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Őcsény is a village in Tolna County, near Szekszárd, not far

from the Danube. Őcsény, Decs, and Sárpilis form a region that is
called Sárköz (Mud Passage). It is a wine district. The farmers there
were relatively rich and most of them intentionally had only one child
to keep the wealth together. Women wore many colorful skirts one on
top of the other. The number of skirts worn showed the relative wealth
of the family.

Tolna County
The more skirts you have the
better girl you are! They look like
they wear petticoats but these are
real skirts on top of each other.

The people of Őcsény were unsophisticated peasants. After the

daily work in their fields they liked to relax, sitting on benches in front
of their houses. When some neighbors walked by, they started a
“conversation” with their sitting brethren by asking them in the
region’s characteristic dialect: “Kiűtek?” (Sitting out?) The answer
was even simpler: “Ki!” (Out!)
Ignátz Deutsch (1870-1942) was originally a furrier but he
could only make fur caps, vests, and gloves. He could not master the
art of making fur coats. He made his living mostly as an innkeeper
and grocer on Templom Street.
He also traded wheat and
distilled pálinka (brandy).
He was a strong man
and, therefore, very popular in
Őcsény. He was on good
terms even with Bérárdi, the
famous betyár (outlaw). If the
young men who brought sacks
of wheat for sale were drunk
and spilled the wheat before
they reached the granary, he The shadoof well (like an oil derrick)
simply slapped their faces and is a typical landmark in many
kicked them out. Hungarian villages

He was also an expert on wines. He never drank any, just
turned it over in his mouth and spat it out. He liked to eat fish. The
bones came out from below his mustache without the help of his
hands. He married Mária Glantz when he was only 19.
Mária had an extended family. One of her nephews was Ödön,
a very pleasant man, whose wife’s name was Olga (Olly). Mária’s
sister, Fáni, was a very outspoken lady. She had two children, Teréz
and Mihály (Miska). Miska became director of a bank and a rowing
champion. Teréz was a woman of exceptional beauty. She already
had two children when she divorced her husband. Divorce at that
time carried a stigma well characterized by the following story.
After her divorce, Teréz met a dashing young man, Pál (Pali)
Kellner, who fell in love with the 26 year-old woman and went to Fáni
to ask for the hand of her daughter. Fáni replied: “Are you crazy? You
want to marry an old divorced woman with two children?” (After all,
she agreed. Teréz and Pali lived a long life happily ever after.) I had a
chance to personally know them, even Aunt Fáni who was still alive
after World War II.
Ignátz bought a small house opposite his own and converted it
to serve as a synagogue. According to the Jewish tradition, some
prayers are valid only if at least ten adult males pray together. (What
a wise rule! It strengthens the community.) There were a little more
then ten Jews in Őcsény, so the synagogue could function according
to this rule.
Ignátz’s favorite horse was called Dongó. When Ignátz went to
the Gemenc Forest for wood, the horse knew how to get there. Ignátz
just sat on the driver’s seat of his carriage and soon fell asleep. He
woke up when the horse stopped. Dongó knew where to stop.
Ignátz’s sister was called Margit. She lived in Budapest with her
husband, a military officer. They did not have any children.
Jakab was Ignátz’s younger brother. He was a dressmaker who
specialized in fashionable women’s dresses and became rich. He had
his shop in Veres Pálné Street, in the middle of Budapest. He had two
daughters. The older one, the second Margit Deutsch, was an
exceptional beauty. She married a senior police officer. The younger
sister, Janka, married a doctor.
Ödön was another brother of Ignátz. He lived in Vienna, then
came back to Hungary and soon died.
Ignátz and Mária’s first child died in early childhood, but they
had five other children.

