This oral history interview with Eva Aigner and Les Aigner was conducted in two sessions in 2018. The interview was recorded for The Immigrant Story, an organization that documents and archives the stories of immigrants and refugees in the United States. The first session was conducted by Jim Lommasson and Sankar Raman. The second session was conducted by Elizabeth Mehren and Sankar Raman.
In the first session of this interview, Lommasson describes a recent exhibit he worked on called "What We Carried," and gives a copy of a related book to the Aigners. The Aigners discuss their work with the Holocaust Memorial Coalition and the Holocaust Memorial in Portland, Oregon. They also talk about the few personal possessions and photographs they still have from their lives before and during the Holocaust; Les Aigner's experience being sent to Dachau on the "death train"; and Eva Aigner's experience being rescued by her mother while awaiting execution along the Danube with her sister. Les Aigner also talks about his few months in Auschwitz, and they both discuss a trip they took to all the death camp sites, Auschwitz included. They then talk about scheduling for the next interview session and make small talk.
In the second session, the Aigners discuss their work educating the public about the Holocaust. They talk about the circumstances that led to the Holocaust, including the increasing anti-Semitism they experienced. They also talk about life in post-war Communist Hungary. Les Aigner describes his experience in Auschwitz, including the deaths of his mother and sister in the gas chambers; describes returning to Auschwitz on a recent trip; and discusses his liberation from Dachau in 1945. Eva Aigner talks about living in the Jewish ghetto in Budapest, Hungary, her mother's escape from the freight train taking her to a death camp; and the liberation of the ghetto in 1945. Eva Aigner also talks about another unnamed Holocaust survivor's story.
The Aigners describe life in post-war Communist Hungary, including food shortages during the 1956 revolution and their decision to flee. They describe escaping to Austria on Christmas Eve of 1956, immigrating to the United States, and settling in Portland, Oregon. They warn that the Holocaust could happen again, and discuss current political issues that alarm them. They talk about the jobs they worked in Portland, and Eva speaks at length about working as a cosmetologist. They close the interview by discussing the importance of sharing stories like theirs.