Teri Korda

Title: My dear Andrea & Andris
Author: Teri Korda
Publisher: Makor Jewish Community Library
Place of publication: Melbourne
Year of Publication: 2002
Location of Book: Rare Books Collection, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University Clayton Campus
Cities/town/camps: Hungary: Budapest
Note: those cities/towns/camps underlined are those which are most central to the narrative

My Dear Andrea and Andris tells the story of Teri Korda and her family and friends, living in Hungary until 1956. The first 34 pages describe her family background and life in Budapest up until German occupation. Pages 35-66 tell of her survival under Nazi occupation while the remainder of the book, pages 67-93, tell of her life in Hungary under Soviet rule. Written late in life to provide a family history for her two children, the book was published by Makor Lirbrary in 2002.

Teri Korda was born the youngest of ten children in Budapest, Hungary. Educated until the age of sixteen, Teri earned a reasonable wage in a shop. She was married in August 1938 to Tibor Korda. In 1939 Tibor was conscripted into the Hungarian army to help liberate Transylvania. As soon as he returned to Budapest he was taken, along with other Jewish men, to a forced labour camp. Through a connection, Teri managed to get her husband released. In 1940-41 Jews who did not have Hungarian citizenship were deported. Teri’s siblings spent a lot of money trying to prove that their ancestors had been Hungarian. In March 1942 Teri gave birth to her first child, Andrew (Andris). Months later Tibor was again taken away for forced labour. He remained, however, in Hungary and Teri visited him when possible.

When the Germans entered Hungary in 1944, restrictions were placed on the resident Jewish population. Jews were forced to wear a yellow star and were confined to designated housing. Although fortunate enough to stay in her original apartment, Teri endured frequent harassment from the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian fascist collaborators. Eventually the Allies began bombing Budapest and Teri and Andrew were forced to take shelter in the cellar. One day Teri was offered a curfew exclusion permit in exchange for cleaning the apartment of a Wermacht officer. Teri’s cleaning skills were not up to the German’s standards, so she ended up paying someone to clean the apartment and keeping the permit for herself. Conditions for Jews deteriorated as the Fascist Szalasi regime took over Hungary and a ghetto was established. Every day Teri watched Jews being marched to their death by the Fascists. Teri was spared owing to the fact that she was ill at the time - the Arrow Cross soldiers simply left her to die. Through a connection, Teri managed to pay to have Tibor smuggled back to Budapest. Upon his return, Tibor was forced to hide in the cupboard anytime there was a knock at the door. As the Russian front approached, the food situation became more desperate. Teri roamed the street in search of horses that had been killed in the shooting. Around New Year 1945, Teri, Tibor and Andrew were liberated by the Russians. This did not end their peril as the Russian soldiers began a spree of looting and rape. Moreover, when Teri went to check on her mother she discovered her starved to death in bed.

After the war the family began to rebuilt their lives. Teri gave birth to her second child, and despite the intrusive hand of the Soviet authorities, the family managed to live a somewhat stable life in Hungary over the next decade. Following the upheavals of the 1956 revolution, the family left Hungary to begin a new life in Australia.

Teri Korda’s autobiography has a decided focus on people rather than events. The story contains a rich array of characters, each of whom leads a hectic life. Despite the wartime setting, Teri’s account is not grim reading but is as much a love story as an adventure story.