The Holocaust Educational Trust is deeply saddened to learn of the loss of our friend Edgar Guest.

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“Edgar Guest was born in Hungary in 1930. In 1944, when Edgar was 14, the Nazis occupied Hungary and his life would change forever. Conditions quickly deteriorated, and Edgar’s family were forced to move to the Budapest ghetto. Food was scarce – to secure extra rations, and ensure his survival, Edgar worked to clear corpses from the streets. Edgar, his parents and sister managed to survive the Holocaust, but they were a minority. Many of Edgar’s family members were deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered.

After the war, Edgar attempted to rebuild his life in Hungary, attending secondary school and University, but he continued to face antisemitism and in 1956 he fled to England. Edgar settled here, started a family and made a life for himself. In his later years he dedicated his time to speaking out about his experience during the Holocaust.

The impact Edgar had on students over the last few years is immeasurable and we are indebted to him for his tireless efforts to ensure that young people understand the human history of the Holocaust. For every student that Edgar reached, we know that another person understands that when we talk about the Holocaust we are talking about real people, with real families, and real suffering.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time. We will continue to share Edgar’s story with people across the country for years to come, ensuring that his legacy is never forgotten.”

Edgar and his family lived in a one bedroom flat in the downmarket seventh district of Budapest. In 1938 the family converted to Roman Catholicism and in 1940, Edgar was admitted to the elite Cistercian Catholic secondary school. His sister was born in the same year.

In 1941 Hungary entered the Second World War as a close ally of Nazi Germany. Soon after, Edgar and his family were re-classified from a Hungarian Catholics into “alien Jews” deprived of most civil rights. For the majority of the following three years Edgar’s father was away from home with a Labour Service Company, a battalion of Jews used as forced labour on the Eastern Front, and the family had to manage without his income.

During 1944 over 430,000 Jews from the provinces, including some of Edgar’s close relatives, were deported to Auschwitz. The concentration of the Budapest Jews began in May 1944 with the forced removal of Jews into some 1800 ‘yellow-star’ buildings assigned to Jewish families. Edgar’s small flat had to accommodate other Jewish families too. In November his family was evicted from their overcrowded house, as it had been re-classified as an ‘Aryans only’ residence.

Edgar’s father managed to rejoin the family and obtained a Schutz-Pass confirming that they were under the protection of the Vatican State. The family moved to a Vatican protected house in the International Ghetto area where they stayed under virtual house arrest until a group of armed Hungarian Arrow Cross fascists arrived and forced the occupants to march towards the railway station where they were to be deported. Halfway there they were given new orders and were made to enter the main ghetto. Edgar’s family was allocated a corner in an already overcrowded room on the ground floor of a block of flats.

The only food available in the ghetto was what the five soup kitchens provided, and this was limited to less than 800 calories a day per person. Having volunteered to collect dead bodies from the streets and transport them to the morgue, Edgar was given an extra cupful of soup a day. The Soviet forces liberated the Ghetto on the 17th and 18th January 1945. Edgar and his family could move back to their original home.

Edgar arrived in England on the 5th December 1956. He graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1958. Edgar and his English girlfriend were married in 1960 and had three sons, three daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.