Survivor Profiles: Magda Brown
Protect your freedom. Think before you hate. Stand up to the deniers.
Magda (Perlstein) Brown was born in 1927, in Miskolc, Hungary. In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary, first establishing a ghetto. On Magda’s 17th birthday, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on one of the final transports along with her entire family. Her parents and much of her extended family died in the gas chambers. Her brother was the only family member to survive. In August of 1944, Magda was deported to Münchmühle, in Stadtallendorf, Germany, where she worked at the site of one of Germany’s largest munitions factory. She was one of the one thousand Jewish Hungarian women from Birkenau chosen for this job.
In March 1945, she was sent on a death march to Buchenwald concentration camp. Magda and several prisoners were able to escape, hiding in a nearby barn. She was eventually liberated by the Sixth Armored Division of the U.S. Army. After the war, Magda made contact with relatives in the United States, who sponsored her immigration to Chicago in September 1946. For forty years, Magda worked in a physician’s office as a Certified Medical Assistant. She was a beloved wife, mother, and cherished grandmother of many.
Although it was painful to remember her horrendous experiences, Magda believed her story, as well as others, must be told. In October 2018, Magda was scheduled to speak at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue took place the day before, but she didn’t hesitate to board the plane, saying, “Now the world needs to hear the message even more. Let’s go.”
In one of her final interviews, Magda noted, “I will continue to tell my story. I’ll tell my story until the good Lord wants me in his corner.”