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Group portrait of former Jewish soldiers on their way home after their demobilization.

photo rights: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jeno Lebowiz (now Eugene Light) is the son of Herman and Sima (Pollack) Lebowiz. He was born in Chudlovo, Czechoslovakia on May 21, 1918, the second youngest of ten children. He had five brothers, Ephraim Baruch, Aryeh Leib, Yisroel Yaakov, Alex, and Avraham (Ernest), and four sisters Beila, Etosh. Sora (Charlotte) amd Raizel. In 1939 Jeno was drafted into the Hungarian army. After about 20 months while stationed in the town of Koszeg, all the Jews were transferred to a labor battalion. In 1941 after the demobilization of the Hungarian army, Jeno returned home to Chudlovo. After four months he was sent back to a labor brigade to work in a variety of locales including Romania, Yugoslavia and Budapest. In 1943 he was sent to the Polish-Russian border where he was put to work building foxholes and clearing snow. Jeno and two friends ran away, crossed over the Russian border and asked for asylum. Jeno explained to the Jewish officer in charge that despite the fact that he was still wearing a Hungarian army uniform, he was really a Jewish slave laborer. The Russian officer said that there was nothing he could do, and he sent Jeno and his friends to a prisoner of war camp in Marshank in the Tambliska oblast along with German and Hungarian POWs. Owing to his language skills, Jeno was given work as an interpreter. The Russian commandant of the camp soon used him to gather intelligence on his fellow prisoners. Later that year a typhoid epidemic broke; Jeno was taken to the nearby Red Cross hospital where he was given preferential treatment owing to the services he provided. He continued his intelligence work after his recovery and reported directly to the KGB head. At the end of the year, Czech citizens were given the opportunity to enlist in the Czech army-in-exile. Jeno went back to the army, received basic training and became a communications specialist. He was sent to the front where he was wounded in the arm. After recovering, he worked behind lines until the end of the war. After the war Jeno began a search for his family. He learned that his parents, his brother with polio, a sister, younger brother Ernest, and nephew were rounded up the day after Passover in 1944. They were sent to an abandoned brick factory where they were held with about 10,000 Jews from neighboring towns and the city of Ungvar. Near the end of May they were taken by railcar to Auschwitz. Herman, Sima, the handicapped brother, sister and young child were killed immediately. His brother Ernest and nephew Peter were sent from there to Warsaw where they were put to work dismantling the former Warsaw ghetto. From Warsaw they were sent to Dachau and then to Muhldorf and survived. He also found his oldest brother Feri who had survived the war with his wife in Slovakia and another brother Alex also survived. His other three sisters and two brothers died. Jeno, Alex and Ernest decided to come to Pittsburgh to join their sister, Charlotte, who had immigrated before the war. Jeno had to leave surreptitiously since the KGB was looking for him. They took a plane to Paris in 1946 and left in advance of the KGB. They arrived in the United States in August 1946.