“There Was Once…”: A documentary about the Jewish community of Kalocsa, Hungary

I recently watched a very moving documentary film about the fate of Jewish Hungarians in the town of Kalocsa, the seat of one of the four archbishoprics in the country. When the archbishopric was established in the Middle Ages, Kalocsa was a much more important city than it is now with its 18,000 inhabitants. As one would expect, the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Kalocsa are Roman Catholics. However, there was also a robust Jewish community that made up 5.9% of the population at the time of the Second World War.

The history and fate of the Hungarian Jews of Kalocsa has become known worldwide as a result of the collaboration of two people living far away from one another: Mrs. Gyöngyi Magó, a high school history teacher in Kalocsa, and Gabor Kalman, an award-winning film director from Los Angeles.

In 2004 Gyöngyi Magó was writing a thesis for the University of Szeged. Her adviser was Judit Pihurik, whose specialty is the history of World War II. Magó was always interested in local history and  noticed that, although several histories of Kalocsa had been written over the years, researchers ignored the Jewish community of the town. She decided to fill the void. Once her 61-page paper was finished, she realized that she must share her new knowledge with her students. Moreover, she decided to pursue the topic further by conducting interviews with possible survivors and older people in Kalocsa who still remembered some of the people she mentioned in her thesis.

She managed to find one survivor, Gabor Kalman. The two began exchanging e-mails. Gyöngyi Magó found out that Kalman was a film maker and Kalman became fascinated with Gyöngyi’s project. As Kalman said, “I was immensely touched that after 64 years a non-Jew would take on the task, not only of digging up this lost culture but also of using what she found to educate, to inform, to enlighten, and to fight prejudice and hatred — which unfortunately is very much in evidence throughout Hungary today.”

Only five children survived among four grades of pupils in Kalocsa's Jewish elementary school in 1942. Credit: Courtesy of Gabor Kalman, "There Was Once"

Only five children survived among four grades of pupils in Kalocsa’s Jewish elementary school in 1942. Credit: Courtesy of Gabor Kalman, “There Was Once”

The two began searching for others from Kalocsa, and the result is a gripping documentary on the lives and fate of Kalocsa’s Jewish population. In the final scenes the few survivors travelling from all over the world meet in Kalocsa for a reunion attended by the mayor and the archbishop. Among the visitors there was even a woman from Canada who swore that she would never return to Hungary.

Gyöngyi Mangó receiving the Medal of Valor, May 5, 2011 in Hollywood. On her left is Gabor Kalman, the director of "There Was Once..."

Gyöngyi Magó receiving a proclamation from the mayor of Los Angeles, May 5, 2011. To her left is Gabor Kalman, the director of “There Was Once…”

Since then not only has the documentary been highly acclaimed but Gyöngyi Magó also received  the Medal of Valor from the Museum of Tolerance. She shared the stage with Tom Cruise, a fellow recipient. Far away from Kalocsa in Hollywood.

Why do I write about this film now? Because tomorrow is United Nations’ Human Rights Day. It will be observed in the Library of Congress and the D. C. Jewish Community Center where the documentary film will be shown. Representative Alcee Hastings urged members of Congress to see the film, especially in light of the “resurgent anti-Semitism in Hungary.”

On Monday, December 10, at noon, Gabor Kalman will talk about the film and will show clips at the Library of Congress. At 7:00 p.m. there will be a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion. The moderator of the discussion will be Steven Feldman, book publications officer, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Members of the panel will consist of Ambassador Michael Kozak, U.S. State Department and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism; Gabor Kalman; and Professor Charles Gati. For those in the Washington area who want to attend, the  Jewish Community Center is located at 1529 16th Street NW.

As for the film, I watched it and can attest to the fact that it is superbly done. I hope that very soon we might be able to see it on television.  For now, you can view segments of the documentary online and learn more about how it came into being.

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86 comments

  1. Csaba :

    Petofi1 :

    Wondercat :
    Prof Balogh, thanks for calling our attention to these events — the film, the screening, the discussions, the devastation wrought upon the Jews of Kalocsa.
    The mindset that says: Not Jew and Hungarian, not Croat and Hungarian, not Slovak and Hungarian, not Roma and Hungarian — only Magyar and Hungarian — well, it puzzles me.

