Eugene was born Jeno Schwartz in Munkacs, Czechoslovakia in 1928. He had a happy family life with 3 sisters and a brother. His mother came from an orthodox Jewish family but his father, who was a master tailor, did not. Religion played little part in Eugene’s upbringing.
In November 1938 the area where Eugene’s family lived was given back to Hungary. On 19th March 1944 German forces occupied Hungary completely. Immediately all Hungarian Jews were ordered to wear the Star of David and within ten days the Jewish population was moved into ghettos. Eugene’s house was within a ghetto area, so his family took other people into their home.
On May 14th Eugene was returning home from school. 200 yards from home, he saw a German military lorry outside the family home with his two sisters and father on board. He saw an SS man hit his mother across the face and push her on to the lorry. Eugene wasn’t allowed into the house; he was forced onto the lorry with the rest of his family and other Jewish people from the ghetto.
The lorry was driven to a nearby brickyard, where the Jewish population was being forcibly gathered together. Eugene and his family were ordered into railway cattle trucks and from there transported to Auschwitz Birkenau. Eugene was swiftly separated from his mother and sisters, then also from his father. After being completely shaved and then showered, he was given his number, 55546, and a striped uniform.