People have to be treated equally, or many people might suffer. -Sharon L., 5th grade

April 1937 -  Judit Greenfield is born in Budapest, the capital city in the European country of Hungary, an only child. The family's teenage family housekeeper, Maria Babar, helps to take care of little Judy, and they bond quickly.


March 19, 1944 -  The German army enters Hungary.  Judy and her family must wear a yellow star sewn on their clothing to show they are Jewish, marking them as different. Maria is not Jewish, so she doesn't have to wear a star.  She now works as a secretary for the Hungarian Ministry of Defense, but still visits Judy often.


April 1944 -  Judy's family knows that most of Europe's Jewish people were deported from their countries, and realizes the Hungarian Jewish people face the same threat.  Unsure of what will happen, they think it will be safer to hide Judy. Maria promises Judy's parents that whatever happens, she will protect Judy.  She finds safe places for Judy and six other people in her family, saving their lives. With the help of false documents (birth certificate and baptism certificate), seven-year-old Judy's new name becomes 'Ilona Papp'.  This new non-Jewish identity allows Judy to be hidden in a convent with other children.  Judy spends the spring and summer in the country with nuns and other boys and girls (many Jewish), learning Catholic rituals.  Judy's parents are taken away by train to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with many other Jewish people. 


October 16, 1944 - The Arrow Cross Party takes over the government of Hungary.  The Arrow Cross is pro-German and enforces strict anti-Jewish laws.  At the same time, Soviet and Romanian forces are in the Hungarian countryside, with plans to liberate Hungary.  As the war comes closer, Maria decides it would be safer to take Judy from the convent to hide in her apartment in Budapest.  Judy is reunited with her aunt and grandmother, also being hidden by Maria.                    


December 1944 -   The Soviet Red Army reach the city of Budapest.  The Battle of Budapest begins in the streets of the city.  The Hungarians and Germans battle against the Red Army. Judy, Maria, her aunt and grandmother and others leave their apartments to take shelter in the basement from the bombing, shooting and fighting from house to house.  Arrow Cross soldiers find them and march them towards the Danube River.  If there is suspicion of Jewish people in the group, they would be shot, their bodies falling into the frozen river.  Everyone’s false papers are in order, but soldiers think Judy “looks Jewish.”  Judy recites prayers she learned in the convent, shows the soldiers her rosary beads and fools them.  The group is allowed to return to their shelter.



Between April 1944 and January 1945, more than 75% of Hungarian Jewish people were wiped out between deportation, forced labor and execution.


February 13, 1945 - Soviet troops enter the basement shelter where Judy and Maria are hiding, and declare that the war is over.  Jewish people will no longer be persecuted. Judy stays with different family members who have survived the war.  She writes poetry and waits, hoping her parents return. She can be Judy Greenfield again.


Fall 1945 -   Judy is reunited with her parents.  They were part of the fortunate few who survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. 


Everyone slowly puts their lives back together.




At 12 years old, Judy's family moved to Canada to begin their new life.  She later became a teacher, got married, had children, and moved to New York with her husband and two sons.  Judy taught at the United Nations International School in New York City for many years, until she decided to retire. Her passions now include traveling, visiting her grandson in Canada, and connecting with other past hidden children, to tell their stories. 


Judy continues to tutor children of all backgrounds, colors and religions.



Maria also left Hungary, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, California.  Judy and her family always kept in touch with her.  In 1995, she received an award as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, honoring her heroism and bravery in saving many Jewish people. 


Maria died in 2004, but will always be remembered. Her name is permanently inscribed on a wall at Yad Vashem in Israel; the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.  Maria always insisted that every person on earth has the right to a dignified life.


Judy, age 7, before hiding

Maria, after the war