Official announcements on the fate of the Jews in Pécs, 1944

A few weeks ago I received a newly published book entitled Kötéltánc (Rope walking) by Sándor Krassó, a Holocaust survivor from Pécs. It is not a work of a professional historian but of an eyewitness, not a comprehensive history of the fate of the Pécs Jewish community but snippets from the year 1944. I managed to identify a few people who appear in the book, among them a high school classmate of my father and the woman who had an elegant children’s clothing store with whom I had quite a dispute over the winter coat I was supposed to get.

Perhaps the most moving part of the book was the list of official announcements that appeared in the local paper, Dunántúl, between March 23 and July 6, 1944, the day the Jewish inhabitants of the city and some smaller towns nearby, about 6,000 people in all, were led to the main railroad station to be sent to Auschwitz. The Pécs Jewish community had been gathered into the ghetto on May 6, which was sealed on May 21. I don’t think I have to add anything to these terse announcements. They speak for themselves. They also happen to be relevant to our discussion about the nature of the Horthy regime’s final days.

March 31: “Jewish households cannot employ Christian servants. … Jewish engineers, actors, lawyers must be removed from the professional associations … From April 5 on all Jews over the age of six must wear on the left side of their coats a canary-yellow six-pointed star.”

April 1: “László Endre, administrative undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, told the reporters of Esti Újság that the government decrees are only the beginning of the final solution of the Jewish question. In the opinion of the Hungarian nation the Jewry is an undesirable element from moral, intellectual, and physical points of view. We must seek a solution that would exclude the Jewry from the life of the Hungarian nation.”

April 6: “On Wednesday the cabinet made the decision to limit the free movement of Jews within the country.”

April 9: “Jews by April 10 must report the details of their radios by registered mail.”

April 15: “A Jew must declare all his assets on official forms. His assets cannot be sold, given to someone else, or pawned.  He must separately declare real estate. A Jew cannot own stocks and cannot have more than 3,000 pengős in cash. Failure to follow this order may mean six months of incarceration.”

April 18: “All Jewish white-collar employees must be dismissed.”

April 19: “Ten people were charged for failure to wear the yellow star… one of them was interned.”

April 21: “All Jewish merchants must shut down their stores.”

April 23: “Jews can receive 300 grams of oil and 100 grams of beef or horse meat per month.”

April 25: “Dismissed Jewish clerks cannot be employed by the same firm even as laborers.”

April 27: “Jews cannot purchase lard.”

April 30: “All Jews must turn in their bicycles to the Pécs police station within twenty-four hours.”

May 4: “Within three days Jews must turn in their musical instruments and pieces of art.. .. For example, pianos, violins, records, paintings, statues, ceramics.”

May 6: [The authorities designated a certain part of town as the ghetto.] “Each room housed five people…. Out of the twenty Jewish doctors in town, five moved into the ghetto.”

The Pécs Railroad Station

Source: http://www.vasutallamasok.hu / The Pécs Railroad Station 

May 10: “Jews cannot take any valuables into the ghetto… They are allowed to take 50 kg total including bedding … Pécs Jews turned in 38 tons of lard, two tons of goose fat, and 60 kg of smoked meat. … Their radios must be turned in on May 11 and 12.”

May 12: “The government commissioner in charge of the press ordered all forbidden Jewish books to be collected for 5 pengős per ton.” [including works by such authors as Heinrich Heine, Martin Buber, Stephan Zweig, and, among Hungarians, Ferenc Molnár, Frigyes Karinthy, and Sándor Bródy]

May 18: “The City of Pécs offers for sale Angora rabbits turned in by the Jews.” [On the same day there were four suicides by Jewish men and women.]

May 20:  “The Pécs police authorities suspect that Jews are giving their jewelry and gold to Christians for safekeeping. All valuables of Jews belong to the state. Christians who harbor such goods will be severely punished. They can be interned.”

May 21: “No Jew’s book can be published…. Tens of thousands of Jewish books will be reduced to pulp…. We are making a reality of what Ottokár Prohászka and Lajos Méhely demanded.”

June 11: “1,200 claims were received for Jewish houses and apartments.”

July 2: “The Jewish ghetto will be closed. The Christian families can move back to their old apartments shortly.”

July 6: [the day Pécs  Jews boarded the box cars] “The ghetto is empty.”

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67 comments

  1. Eva S. Balogh :

    T-D :

    Jano :
    …he did nevertheless have strong feelings about the economic and cultural dominance of the pre-war Hungarian Jewry…

    I do not know if enough to challenge it, so I cannot agree or disagree, but it is something I will look for more information on.

