out of Auschwitz. How did you do that? Steven: The resistance organization simply smuggled me out. A transport that they thought was safe,  they asked a inmate in line whether he would change places with me, and they assured him that  they would get him out on another safe transport. We changed places, I went through the  the processing line, got myself tattooed. By that time in Auschwitz only outgoing inmates  were tattooed. Another train ride, a little more comfortable. At least once a day we were  let out to stretch our legs and there was some substitute  coffee or maybe a piece of bread. And so we, eventually the train stopped at a place  that said "Niederorschel" and we got out. And that was my, that  was the first introduction. Bill: What was Niederorschel? Tell us about  your arrival there. Steven: Niederorschel was a small, very small camp, no more than 700 inmates, attached to a Focke-Wulf, to a plant producing wings of  Focke-Wulf fighter planes. Later on when I read about it, I was surprised  that the camp was opened only in the spring of 1945. Bill: 1944? Yep. Steven: 1944. That's when, by that time  the big heavy military installations were bombed to smithereens and so Germany decided to  regroup and divide the work into some very small units connected by railroads and revived the  construction. It never worked. Eventually the yard, railroad was bombed and we couldn't  get pieces and we couldn't ship out our wings, but anyhow. Okay, let me say something about it, in the  arrival. The SS command gave a speech which essentially said, "And everything is punishable  by death." The German foreman gave a speech insisting that the precision and  punctuality were the most important things, and then a translator translated these speeches  into Hungarian. The majority of the inmates on the transport were Hungarian Jews. Then something weird  happened. The foreman recognized me in the group, walked up to me, and in a loud voice said, "What are  you doing here? I did not select you in Auschwitz." I had been his interpreter in Auschwitz.  Well, the resistance organization in Auschwitz drilled me for situations like that, like  presidential debate candidates are prepared for their questioning, except  this was not one of the questions that they had anticipated. So quickly I collected  my thoughts and said, "Well sir, with this many new inmates they thought that you would need another  interpreter." Never specifying who "they" were. And he said, "Oh, that's a good idea," and walked  away. He and the German civilian workers accepted me as an interpreter, the SS never  did. They never wanted to deal through me. We were led into the camp, obviously much better  conditions than Auschwitz. We got our first meal, warm meal with some taste, and the  interpreter and another inmate sat next, either side of me really crowding me in  and started asking questions. Who was I? Where did I come from? How come the foreman  knew me? How come my prisoner's clothes were more fitting than the others? So I answered  the questions. That night they led me to the room of the Kapo, the overseer who was German. Had been in concentration camps since 1933, and he was the leader of the pack. They started  questioning me. One of the orderlies was Gypsy. He had heard some rumors about  the Gypsies in Auschwitz but didn't know much more than that. I explained the situation  to him, what I saw. And there were Soviet prisoners of war in the camp represented  in the small group by a cavalry officer. The Germans did not honor the Geneva Convention  with respect to prisoners of war and the Soviet soldiers were in the camp with us. He  wanted to test my knowledge of Polish, and we sort of exchanged a couple sentences in Polish. We both realized that Russian and Serbian are much more alike than either is to Polish, so  from that point on we conversed in this mix of Serbian and Russian. And so I was accepted  in the resistance organization. We, as I said, the plant, we worked  14 hours a day, six and a half days a week. Strenuous labor, I won't say hardly, but strenuous  labor. I worked on the inspection line inspecting the rivets in the wing. Whatever could be stolen  was stolen. We never used the word, it was always "liberating" was the word. We "liberated" scraps of  aluminum, we "liberated" tools, anything that can be converted into weapons. And at night there was  continuous activity of doing things with, for exchange trade with the civilians. Jewelers were very good at that, making weapons and so on. So it was a very exciting life. Bill: Steve, before I, there's so much more you could tell us about your time at Niederorschel, including things like, that in the midst of all that some of the older inmates felt that the few youngsters there like you still needed to get a little education. So at night in the middle of everything else, you were being schooled in algebra, in history, in geography, and even English I think you said to me but... Steven: French, French. Bill: Steve, you remained at Niederorschel camp for  six months from September 1944 until April 1945. As the Allies approached, you and your fellow  inmates were forced on a march. Tell us about that. Steven: Yes on April 1, 1945, we were  marched out of the barracks.  