T O P I C
The first Jews living on what is today Hungarian territory were inhabitants of the Roman province Pannonia and settled there in the 2nd century CE. In 1251, Béla IV published the Jewish charter, which was later confirmed by all medieval kings of Hungary. In practice, the charter put all Jews under royal protection. Large numbers of Jews moved to the growing cities in the 15th century.
Hungary was ruled by the Ottoman Turks from 1541-1699. Life was peaceful as long as the various ethnic groups paid taxes. With their expulsion many formerly prosperous Jews emigrated or fell victim to rampages so most had left toward the end of the 17th century.
In the 18th century, German-speaking (Ashkenazi) Jews arrived primarily from Czech and German territories. The Jewish population of around 20,000 in 1769 had grown to 80,000 by 1787. The end of the 18th century saw the first conflicts between Christians and Jews.
The 19th century was for many Jews a time of assimilation and emancipation. A small number of wealthy, urban families were the main representatives of Hungarian Jewry during that period. However, from the 1830s, poorer eastern European Jews began moving to the country in greater numbers. Many Hungarian Jews took part in the 1848/49 revolution, and their social and economic standing rose.
In 1867, Hungarian Jews were granted the same political and civil rights as Christians. During that time, Reform Judaism was born. In Reform synagogues, Hungarian was used as the primary language for religious services. The liberal atmosphere of the late 19th century led to assimilation and, at the turn of the century, many Jews chose Hungarian or German spouses or had their children baptized as Christians.
After the defeat and dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Hungarian Jewry—including many members of the Orthodox and Chassidic communities—suddenly found themselves living within the borders of Czechoslovakia, Romania, or Yugoslavia.
According to a 1941 census, 6.2 percent of the Hungarian population of 13,644,000, i.e., 846,000, were considered Jewish according to the racial laws in place at that time. 725,000 of them were identified as Jewish by religion:
Large-scale deportation to the Nazi death camps began after German troops occupied Hungary in March 1944, Up to 600,000 Jews from "Greater Hungary" perished in the Shoah. 844 people have been declared ‘Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. Four stories as described by Yad Vashem are told in the text and the story of Rudolf Kasner who paid a major ransom for Jews to escape by train, later became a Minister in Israel where he was assassinated in 1957. An Israeli court found him guily of having collaborated with the Nazis. He was later cleared by the Israel Supreme Court and by Yad Vashem.
The Hungarian Gold Train carried stolen valuables, mostly Hungarian Jewish persons' property, from Hungary towards Berlin in 1945. After American forces seized the train in Austria, almost none of the valuables were returned to Hungary, their rightful owners, or their surviving family members and led to the US paying reparations.
The story is also told of the Tiszaeszlár (Blood Libel) Afair, 1882-3 which is still told in Hungary
The World Jewish Congresss estimates that there are between 35,000-100,000 Jews in Hungary with 80% living in Budapest.
From World Jewish Congress
The first Jews living on what is today Hungarian territory were inhabitants of the Roman province Pannonia and settled there in the 2nd century CE. Three legions were sent to Judea from Pannonia to beat the revolt (132–135) led by Bar Kochba. The victorious troops brought Jewish slaves to Aquincum (today the northwestern part of Budapest) and Savaria (Szombathely). Apart from the slaves, Jewish merchants from Rome are also assumed to have travelled to Pannonia.
Written documents from the time of the formation of the Hungarian state prove the existence of Jewish communities. In 1251, Béla IV published the Jewish charter, which was later confirmed by all medieval kings of Hungary. In practice, the charter put all Jews under royal protection.
Large numbers of Jews moved to the growing cities in the 15th century; the first "historical communities" were formed at that time (Buda, Esztergom, Sopron, Tata, Óbuda).
After the annexation of Hungary by the Ottoman Turks, life was peaceful as long as the various ethnic groups paid taxes. With the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks, many formerly prosperous Jews moved out of the country or fell victim to murderous rampages. Hence, Jews all but disappeared from Hungary toward the end of the 17th century.
In the 18th century, German-speaking (Ashkenazi) Jews arrived in Hungary, primarily from Czech and German territories. The Jewish population of Hungary stood at around 20,000 in 1769 and increased to 80,000 by 1787. By the end of the 18th century, the first conflicts emerged between Christians and Jews.
The 19th century was for many Jews a time of assimilation and emancipation. A small number of wealthy, urban families were the main representatives of Hungarian Jewry during that period. However, from the 1830s, poorer eastern European Jews began moving to the country in greater numbers. Many Hungarian Jews took part in the 1848/49 revolution, and their social and economic standing rose.
In 1867, Hungarian Jews were granted the same political and civil rights as Christians. During that time, Reform Judaism was born. In Reform synagogues, Hungarian was used as the primary language for religious services.
The liberal atmosphere of the late 19th century led to assimilation and, at the turn of the century, many Jews chose Hungarian or German spouses or had their children baptized as Christians. In successive years, Jews made enormous contributions to the development of Hungarian culture, science and industry, and played a particularly outstanding role in Hungarian sports. For example, in the first five Olympic Games, Jews accounted for 5 out of the 9 gold medals awarded to Hungarian athletes. As late as the period of 1960–1972, though the Jewish population had been greatly depleted by the Shoah and the emigration of survivors, Jews still accounted for nearly 20% of Hungarian gold medals.
In terms of economic development, the Manfred Weiss Works, named for its Jewish founder, became the largest machine and munitions factory in Hungary. The company eventually employed tens of thousands of workers at its vast plant in Csepel, Budapest and exported its products all over the world.
After the defeat and dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Hungarian Jewry—including many members of the Orthodox and Chassidic communities—suddenly found themselves living within the borders of Czechoslovakia, Romania, or Yugoslavia. In 1919, when the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic (in which Hungarian Communists of Jewish origin were depicted as a foreign menace) collapsed, a period of "White Terror" ensued, during which some 3,000 Jews were murdered.
In the 1920s, the situation became more stable, but by the late 1930s, the first of a series of anti-Semitic laws was enacted, restricting socioeconomic activities of Jews in Hungary.
