The Politics of Genocide
The Holocaust in Hungary, Condensed Edition
Publication Year: 2000
Published by: Wayne State University Press
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The destruction of Hungarian Jewry constitutes the last phase in the Nazis’ war against the Jews. Although subjected to harsh legal and economic measures from 1938 onward, the Jews of Hungary survived the first four and a half years of World War II relatively intact. However, after the German occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944, Hungarian Jewry...
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1. Hungarian Jewry: A Historical Overview
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According to some historians, a number of Jewish settlements existed during the Roman era in the area then called Pannonia; Magyar tribes conquered that territory toward the end of the ninth century. The number of Jews who lived in Hungary up to the end of the seventeenth century cannot be determined on the basis of convincing...
2. The Beginning of the End
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According to the census of 1941, Hungary had a population of 14,683,323, of whom 725,007 or 4.94 percent identified themselves as Jews. Of these, 400,981 lived in Trianon Hungary (184,453 in Budapest) and 324,026 in the territories acquired by Hungary in 1938–41: approximately 68,000 in the Upper Province and...
3. The Road to Destruction
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The German decision to occupy Hungary resulted from a series of political-military factors; the “unsolved” Jewish question, though important, was not the determining consideration. By the spring of 1944, the military pressures on Germany had become continual and frequently overpowering. The leaders of the Third Reich became extremely...
4. The Jewish Council and the Awareness of the Final Solution
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To implement their plan for the extermination of the Jews, the SS and their Hungarian accomplices had to take into account the specifics of the time and place. Such factors included the rapid advance of the Red Army in the east, the limited German forces available for the operation, and the need to lull the large Jewish community into...
5. The Final Solution: Phase I
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The first phase of the Final Solution in Hungary included the adoption of a series of measures that were designed to prepare the ground for the effective elimination of the Jews from the country. These involved the initiation of mass arrests, the intimidation and pauperization of the community, and the isolation and expropriation...
6. Phase II: Ghettoization, Concentration, Deportation
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Although the decree relating to the establishment of ghettos went into effect only on April 28, 1944, the roundup and concentration of the Jews of Carpatho-Ruthenia and northeastern Hungary began on Sunday April 16, 1944, the first day of Passover.1 The details of the anti-Jewish campaign in these areas were worked out at a conference...
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Unlike what happened in Poland, the Jews in Hungary lingered in ghettos for only a relatively short time. The ghettos in the villages lasted for only a day or two, and even those in the major concentration and entrainment ghetto centers, which were usually located in the county seats, were short-lived: they lasted only a few days...
8. The Fate of the Jews of Budapest
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A plan for the establishment of a large ghetto in Budapest, similar to the one that had existed in Warsaw, was put forward shortly after the capital was subjected to a major air attack on April 2, 1944. The authors of this ghettoization plan—the Eichmann-Sonderkommando and Péter Hain’s office—had considerable support among...
9. The Arrow Cross Era
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Shortly after the inauguration of the Géza Lakatos government on August 29, 1944, Horthy proceeded with his plan for the honorable withdrawal of Hungary from the war. The plan was originally scheduled to have been carried out on September 8, but was postponed while the regent’s closest associates, including Minister of...
10. Attitudes and Reactions: Domestic
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Like the Jews everywhere in Nazi-dominated Europe, the Jews of Hungary were essentially helpless and defenseless. As demonstrated earlier, their attitudes and reactions to the systematic drive waged against the Jews in the neighboring countries were largely determined by their checkered history since 1867. Though subjected to ever...
11. Attitudes and Reactions: International
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Although aware of the Nazis’ Final Solution program since the summer of 1942, if not earlier, the leaders of the free world, including those of the Vatican and the International Red Cross (IRC), attached no particular urgency to the rescuing of Jews. With a few exceptions, they did not even speak up, let alone act, on behalf of the...
12. Crime and Punishment
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The magnitude of the crime committed by the Nazis and their Hungarian accomplices against the Jews of Hungary is indicated by the statistical accounts revealed after the war. By far the most comprehensive statistical overview was provided by the Hungarian Section of the World Jewish Congress.1 While not totally accurate, especially...
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Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2000