3. Good Times in Losonc


My mother, Iren Sacher, grew up in the Sacher House of Losonc. Her family lived there until 1918 when they bought a home in the Kisfalusi street. While many of my uncles and my father Imre Hidas (Heksch), Iren's future husband, served in the army, mother was learning to play the piano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father, Imre Hidas (Heksch) with fur collar, the future husband of Irén Sacher, in a machine gun unit of the Austo-Hungarian Army (c.1918)

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Irén was talented and after three months she had her first concert. Her lady-teacher was an alcoholic and she was not able to concentrate on her talented pupil. She studied German as well and attended middle school (polgári) from age ten to fourteen. She recalls the presence of Russian prisoners-of-war who were hired out to private firms, including the family's soda factory. Towards the end of the war the undisciplined returning soldiers kept people in terror; the Sacher family was temporarily forced to leave their new home and move into the center of town to the apartment of Aunt Marisa.


A few years earlier, in 1910, my grandfather Soma Sacher's cousin Gusztáv's family held the largest chunk of arable lands around Losonc. Gusztáv alone owned 98 acres and together with His (and Soma's) Uncle Leopold another 97 acres. Gusztáv's father Vilmos Sacher cultivated 385 holds with an annual income of 8968 crowns. Already in 1874 Vilmos operated a brick factory with eleven employees. During the First World War Gusztáv Sacher was on the tax assessment committee of the town of Losonc. There were two Sachers on the list of the highest tax payers: the widow Mrs. Vilmos Sacher and her son Gusztáv himself. Nevertheless, the two richest men of the town were not the Sachers but Ignácz Hercog and Ignácz Kohn.[1]


On 19 September 1918 a local paper, the Felsönógrád, listed the names of those who had to pay income and wealth taxes in 1917. One of the town's fiscal committee members was Gusztáv Sacher. Ignácz Herzog paid over 27,000 crowns. Three Sachers appear on the list; the now widowed Mrs. Vilmos Sacher, Gusztáv and Adolf Sacher.

In 1912 there were 355 merchants in Losonc; 78% of them were Jewish. Most of them had their stores on Kossuth Lajos, Rákóczi and Vasúti streets. Sixteen out of 24 inkeepers, half of the butchers and of the printers and 3/4 of the jewellers and of the watchmakers were Jewish. In that year, 25 out of the 37 highest taxpayers and nine out of the 29 city councilors were also Jewish.[2]


On the left wing of the political spectrum were other members of the family. A Losonci Ujság reported that Sándor Herz made a great speech at a 1906 meeting of the local social-democratic party.[3] In the 1920s the left-wing intellectuals still held their weekly discussions at the Herz houshold. Later my uncle Sándor (Sanyo) Sacher also became known for his left-wing sympathies. The educated class was definitely socialist oriented. In the 1920s the socialists and the communists became important factors in local politics. In 1922 each provided a deputy mayor for the city. Next year a Slovak and a Hungarian run for the mayor's position. The latter was Aladár Sacher. Each candidate received 18 votes but Aladár Sacher eventually lost the race. Nevertheless, he remained a member of the council and a champion of the Magyar cause. In Losonc (now Lucenec) the parliamentary elections were regularly won by the communists. The Jewish Party received a respectable support, usually about half a thousand votes.[4]


In 1910 among the charitable institutions of Losonc were the Israelite Ladies Association and the Israelite Girls' Association. My aunts, Ilona, Marisha, Gizella and Sarah were active in these organizations along with the other branch of the Sachers, such as Emma Sacher.


In the 1920s in Losonc the writer Aladár Komlós and his friends founded the literary circle named after the playwright Madách. The members met regularly in the Kalmár restaurant. Komlós grew up in Losonc. Many of his poems were inspired by the town.

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Meanwhile life went on in the Kisfalusi street home of Soma Sacher. Uncle Béla Sacher came home from the United States and started a textile wholesale business with his brother-in-law Sándor Stern. My aunt Sarah Sacher died suddenly leaving behind her husband and an only son, the young George Fischer. And then in 1927 Soma passed away a year after he joined the funeral association, the Chevra Kadisha. Between the two funerals a happy event took place. My mother, Irén Sacher and my father, Imre Hidas (Heksch) got married. This is how father described the event in 1964:

My grandmother on my mother's side was a Hegedüs girl and thus related to the family of Samuel (Soma) Sacher of Losonc. Samuel's children were Béla, Sándor, Gyula, Gizella, Sári, Irén, Ilona and Marisa. Soma was in the lumbering business. Sándor (Sanyo) and Ilona mangaged their own softdrink and ice storage plants. The youngest daughter was Irén who came one summer to visit us in Balassagyarmat. She stayed at my sister's place. We fell in love. We married on 17 May 1926 in Losonc. Our honeymoon was in Balassagyarmat where we moved into a two-room apartment.

 

Notes

[1]György Éger, "Losonc demográfiai, etnikai, felekezeti képe és társadalomszerkezete," Fejezetek Losonc történetéböl [Demographic, Ethnic and Religious Profile and Social Structure of Losonc], (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2000): 41.

[2]Lajos Scherer, 28 May 1944, Losonci Hirlap.

[3]Károly Vígh, "Losonc a XIX. Században és a századfordulón," [Losonc During the Turn of the Twentieth Century] Fejezetek Losonc történetéböl [Chapters form the History of Losonc], (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2000): 57.

[4]József Puntigán, "Political események a két háború között Losoncon," Fejezetek Losonc történetéböl, (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2000): 60-64.

[5] Pál Simándy, "Losonci évek," Felezetek Losonc történetéböl, (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2000): 67; Professor Komlós was my high school literature teacher at the Berzsenyi High School in Budapest to where the communist exiled him in the early 1950s