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Life in the Glass House

The extended organization of the Glass House was controlled by a Zionist leadership. There is no photos remained but only memories to remember.

Food supply

„In the first days black coffee was available on a regular basis, which had probably been prepared in a place in the courtyard improvised earlier for kitchen purposes. In the same place the daily portion of some fried dough was also prepared. There was certain quantity of tins, pees, marmelade and some pickled fish offered by the Red Cross or by other organizations. Sometimes, people, especially the elderly or children, could get an apple or a piece of onion. Famine, per say, was evident just in the last weeks, from December 31 through mid-January, when Arrow Cross troops penetrated into the building.” (Tibor (Méir) Friedmann)
„We can’t say that people were not hungry, but real famine was not evident. We received every day a very thin piece of bread with a big portion of liver paste on.” (Eszter Alexander)
„Vili Klein, Bandi Gedeon and the little Geyer controlled the staff responsible for provisioning, while the old, resourceful Uncle Somló was mainly in charge and taking care of finding the food supply needed. A former food importer he was in charge of two large foodstuff stores out in the city. One was already set on fire by the Hungarian Nazis and was almost totally destroyed, but from the other one he could bring in various food items still for weeks to store in Vadász utca ... In the courtyard of the building a huge kitchen was created, where meals for already 2000 people could be served by mid-November three times a day. Mrs. Sándor Eppler, Mrs. Manó Widder, Mrs. Farkas Rosenfeld, Mrs. Tibor Scheer were the chief cooks, but they worked with lots of assistance: girls and women helped them prepare and serve the meals and wash the dishes...
Earlier we collected some money to contribute to the weekly food supply, which we sought to use for purchasing food coupons. This system very well worked till mid-December when, however, the available food stocks in the city got also decreasing. Delivery of the goods was difficult, and the staff was facing big problems.” (Mihály Salamon)
„My younger brother, Rabbi Dr. Arthur Geyer obtained foodstuff delivering it in there in bags. We didn’t have any more bread, so finally, the kitchen staff went to the courtyard and was frying fresh dough all day. We received allocation and food also from the Jewish Council.” (Albert Geyer)


„There were some long tables, improvised board benches on bricks, chairs turned upside down in haste, and youth everywhere. Girls and boys, from the age of sixteen, on benches, on the tables, even atop of cabinets, or on the cases with big glass panels therein being piled up.” (Teri Gács)
„If you were lucky enough and could get in through the doorway you got into a big four-sided courtyard, which was surrounded by the building. From the middle of the court you could get to the East wing of the building from its West side without any difficulties. However, the Northern and Southern sides of the doorway were blocked by huge glass panels leaned against big wooden frames, at least ten of them on both sides. The narrow lanes, which separated the glass panels from each other, served mostly as a meeting place for boys and girls. No air raid or the Arrow Cross could prevent it. I know at least two married couples, who met in the Vadász street.” (Eszter Alexander)
„Wide stairs led to the „orthodox” cellar. It was a small, maybe square room with relatively wide crates scattered around on the floor. The „orthodox” cellar, unlike the rooms for the youth movements, were filled with elder people and families with more children. If a family was lucky enough, they could get a whole crate to use (appr. 1 foot high and 5 foot long/wide), which was a real luxury. There were crates used by more families together.”
„Accross a passage in the courtyard at its Eastern side, behind the glass panels, in a hidden place, there was a shaft leading down to the Shomer or Dror Habonim cellar called in short the Shomer cellar. It was as long as the courtyard, but not four-sided. Therefore, the sleeping places were set up alongside the wall: three or four level bunk beds, made of wood, were erected up to the top of the wall. Even the cemented floor under the bunks was considered sleeping place. Everyone had as much place as the width of his back. Occasionally, we had to turn to our sides so that others would also have place. When even this was not enough, we decided that every night ten other people would spend the night sitting on chairs in the „kitchen” singing so that the others could sleep. The „kitchen” was a cemented place and here was the only water tap in the cellar. Even during the Siege there was some water dropping from it.”
„Finally, when we could not find any more place at all for everybody, we broke through the wall and „occupied” the cellar of the neighboring house (Vadász utca 31, that time Headquarters of the Hungarian Football Association.”
„Members of the B’né Akiva movement found place for themselves in the garret above the Northern part of the building.”
“For us the house had four levels including the cellars and garrets too, and not a one-story building as was seen from the street.”
“There was no electricity. Sometimes, in the evening we received some sort of gas lamps and these “Lux” lamps offered some light enough for the people, sitting at the edge of the bunks, to diligently clean their clothes from lice – well, as much, as they could. Occasionally, they had some time left for reading at the gaslight. It always was a big deal in the dark cellar usually lit only by candles.”


