Robert Varady

Robert Varady
Born 1943 in Budapest, Hungary Born in the Budapest Ghetto, he was protected by his mother, who kept them from starving and being deported to a concentration camp, while his father was in a forced labor battalion.


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Robert Varady was born Gábor Róbert Weisz. 
Robert’s paternal grandparents Hermine and Salamon Weisz. They owned a kosher grocery store in Budapest.
Salamon Weisz with his three oldest sons. Robert’s father, Lazlo (right) was the eldest.
Although László was not a religious Jew, his parents were Orthodox and he had a  bar mitzvah in 1921. This was his printed bar mitzvah announcement.
Robert’s paternal grandmother, Hermine Weisz, with five of her six children. László, Robert’s father, is standing to her left. 
László Weisz (right) with his younger siblings. He was born in Bratislava in 1908, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and moved to Budapest at age 4. 
Robert’s maternal grandfather, Izidor Feldmann (right), circa 1910. He served in the Hungarian light cavalry. As a Jew, he was not allowed to be a commissioned officer. After his service, he became a film producer and film importer.
Robert’s mother, Magda Feldmann (right), with her sister, Klara. Magda was born in 1910 and grew up in Budapest.
Magda (right), with her sister, Klara, brother, József, and parents, Vilma and Izidor, on a family vacation in Venice in 1925. 
József Feldman (right) died during the war at age 25.
Magda as a teenager. She was an actress in several of her father’s films.
Magda in Budapest in 1941. While Robert’s father served in a series of forced-    labor camps, she ran their small business manufacturing leather goods.
On December 31, 1938, László received this letter telling him he was fired from his management position as a cost accountant because he was a Jew. In the last paragraph, they offered him a lesser position. He told them, “Only crabs go backwards” and refused their offer.
In 1944, the Swiss Legation gave Robert’s father this document. It says, “The Swiss Embassy, representing foreign interests, hereby certifies that Weisz László is listed in the Swiss group passport and considered to be in possession of valid passport named as such.” It was supposed to protect him, says Robert, but “it didn’t work.” 
Robert, age 18 months, right after liberation.
Robert, age 2.
Robert, age 4 (front, center) in fencing class. Saber fencing was a popular sport for Hungarian Jews, especially after Ilona Elek, a Hungarian Jew, won the gold medal in women’s saber fencing in the 1936 Olympics. 
Robert, age 4, Budapest. 
He and his family left Hungary in 1947 and moved to France. 
Robert (left) with his cousins in France. He picked up the language quickly. “I was a French kid,” he says.
Robert age 6 with his French cousin, Jean-Pierre Weisz.
Robert with a cousin in France.
László (left) with a brother in Paris, 1950. 
Passport photos of László Varady, 1951.
Passport photo of Magda Varady, 1951.
Robert’s parents in 1951. 
To apply for a visa to come to the United States, László had to provide a list of all the places he had lived for the previous ten years. An additional page (not shown) includes five more forced labor camps where he was sent between 1940 and 1944 and his address in the Budapest Ghetto, where he lived for the final five weeks of the war. 
Robert with his parents in New York, 1954. He stopped using the names Gábor or Gabriel and became known by his middle name, Robert, which sounded more American.
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