Eva Gray's amazing story of survival
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —
On April 6, 1941, the Axis forces invaded Yugoslavia. Eva Gray was a young girl living on her parents farm.
"They took over," Eva Gray said. "They made the young boys go in the Army, and if they don't go they'd shoot them right there on the street."
Mrs. Gray says they forced her brother into the German Army. Eva and her parents fled to Budapest. They left their home, but they couldn't run away from the war.
"They tried to bomb a German factory up there. They bombed everything, but that German factory and they killed a lot of people," Mrs. Gray said.
When Eva was fourteen her parents were killed in a bombing in Hungary. In just a few years her entire immediate family was gone. She went to live with an aunt in Austria, and things were better there for a while until she and a friend went to a movie one afternoon.
"There was a Colonel'" Mrs. Gray said. "He said heil Hitler. I said good day. Of course I was a little brat at the time. I was about fifteen or sixteen. You know how young girls do? He said, 'I said heil Hitler', and me and her both said good day. He said I think I will learn these girls a lesson. He said get in the car."
They put them in a concentration camp and kept them there for months. She barely ate, and witnessed horrible things she remembers clearly almost 75 years later.
"I seen them line up men, Jewish men, naked and shoot them down," Mrs. Gray said.
She says they eventually let her go because her brother was serving in the German Army. She went back to Austria until the war was over.
"We were so glad to see the Americans coming in instead of the Russians. We were afraid the Russians might come in before the Americans," Mrs. Gray said. "I've been through all that war. I say people don't realize what really war is."
When the Americans got there she met Porter Gray. He was a soldier from North Georgia. They got married when Eva was eighteen, and they moved to the United States.
"The first thing I see was the Statue of Liberty. She looked so pretty down in that water," Mrs. Gray said. "I was so glad I was in America."
She came to North Georgia in 1947, and she's never been back. She became a U.S. citizen in 1957. She and her husband had 9 children.