    Jano is correct.

    The discussion is interesting, So because Jewry had an “economic and cultural dominance” Hungarian Jews but also some catholics and protestants who converted were sent to their death. Krisztián Ungváry describes the Hungarian responsibility for this.
    Those Jews and “Jews” were also deported from the territories Hungarians occupied (South Slovakia, Karpatoukraine, North Transylvania, Partium and Bácska/ Bánát). Now rightwing Hungarians are complaining about the dwindling number of Hungarian speakers in those countries. When they do they should be confronted with the fact that without the Horthy administrations zeal, there would be today in those countries many more Hungarian speakers.
    Reminds of the fellow who assassinated his parents and in court when he was asked about
    mitigating circumstances, he said, I am a poor orphan.

  2. My source is “Wilhelmstrasse and Hungary, 1933-1944”, edited by Gy. Ranki, E. Pamlenyi, L. Tilkovszky, Gy. Juhasz

    1. Document #589, Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, March 20, 1944
    2. Document #667, Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, May 22, 1944
    3. Document #691, Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, July 6, 1944

  3. Document #709, Grell to the Foreign Ministry, August 19, 1944

    The Interior Minister [Jaross] told Obersturmbannfuhrer Eichmann that the Hungarian government, with the Regent’s approval will start the deportation of Jews from Budapest on August 25. Although Regent Horthy approved only the deportation of a limited number of Jews, the government decided to deport all Jews except those baptized before January 1, 1941 and 3,000 others the Regent personally excepted.

    THe first transport will leave on August 27 with 20,000 Jews, then 9,000 Jews daily with 3 trains. Only Hungarian “csendőr” units will carry out the concentration.

    ——-

    So it was the Romanians’ change of sides on August 23 that saved the Jews of Budapest

  4. Document #712 Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, August 25, 1944.

    Winkelman SS Obergruppenfuhrer just told me on the telephone, that he had received the order of the Reichsfuhrer [Himmler] at 3 AM that strictly forbids the further deportation of Hungarian Jews immediately.

  5. @tappanch

    That is quite interesting, but completely contrary to the account in Horhthy’s Memoirs. I found an online copy at http://www.hungarianhistory.com/lib/horthy/horthy.pdf and will now go offline until I have had time to read it in full.

    However, I have found the event you mention on page 268 and it goes like this:

    The next step taken by the Germans deliberately flouted the elementary sense of justice of our nation and added much to the odium in which the Germans came to be held. My son Nicholas had established a special chancellery 27 which was in constant communication with the Hungarian Jewish Committee, so that I was kept informed of events and was able to intervene when the opportunity offered 28. Up until June, more than 400,000 persons had been deported. In August, Budapest was to be ‘cleaned up’. 170,000 Jews were registered in the capital and another 110,000 were in hiding at their Magyar friends’. The Deputy Secretaries, Baky and Endre, had planned a surprise action to arrest and deport the Budapest Jews. As soon as news of this reached my ears, I ordered the armoured division which was stationed near Esztergom to be transferred to Budapest 29. Furthermore, I instructed the Chief of the Budapest gendarmerie to assist in preventing the forceful removal of Jews. The fact that this action saved the Jews of Budapest has been confirmed by the members of the Jewish Committees in Hungary, Samu Stern 30 , Dr. Ernô Petô and Dr. Károly Wilhelm, in written statements they made under oath on February 3rd, 1946. I still have photocopies and an English translation of these statements, endorsed by the Swedish Embassy in Rome.

    I have just skimmed a few pages and it seems that Horthy’s great miscalculation with Sztójay was that he was a personal friend of Dr. Veesenmayer who became the head of the German occupation in Hungary.

  6. Document #697, Veesenmayer to the Foreign Ministry, July 11, 1944

    The concentration and deportation of the Jews in Zone V, including the suburbs of Budapest, was finished, as planned, on July 9 – with 55,741 Jews.

    The total result from Zones I to V and suburbs are 437,402.

  7. The 138 death trains going to Auschwitz via Kassa were recorded at the railroad station.

    http://www.degob.hu/english/tables/kassa.html

    Ten other trains went to Auschwitz using other routes.
    Seven trains went to Strasshof (they had a much higher percentage of survivors)
    One train, the Kastner train went to Switzerland via Bergen-Belsen

    There were further trains to German concentration camps from October.