It took 11 days to reach the  main concentration camp at Buchenwald. People were laggards, were falling behind. They  were shot and left dead in the trenches. There were attempts at escape, some were successful. Others very sad to see German civilians bringing back escapees with  hands tied with barbed wire, prodding them with pitchforks, and standing around chatting with the  guards until they were shot in front of their eyes. Eventually we got to Buchenwald. From stories of others, I recognized that it was a very quick entry. Crematorium was not  working. We were sent into a barracks. Now we knew about some of the preparations the inmates,  the resistance organization in Auschwitz, which was very powerful, the steps that they were planning  to take, to self-liberate the camp, and we kids had grandiose images that we were going to be  active partners in that. Well, it turned out that I collapsed on a cot, and the next thing I heard  is one of my buddies shaking me awake, "You stupid idiot, you slept through it all! The  Americans have arrived." So that was un-glorious, my introduction to liberty. Bill: And so here we see American troops from the Sixth Armored Division entering Buchenwald. And this is where you had missed their entry. Steve, you were in  very bad shape, and I know you want to share with us about the care that you received once the Army arrived. Steven: I collapsed against the barbed wire fence, fortunately by then power was off. Eventually I woke up on a cot the US Army, specifically 121st,  124th, field evacuation hospital set up a huge hospital for those of us who survived  in the facilities that were previously, that were built and previously used  for recuperating wounded SS. No, I don't remember that. I'm told that all of  us were stripped naked, liberally doused with DDT, given a bath, et cetera, put on cots. Anyhow,  I woke up and very slowly I was nursed back to life. My hand had been broken by a guard during the  march. That was reset and I slowly began to learn simple things like cleaning under the  fingernails or how to use a knife and fork again. So I was in Buchenwald till late in the  summer. The Iron Curtain already existed, and going back east was much more  difficult than the people of France, Belgium, Norway, et cetera who were cleared out the first week. Bill: Did you return to Yugoslavia immediately after the war after your recovery, and did you  find any other surviving family members after the war? Steven: Yes, thank you for asking.  I had known in Buchenwald that my sister was alive and that she was recovering from typhus  in Bergen-Belsen. So we got reunited but then what appeared to us a miracle happened: our father  arrived on a Soviet military hospital train and was wheeled in to my aunt's house, where we  lived at that time, totally broken physically and emotionally, unable to accept that his wife had  passed away, and he died a couple months later. The other big miracle was that our cook reappeared  and gave us back the stuff that she had taken. Bill: Including your mother's artwork and, this is a  terrific photo. Describe the importance of this photograph. Steven: The settee on which we sit in this small  apartment that we had later was from my parents' parlor. It disappeared during the upheaval.  Our former cook and her husband saw it on a cart, they strong-armed the guy who pushed the cart and  gave it to us. And when my sister and I in '47 escaped from Yugoslavia, we deeded it to the local museum. Bill: Where it sits to this day, right? Steven: Where it sits to this day, not on display but in the lobby of the director's office. So if you ever get to Subotica, go see the museum, which is in our former home, and ask to see the settee from the former home. Bill: I intend to do that as soon as  I am able to do that. I want to sit on that settee. Steve, I have one more question for you. In the face  of rising global antisemitism, please tell us why you continue to share your firsthand account  of what you experienced during the Holocaust. Steve: Well, first of all, as a survivor I feel  that I have a obligation to speak on behalf of those who are not able to speak. And  in that process I try to convey to the audience that feelings of, that wherever you see inequity,  injustice, prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, you see the makings of, the potential makings  of another genocide or Holocaust. Those feelings can be easily fanned up, fanned to violent  hatred by a few dedicated people, and in cases where this hatred gains government support,  government encouragement, government recognition, government support, genocides possibly on  the scale of the Holocaust are still possible. There have been umpteen genocides  since World War II. In my own native country of Yugoslavia, there  have been two, in Bosnia and in Kosovo. It's occurring all over, has been occurring all over  the world. So whatever I can do to make you realize how these hatreds can be fanned and turned into  genocide, I try to do so. Bill: And Steve, you do it extraordinarily well.  Brilliant, in fact. It's so important that you continue to do this. Thank you for doing it for  us today. There's so much more that you could have shared, I think everybody knows that you just  were able to give us a glimpse. You even hinted at something that we wish we could talk about and  that is how you escape later from Yugoslavia, but we'll have to save that for another time. So Steve,  thank you so much for being our First Person today. Steve: Thank you for doing it.

This conversation has been edited in length for educational and classroom use. View Steven Fenves' complete First Person: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors program.