According to a 1941 census, 6.2 percent of the Hungarian population of 13,644,000, i.e., 846,000, were considered Jewish according to the racial laws in place at that time. 725,000 of them were identified as Jewish by religion: 184,000 in Budapest, 217,000 in the pre-1938 provinces, and a total of 324,000 in Northern Transylvania, Carpatho-Ruthenia, southern Slovakia and Bácska—territories seized from neighboring countries.
Large-scale deportation to the Nazi death camps began after German troops occupied Hungary in March 1944, but even though deportations began so late in the war, they were carried out with frightening speed. Up to 600,000 Jews from "Greater Hungary" perished in the Shoah.
How was it possible, in 1944, where millions of Jews had already been murdered, that such a large Jewish community could continue to live in tranquility? Read Dr. Jehuda Hartman, Jerusalem Post, 28 April 2014
RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS
‘WHAT IS ‘RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS’?
The Righteous Among the Nations, honored by by Yad Vashem, are non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. Rescue took many forms and the Righteous came from different nations, religions and walks of life. What they had in common was that they protected their Jewish neighbors at a time when hostility and indifference prevailed.
Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations
"I believe that it was really due to Lorenzo that I am alive today; and not so much for his material aid, as for his having constantly reminded me by his presence… that there still existed a just world outside our own, something and someone still pure and whole… for which it was worth surviving"
Primo Levi describes his rescuer, Lorenzo Perrone (If This Is A Man)
Attitudes towards the Jews during the Holocaust mostly ranged from indifference to hostility. The mainstream watched as their former neighbors were rounded up and killed; some collaborated with the perpetrators; many benefited from the expropriation of the Jews property.
In a world of total moral collapse there was a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values. These were the Righteous Among the Nations. They stand in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed during the Holocaust. Contrary to the general trend, these rescuers regarded the Jews as fellow human beings who came within the bounds of their universe of obligation.
Most rescuers started off as bystanders. In many cases this happened when they were confronted with the deportation or the killing of the Jews. Some had stood by in the early stages of persecution, when the rights of Jews were restricted and their property confiscated, but there was a point when they decided to act, a boundary they were not willing to cross. Unlike others, they did not fall into a pattern of acquiescing to the escalating measures against the Jews.
In many cases it was the Jews who turned to the non-Jew for help. It was not only the rescuers who demonstrated resourcefulness and courage, but also the Jews who fought for their survival. Wolfgang Benz, who did extensive research on rescue of Jews during the Holocaust claims that when listening to rescue stories, the rescued persons may seem to be only objects for care and charity, however “the attempt to survive in illegality was before anything else a self-assertion and an act of Jewish resistance against the Nazi regime. Only few were successful in this resistance”.
Faced with Jews knocking on their door, bystanders were faced with the need to make an instant decision. This was usually an instinctive human gesture, taken on the spur of the moment and only then to be followed by a moral choice. Often it was a gradual process, with the rescuers becoming increasingly involved in helping the persecuted Jews. Agreeing to hide someone during a raid or roundup - to provide shelter for a day or two until something else could be found – would evolve into a rescue that lasted months and years.
The price that rescuers had to pay for their action differed from one country to another. In Eastern Europe, the Germans executed not only the people who sheltered Jews, but their entire family as well. Notices warning the population against helping the Jews were posted everywhere. Generally speaking punishment was less severe in Western Europe, although there too the consequences could be formidable and some of the Righteous Among the Nations were incarcerated in camps and killed. Moreover, seeing the brutal treatment of the Jews and the determination on the part of the perpetrators to hunt down every single Jew, people must have feared that they would suffer greatly if they attempted to help the persecuted. In consequence, rescuers and rescued lived under constant fear of being caught; there was always the danger of denunciation by neighbors or collaborators. This increased the risk and made it more difficult for ordinary people to defy the conventions and rules. Those who decided to shelter Jews had to sacrifice their normal lives and to embark upon a clandestine existence – often against the accepted norms of the society in which they lived, in fear of their neighbors and friends – and to accept a life ruled by dread of denunciation and capture.
Most rescuers were ordinary people. Some acted out of political, ideological or religious convictions; others were not idealists, but merely human beings who cared about the people around them. In many cases they never planned to become rescuers and were totally unprepared for the moment in which they had to make such a far-reaching decision. They were ordinary human beings, and it is precisely their humanity that touches us and should serve as a model. The Righteous are Christians from all denominations and churches, Muslims and agnostics; men and women of all ages; they come from all walks of life; highly educated people as well as illiterate peasants; public figures as well as people from society's margins; city dwellers and farmers from the remotest corners of Europe; university professors, teachers, physicians, clergy, nuns, diplomats, simple workers, servants, resistance fighters, policemen, peasants, fishermen, a zoo director, a circus owner, and many more.
Scholars have attempted to trace the characteristics that these Righteous share and to identify who was more likely to extend help to the Jews or to a persecuted person. Some claim that the Righteous are a diverse group and the only common denominator are the humanity and courage they displayed by standing up for their moral principles. Samuel P. Oliner and Pearl M. Oliner defined the altruistic personality. By comparing and contrasting rescuers and bystanders during the Holocaust, they pointed out that those who intervened were distinguished by characteristics such as empathy and a sense of connection to others. Nehama Tec who also studied many cases of Righteous, found a cluster of shared characteristics and conditions of separateness, individuality or marginality. The rescuers’ independence enabled them to act against the accepted conventions and beliefs.
Bystanders were the rule, rescuers were the exception. However difficult and frightening, the fact that some found the courage to become rescuers demonstrates that some freedom of choice existed, and that saving Jews was not beyond the capacity of ordinary people throughout occupied Europe. The Righteous Among the Nations teach us that every person can make a difference.
There were different degrees of help: some people gave food to Jews, thrusting an apple into their pocket or leaving food where they would pass on their way to work. Others directed Jews to people who could help them; some sheltered Jews for one night and told them they would have to leave in the morning. Only few assumed the entire responsibility for the Jews’ survival. It is mostly the last group that qualifies for the title of the Righteous Among the Nations.
