Former Medical Assistant Shares Her Story of Surviving the Holocaust

After working as a Certified medical assistant for 40 years, Magda Brown continues her passionate work of educating people about the Holocaust. Recently, Brown spoke to the students of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Plainfield, Illinois about surviving the Holocaust. Initially a “happy-go-lucky teenager” in Hungary, that changed in 1944.

Despite Hungary’s initial refusal to deport Jews who were Hungarian citizens, the fate of half of Hungary’s Jews was sealed when German troops marched into Budapest in 1944. Subsequently, Brown and her family were sent to a ghetto and then shipped in a railway car for three days without food or water with no idea of where they were going.

Their final destination was the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. While Brown’s friends and family went straight to the gas chambers, Magda survived and was sent to a work camp in Germany. There, she and a thousand other women filled bombs and rockets with liquid chemicals in a munitions factory.

About one year after the start of her horrific ideal, Brown found herself on a death march to Buchenwald. Along with several other prisoners, she managed to escape by crawling on the ground and hiding in a nearby barn. The women hid in piles of straw for a day and a half before two American soldiers liberated them.

After spending six months in Germany in a displaced persons camp, the US government helped Brown return to Hungary to search for her family. Only six cousins out of an extended family of 70 had survived.

Fortunately, Brown was able to immigrate to the US with the sponsorship of her aunts and uncles. She settled in Chicago and took classes in English and American history with the help of the National Council of Jewish women. Magda married Robert Brown in 1949 and raised a family.

Brown is active in several organizations. She was president of the Illinois Society American Association of Medical Assistants and remains an active member. In addition, Brown is involved with the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and is a member of the Speaker’s Bureau.

Despite the horror of remembering her experiences during the holocaust, Magda Brown believes that her story must be told.


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