Remembering Éva Székely who passed away at 92

Sun, 03/08/2020 - 11:10am

The Institute is sad to learn that world champion swimmer and Holocaust survivor Éva Székely passed away at 92.

Born in 1927 in Budapest, Hungary, Éva Székely excelled early as a swimmer, winning several local competitions. However, in 1941, Éva was not allowed to compete because she was Jewish. She survived the war by going into hiding in a safe-house in Budapest run by the Swiss. After the war, she returned to competitive swimming, eventually winning gold at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. While participating at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Éva learned that Soviet forces invaded her country to suppress the Hungarian Revolution. Despite her anxiety about the fate of her family back home, she won a silver medal.

Éva went on to coach her own her daughter, Andrea Gyarmati, a member the Hungarian women's swimming team at the Munich 1972 Olympics. Andrea won a silver medal there. While at the Munich Olympics, Éva was present during the hostage crisis that ended with the death of eleven members of the Israeli team. In fact, the night before, she spoke with the team’s head coach who was the first to be murdered, a moment she recalls in her testimony.

The Institute recorded Éva’s testimony in 1999. Her story has been used for educational resources in the Institute’s IWitness platform and in teacher training programs in Hungary. Through her testimony, her memory will live on in perpetuity.

Eva Szekely on a Chance Encounter

Eva Szekely shares the incredible story of how she unexpectedly met the same Arrow Cross member who spared her from being shot into the Danube River as a child years later at a swimming competiton.

Éva Székely recalls the 1972 Olympics in Munich

In this clip, Éva Székely recall meeting the trainer for the Israeli wrestling team during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, the night before the Israeli delegation were held hostage.