It was a time in Hungary when children worked as servants for wealthy families. Such was the case for 13-year-old Erzsebet (Elizabeth), who began working as a caretaker for Zsuzsanna and Ivan Abonyi in 1931. She could never have imagined how the next 13 years of her young life would unfold.
The year of 1944 found Erzsebet and the Abonyis in Budapest as the Nazis invaded their homeland. Being Jewish, the family members were required to wear the yellow star and their house was designated a “yellow-star house”. Erzsebet wanted to wear the star too, but her employers insisted that the danger in staying with them was far too great. And so she did something quite remarkable. She moved out as they asked, but she visited the family every single day, bringing food and medicines, and carrying away valuables to hide.
After the Arrow Cross party took power on October 15th, the situation became desperate. Mr. Abonyi was arrested, but Erzsebet managed to get a letter from the Red Cross that resulted in his release. She next visited a local priest and somehow procured Vatican documents that allowed the family into a building offering safety under the auspices of the Apostolic Nuncio in Budapest. Finally came those fateful days when thousands were shot on the banks of the Danube. The Abonyis were dragged out of hiding, but in the chaos and confusion, Erzsebet managed incredibly to save them once again! She continued to hide them in various places and when the family had to be separated, she often visited three different houses each day, providing for every need.
Budapest was liberated in January of 1945, and the Abonyis all lived to see that day. After the war, it seemed the family no longer wanted Erzsebet as a nanny… they adopted her, and she became a daughter and sister instead!
On June 26, 1986, Yad Vashem recognized Erzsébet Fajó as Righteous Among the Nations.
The Little Book of Heroes: 1939-1945 by Mary E. Burkett is now for sale on Amazon.