The main forms of help extended by the Righteous Among the Nations:
Hiding Jews in the rescuers' home or on their property. In the rural areas in Eastern Europe hideouts or bunkers, as they were called, were dug under houses, cowsheds, barns, where the Jews would be concealed from sight. In addition to the threat of death that hung over the Jews' heads, physical conditions in such dark, cold, airless and crowded places over long periods of time were very hard to bear. The rescuers, whose life was terrorized too, would undertake to provide food – not an easy feat for poor families in wartime – removing the excrements, and taking care of all their wards' needs. Jews were also hidden in attics, hideouts in the forest, and in any place that could provide shelter and concealment, such as a cemetery, sewers, animal cages in a zoo, etc. Sometimes the hiding Jews were presented as non-Jews, as relatives or adopted children. Jews were also hidden in apartments in cities, and children were placed in convents with the nuns concealing their true identity. In Western Europe Jews were mostly hidden in houses, farms or convents.
Providing false papers and false identities - in order for Jews to assume the identity of non-Jews they needed false papers and assistance in establishing an existence under an assumed identity. Rescuers in this case would be forgers or officials who produced false documents, clergy who faked baptism certificates, and some foreign diplomats who issued visas or passports contrary to their country's instructions and policy. Diplomats in Budapest in late 1944 issued protective papers and hung their countries flags over whole buildings, so as to put Jews under their country's diplomatic immunity. Some German rescuers, like Oskar Schindler, used deceitful pretexts to protect their workers from deportation claiming the Jews were required by the army for the war effort.
Smuggling and assisting Jews to escape – some rescuers helped Jews get out of a zone of special danger in order to escape to a less dangerous location. Smuggling Jews out of ghettos and prisons, helping them cross borders into unoccupied countries or into areas where the persecution was less intense, for example to neutral Switzerland, into Italian controlled parts where there were no deportations, or Hungary before the German occupation in March 1944.
The rescue of children - parents were faced with agonizing dilemmas to separate from their children and give them away in the hope of increasing their chances of survival. In some cases children who were left alone after their parents had been killed would be taken in by families or convents. In many cases it was individuals who decided to take in a child; in other cases and in some countries, especially Poland, Belgium, Holland and France, there were underground organizations that found homes for children, provided the necessary funds, food and medication, and made sure that the children were well cared for.
RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS’ IN HUNGARY
Yad Vashem have honoured 844 people as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’
* The title of Righteous is awarded to individuals, not to groups. The members of the Danish resistance viewed the rescue operation as a collective act and therefore asked Yad Vashem not to recognize resistance members individually. Yad Vashem respected their request and consequently the number of Danish Righteous is relatively small. A tree was planted on the Mount of Remembrance to commemorate the Danish resistance.
The question is often asked what can be learned from the numbers of Righteous and from the proportions between different nations about attitudes and the scope of rescue in the respective countries.
It needs to be noted that the numbers of Righteous recognized do not reflect the full extent of help given by non-Jews to Jews during the Holocaust; they are rather based on the material and documentation that was made available to Yad Vashem. Most Righteous were recognized following requests made by the rescued Jews. Sometimes survivors could not overcome the difficulty of grappling with the painful past and didn’t come forward; others weren’t aware of the program or couldn’t apply, especially people who lived behind the Iron Curtain during the years of Communist regime in Eastern Europe; other survivors died before they could make the request. An additional factor is that most cases that are recognized represent successful attempts; the Jews survived and came forward to tell Yad Vashem about them.
For example: Researchers estimate that 5000-7,000 Jews went underground in Berlin. They are the so-called U-Boote (submarines), who made the difficult choice to enter an illegal existence rather than be deported. Only a quarter of them – around 1200-1500 Jews – survived. It is unknown how many were killed in the bombing of Berlin, but all the others were caught and deported. For lack of information and evidence, not all the Germans who risked their lives to help these Jews were honored.
STORIES OF SOME ‘RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS’
A Swedish Rescuer in Budapest
After the occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944, the Swedish degation launched a rescue operation to save Jews from being deported to the death camps. The newly created American War Refugee Board decided to work with the Swedish government in order to help Hungary’s Jews. Soon the Swedish legation in Budapest reported that they were under enormous pressure of Jews seeking protection in the form of passports or visas. They asked to send a special envoy whose principal task would be to deal with passports. It was decided to appoint Raoul Wallenberg as secretary in the Swedish Embassy in Budapest with full diplomatic privileges. Before leaving, Wallenberg asked to be given a free hand and authorization to meet with Hungary’s leaders.
Wallenberg was born in 1912 to a prominent aristocratic banking family. He studied architecture in the United States before joining his family’s business. In the early 1940’s he made several business trips to Nazi occupied countries, including Hungary. This made him become a witness to Nazi Germany’s policies.
Wallenberg arrived in the Hungarian capital on 9 July 1944 with a list of Jews whom he was to help and 650 protective passports for Jews who had some connection with Sweden. However he soon widened the scope of his work and began to issue thousands of protective letters and to purchase houses which he put under the Swedish flag thus making them ex-territorial, and where he housed Jews for extra protection. The protective letter authorized its holder to travel to Sweden or to any of the other country Sweden represented. About 4,500 Jews had these papers, which protected them from forced labor and exempted them from wearing the yellow star.
In October 1944, the situation in Budapest took a turn for the worse. Although the Red Army was already approaching, the fascist "Arrow Cross" seized power and established a reign of terror. Jews were being killed in the streets; others were dragged to the Danube river where they were shot or drowned in the freezing water. The number of Jews with protective papers quickly rose. Wallenberg used unconventional methods, including bribery and blackmail, in order to finance and run his huge rescue operation. He soon employed approximately 340 people in his office. In view of the grave situation, he began to issue protective papers without distinction, and had 32 buildings protected by Sweden, with 2 hospitals, and a soup kitchen. Wallenberg together with other legations and international organizations set up the international ghetto, protected by the neutral countries. Jewish youngsters who looked "Aryan" served as guards; some of them were especially bold and wore "Arrow Cross" uniforms.
