• Marta Beér (1925-2017)

    Date posted:

    • Post Author

      Philip Sharman

      IFRF Director

We are sure that many of you that have been involved with IFRF or AFRC over the years will be sad to learn that Marta, wife of János (John) M Beer (Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Fuels Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Head of the IFRF Research Station in IJmuiden and IFRF Superintendent of Research), passed away on 20th August aged 92.  Marta was a familiar face at IFRF Conferences, AFRC Member Meetings/Symposia and AICh Clearwater Clean Coal Conferences, and will be missed by many at these events.

Marta (born Marta G Csato in 1925) married János in 1944 in war-torn Budapest, Hungary.  Both being of Jewish descent, these were very dangerous times in Hungary, with the German SS and Hungarian Arrow Cross Party ramping-up the deportation of Jews to German concentration camps.  With Marta’s full support, János worked with Swede Raoul Wallenberg, rescuing Jews with Swedish connections and taking them to the Swedish Legation in Budapest and a string of Legation safe houses.  Marta and János lived in the Swedish Legation for a while, with János helping Raoul Wallenberg on numerous daring rescue missions (including securing the release of holders of Swedish-protection documents – ‘Schutzpass’ – from railway wagons waiting to depart for Germany), or leading numerous forays into the Jewish Ghetto in Budapest (rescuing about 70 Jewish Schutzpass holders).  Raoul Wallenberg – ably supported by incredibly brave people like Marta and János – is widely celebrated for rescuing tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary up until the Russian Red Army lay siege to Budapest in late 1944 and early 1945.

Marta and János fled Hungary in November 1956 after Russian tanks crushed the 1956 Hungarian revolution, settling initially in Sheffield in the UK (János became a long-standing professor at the University of Sheffield) and then in Winchester, Massachusetts in the USA.  What an amazing life.

Our condolences go to János and the Beér family at this sad time.