The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later

The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later

The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later

The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later

Synopsis

The Holocaust in Hungary represented a unique chapter in the singular history of the Final Solution of the "Jewish question" in Europe. In the fifth year of the Second World War Hungary still had a Jewish population of approximately 800,000. Although this large and relatively intact Jewish community was deprived of its basic rights as citizens, had suffered close to 62,000 casualties, had been confronted with the hardships of discrimination, and had endured the vicissitudes of a military-related labor service system, it continue to enjoy relative physical safety under the aristocratic-conservative regime of Hungary until the German occupation on March 19, 1944. How was all this possible? And if all this was possible until March 1944, why could it not continue for a few more months? Was it really inevitable that hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews would, within a few months, become victims of the gas chambers of Auschwitz? Could the Holocaust in Hungary have been averted and who were responsible for the violent deaths of over a half a million Hungarian Jews in the ghettos, on the deportation trains, in the extermination and concentration camps, during the death marches, and the mass shootings into the Danube? Starting from these difficult questions, the present volume offers readers the most recent scholarship on the history and memory of the Holocaust in Hungary.

Excerpt

Historians have already demonstrated that the Holocaust in Hungary represented a unique chapter in the singular history of the Final Solution of the “Jewish question” in Europe. In the fifth year of the Second World War—two years after the decision at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942—Hungary still had a Jewish population of approximately 800,000, including close to 100,000 converts who were identified as Jews under the laws then in effect. Although this large and relatively intact Jewish community was deprived of its basic rights as citizens, had suffered close to 62,000 casualties, had been confronted with the hardships of discrimination, and had endured the vicissitudes of a military-related labor service system, it continued to enjoy the physical protection of the aristocratic–conservative regime that ruled Hungary until the German occupation on March 19, 1944. How was all this possible? And if all this was possible until March 1944, why could it not continue for a few more months? When the Germans occupied Hungary, all signs clearly indicated that the Germans and their allies would lose the war within a relatively short time. Was it really inevitable that hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews would, within a few months, become victims of the gas chambers of Auschwitz? Could the Holocaust in Hungary have been averted and who were responsible for the violent deaths of over a half a million Hungarian Jews in the ghettos, on the deportation trains, in the extermination and concentration camps, during the death marches, and the mass shootings into the Danube?

Nowadays it seems strange to realize that Hungarian historians began to seriously deal with these questions only after the 1980s. Since then . . .

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