With the establishment of the Arrow Cross rule, Eichmann returned to Budapest on 17 October 1944, and immediately ordered the deportation of the city’s Jews. The protective letters were declared null and void. After protests by Wallenberg and his colleagues, they were reinstated, although it should be noted that the Arrow Cross regime had little respect for documents and legalities. The plan to deport the Jews to the camps was paralyzed for other reasons – the railway lines were too close to the front. Not wanting to give up, Adolf Eichmann ordered a "death march" of tens of thousands of persons to the Austrian border. Wallenberg and representatives of other neutral countries followed the marchers in their vehicles, and distributed food, clothing and medications. He was able to extricate many Jews from the death march by claiming that they were his "protected" Jews. He continued to distribute passes even when the Arrow Cross guards threatened him with their guns.
Wallenberg’s bold methods put him in great danger, but he never thought of stopping. He remained in the city during the Soviet siege of Budapest with the "protected" Jews and threatened the German commander and the Arrow Cross leader not to go through with the idea to harm the remaining Jews. Before the Soviets entered the city, he told Per Anger, his colleague in the Swedish legation: “I’ve taken on this assignment, and I will never be able to go back to Stockholm without knowing inside myself that I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible”.
When the Soviets entered the city, Wallenberg was taken away by Russian soldiers supposedly to meet with the top Soviet general Malinovsky. This was on 17 January 1945. He must have felt danger, because as he was led to the Russian vehicle he said: “I don’t know whether I am being taken as a guest of the Soviets or as their prisoner”. Wallenberg, who was 32 years old at the time, was never seen again. In the first years after his disappearance, the Soviets claimed that they had no knowledge of a person named Wallenberg. Nevertheless, people who were incarcerated in Soviet prisons claimed that they had met him in various prisons. In 1956, the Soviets finally stated that he had died in prison in 1947.
The Soviet announcement was greeted with skepticism in the free world. In 1989 Wallenberg’s diplomatic passport, cigarette case and other items came to light in the basement of the KGB headquarters in Moscow and were returned to his family. Yielding to political pressure a Russian-Swedish working group was created, and its findings were submitted in 2000. By now 55 years had passed since his disappearance. The working group confirmed that Wallenberg had probably died in prison in 1947; no definite conclusion had been reached as to the circumstances of his arrest, death and the Soviet regime’s refusal to reveal the details of his fate.
On November 26, 1963, Yad Vashem recognized Raoul Wallenberg as
Righteous Among the Nations.
His mother asked not to receive the honors in his name, believing that her son would one day return. Only after her death, in 1979, was a tree was planted in Wallenberg’s honor in the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. In 1987 Wallenberg was awarded honorary Israeli citizenship. He was also awarded honorary American citizenship by the United States Congress. This motion was promoted by Congressman Tom Lantos, whose life was saved by Wallenberg. In his address, delivered by his daughter at the UN Holocaust remembrance events in January 2008, Lantos paid tribute to Wallenberg: "During the Nazi occupation, this heroic young diplomat left behind the comfort and safety of Stockholm to rescue his fellow human beings in the hell that was wartime Budapest. He had little in common with them: he was a Lutheran, they were Jewish; he was a Swede, they were Hungarians. And yet with inspired courage and creativity he saved the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children by placing them under the protection of the Swedish crown."
Many memorials were erected worldwide in recognition of Wallenberg’s legendary work; institutions and streets bear his name; his story is documented in films, books and articles, and he has become one of the most widely known representatives of rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
Supported By: Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany
(Perlasca Giorgio) (נולד ב-1910 .(חסיד אומות העולם איטלקי. פ' היה נציג של חברת
מסחר איטלקית בבודפשט. ב-1944 נתקבל פ' לעבודה בצירות ספרד והופקד על בתי-
החסות של ספרד בעיר. בסוף נובמבר 1944 נצטווה הציר בפקודת ממשלתו לצאת את
בודפשט, עם התקרבותה של החזית. פ' התחזה למיופה-הכוח של ספרד בהונגריה, וניהל
משא-ומתן עם ממשלת 'צלב החץ' הפרו-נאצית, בהבטיחו הכרה דה-יורה בה והטבות
אחרות מצד ממשלת ספרד, תמורת כיבוד זכויות ספרד בהונגריה ובכלל זה בתי-החסות
ומכתבי החסות שהוציא ושחילק לאלפי יהודים. משערים שכ-000,5 יהודים ניצלו הודות לפ',
ובכללם אותם שמצאו מחסה בשמונה בתי-החסות של ספרד. פ' דאג לשלומם של ניצוליו
והגן עליהם מפני התעללויות אנשי 'צלב החץ', במיוחד בתקופה הקשה ערב כיבוש העיר
בידי הצבא האדום.
ב-1988 העניק יד ושם לפ' תואר של חסיד אומות העולם. ב-1989 זכה גם בעיטורים מטעם
ממשלת הונגריה והקהילה היהודית באיטליה.