    You’re missing something: ” Only Magyar, CATHOLIC, and Hungarian”.

    Catholic or protestant Magyars/Hungarians will do.

    I don’t think Protestants are responsible for many of the ills that have feballen Hungary as Catholics are. For instance, the bearded fellow–the ‘lelkesz’–is certainly on the right side of the divide having demonstrated against Orban and the Fidesz shenanigans. I strongly suspect that it is the Catholic Church that has encouraged Orban to designate the country as
    “Christian Hungary” and not the Protestant Church in Hungary.

  2. “Thank goodness for the Soviets for saving the Hungarians from the genocide. Wouldn’t you agree?”

    About the battle of Budapest:
    When the Soviets finally claimed victory, they initiated an orgy of violence, including the wholesale theft of anything they could lay their hands on, random executions and mass rape. An estimated 50,000 women and girls were raped, although estimates vary from 5,000 to 200,000, Hungarian girls were kidnapped and taken to Red Army quarters, where they were imprisoned, repeatedly raped and sometimes murdered.

    Even embassy staff from neutral countries were captured and raped, as documented when Soviet soldiers attacked the Swedish legation in Germany. (for example: Raoul Wallenberg.)

    Yes, thank you Soviets!!

    And I know who the Mani Guards were, and they wouldnt have happened if Honvéds weren’t driven out of Transylvania by USSR-Romanian-Bulgarian armies.

  3. Jean P :
    More than one million Armenians were killed or deported to nowhere in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. It has been documented beyond doubt that the Turkish government was responsible. Hundred years later in Turkey you go to prison if you acknowledge the fact. The Turks have not yet done their Vergangenheitsbewältigung. (Google it if you don´t know what it means. It is an important concept). This is the main argument against allowing Turkey into the EU.
    More than half a million Hungarian Jews were deported to German extermination camps during the Second World War. You don´t go to prison in Hungary if you brag about it. You are in line with at least 20% of the electorate and tacitly approved by a supermajority. There is no Hungarian Vergangenheitsbewältigung. How did Hungary ever become a member of the EU?

    Jews were protected in Hungary, and many seeked refuge, until German pressure and invasion. Hungary doesn’t need a Vergangenheitsbewältigung, because we commited no crimes (it even says so in our constitution). Hungary was actually one of the safest places for Jews, even safer than many allied countries.

  4. Csaba :
    “Thank goodness for the Soviets for saving the Hungarians from the genocide. Wouldn’t you agree?”
    About the battle of Budapest:
    When the Soviets finally claimed victory, they initiated an orgy of violence, including the wholesale theft of anything they could lay their hands on, random executions and mass rape. An estimated 50,000 women and girls were raped, although estimates vary from 5,000 to 200,000, Hungarian girls were kidnapped and taken to Red Army quarters, where they were imprisoned, repeatedly raped and sometimes murdered.
    Even embassy staff from neutral countries were captured and raped, as documented when Soviet soldiers attacked the Swedish legation in Germany. (for example: Raoul Wallenberg.)
    Yes, thank you Soviets!!
    And I know who the Mani Guards were, and they wouldnt have happened if Honvéds weren’t driven out of Transylvania by USSR-Romanian-Bulgarian armies.

    War is entirely nasty. People on all sides do, or take part in evil things. For example, when Hungary invaded Transylvania, whole villages were simply wiped out. In Treznea, in 1940, villagers were asked to line up on the edge of a cliff and were machine-gunned. In all, some 200,000 Romanians fled the Hungarian army.

    However, I personally wouldn’t make ethnicity relevant here. I certainly wouldn’t say something like ‘thank you Hungarians!’ in relation to this, because of course, that would be ridiculous.

  5. Hungary did not “invade” Transylvania, and the events in Treznea are debatable, also, Romanians committed their share of crimes when they heard about the Vienna treaty.

    By the way, I wasn’t clear in my terminology, what happened to Kassa is what is called a “Silent genocide”.

