'Live Here' to detail the life and bravery of a Hungarian woman during the Holocaust

Posted by Chip Chandler on
Family members and others honor the late Maria Madi.
Courtesy Steve Walton

By Karen Welch — Digital Content Producer

“This diary would be enough to hang me five times a week.”

The year was 1944, and the author writing that diary entry was Maria Madi, a Hungarian doctor who hid her Jewish friend and the woman’s nephew during the Nazi occupation of Budapest.

Madi started the diary in 1941 as an open letter, of sorts, to her daughter, an American immigrant she wasn’t sure she would ever see again. Because they were written in English, the 16 notebooks that comprise the journal are unique among the artifacts of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — donated by Madi’s grandson, Amarillo resident Steve Walton.

We speak to Walton and his wife, Martha, for a special episode of Live Here about Madi, airing at 7 p.m. Thursday on Panhandle PBS.

We also interview Alfred Lakos, the boy — now in his seventies — about his memories of the Holocaust and Madi's bravery.

Last year, Madi was honored posthumously with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. It’s a rare designation. Madi, who became an American citizen in 1952, is among fewer than 840 Hungarians to be recognized with the title and medal, according to the Yad Vashem website.

In the photo above, Walton, center with microphone; Lakos, second from left; and Walton’s sister, Barbara Blankinship, participate in a 2016 ceremony honoring Madi.

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