על מניעי עבודתו למען הצלת יהודים רבים מתוך סיכון נפשו אמר פ':
מצאתי עצמי במצב מסויים והגבתי בהתאם. לא יכולתי להתעלם מהמצב, ועשיתי את שהייתי
(From Google Translator)
Perlasca Giorgio was born in 1910. He was a representative of an Italian trading company in Budapest, and in 1944 he was assigned to work in the Spanish Legation and was assigned to the Spanish houses of the city In February 1944, he was ordered by the government to leave Budapest with the approach of the front, and he pretended to be the power-holder of Spain in Hungary and negotiated with the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross government, promising de jure recognition and other benefits The Spanish government, in exchange for respect for the rights of Spain in Hungary, including the sponsors and letters of sponsorship issued and distributed to thousands of Jews.It is estimated that about 5000 Jews were saved thanks to P., including those who found refuge in the eight houses Spain, in 1944. P took care of the welfare of its survivors and protected them from the tortures of the Arrow Cross, especially during the difficult period on the eve of the capture of the city by the Red Army. On behalf of the Hungarian government and the Jewish community in Italy, he said: "I found myself in a certain situation and responded accordingly." I could not ignore the situation, and I did
In 1988, Yad Vashem awarded him the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Angel Sanz-Briz, (b. 1910) was appointed to the post of chargè d’affaires at the Spanish Legation in the summer of 1944. As soon as the persecutions of the Hungarian Jews began, he offered, on behalf of his government, to supply Jews of Spanish origin with Spanish passports and to negotiate with the Hungarian government for their protection. Sanz-Briz received the consent of the Hungarian authorities to enable 200 Spanish Jews to receive these rights, but he changed it to 200 families and then enlarged this group again and again. Sanz-Briz also accommodated Jews in rented buildings in Budapest under the Spanish flag, putting up signs that those buildings were extra-territorial property belonging to the Spanish Legation. He also prompted the International Red Cross representative to put Spanish signs in Budapest on hospital buildings, as well as orphanages and maternity clinics, to protect the Jews therein. Sanz-Briz acted heroically and succeeded in saving a great number of Jews, most of them not of Spanish origin. Sanz-Briz was ordered by his government to leave the Hungarian capital in December 1944. The survivors Enrique and Jaime Vandor recalled their war experiences and the role of Sanz-Briz in their rescue. As children they received together with their late mother, Anny Vandor, the protection of the Spanish Legation in Budapest from autumn of 1944 until the entrance of the Soviet troops. They were accommodated in one of the protected “Spanish Houses” from which the Jews were forbidden from going out, so Sanz-Briz arranged for food supplies to reach his wards. Due to his endless efforts, they and many others survived, and they have never forgotten him. After liberation, Sanz-Briz continued his diplomatic career.
On October 18, 1966, Yad Vashem recognized Angel Sanz-Briz
as Righteous Among the Nations.
(Charles; 1895--1975), Swiss diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in Hungary. Lutz arrived in Budapest in January 1942 to serve as Switzerland’s vice-consul, and was put in charge of representing the Unites States, Great Britain, and other countries that had cut off ties with Hungary. Several weeks after the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944, they began deporting Jews to Extermination Camps. Lutz tried to persuade the Hungarians to stop the deportations. After the Horthy Offer, which was to allow Jews to leave Hungary for Palestine, Lutz issued four group certificates of aliya, each for 1,000 persons. It was Lutz who issued these because, as Swiss Consul, he represented British interests in Hungary, including issues regarding the British Mandate in Palestine. Soon, the certificates were augmented so that not only the person on the list could immigrate, but his family, too. By that time, almost 50,000 Jews had been put under Swiss protection as potential immigrants to Palestine. Each of these Jews was also given a letter of protection that guaranteed their safety until they left for Palestine.
After the Arrow Cross Party came to power in Hungary in October 1944, Zionist Youth activists, housed in Lutz's office, forged 100,000 more of these documents. The authorities demanded that Lutz and Raoul Wallenberg separate the legitimate from the false papers and, to protect the delicate rescue operation, they gave in. When the Germans established two ghettos, one for document-holders, Lutz obtained buildings to house 3,000 more Jews
under his protection. All but six survived. In November 1944 Adolf Eichmann ordered the forced march of Budapest's Jews to the Austrian border. Lutz and other diplomats rushed to rescue as many Jews as possible; he, like his colleagues, plucked Jews out of the marching columns and returned them to Budapest.
When the Soviets invaded Budapest in January 1945, Lutz and his wife fled. After the war they returned to Switzerland.
In 1965 Lutz was designated as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Rudolf Israel Kastner, also known as Rezső Kasztner (1906 – 15 March 1957), was a Jewish-Hungarian journalist and lawyer who became known for having helped Jews escape occupied Europe during the Holocaust. He was assassinated in 1957 after an Israeli court accused him of having collaborated with the Nazis.
Kasztner was one of the leaders of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee (Va'adat Ezrah Vehatzalah, or Vaada), which smuggled Jewish refugees into Hungary during World War II, then helped them escape from Hungary when in March 1944 the Nazis invaded that country too. Between May and July 1944, Hungary's Jews were deported to the gas chambers at Auschwitz at the rate of 12,000 people a day. Kasztner negotiated with Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS officer, to allow 1,684 Jews to leave instead for Switzerland on what became known as the Kasztner train, in exchange for money, gold and diamonds.
Kastner moved to Israel after the war, becoming a spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1952. In 1953 he was accused of having been a Nazi collaborator in a pamphlet self-published by Malchiel Gruenwald, a freelance writer. The allegation stemmed from his relationship with Eichmann and another SS officer, Kurt Becher, and from his having given positive character references after the war for Becher and two other SS officers, thus allowing Becher to escape prosecution for war crimes. The Israeli government sued Gruenwald for libel on Kastner's behalf, resulting in a trial that lasted 18 months, and a ruling in 1955 that Kasztner had, in the words of Judge Benjamin Halevy, "sold his soul to the devil". By saving the Jews on the Kastner train, while failing to warn others that their "resettlement" was in fact deportation to the gas chambers, Kastner had sacrificed the mass of Jewry for a chosen few, the judge said. The verdict triggered the fall of the Israeli Cabinet.
Kasztner resigned his government position and became a virtual recluse, telling reporters he was living with a loneliness "blacker than night, darker than hell". His wife fell into a depression that left her unable to get out of bed, while his daughter's schoolmates threw stones at her in the street. The Supreme Court of Israel overturned most of the judgment in January 1958, stating in a 4–1 decision that the lower court had "erred seriously". He was shot on 3 March 1957 by Zeev Eckstein and died of his injuries twelve days later.(see also "Jews For Sale": The Rudolph Kasztner Transports
the following summary of Agranat, leading judge of the Israeli Supreme Court:
“(1) In this period [Kasztner] was motivated by the sole aim of saving Hungarian Jewry as a whole, i.e. saving as many as he thought it possible to save in the circumstances of time and place.
(2) this motive was consistent with the moral duty of rescue that he had as head of the Relief and Rescue Committee.
(3) influenced by this motive he chose the policy of financial or economic negotiations with the Nazis.
(4) this policy can pass the test of reason and prudence
(5) His conduct during and after his visit to Kolozsvar (May 3) - both in its active aspect (the VIP plan) and in its passive aspect (not disclosing the Auschwitz news and not encouraging active resistance and escape on a large scale) – was consistent with his ongoing belief in the policy that he saw at all important times as the only chance of rescue.
