"It was cool to have a chance to listen to a real person speak about what he went through during the Holocaust. He was the most credible source that we could have. I learned a lot more through his pictures and stories." ~ Boys Latin Charter School student
You can easily download and print Paul Gidaly's biography here (pdf)
Paul Gidaly was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1925. He attended public and private schools and graduated high school in 1943. Paul entered the family business, a retail-clothing store after graduation. By that time the Nazis had been in power for ten years.
In March 1944, the Germans invaded and occupied Hungary. The Jewish people were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. Posters appeared on the walls of buildings with strong anti-Semitic comments, such as “Jewish goods are State goods,” and “Hungarian Jewry is the death knell of Hungary.”
In March 1944, Paul’s father left for work and was forcibly removed from a trolley car along with all other Jewish passengers, arrested, and placed in a holding camp. His father’s camp was later evacuated and sent to destination unknown. In May 1944 Paul was called to join the Hungarian army but Jews could not be soldiers, only laborers. He was placed in a labor unit that cleaned up railway lines damaged from Allied bombing. During this time he witnessed the daily train deportations carrying thousands of Jewish people to Auschwitz. Under the supervision of Adolph Eichmann and a special unit, approximately 450,000 Hungarian Jews were deported and killed at Auschwitz until the Russian army liberated it in January 1945.
After the war ended on May 8, 1945, Paul escaped his labor unit, returned to Budapest and helped his mother re-open their clothing store. It was then that Paul learned what really happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Paul left Budapest in 1949 and moved to Austria, Canada, England, Israel, and finally settled in Philadelphia in 1982, where he married. Today, Paul has a daughter and two grandchildren living in Canada.