Emery Fahidi

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

HOLO­CAUST SUR­VIVOR Emery Fahidi was the Liver­pool foot­ball team’s in­ter­preter in the 1970-71 sea­son, writes Len­nie Isaacs.

BornIm­reS­chon­berger,hewas17and about to train as a teacher, like his par­ents, when Ger­many in­vaded Hun­gary in June 1944. With his fam­ily, he was put on a cat­tle truck for Auschwitz.

They were then moved to Strasshoff camp near Vi­enna, where Ukrainian guards piled up corpses. They were saved by a re­quest from lo­cal Aus­trian civil­ians for a group of 25 labour­ers. The fam­ily was picked out by the guards and taken to an ex­per­i­men­tal hor­ti­cul­tural cen­tre at Mis­tel­bach-an-der-Zaya.

They ex­pected the worst but towns­peo­ple brought food to the camp and lo­cal po­lice pro­tected the pris­on­ers from the SS. Af­ter the war, Imre took the Hun­gar­ian name Emery Fahidi.

Re­turn­ing in 1962 to thank his saviours, he found no-one left. With his son, Paul, he wrote a book ded­i­cated to those who re­mained hu­man and help­ful dur­ing the dark days of the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion. For­tuna’s Chil­dren was pub­lished by Val­len­tine Mitchell in 2003.

In 1947, in­flu­enced by a vis­it­ing Zion­ist, he left home to train in com­bat war­fare. Af­ter two months in Aus­tria he walked over snow-cov­ered moun­tains to Merino in Italy and con­tin­ued train­ing at night near Lake Como.

He then boarded a rick­ety ship for Bri­tish-man­date Pales­tine. Three days into its voy­age the boat was in­ter­cepted by the Bri­tish and es­corted to Cyprus, where he was in­terned from March to April 1948. But as he looked un­der 18, the Bri­tish al­lowed him to pro­ceed to Pales­tine, where he re­ceived false pa­pers from the Jewish Agency and trained in Beit She’an.

In his unit of Ro­ma­ni­ans with some Poles the com­mon lan­guage was Yid­dish, which he spoke in ad­di­tion to Hun­gar­ian, Ger­man, English, French, He­brew and Flem­ish. He also served in a tank divi­sion re­spon­si­ble for bomb dis­posal.

His first civil­ian job was as guard for a gen­er­a­tor in Ei­lat from 1949-53. He sent his gen­er­ous salary to his fam­ily in Hun­gary, now un­der Com­mu­nism. His two sis­ters sur­vive him there.

But he left Is­rael, trav­el­ling the world. Af­ter mar­ry­ing Irene Gib­bins at Child­wall Syn­a­gogue in 1967, he went to Canada but fi­nally set­tled in Liver­pool in 1969. Known lo­cally as Eric, he worked on a fac­tory pro­duc­tion line. He en­sured his sons’ full Jewish ed­u­ca­tion and prepa­ra­tion for pro­fes­sional life.

He in­ter­preted for Liver­pool when it met the Hun­gar­ian soc­cer team, Ferenc­varos, in the Euro­pean Fairs Cup. The teams played their first leg, a round one match, on Septem­ber 15, 1970, at An­field. Liver­pool won 1-0 and drew the away leg in Hun­gary on Septem­ber 29.

A very pri­vate per­son, he de­clined an in­vi­ta­tion to be guest speaker at Liver­pool’s 2008 Holo­caust Memo­rial Day but at­tended the event.

He is sur­vived by his wife, four sons and three grand­chil­dren.

Emery Fahidi: Hun­gar­ian sur­vivor

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