  6. Csaba :
    “Thank goodness for the Soviets for saving the Hungarians from the genocide. Wouldn’t you agree?”
    About the battle of Budapest:
    When the Soviets finally claimed victory, they initiated an orgy of violence, including the wholesale theft of anything they could lay their hands on, random executions and mass rape.
    And I know who the Mani Guards were, and they wouldnt have happened if Honvéds weren’t driven out of Transylvania by USSR-Romanian-Bulgarian armies.

    Stay with the facts I was asking you about. By the way, if Hungary wouldn’t make a pact with Nazi Germany, the Soviets wouldn’t have to come in, would they?
    If the fascist Hungarians wouldn’t start to kill their fellow Hungarians, like the Hungarian gypsies and Hungarian Jews, then they wouldn’t need to Soviets to give them the freedom back to many.
    Read, read, read! Read about the attack of Kassa, and things like that. You have a lot to learn, with full of surprises.

  7. Jews were protected in Hungary, and many seeked refuge, until German pressure and invasion. Hungary doesn’t need a Vergangenheitsbewältigung, because we commited no crimes (it even says so in our constitution). Hungary was actually one of the safest places for Jews, even safer than many allied countries.

    You would also do well to learn the German concept of ‘betroffen’.

  8. Some1 :
    Totally OT. Matolcsy made a speech today. He made a statement to the representatives of GE. It is in Hungarian but please watch from 2:20
    http://index.hu/video/2012/12/10/matolcsy_osmagyar_agysebeszei_visszaternek/
    “… this requires brains and hands.”

    The FIDESZ LOTD (Lie Of The Day) is at the end. Our Cross Eyed Brain Surgent claims that the government will double the number of college students in science, engineering and IT (from 20k to 40k) in 2 years.

    According to the ICT Association of Hungary (IVSZ) the government will only provide 2850 government financed places in 2013 for these diciplines.

    http://ivsz.hu/hu/hirek-es-esemenyek/hirek/ivsz-hirek/2012/12/keretszamok-%20kozlemeny2

    PS: I really have a strong feeling that Csaba is our old friend Kovach …

  9. Some1 :

    Csaba :
    “Thank goodness for the Soviets for saving the Hungarians from the genocide. Wouldn’t you agree?”
    About the battle of Budapest:
    When the Soviets finally claimed victory, they initiated an orgy of violence, including the wholesale theft of anything they could lay their hands on, random executions and mass rape.
    And I know who the Mani Guards were, and they wouldnt have happened if Honvéds weren’t driven out of Transylvania by USSR-Romanian-Bulgarian armies.

    Stay with the facts I was asking you about. By the way, if Hungary wouldn’t make a pact with Nazi Germany, the Soviets wouldn’t have to come in, would they?
    If the fascist Hungarians wouldn’t start to kill their fellow Hungarians, like the Hungarian gypsies and Hungarian Jews, then they wouldn’t need to Soviets to give them the freedom back to many.
    Read, read, read! Read about the attack of Kassa, and things like that. You have a lot to learn, with full of surprises.

    I am well read about history, especially WW2, and I know about that Kassa attack, as a result Hungary invaded the USSR, which was a defensive move.
    Pacts dont make a difference, USSR signed a pact with Nazi-Germany, so what? Does it make Soviets Nazis too?
    And again, the Jews and Roma were killed due to huge German pressure, where the sitaution slipped out of Horthys hands (he wasnt aware of the deporations, and when he was, he forced the ones responsible to resign), and later came the German invasion, which again, Horthy couldnt do anything about.

    PC. Hungary was wedged between two enemies, but Germans outnumbered Hungarians 1:10, while the Soviets 1:20, you do the maths, we had no choice, and we had to make the best of our situation.

    Dont forget that our tense allience with Germany and Italy liberated many Hungarians from foreign opression, Rumania was extremly anti-semitic with their Antonescu, and the same with Tiso in Slovakia, Horthy was mild.

  10. Csaba :
    Dont forget that our tense allience with Germany and Italy liberated many Hungarians from foreign opression, Rumania was extremly anti-semitic with their Antonescu, and the same with Tiso in Slovakia, Horthy was mild.

    yawn! yawn! on the typical ignorance to the facts of the extreme right rationalizing of Hungarian fascism. As I said Csaba, learn, study, read!

