“My grandfather walked over from Buda to Pest, to Falk Miksa Street, to visit his sister Kamilla, who lived there with her daughter Klárika – her three sons had been already taken to forced labor – in a yellow-star house. As soon as he entered, they sat down to play four hands. It was indeed characteristic for the family that anyone could sit down with anyone at any time to play four hands. They played operettas, arias, but also more serious genres. And time flew while playing, and it was already past 5 p.m., past the time when a Jew was allowed to go out on the street. «Come on, what can go wrong?», my grandfather said, «They will not care about an old Jew!» It did not happen like this. In late November, just as he had walked out, in a thin coat, in shoes with holes, he was driven on foot to Deutschkreuz in Austria.”

The double house at Keleti Károly Street 29-31 was designed in 1909 by the greatest architectural duo of the Hungarian Art Nouveau, Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab. The two street-front wings designed as apartment buildings, and the house higher up, in the bottom of the garden, for their families. “In order that their legendary co-operation would not be disturbed by anything, they clearly separated everything”, recalls Marcell Komor’s grandson, Tamás Székely, an engineer himself. “On the left side was the Komor apartment building, and on the right the Jakab one. In the upper house, to the left the Komor flat, to the right the Jakab, with separate entrances, separate staircases. Only the Komor office and Jakab office on the first floor were tied together with a single door. On the street front once stood a huge carved gate, with two little gates: the Komor gate to the left, and the Jakab to the right. And we always entered and left through the Komor gate, and the Jakab family always through the Jakab gate, and I do not remember any case when it happened otherwise.”

The sole exception is the photo, which was probably taken shortly after the building of the house. In this picture, Marcell Komor sits at the right side of the house, on the Jakab bench, with his daughter Anna.

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“Only the left side of the building, the Komor house was declared a yellow-star house, the Jakab house was not. A lot of people moved into the house, both acquaintances and strangers. My grandfather stayed there, facing the situation with dignity and calmness.”

The Komor house was hit by a bomb at the end of January 1945, just two weeks before the end of the siege of Budapest. The upper part, the apartment of the Komor family completely burnt down. But the house was plundered long before.

“On 19 March 1944, some German officers came to the Komor-Jakab house, which of course was full of valuables, antiques, sculptures, paintings.
In 1944 Dezső Jakab did not live any more, Marcell Komor was still alive.
Jakab’s widow, Irén Schreiber, * let in the extremely polite and elegant officers, who had crossed the Hungarian border on that morning.
As the old lady had no doubts about the purpose of the visit of the officers, she immediately offered to guide them through the flat, and list the valuables.
The soldiers, however, politely declined this, saying that they have many more places to visit on that day. They only took out a sheet of paper, with the exact and detailed list of all the valuables in the house, down to the last tiny picture frame. At the end of the list a few lines announced that the German National Bank would pay for it all, as soon as the war was over. «Sign here, please», said the schneidig soldiers, who, having accomplished their mission in the Komor flat, moved on.”

Iván Bächer: “Komorok. Egy pesti polgárcsalád históriájából”
(The Komors. From the history of a middle-class family in Budapest), Budapesti Negyed 1996/4

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“I did not stay at home then. I was eighteen, and I served the homeland far away from here. Only after my return home did I get to know what happened. I asked one of my grandfather’s colleagues, an architect, who was carried away together with him as far as Deutschkreuz, although he managed to come home. I asked him about how my grandfather died. He did not want to speak about it at all. Only after a long time did he say, that it was horrible, that it was quite horrible. I did not get to know more about it.”

Brahms: 5th Hungarian dance for piano four-hands. Mirka Lachowska and Edgar Wiersocki, 2008