(6) Hence one cannot detect a moral fault in his conduct, one cannot discern a causal link between it and facilitating the deportation and extermination; it should not be seen as becoming collaboration with the Nazis.” Perhaps a contemporary top lawyer in Israel has the right to review or criticise this judgement, but Bogdanor has neither the training nor the authority to do so.
Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem library, said
that while Kasztner's public legacy has remained in question, it has long been established among historians that he acted in good faith. "This is a man who was engaged in rescue activities," he said. "Rescue activities during the Holocaust meant being in touch with people who would not particularly like to invite over to your house to have a cup of coffee." Kasztner himself didn't board his famous train to freedom, instead staying behind and negotiating the further release of Jews, risking his own life.
Rozett said the findings in the archives support the idea that he was dealing in rescue and not behind-the-scenes deals to sell off Hungarian Jews.
HUNGARIAN GOLD TRAIN
The Hungarian Gold Train was the Nazi-operated train during World War II that carried stolen valuables, mostly Hungarian Jewish persons' property, from Hungary towards Berlin in 1945. After American forces seized the train in Austria, almost none of the valuables were returned to Hungary, their rightful owners, or their surviving family members.
According to various reports about the train, the contents included gold, gold jewelry, gems, diamonds, pearls, watches, about 200 paintings, Persian and Oriental rugs, silverware, chinaware, furniture, fine clothing, linens, porcelains, cameras, stamp-collections and currency (mostly US dollars and Swiss francs). Jewish organizations and the Hungarian government estimated the total value of the train's contents at $350 million in 1945 or almost $4 billion in 2007 adjusted for inflation. Other estimates of the contents' 1945 worth are from $50 million to $120 million or $570 million to $1.7 billion in 2007 adjusted for inflation.
The United States government kept most of the details of the Hungarian Gold Train secret from the public until 1998.
In 2001, Hungarian Holocaust survivors filed a lawsuit in a Florida district court against the United States government for the government's mishandling of the assets on the Hungarian Gold Train. David Mermelstein, was the only survivor present at the mediation. In 2005, the government reached a settlement worth $25.5 million. The money was allocated for distribution to various Jewish social service agencies for the benefit of Holocaust survivors
After the war, some 200 Jewish communities were reconstituted, but most dwindled rapidly due to migration to Budapest and emigration from the country. In 1946, anti-Jewish sentiment led to the pogroms in Kunmadaras, Miskolc and elsewhere. Communist rule resulted in the closure of many Jewish institutions and the arrest of Jewish activists. Many Jews were expelled from Budapest, but later allowed to return.
During the 1956 uprising against Communist rule, 20,000 Jews opted to leave the country. However, the situation of Hungarian Jewry began to improve in the late 1950’s. The community was allowed to reestablish links with the Jewish world, and with the collapse of Communism, all restrictions on ties with Israel were also lifted.
TISZAESZLÁR (BLOOD LIBEL) AFFAIR, 1882-3
The Tiszaeszlár Affair was a blood libel which led to a trial that set off anti-semitic agitation in Austria-Hungary in 1882 and 1883. After the disappearance of a local girl, Eszter Solymosi, Jews were accused of ritually murdering and beheading her. After her body was found some time later in a river, she having apparently drowned, it was claimed that the body was not that of Eszter, but had been dressed in her clothes. A lengthy trial followed, eventually resulting in the acquittal of all the accused.
ORIGIN OF THE ACCUSATION
On April 1, 1882, Eszter Solymosi, a 14-year-old Christian peasant girl who was a servant in the home of András Huri in Tiszaeszlár, a Hungarian village situated on the Tisza river, was sent on an errand from which she did not return. After a fruitless search, a rumor was circulated that the girl had become a victim of Jewish religious fanaticism. Hungarian agitators, whose leaders, Géza Ónody, representative of Tiszaeszlár in the Hungarian Parliament, and Győző Istóczy, MP, proposed the expulsion of the Jews in the House of Deputies, excited the public against the local Jews, resulting in a number of violent acts and pogroms. They spread the charge that the Jews killed the girl in order to use her blood at the approaching Passover (April 4). On May 4 her mother accused the Jews before the local judge of having murdered her daughter, and urged him to make an investigation.
ACQUITTAL OF THE ACCUSED
The acquittal and release of the prisoners, most of whom had languished in prison for 15 months, were the signal for uprisings in Pozsony, Budapest, and other parts of Hungary. The spectators who thronged the court-house during the sessions, and of whom Onody, the representative of Tiszaeszlár in the House of Deputies, was the most conspicuous, conducted themselves scandalously during the proceedings, insulting the prisoners and threatening the witnesses and counsel for the defence.
21ST CENTURY REPERCUSSIONS
The Jobbik Party used the case to incite antisemitism and the child's grave has become the site of antisemitic pilgrimage.
1883 HUNGARIAN BLOOD LIBEL TRIAL INSPIRES OPERA
'The Red Heifer' is based on the Tiszaeszlar Affair, a current issue for Hungary's far-right
Times of Israel JTA 10 October 2013
The story of Hungary’s most infamous anti-Semitic show trial is set to hit the stage as an opera composed by the renowned Hungarian Jewish composer Ivan Fischer.
Fischer, a musician and brother of the conductor and campaigner against anti-Semitism Adam Fischer, based the piece — his first opera — on the blood libel invented in 1883 against 15 Jews from the eastern village of Tiszaeszlar. The Jews were acquitted of allegedly killing a Christian girl to use her blood to make matzah — an ancient anti-Semitic trope.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra is scheduled to perform the piece, titled “The Red Heifer” on Sunday at the Hungarian capital’s Millennium Theater along with five other pieces composed by Fischer.
The grave of the 14-year-old girl, Eszter Solymosi, in recent years has become a pilgrimage site for Hungarians on the far-right, Fischer told Reuters in an interview published Tuesday.
On the orchestra’s website, Fischer wrote: “I have been thinking incessantly about composing this opera for 25 years now. The Tiszaeszlar Affair becoming a present day hot political issue finally helped me. The same responses, stereotypes and petrified, unreasonable prejudices appear nowadays.”