  11. Some1 :

    Csaba :
    Dont forget that our tense allience with Germany and Italy liberated many Hungarians from foreign opression, Rumania was extremly anti-semitic with their Antonescu, and the same with Tiso in Slovakia, Horthy was mild.

    yawn! yawn! on the typical ignorance to the facts of the extreme right rationalizing of Hungarian fascism. As I said Csaba, learn, study, read!

    Ok, so what were the facts then?

  12. London Calling!

    Unfortunately Csaba is only on phase 1 of ‘Understanding Whose Blog This Is’

    Csaba – Take your warped interpretations of history elsewhere.

    Start your own blog.

    Regards

    Charlie

  13. Csaba :
    Jews were protected in Hungary, and many seeked refuge, until German pressure and invasion. Hungary doesn’t need a Vergangenheitsbewältigung, because we commited no crimes (it even says so in our constitution). Hungary was actually one of the safest places for Jews, even safer than many allied countries.

    Excuse me, what Allied country was more dangerous for the Jews than Hungary?

    My relatives were shot on the banks of the Danube by Hungarians. I don’t know of any Jews that were shot on the banks of the Mississippi by US soldiers.

    But are you saying that it’s okay to kill Hungarian citizens who happen be Jewish, as long as another country does it? Are you saying that if another country committed some atrocity, that the atrocities that my family experienced were excusable?

    Happy International Human Rights Day.

  14. @Csaba
    Please, try to linger a bit over the possibility, that the fact, that the Red Army committed atrocities does not absolve what has been done against the Jewish Hungarians – both unforgivable and unacceptable to any civilized person.

    However, I would like to call your attention, that what the joint German and Hungarian forces have done to the Russians are predated the Red Army’s rampage in Hungary by a few years, so, even without any effort but with a help of common sense you may look at it as a retribution, – which wouldn’t make it any better – as an answer to Adolf little helpers.

    We asked for it, in short.

    For your information: I don’t like it any better than you do, the difference is, that I didn’t liked what the Hungarians and the Germans done, either. I just hate violence, particularly war, and I do not – for any reason – accept any attempt to justify it.

    “(’cause when love is gone, there’s always justice, and)
    when the justice is gone – there’s always force”

  15. “Excuse me, what Allied country was more dangerous for the Jews than Hungary?”
    Mainly ones occupied by Germany.
    At that time, it was better to be a Jew in Hungary, whether Hungarian Jew or refugee, than be a Jew in Croatia, Slovakia, Romania (just look at the Odessa massacre for example), or German occupied allied countries.
    Hungary only really became a danger to Jews after German preassure and invasion.
    The Danube shootings did not happen when Horthy was in power, can I also point out that the guards of Horthy’s residence were also thrown in the Danube by the Nazis?

    “But are you saying that it’s okay to kill Hungarian citizens who happen be Jewish, as long as another country does it?”
    No no no, I did not say this, however, to blame Hungarians for it is simply foolish, it would be like blaming Poles or Belarussians for the Holocaust because many Jews happened to die on their soil.

  16. Csaba and most Hungarians must show empathy for the suffering of the others if they expect sympathy for Hungarian affairs.

    With regrets, it is the same affair. To forgive the masses who supported Horthy, the people have show some understanding for the crimes committed under Rakosi and Kadar.

    The extremism in evaluating the crimes of the past eras has to eliminated. The mutual purges have not solved the problems.

    Let us hope to see generosity from the Catholic New Hungary now.

    It would be a new in Hungarian history.

  17. “Csaba and most Hungarians must show empathy for the suffering of the others if they expect sympathy for Hungarian affairs.”

    It goes both ways, if people want empathy from us, they must show empathy to our suffering.

    “Who cares, they are only Hungarians…” will not fly anymore.

    “To forgive the masses who supported Horthy”
    Why do Horthy supporters need forgiving? He did a lot of good thinks, and can I just add, it was Jewish Hungarians who took care of him in Portugal, as a sign of gratitude.

    Horthy was hated by both communists and Nazis, and he is probably one of the most misunderstood, and often lied about people from the interwar era and WW2.

  18. Csaba: “Horthy was hated by both communists and Nazis, and he is probably one of the most misunderstood, and often lied about people from the interwar era and WW2.”

