Tom Keleman was born in 1929 in Budapest, Hungary into a happy childhood. This all changed with the advent of war. Antisemitism was rife in Hungary and Tom’s life was thrown into disarray. After the occupation, aged only 15, Tom became a courier for the Jewish Community Council and a volunteer air raid warden. In this book he tells of his activities with distinct detail and candour, even after such a long time. Major events in the lives of the Budapest Jews, at this crucial time in history are revealed, including details of the ‘safe houses’ and finally the liberation of the city by the Russian army.
After liberation Tom attempted to rebuild his life in Budapest but on realising that there was virtually no chance of his parents’ return and after the death of his grandparents, he decided to escape to the West. He tells of his experiences in Displaced Persons (DP) Camps and his work for the Joint and finally his immigration to Australia.
After such a devastating early life Tom was given a fresh start; according to him, “I was the first welfare guardian boy sponsored by the Australian Jewish Welfare Guardian Society I had a good start. I was lucky.” He went on to repay this debt by working for the Jewish Welfare Society and volunteering in various roles throughout his life in Australia, including as a guide in the Sydney Jewish Museum.