  8. Sajnos angolul nem tudok bekapcsolódni a gondolatcserébe, mert angolul csak olvasni tudok.
    A helyi “keresztény és nemzeti” szellemiségű lapból valóban a posztban közölt információk tudhatók meg, de az nem közölt mindent. A pécsi gettót már június 29-30-án kiürítették, és az embereket mindenüktől megfosztva átterelték az. ún.Lakits-féle huszárlaktanyába. A nőket és gyerekeket a lóállásokba, boxonként 6-8 főt, helyezték el, a férfiaknak a lovardaépület trágyás homokja jutott. Erről a Krassó (eredeti családnevén Schreiber) Sándor ír a könyvében.
    30-án érkezett ugyanide a Mohácsi járás zsidósága (kb. 1.100 fő), július 2-án a bonyhádi régió zsidónak minősített személyei (kb. 1.200 fő).
    A pécsi és Pécs járási zsidókat július 4-én vagonírozták be és deportálták, a mohácsi és bonyhádi zsidókat július 6-án vitték el.
    Az írást illusztráló pécsi főpályaudvarnak nem volt szerepe a deportációban, mert a zsidókat nem innen vitték el, az iparvágányok rámpájához állított marhavagon-szerelvényekben.

  9. tourguide1990 :

    Az írást illusztráló pécsi főpályaudvarnak nem volt szerepe a deportációban, mert a zsidókat nem innen vitték el, az iparvágányok rámpájához állított marhavagon-szerelvényekben.

    Well, it did because my father and my uncle by marriage had a small factory very close to the main railway station on Baron Miklós Bánffy Street (today called “Street of the Martyrs) very close to the railway station. They noticed the group heading toward the station and they ran there. According to my father they were the only ones at the station. So, the industrial ramps had to be very close to the main station. Part of, I would say.

  10. Well, let’s look at several statements posted by the Tappanch/Balogh ” history” (postings. First of all, I would like to state that history is a science and not the airing of opinions, hearsay, or solely furthering political agenda and is devoid of falsification of dates . Proper historians extensively study ALL of the available information and make deductions considering what information is available and also comparing that with the agenda of the writer of the cited sources.
    Tappanch scissored out selective verbiage from the “Wilhelmstrasse es Magyarorszag. 1933-1944” (Budapest 1965) book. Let’s look at a few examples.
    # 709 claiming Horthy approved the next deportation package.
    Tappanch :“The first transport will leave on August 27 with 20,000 Jews, then 9,000 Jews daily with 3 trains. Only Hungarian “csendőr” units will carry out the concentration”
    The actual text shows Aug 25 and not 27.
    However Tappanch ignores #710 is issued on Aug 19 (BEFORE the Aug 23 Rumanian about face) that his (Jaross) previous (#709) is incorrect and that Horthy did not authorize the new deportations and attributes the non-commencement of deportations to the Rumanian events, which occurred on Aug 23.
    Thus Tappanch is misquoting dates and ignoring contrary text, even the one immediately after the one he quotes.
    How much power Veesenmayer has is very evident from #592-1 which is the Hitler signed description of the plenipotentiary powers of Veesenmayer where Point 2 states that the plenipotentiary is responsible for all development of Hungarian politics… and Point 4 which states that the German police and SS units for the coordination of the solution of the Jewish question an SS underling will be named who will act accordingly to Veesenmayer’s instructions.
    Tappanch quote “Document #712 Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, August 25, 1944.
    Winkelman SS Obergruppenfuhrer just told me on the telephone, that he had received the order of the Reichsfuhrer [Himmler] at 3 AM that strictly forbids the further deportation of Hungarian Jews immediately.”
    Tappanch left out an important qualifier at the end “to the Reich”
    How Veesenmayer seen Horthy in those e days is well described in #590 “Horthy lies immensely and physically is incapable of fulfilling his position.”…
    And how Hitler had seen the Jewish issue in Hungary is described by #665 …Hitler said that maybe if we distributed the Jewish goods among the Hungarians we could “activate” the population….
    Well, let’s look at several statements posted by the Tappanch/Balogh ” history” (postings. First of all, I would like to state that history is a science and not the airing of opinions, hearsay, or solely furthering political agenda and is devoid of falsification of dates . Proper historians extensively study ALL of the available information and make deductions considering what information is available and also comparing that with the agenda of the writer of the cited sources.
    Tappanch scissored out selective verbiage from the “Wilhelmstrasse es Magyarorszag. 1933-1944” (Budapest 1965) book. Let’s look at a few examples.
    # 709 claiming Horthy approved the next deportation package.
    Tappanch :“The first transport will leave on August 27 with 20,000 Jews, then 9,000 Jews daily with 3 trains. Only Hungarian “csendőr” units will carry out the concentration”
    The actual text shows Aug 25 and not 27.
    However Tappanch ignores #710 is issued on Aug 19 (BEFORE the Aug 23 Rumanian about face) that his (Jaross) previous (#709) is incorrect and that Horthy did not authorize the new deportations and attributes the non-commencement of deportations to the Rumanian events, which occurred on Aug 23.
    Thus Tappanch is misquoting dates and ignoring contrary text, even the one immediately after the one he quotes.
    How much power Veesenmayer has is very evident from #592-1 which is the Hitler signed description of the plenipotentiary powers of Veesenmayer where Point 2 states that the plenipotentiary is responsible for all development of Hungarian politics… and Point 4 which states that the German police and SS units for the coordination of the solution of the Jewish question an SS underling will be named who will act accordingly to Veesenmayer’s instructions.
    Tappanch quote “Document #712 Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, August 25, 1944.
    Winkelman SS Obergruppenfuhrer just told me on the telephone, that he had received the order of the Reichsfuhrer [Himmler] at 3 AM that strictly forbids the further deportation of Hungarian Jews immediately.”
    Tappanch left out an important qualifier at the end “to the Reich”
    How Veesenmayer seen Horthy in those e days is well described in #590 “Horthy lies immensely and physically is incapable of fulfilling his position.”…
    And how Hitler had seen the Jewish issue in Hungary is described by #665 …Hitler said that maybe if we distributed the Jewish goods among the Hungarians we could “activate” the population….