    Would you please list me all the books and articles you read about Horthy. If you can’t find any I will be able to give you a reading list.

  19. My reading of Hungarian Jewish history tells me that the Jews were indeed largely protected, but only really in Budapest. By the time the Arrow Cross started rounding up Bp Jews, the rest of the country had been pretty much cleared.

    And I don’t think it was Germans who did most of that.

  20. “By the time the Arrow Cross started rounding up Bp Jews, the rest of the country had been pretty much cleared.”
    That was because of German pressure, had this not have happened, the goverment would have been overthrown, Arrow Cross would have come into power much sooner, and there would be no Jew left in Hungary.
    There was simply no other choice, Horthy was planning to cease fighting already by 1943 Horthy was looking for allies in the West, but they were too far away, and Horthy did what he had to do to preserve Hungary’s independence and to prevent the Arrow Cross from being put into power.

  21. Csaba :
    “Csaba and most Hungarians must show empathy for the suffering of the others if they expect sympathy for Hungarian affairs.”
    It goes both ways, if people want empathy from us, they must show empathy to our suffering.

    I’ve been reading some 19th Century American press, and I was amazed at how much people loved Hungary back then. It seems like Hungary was a symbol of the fight against tyranny because of Kossuth and the 1848 revolution.

    I have been amazed to hear the subtleties of people who lived through WWII. Both American and Hungarian family members seem quite aware of Hungary’s difficult situation.

    After the ’56 revolution, the whole friggin world loved Hungary.

    I remember my own time in Hungary in the early 1990s, how Budapest was the coolest spot in the world. Or at least it vied for that spot with Prague.

    So, Hungary has a lot of reasons to be the daaaaarling (xoxo to Zsazsa Gabor) of the world. It still is a really cool place, with great architecture, music, booze and more.

    It’s only on the political scene that Hungary has succeeded in alienating most Hungarians and most non-Hungarians.

    It’s not that most people hate Hungarians. It’s that most people hate whoever thinks they have a monopoly on suffering. And that annoying self-pity has blossomed in Hungary, mostly among Fidesz & Jobbik.

    Draga Csaba! Would it hurt you so much to try to make the first step and empathize with the rest of the Hungarian people? And maybe show empathy to non-Hungarians?

    Csaba :
    Horthy was hated by both communists and Nazis, and he is probably one of the most misunderstood, and often lied about people from the interwar era and WW2.

    Actually, Horthy was probably saved by Stalin.

  22. The screening in the DC Jewish community center was a wonderful night followed by a very interesting conversation.

    I was a bit late. Google duped me – it put the building one block closer on the 16th street. On the way to the building I saw a man, clutching a piece of paper, looking helpless. Looked awefully Hungarian. I love this game. I call it Hungarian spotting. When you suddenly start talking to somebody in Hungarian before they say anything. So I went: “I know. Jewish community center! One more block. Let’s go!” We Hungarians are all the same. We had some small talk about the newsreels we used to have before the movies in Hungary then we got separated in the building. He looked familiar … Then it hit me. Merde! It was Miklos Haraszti! I should have walked slower!

    I believe most of the audience was Jewish (I’m not), probably many of them relatives of Holocaust survivors. So I thought – because if I saw them 2 weeks ago on the new James Bond movie I would have had no idea what ties them together.

    The film is a superb documentary. It stirred up all kinds of emotions in me. I’m still trying to process them. For me it was uplifting and intimidating at the same time. I also felt a bitter rage thinking about how the Hungarian society subconciously conditioned me to be on the “other side” where I don’t want to be. It’s hard to describe. You need take a grip mentally after watching it.

  23. London Calling!

    Thanks for sharing this Mutt – I hope it will be available in England soon.

    Regards

    Charlie

  24. Csaba :
    “By the time the Arrow Cross started rounding up Bp Jews, the rest of the country had been pretty much cleared.”
    That was because of German pressure, had this not have happened, the goverment would have been overthrown, Arrow Cross would have come into power much sooner, and there would be no Jew left in Hungary.
    There was simply no other choice, Horthy was planning to cease fighting already by 1943 Horthy was looking for allies in the West, but they were too far away, and Horthy did what he had to do to preserve Hungary’s independence and to prevent the Arrow Cross from being put into power.