Last year, Adam Fischer told JTA he believed that the anti-Semitic tendencies of the ultranationalist Jobbik party, the third-largest faction in the Hungarian parliament, were “a danger to the whole of Europe.”
Tiszaeszlár Blood Libel Yivo Encyclopedia
DEGOB - THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR ATTENDING DEPORTEES
THE HISTORY OF DEGOB
(The staff of the Hungarian Jewish relief organisation, National Committee for Attending Deportees (DEGOB), recorded the personal stories of approximately 5000 Hungarian Holocaust survivors in 1945-1946. On our website the complete (predominantly Hungarian) text and the scanned images of more than 3500 protocols can be found. Presently this is most extensive Holocaust testimonial online database in the world. In 2006, we commenced the translation of the documents into English)
In the words of one of the leaders of the organization, the history of the National Committee for Attending Deportees (Deportáltakat Gondozó Országos Bizottság - DEGOB) "starts when people re-emerged from the dank basements, from shelters and makeshift hiding places. ... It starts on a cold winter morning when man could return to the light of day and inhale the air of freedom ..., and simultaneously witness the extent of horrific devastation. Looking beyond the destruction all around, ruined apartment blocks and the unburied corpses lying in courtyards, the first thoughts were turned to taking stock of the survivors and the missing. ... What happened to our relatives, to the old people, children, husbands and wives separated by cruel hands and decrees, what happened to our once sheltering homes? These thoughts were followed by the most elemental concerns dictated by the instinct to survive: how and where to find subsistence, shoes and clothing, a new home with essential furnishing and kitchen equipment, etc."
In the chaotic months following the liberation, there was no central organisation capable of coordinating the revival of the remaining Jewish community and arranging the coherent distribution of relief aid coming in from three main sources, the International Red Cross, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (Joint), and the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
As all the involved parties were acutely aware that conditions at the time were inadequate in serving the needs of survivors, the National Jewish Aid Committee (Országos Zsidó Segítő Bizottság - OZSSB) was established on August 31, 1945. The organisation integrated a number of independent groups, often operating at cross-purposes. The Joint, which provided the largest funds, recognized the new organisation as the executive arm of the relief effort, i.e., it authorized the Committee to utilize available funds and organise the rehabilitation of as many individuals and Jewish communities as possible. As of August 31, the independent organisation, the National Committee for Attending Deportees (full name: the National Committee of Hungarian Jews for Attending Deportees, DEGOB) was absorbed into the OZSSB's organisational structure.
Originally, DEGOB was set up in March 1945 in Budapest. Its scope of responsibilities extended to three major areas:
1) Repatriation. DEGOB facilitated the return of deportees to Hungary stranded in foreign countries following the liberation. The committee's staff undertook difficult and often dangerous missions to search for Hungarian Jews languishing abroad. With the assistance of the Joint's external agencies, the committee organised 26 expeditions and by December 31, 1945, managed to repatriate several thousand Hungarian Jews.
2) Relief activity. Following the August 31 merger, DEGOB was integrated into OZSSB's structure, preserving its name and some measure of its organisational independence. It provided welfare services in cooperation with OZSSB's Relief Department. With the passage of time, structural integration increased to a level where in early 1946 the administration of the two departments was merged and subsequently a joint cashbook was created. Looking at
the personnel at DEGOB in November 1945 and at OZSSB's Relief Department in February 1946 it becomes evident that not only the director of the organisations was the same (Alajos Popper), but a number of department sections (e.g., correspondence and accounting) were run by the same people in part or entirely. In cooperation with the Relief Department, DEGOB provided a wide range of welfare services in the critical years of 1945 and 1946.
3) DEGOB's documenting activities extended to a number of areas. A registration system was put in place to document data on survivors and victims. As part of the process all returning deportees and/or labour servicemen were asked to list the names of survivors who had not yet returned to Hungary, as well as data on those who perished. By September 1946 some 30,000 "living" files were compiled and by that time there were around 120,000 files for the deceased as well. In a March 1949 report an OZSSB desk officer notes that the card indexing system "contains he all the data on all deportees who returned to Hungary". (The statement clearly does not accurately reflect reality: learning from their experiences in 1944, many people were averse to enter their name on any list or registry.) Another area of documentation involved the recording of survivor testimonies, which resulted in the unique collection of the DEGOB protocols. 
DEGOB's information office operated independently of OZSSB. In June 1945 with financial support from the Joint, the Hungarian Office of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Jewish World Congress established the Statistical and Information Agency (SIA) with twofold objectives: perform an accurate statistical survey of Hungary's remaining Jewish population and provide information to survivors searching for relatives. Based on minutes taken at SIA's Board of Director's meeting on August 29, 1945, the Agency and DEGOB agreed that its information office (i.e., the manager of the card-index database) will operate as SIA's off-site arm. This meant that while DEGOB performed relief-aid work under OZSSB's organisational umbrella, its documentation responsibilities were discharged as an SIA sub-department. In other words, from August the Jewish Agency officially took over the documentation and information office it had de facto managed and financed since June.
DEGOB continued to perform its welfare and relief effort until April 1950 when OZSSB was closed and its responsibilities were taken over by the Central Welfare Committee of the National Office of Hungarian Israelites. In 1946 the information unit was absorbed by the Documentation Department of the World Jewish Congress. In summary, in addition to providing essential welfare and relief-aid services in the post-war years, DEGOB compiled an invaluable stockpile of documents. We have inherited the centrepiece of the project, the unique collection of the DEGOB protocols stored in the archives of the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives in Budapest.
from European Jewish Congress
It is estimated that between 80,000-100,000 thousand Jews - the largest number in East-Central Europe - live in Hungary today who are considered as Jews according to 'halacha' (Jewish religious law). In addition, there are approximately the same amount of people in Hungary who are regarded as Jewish according to Israel's Law of Return. Some 90% of Hungarian Jews live in Budapest.
