Kepes-Kadmon saves the children’s house

One of the International Red Cross offices that “hosted” the underground Zionist Youth Resistance Movement (ZYRM) was on Baross St., in Budapest. Toward the end of December, 1944, the staff received a harrowing telephone call: the children’s house on Nagyfuvaros St. was being evacuated by the Arrow Cross.

The ZYRM operatives were at a loss. What could they possibly do? László Kepes (who later became Eliezer Kadmon) was the first to recover from the shock of this horrifying news, and came up with a plan. He asked David Grünwald (“Coca”) to lend him his leather coat, so that László would look like a genuine non-Jew, and hurriedly left the office. His friends anxiously waited for his return. They did not believe he would come back alive.

László went straight to the children’s house on Nagyfuvaros St. An Arrow Cross sentry was standing at the gate, armed with a Sten gun. The bewildered children, led by Dr. Salgó László, stood in the courtyard. Kepes, who knew German, started yelling in outrage at the Nazi guards: “How dare you step foot in territory protected by the International Red Cross!” David’s leather coat and the gold-rimmed glasses he was wearing impressed the Nazis. The sentry called to his commanding officer, who also received an earful from Kepes. “We are only following orders,” said the scared officer. “Show me the orders,” Kepes demanded. There was no written order, but the officer mentioned the name of a Pole. Kepes continued yelling, threatening to phone Hungarian Interior Minister Kemény, who would have the men arrested. That threat terrified them, and the entire group of Nazis turned and marched quickly out of the compound, pleading with “Sir” to forgive them, because all they were doing was following orders, and they had no bad intentions… That is how a 20-year-old Halutz saved the children of Nagyfuvaros St. from a bitter fate in the Danube River.