    Agreed, Horthy did what he could to prevent the Arrow Cross takeover, but it was too little, too late – and, to be fair, nothing he did was going to change what happened anyway.

    But that doesnt absolve him from his part in the persecution of the Jews and the creation of such an anti-Semitic atmosphere in Hungary (interesting parallel here with OV).

    And, whilst you are correct, the rounding up of the Jews was done under German pressure, it wasn’t the Germans who did it, and it wasn’t always done reluctantly. If you read any of the personal accounts of that period you will find again and again that it was the zest of fellow Hungarians that made the process such a success. True there were many Hungarians who resisted the round-up or helped the Jews, and many more who did not support what was happening, but I’m afraid that there were also many who did not have to be ‘encouraged’ by the Germans.

    If it was possible for so many Jewish Hungarians to be protected in Budapest, why wasn’t it in the rest of the country? That is a question Hungarians need to honestly face up to – and deal with what it tells us about the deep seated anti-Semitism in Hungarian culture.

  25. @ Paul: don’t go thinking that Hungary suddenly became anti-semitic when the Arrow Cross took power. It was Horthy that restricted all but 5% of Jews from entering university. And that was way back in 1920, way before the rise of Nazi Germany. And before the war, Horthy also began restricting Jews from entering professional or commercial life, and their right to vote. Horthy was a self-declared anti-Semite. It’s not difficult to see the Arrow Cross years as the logical extension and consolidation of what had been happening for decades earlier.

    Why so many Jewish Hungarians were protected in Budapest? Much comes down to the Swedish government, which set up large parts of the 13th district as safe houses.

  26. “If it was possible for so many Jewish Hungarians to be protected in Budapest, why wasn’t it in the rest of the country? That is a question Hungarians need to honestly face up to – and deal with what it tells us about the deep seated anti-Semitism in Hungarian culture.”

    This might not be a nice answer, but it was the truth.
    The countryside Jews were mostly refugees from Poland and Galicia, and were seen as inferior compared to the Budapest Jews, who were mostly successful, factory owners.
    To sum it up, Horthy saw no use for the countryside Jews, so he sacrificed them, to save the more factory owners, etc of Budapest.
    That was the ‘logic’ that was used during that time.

  27. A little OT – just before 7am this morning there was an item on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on the rise of the extreme right in Europe.

    It began with some very disturbing reporting on the Greek Golden Dawn party, but then switched to the other far-right party in Europe with a large number of MPs – Jobbik.

    The Hungarian political situation gets very little coverage over here and almost none on the radio, so I was quite surprised to hear Jobbik being discussed on national British radio at such a time (the Today programme has an almost unbelievable audience of nearly 7 million and around 7 o’clock is it’s peak listenership).

    But this was nothing as to my next surprise – when they then broadcast Gyongyosi’s speech, complete with English translation!

    So Hungary’s (or rather OV’s) shame is complete – when a revered broadcaster wants to highlight the rise of the extreme right in Europe they use not just a Jobbik speech, but one made in the Hungarian parliament.

  28. Csaba :

    “If it was possible for so many Jewish Hungarians to be protected in Budapest, why wasn’t it in the rest of the country? That is a question Hungarians need to honestly face up to – and deal with what it tells us about the deep seated anti-Semitism in Hungarian culture.”

    This might not be a nice answer, but it was the truth.
    The countryside Jews were mostly refugees from Poland and Galicia, and were seen as inferior compared to the Budapest Jews, who were mostly successful, factory owners.
    To sum it up, Horthy saw no use for the countryside Jews, so he sacrificed them, to save the more factory owners, etc of Budapest.
    That was the ‘logic’ that was used during that time.

    Your ignorance is staggering? That Kalocsa’s Jews or Pécs’s Jews were Galician refugees? You’re out of your mind? For Pete’s sake read something on the history of Hungarian Jewry or shut up. One more stupidity like that and you will be flying.

  29. Eva, I am not talking about wartime refugees, but during Austria-Hungary, after Hungary’s economy was greatly improved, many Jewish people migrated to Hungary from other regions of the empire, mainly Galicia.

