Friday, April 4, 2008

Ici's Uncle Jeno- a WWI Victim of Tuberculosis

My uncle, the youngest Melcher son, was Jeno (Eugene). As a 16 year old boy, he joined the Hungarian army. This was 1917, the first World War.

They did not take him on account of his tender age, so he joined to the so called "Free Troops", a bunch of adventurous youngsters, sponsored by a far left political group. They gave him spying and super dangerous assignments, and in a few months, he ended up catching tuberculosis.

Like so many sickened soldiers, Jeno returned home, but did not go back to school. He never became fully cured. He tried to work here or there, but was usually fired for fear of his infectious condition.

Jeno decided to get married. His wife came from a humble background. Her parents were farmers, and he moved in with them.

His wife, Rozsika (Rosie), produced one child after the other, only to loose them after a year or so. The three oldest survived, Magdi (Madlain), Noemi, and Auiko (Annie). When Rozsika’s parents died, they left her their farm and a modest sum to Rozsi, and Jeno used the inheritance to buy a larger house and land by the lake Balaton. He planned to raise vegetables and fruit, but was not very successful, simply because he became even sicker.

His brothers and sisters helped him financially. My mother helped him despite my father’s opposition; first with money, than with food and clothing. The maddening thing in his situation was that he could not receive any veteran pension, since he did not serve in the regular army and was not really wounded.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Dear Kitty,

I thank you for including this story. Ici's Uncle Jeno was my maternal grandfather whom I never knew. It is interesting to learn of family history. Thanks, again!

Susan Haksch Straka