Markus Engelstein (1911-1982) was born in a Galician
shtetl in Yablunytsia in what was then Poland and is Ukraine today. In 1939, he
began his journey across half of Europe to save his life from the Nazis. He
survived a labour camp, escaped a concentration camp, joined a resistance
group, and unlike most of his family, including his young wife, survived. A
short time after the war, in Budapest, Markus met the young widow Rose Javor
(1912-2006) who had also lost most of her family in the Holocaust. She and her
daughter Eva had survived in the Budapest Ghetto. Markus and Rose got married
in 1946. One year later, their son Erwin was born. As a symbol for a new
beginning in their lives, Markus took the last name of Rose’s first husband,
Javor, so that both of the children would have the same last name and they
could start a new life as one united family.
In 1950, the familiy fled communism in Hungary and planned to immigrate to the
United States. Their stay in Vienna, Austria, while waiting for immigration
papers took many months. Eva, Rose’s 14-year-old daughter, had never been
content with the idea of moving to the US. She dreamed of moving to Israel with
the Youth Aliyah. When she felt all chances gone to make it happen Eva
despaired, lost all hope and took her own life.
In order to support the grieving family, Rose’s mother, risking her life, also
fled from Budapest to Vienna. Leaving Hungary meant that she could never
return, and she, too, was not granted entry to the United States, so the entire
family stayed in Vienna permanently.
In the end, through hard work,
integrity, fairness and refusing to ever give up, Markus and Rose succeeded in
rebuilding a life for themselves and their son Erwin in Vienna. The family
preserved the traditions of Judaism and remained involved and active in Zionist
organizations and made sure to find roots in Israel as well. If they had
learned one thing, Marcus and Rose knew that Jews will always need to keep one
suitcase packed. Just in case.