Forrai, Klara (1928–2001)

Also known as: Forrai, Clara, Kaufmann, Clara
BiographyKlara Forrai (née Kaufmann) was born in 1928 in Gönc, Hungary to a middle-class Jewish family; she was one of three children. Her father worked as a city councillor and businessman. Forrai and her family were interned in the Kosice ghetto in April 1944 and deported to Auschwitz in May 1944. During the selection at Auschwitz, Forrai was separated from her father, Deszo, mother Lujza, brother Tibor and sister Katalin by selection. She was in Birkenau for four months, then forced into labour because her small, flexible hands were well suited for fine, tedious work. Forrai laboured at camps in Weisswasser and Horneberg, making small machinery and lightbulbs for airplanes. In April 1945, she was taken to Bergen-Belsen. Upon her arrival, Forrai was placed in a room with no beds where she slept on the floor. All around her, people were sick with typhoid. Many did not survive the night. Forrai survived and stayed at Bergen-Belsen after its liberation; she was hospitalized for several weeks and then worked as a German interpreter in the DP camp. Forrai, along with other surviving Jews of the camp, put up a monument for the dead buried in mass graves at Bergen-Belsen. In August 1946, Forrai left Bergen-Belsen and returned to Hungary, where she learned that she was the only person in her family to survive the Holocaust. She eventually found a job, but had difficulties with the communist Hungarian government because of her family's class background before the war. Eventually, she met the survivor Ernest Forrai; the two married in 1953 and had one daughter, born in 1955. Forrai did not want her daughter to grow up in Hungary. The family immigrated to Canada in 1955 or 1956, and settled in Vancouver, where Klara and her husband were active members of the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society.
NotesSource of biographical history:
Video recording of 1991 symposium lecture by Klara Forrai; 1988 Holocaust survivor testimony provided by Klara Forrai to the Canadian Jewish Congress Holocaust Documentation Project, held at the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives, 1981.