My Guardian Angel
Written & Illustrated by
Mia Freyermuth & Ella Douglas
Hungarian WWII Refugee
My Guardian Angel is now available on Amazon.
Eva Rozsnyavszky was born on July 30, 1924 in Hungary. " My father left home before I was born and my mother died of tuberculosis when I was young. I was sad and lonely as I lived with my grandmother who didn't want me so she took me over to my aunt and uncle. If they didn't want me, then they shipped me back to her. I dreamed of going to an orphanage so I could be with other children and have fun. It didn't happen so I read anything I could, and I became a very good student.
I was a teenager when I met my future husband, Sandor Apathy, who was in the medical school. I wanted to be a teacher so I applied and received a scholarship from one of the best teacher institutes. After college, my first teaching job was in a quaint village in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. I taught there for three years and loved the poor families I worked with.
At this time, World War II was happening in Europe and things were getting much worse. The war was in full swing and there were bombings every day. In the university housing, the wives had to work. Since Sandor was still a student, we didn't have an income. It was terrible. The worst thing was that we had a community bathroom. Sometimes two or three of the German soldiers came in and watched us. It made me feel humiliated and like I was their prisoner.
We were traveling by train and we saw people in the first car start to jump out the window. People were yelling to jump because an American bomber plane was circling to come back. Sandor grabbed my hand and we jumped leaving all our belongings on the train but we had our papers. This was important since the Nazis hated Jews and our papers proved we didn't have any Jewish blood. We ran and stopped by some trees where Sandor told me how to lay and how I should put my head to protect it. I remember lying there and the bullets came so close that some of the fallen leaves next to me fluttered. I didn't move, and we somehow survived.
After the war, we were in a refugee camp for six years in Bavaria, Germany. Since my husband was the camp physician, we had our own room and he sometimes got an extra loaf of bread. When he came home with an extra loaf, we called our friends to come share it. As refugees, we shared everything. Our family grew when we had our first baby in the refugee camp - our daughter, Eva.
When America first opened its gates, mostly Jewish survivors moved there because they had sponsors in the United States. Eventually we found a sponsor too. We immigrated to the United States on March 26, 1951. We were sponsored by a Methodist family in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. My husband had to take all his medical exams again in English. We were in Pennsylvania for three years and we had our son Andy there.
Our daughter Judy and son Peter were born in Kewanee, Illinois. Our lives were blessed with four wonderful children and life in the United States was good for us. Our lives in Europe were difficult but through it all, I felt that there was an angel that was always looking out for me."
Note from Deb Bowen: Months ago, when we had a first rough draft of this book printed for the subject and educators to make corrections, I went with the author and illustrator from this rural school to share it with Eva. I had never done this before and I have to say, it was a touching scene. As Eva and her daughter Judy read the book aloud, Eva would occasionally look over at the two girls with such love in her eyes. It was such a blessing to see the students fully understand the importance of what they had done for this wonderful Hungarian woman.