    Off course, not all countryside Jews were, but there were a number who were, I should have been clearer.

  30. gardonista :
    Csaba :
    Horthy was hated by both communists and Nazis, and he is probably one of the most misunderstood, and often lied about people from the interwar era and WW2.

    Actually, Horthy was probably saved by Stalin.

    He was, but don’t tell that to CSaba, as he does not like to read the truth.

  31. Csaba :

    Eva, I am not talking about wartime refugees, but during Austria-Hungary, after Hungary’s economy was greatly improved, many Jewish people migrated to Hungary from other regions of the empire, mainly Galicia.

    Off course, not all countryside Jews were, but there were a number who were, I should have been clearer.

    You don’t know what you are talking about. The large influx from Galicia occurred in the middle of the 19th-century, that is 100 years before the Holocaust. Four generations grew up during these years and the originally Yiddish-speaking Jews became completely assimilated. In Trianon Hungary you couldn’t find Yiddish-speakers anymore because it was only in the north-eastern corner of Greater Hungary where Orthodox Jews (Hassidic) were found. Around Munkács and Máramarossziget.

    In Trianon Hungary most of the Jews belonged to the so-called “neológ” parishes (hitközség) where the sermons were delivered in Hungarian since the parishioners didn’t know Hebrew or Yiddish. For Pete’s sake, there are some excellent scholarly works on all that. For example, János Gyurgyák’s A zsidókérdés Magyarországon, or Szita Szabolcs, Együttélés,üldöztetés, Holokauszt, or an older book of essays: Zsidókérdés, asszimiláció, antiszemitizmus (1984).

  32. London Calling!

    Of course Csaba – the great historian – has to alter the facts to fit his prejudices and ignorance – and to shoehorn his beliefs into the Fidesz ideology.

    We have a David Irving in England who does the same – not trying to be analytically neutral – just warping the historical time space.

    Csaba – a question?

    Why don’t you and Matolcsy start a blog – called ‘Hungarian Fairytales and Prejudices’

    Should be a real hit with Fidesz and Jobbik.

    And anyway – The Galicians were Turanian – just like Michael Jackson.

    Regards

    Charlie

  33. Bowen :
    @ Paul: don’t go thinking that Hungary suddenly became anti-semitic when the Arrow Cross took power. It was Horthy that restricted all but 5% of Jews from entering university. And that was way back in 1920, way before the rise of Nazi Germany. And before the war, Horthy also began restricting Jews from entering professional or commercial life, and their right to vote. Horthy was a self-declared anti-Semite. It’s not difficult to see the Arrow Cross years as the logical extension and consolidation of what had been happening for decades earlier.
    Why so many Jewish Hungarians were protected in Budapest? Much comes down to the Swedish government, which set up large parts of the 13th district as safe houses.

    I never thought that for one moment – or wrote it!

    As for the situation in Budapest, whilst the Swedish embassy did much to help the Jews, it was only a small part of the overall situation. Mostly the Jews looked after themselves and each other and/or non-Jewish Hungarians helped them – sometimes for money, sometimes out of compassion/solidarity.

    Why they were allowed to do this in Budapest and nowhere else is a complex question. The government effectively turned a blind eye to what it must have known was going on in the capital, whilst enforcing its edicts elsewhere. I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it was down to the large number of educated/liberal people in Budapest and the fact that the embassies, etc were based there. I think Horthy basically didn’t think he could ‘get away with it’ in Budapest, but elsewhere no one knew or cared enough to make a significant fuss. Or perhaps he just saw Budapest as a ‘better’ place or the Budapesti as ‘different’ people – he may even have considered the Budapest Jews as of a ‘better’ class than their provincial cousins?

    As has often been noted, Budapest is a quite extreme case of a capital city, containing a quarter of Hungary’s population, as it does. In many ways it is a different country to the rest of Hungary (especially the south, east and north) and cannot be seen as representative of the country as a whole. (I often say to friends who have spent a weekend in Budapest and claim they have visited Hungary, that all they have done is spend a weekend in Budapest, they haven’t really seen Hungary at all.) So it could just be that different ‘rules’ are/were applied to the capital.

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