Margit (April 23, 1891- March 17,1933) was next; a beautiful
girl, and the third but most important Margit Deutsch from the point of
view of this story.
Mihály (Móric) (May 19, 1893 - 1944) was the strongest lad in
the entire region. When the older lads from the nearby mountains
came to the tavern to play cards and started to reach for their knives
to settle some argument, the mere sight of the 14-year-old Móric was
enough to return them to normal behavior. “We were just joking,
Uncle Móric,” they said to him. Once a traveling circus came to the
village. An acrobat held a 110-pound weight in his teeth and walked a
full circle in the circus ring. The ringmaster offered 50 korona (a lot of
money!) to anyone who could do the same. Móric took the weight
with his teeth, walked around three full circles, and refused to take
the money.
He was called to service when the First World War broke out.
After training, in 1915 he was sent to the Italian front, where he fought
bravely. Once he alone held the enemy back with a machine gun
while his battalion retreated, for which he was promoted to sergeant.
He was also quite unpredictable. When he was bored of the war, he
just mounted his horse and rode home for an unauthorized vacation,
after which he was demoted to private. According to some witnesses,
he repeated that stunt several times. At Isonzo he was wounded by a
shell splinter in his heel and taken prisoner by the Italians. He was
assigned to work at the estate of a countess, who fell in love with the
handsome, strong young man. At the end of the war she begged him
to stay with her, but Móric came back and married Szidónia (Szidi)
Wigizer (January 28, 1895 - 1944). They settled down in Decs and
started to produce and sell soda water in siphon bottles. They had
two children, Ilonka (1920) and Zoltán (Zoli, December 7, 1922). We
will meet them later.
Sándor, Ignátz and Mária’s next child, served in the First World
War, too. When Móric was called to service in 1914, Sándor joined
him as a volunteer. He lied that he was already 19 years old, so they
let him in. However, he was sent to the Eastern front. He was
captured by the Russians at Przemysl and spent several years as a
POW among Tartars. They taught him everything they knew about
horses. When he came back, he started to buy useless butacsirás
(crazy) horses that nobody could train. He beat them with a stick until
they “improved” so much that Sándor no longer needed any lashes.
The horses understood and obeyed his verbal commands. He could

also cure kehes (broken-winded) horses. He hated the Russians, but
when he was angry he always swore in Russian.
He married Rozi Boros, a beautiful Roman Catholic peasant
girl. He became a peasant himself, and most people did not even
know that he was Jewish. Their oldest son, Sándor, was an excellent
swimmer who drowned in three-foot deep water because of an
apparent heart attack at the age of 16. The remaining children: László
(Laci), Mariska (1930), Olga, and Ferenc (Feri, 1935) were all trained
to handle horses from very young age. Their house was in a street
that had been destroyed by fire, so it was called Égett (Burnt) Street.
Etel (1899-1944) was a very beautiful girl. Once Kohn, an old
friend of Ignátz from nearby Fadd, came to ask her hand for a friend.
Etel married Bernáth (Berci) Wigizer (1893-1944), a horse trader and
brother of Szidi. This is an example of the inbreeding of Jewish
families. In Őcsény and Decs every Jew was a relative of every other
Jew. Berci was well known all over the country in the horse trade. He
was a handsome man with a mustache who smoked a pipe. He had
another sister, Janka, who became the wife of Dezső Filler. Etel and
Berci had two beautiful daughters, Mária (1920-1944) and Erzsébet
Ödön, the youngest (1901-1951) became a furrier. He was
successful because he figured out that the lining of fur caps can be
made from waste fur. Later he managed to make even the outside of
hats from little pieces. He first sewed together the pieces and created
large fur “tablets.” The caps were then made from these tablets.
Later he started to sell his caps to village furriers, so his workshop
was like a factory.
Mária, their mother, was diabetic. She was in her late forties
when her condition demanded the amputation of her legs. She
refused and died in 1919. Ignátz ran his inn with the help of his
children. There was, however, another inn in the village. It was owned
by a widow who had two daughters, Fáni and Mári. Ignátz married
Fáni Frankfurter (1874-1944) in 1920.

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