“The laundry was on the “Han-Hac” garret: there was a big wash-tub in the middle with washing girls and boys around. We did not give up washing even during air raids. However, drying was a problem: it was impossible to get the washed clothes dry, since the shirts got frozen while being hung out. Unfortunately, these procedures did not help us get rid of the lice from the shirts… The boys let the girls wash themselves first under the dropping tap admitting that the girls would more need… There was only one toilet in the office, where people were always standing in long ques. Many of them had diarrhea. It didn’t help either that the office, more or less, maintained its original shape so the people, who lived there had more spacious room and could continue to do some sort of administrative work. From the office staircase, across the entrance was the private apartment of the Weiss family, and nobody was permitted to enter. Finally, we solved the lavatory problem by digging a long pit in the court passage and put a long beam atop. Thus at least ten people, men and women, could stand on it at the same time. It was O.K. but the problem was that neither this makeshift nor the courtyard had a roof so nothing could prevent the machine guns from the cruising Russian planes. Therefore, it was a dangerous adventure to use this latrine, but we all certainly did it, because this was the only solution.” (Eszter Alexander)
“The sick room was separated from the big front room by an opaque glass wall. Health services were, as much as possible, provided by the physicians, who lived in the house: Drs. Ödön Weinberger, Henrik Eppler, Béla Kornfeld, Sándor Bőhm, Géza Ungár and László Nagy. They did their best though without the medical equipment needed. Fortunately enough, there were just a couple of serious medical problems now and then. When some more complicated intervention was needed to carry out, the patient was taken to the ghetto hospital.” (Mihály Salamon)
“(The house) looked like a busy Eastern village, where people in groups were discussing, making plans, disputing, studying or eating. And step by step they became a deformed version of themselves or of the idea Jewish existance: the cellar dwellers, due to the society’s evil, became wild and aggressive pariahs, who sold the yesterday and tomorrow for the moment’s ridiculous advantages.” (Sándor Scheiber)
“Daytime the “clerks” were working in the conference room. I myself, for example, a 14 year old teenager, was the courier for Dr. Károly Szendrő. “ (Gábor Schwartz, A.J. Shafat)
“Youth movements carried out regular educational programs as if nothing alarming was happening in the outside world.” (Albert Geyer)
“In the Mizrachi garret and at other groups intensive Hebrew courses were arranged. Youth educators delivered lectures for the young people of various age, especially on Zionist themes. In the orthodox cellar the Talmud was intensively studied.” (Tibor (Méir) Friedmann)
“The technical section in the international ghetto took care of the management of 72 houses being under Swiss protection. The repairing groups of engineers, lock smiths and mechanics had to go out to a building on almost an hourly basis. People set off from the Glass House to the protected buildings in almost every minute. The three available Embassy vehicles were controlled by engineer Lakatos.” (Mihály Salamon)

The Hanukah

There were a couple of nutshells piling up on a piece of wood in a chair in the corner, some oil and candle-wicks in them. I lit up the Hanukah candles one-by-one. I will never forget the festive feeling we had and even less the supper, which my wife prepared for me on this occasion. She produced some fried potato dough from a pot under the table, which she had fixed, I don’t know how and especially of what. Since that time we had no more potato at all in Vadász for months. There was a bit of some grease on the dough, it was already very cold, one could not at all say them fresh. But yet, I may not have eaten since then such a delicious fried potato dough.” (Mihály Salamon)

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