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Graduates of a Gymnasium in Budapest parade to the commencement excercises playing the violin.

photo rights: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Among those pictured is Denes Simonyi (left), one of three Jewish students.Andras Simonyi is the son of Denes Simonyi and Maria (Maca) Balazs. Denes Simonyi was the son of Leopold (Pal) Sommer (b. July 8, 1879) and Paula Beke Sommer (b. November 3, 1884). Denes was born on February 28, 1917 in Mosonmagyaróvár where his father was a merchant. Paula Sommer was the niece of the noted mathematician, Mano Beke. Denes had two older brothers. Bandi was born in 1910. He was married in Hungary and then moved to Belgium in 1934 where he co-owned a textile factory. Pista was born in 1913, and he survived the war in Budapest. After completing his education, Denes worked as a textile engineer in the factory of his maternal uncle, Lajos Beke in Csepel. While working in Csepel, Denes was conscripted for a forced labor battalion in 1941. The battalion, consisting of Jewish forced laborers, was sent to various locations to provide support services for a regular Hungarian army unit. They first were in Köszeg and then went to Zombar, Yugoslavia in May 1941. Denes spent July and August 1941 in Transylvania and the winter in Sighet. Denes returned home for a short furlough in 1942, and when he returned to his brigade, he was sent to Zalaegerszeg in 1943. He was then dispatched to the Soviet front the same year. However, after the defeat of the Hungarian 2nd Army by the Don in 1943, the Soviets arrested Denes and sent him to a POW camp in Gorky. Ironically, the Soviets arrested Jewish labor battalion conscripts along with the Hungarian soldiers. However, once they arrived in the camp, the Jewish prisoners, who listed their nationality as Jewish, were separated from the other Hungarians. Denes remained in the camp until 1948, two years after the war ended. After returning to Hungary, Denes married Maria (Maca) Balazs, a Catholic woman from Vac. Denes' parents both were deported from Papa to Auschwitz in early summer 1944, where they perished. Denes's uncle, Lajos Beke, and his family also did not survive.