After the war some 200 Jewish communities were reconstructed, but most dwindled due to natural attrition, assimilation and emigration. In 1946, a new wave of anti-Jewish sentiment led to pogroms in Kunmadaras, Miskolc and elsewhere. The imposition of Communist rule led to the closure of many Jewish institutions, a ban on Zionism and the arrest of Jewish activists. As a result, the number of Jews shrank to even smaller levels.
t the same time the state-sponsored Jewish Community was organized, including religious institutions. During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 more than 10,000 Jews left the country. The community was permitted to maintain relations with the Jewish world and Israel until the Six Day War in 1967. Upon the collapse of Communism in 1989 all restrictions on ties with Israel were lifted.
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) is the leading organization of the Hungarian Jewish community, encompassing both Hungarian Jewry's Neolog (Conservative) and Orthodox religious sectors. MAZSIHISZ leads negotiations in Holocaust restitution issues, maintains more than 1500 Jewish cemeteries, three elementary schools, a kindergarten and a high school. It also coordinates platforms for Jewish youth organizations and designates a Field Rabbinate for the Hungarian Army. There are 23 synagogues functioning in Budapest today and some 30 more in towns populated by Jews throughout the country. While there are four Orthodox synagogues in Budapest, the bulk of Hungarian Jews attend Neolog synagogues.
Budapest is home to the state-accredited Rabbinical Seminary and Jewish University-- the only Jewish university in Eastern Europe. Founded in 1887, it has never ceased working since World War II. Rabbinical students from throughout Europe practicing the Neolog stream of Judaism attend the university to receive their rabbinical ordination. Budapest is also home to the only Jewish hospital in Eastern Europe, a Jewish community center, nursing homes and organizations to assist Holocaust survivors. A highlight event is the annual Jewish Summer Festival attracting 300,000 visitors yearly.
There are also ten kosher butchers, kosher bakeries and restaurants in Budapest. Hungary exports kosher wine, spirits and meat. A Jewish newspaper is produced twice monthly in Budapest, as well as a monthly Jewish magazine and a Jewish literary and arts journal.
Assimilation remains a problem in Hungary and anti-Semitism is rife in the Hungarian media, particularly during electoral campaigns when some parts of the media blame Jews for instituting Communism in Hungary and creating economic difficulties.
Diplomatic relations were established between Hungary and Israel in 1948 and severed during the Six Day War in 1967. Relations have now improved, with embassies and consulates existing in each other's countries and increased trade and tourism between the two nations. Since 1948, 30,000 Jews emigrated from Hungary to Israel.
Major Jewish sites to visit include the
(WHAT IS THE EXACT NAME OF THE INSTITUTION?
I have encountered various names of the institution in the press.
The correct name of the institution is Holocaust Memorial Center, in Hungarian Holokauszt Emlékközpont. The name of the foundation operating the institution is Holocaust Documentation Center Memorial Collection Public Foundation, the Hungarian acronym for it is HDKE From Holocaust Memorial Center )
The theme of the permanent exhibition is the Holocaust in Hungary. Its aim is to present and describe the persecution, suffering and murdering of Hungarian citizens, Jews and Roma, doomed to be exterminated on the basis of a racist ideology. The leading idea of the exhibition is to shed light on the relation between the state and the citizen. As of 1938, the Hungarian state has gradually deprived a group of its citizens of some basic human rights: of their property, freedom, human dignity, and eventually, of their lives. This process has dramatically accelerated in 1944, after the German occupation of the country. In the line of this concept, the exhibition doesn’t provide a chronological description of the events; rather it is consisted of thematic blocs revealing distinct phases of persecution (deprivation of rights, despoilment, deprivation of freedom, of human dignity, of life). These elements are framed by the contents of the opening and closing halls. The former gives an introduction of the pre-war lives of the Jewry and Roma population in Hungary, the later opens the questions of the liberation and calling to responsibility.
One of the central motifs of the thematic blocs is a series of real individual and family stories, displayed continuously on the wall encircling the whole exhibition. As we reach the last hall, the lines on the wall symbolizing lives run out, the personal items disappear; yet we hear faintly wedding music filtering through from the front room, reminding us on the period prior to destruction. From here, the path leads to the area of mourning and remembrance, the synagogue. At this space, memories on destroyed synagogues and prayer rooms are evoked by photographs, of murdered people by portraits of randomly selected individuals on fragile glass benches. Part of the space is devoted to rescuers, courageous foreign diplomats and Hungarian citizens, whose stories illustrates that even in the darkest period of persecution, hundreds risked their own lives to help others.
At each thematically defined unit of the exhibition, multimedia illustrations on touch-screens are available for the visitors, including archive photos, movies, contemporary documents and additional explanations of the particular theme.
Venue of the exhibition
The permanent exhibition is situated on 1,500 sq. meters at the basement of the Memorial Center and in the Synagogue.
The exhibition has been arranged by the Hungarian National Museum.
The Dohany street Synagogue, which is the biggest synagogue in Europe and the Hungarian Jewish Museum are in the same building. The synagogue was named after the street, but it is also known as the great, or main synagogue. It is among the top 10 sights of Budapest.
The Jewish Museum was constructed on the site where Theodor Herzl's house once stood. Adjacent to the Great Synagogue, this museum features Jewish traditions and costumes, as well as the History of Hungarian Jews, including the Holocaust.
Jewish Heitage Europe (for a Hungarian travel guide)
History of the Jews in Hungary - Wikipedia
Community in Hungary World Jewish Congress
The Jewish Community of Hungary European Jewish Congress
Hungarian Jews Today Face Shoah Distortion - Bigotry, Holocaust distortion confront a community balancing fear and hope. 03/12/14, Jonathan Mark, Associate Editor, Jewish Week, New York
DEGOB National Committee for Attending Deportees
The staff of the Hungarian Jewish relief organisation, National Committee for Attending Deportees (DEGOB), recorded the personal stories of approximately 5000 Hungarian Holocaust survivors in 1945-1946. On our website the complete (predominantly Hungarian) text and the scanned images of more than 3500 protocols can be found. Presently this is most extensive Holocaust testimonial online database in the world. In 2006, we commenced the translation of the documents into English
STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
CLICK BUTTON TO GO TO SECTION
MAJOR JEWISH SITES
THE JEWS OF HUNGARY