Michael Mason describes how his parents were saved due to the efforts of Raoul Wallenberg.
Michael Mason was born as Miklos Friedman in 1928 in Beregszász, in the former Czechoslovakia. He lived there with his parents until he was approximately five years old in a traditional Orthodox Jewish home. Michael’s father Ferencz was a patriotic Hungarian, and the family moved out of Czechoslovakia and into Hungary proper. Ferencz Friedman was a decorated Hussar during the First World War and afterward was given a license to sell liquor and tobacco. He established a tavern in a border city in Hungary. In 1940, the introduction of anti-Jewish laws meant that his father lost his permit to sell liquor and cigarettes. As a result, Michael’s family relocated to Budapest.
In 1944, with the German occupation of Hungary, Michael made preparations to live under an assumed identity using false papers. However, the family thought it would be safer for him in the Hungarian army and he enlisted as a soldier. The military sent him to work on a farm in the countryside. After working on the farm for several weeks as a labourer, Michael was deported by Hungarian gendarmes to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Eventually, he was deported to Muhldorf, a satellite camp of Dachau in Germany to work as a slave labourer. Michael was liberated by the American Armed Forces in 1945. His parents and two younger brothers managed to survive due to protective passes issued by Raoul Wallenberg and lived in a ‘safe house’ in Budapest. Michael’s sister survived hiding in the open under an assumed identity. The family reunited in Budapest after the war.
In 1948, Michael immigrated to Canada and changed his name to Michael Mason in response to antisemitic hiring practices. In Canada, Michael worked in a variety of businesses before becoming a denturist in 1973.
Michael Mason resides in Toronto, Canada. His full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies and is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. It is accessible through the Ekstein Library.
And he said, I remember you, stand over there. It was Wallenberg and he took 200 back with him and marched them back.
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