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Robert Brajer

Robert was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1938. When the Nazis invaded Budapest, his father was forced to enlist in the military. Robert and his mother were almost separated, but instead were forced into a ghetto instead of a concentration camp since Robert was still a child and his mother looked old and sickly after a surgery she just had. Robert remembers having very little food and that he would only have meat on the occasion his mother and other women were able to find a dead animal in the street. No one was allowed to leave the ghetto without proper papers. It wasn’t until 1945 when the Russians liberated the ghetto that Robert’s family was able to go back to their apartment. Unfortunately, their apartment was occupied by a Hungarian Nazi family, so Robert and his mother had to move into his grandmother‘s small apartment.
Robert’s mother had two sisters who were in Auschwitz and other concentration camps: fortunately, both survived. Robert’s father never came back after the war and was listed as a missing person.
Robert left Hungary after the Hungarian uprising in 1956. He traveled to Austria and Germany before he finally received permission to go to United States. He arrived in the U.S. in January 1957 on an American Navy ship and was reunited with his uncle. Robert lived in the Bronx with his uncle’s family until he was able to rent his own apartment in Brooklyn. In 1962 Robert moved to the Upper West side and became a U.S. citizen in 1964.
One of his first jobs was at B. Altman’s store as a cashier. Then he worked for another department store, E. J. Korvette, where he started as a salesman and very soon became a manager and a buyer for the record department. Later, he worked at Columbia University Faculty House as a waiter and a bartender until retirement.
After receiving his citizenship Robert was able to visit his mother in Hungary once a year until she passed away in 1972. His mother also visited Robert in New York a number of times.
Robert now lives alone, but he has a few close people in his life. His first cousin Peter, who is also a Holocaust survivor, and his wife Trish live in Boston and are in touch with him on a regular basis.

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