    Well, let’s look at several statements posted by the Tappanch/Balogh ” history” (postings. First of all, I would like to state that history is a science and not the airing of opinions, hearsay, or solely furthering political agenda and is devoid of falsification of dates . Proper historians extensively study ALL of the available information and make deductions considering what information is available and also comparing that with the agenda of the writer of the cited sources.
    Tappanch scissored out selective verbiage from the “Wilhelmstrasse es Magyarorszag. 1933-1944” (Budapest 1965) book. Let’s look at a few examples.
    # 709 claiming Horthy approved the next deportation package.
    Tappanch :“The first transport will leave on August 27 with 20,000 Jews, then 9,000 Jews daily with 3 trains. Only Hungarian “csendőr” units will carry out the concentration”
    The actual text shows Aug 25 and not 27.
    However Tappanch ignores #710 is issued on Aug 19 (BEFORE the Aug 23 Rumanian about face) that his (Jaross) previous (#709) is incorrect and that Horthy did not authorize the new deportations and attributes the non-commencement of deportations to the Rumanian events, which occurred on Aug 23.
    Thus Tappanch is misquoting dates and ignoring contrary text, even the one immediately after the one he quotes.
    How much power Veesenmayer has is very evident from #592-1 which is the Hitler signed description of the plenipotentiary powers of Veesenmayer where Point 2 states that the plenipotentiary is responsible for all development of Hungarian politics… and Point 4 which states that the German police and SS units for the coordination of the solution of the Jewish question an SS underling will be named who will act accordingly to Veesenmayer’s instructions.
    Tappanch quote “Document #712 Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, August 25, 1944.
    Winkelman SS Obergruppenfuhrer just told me on the telephone, that he had received the order of the Reichsfuhrer [Himmler] at 3 AM that strictly forbids the further deportation of Hungarian Jews immediately.”
    Tappanch left out an important qualifier at the end “to the Reich”
    How Veesenmayer seen Horthy in those e days is well described in #590 “Horthy lies immensely and physically is incapable of fulfilling his position.”…
    And how Hitler had seen the Jewish issue in Hungary is described by #665 …Hitler said that maybe if we distributed the Jewish goods among the Hungarians we could “activate” the population….

  11. @Louis. I hate to tell you but history is not a science and I hope that you don’t consider yourself to be a “historical scientist.” Because I’m afraid your scientific efforts this time didn’t bear fruit.

    On August 19 Horthy approved the deportation of the Budapest Jews but on August 24 he forbid their deportation out of the country. But, it was the the Romanian king’s decision to change sides that prompted him to do so. And that happened on August 23, one day before his decision.

    Otherwise I highly recommend you to read László Karsai’s long article entitled “Miklós Horthy (1868-1957): Legendák, mítoszok és a valóság.” http://beszelo.c3.hu/cikkek/horthy-miklos-1868%E2%80%931957

  12. Dr Balogh: I want to assure you that I don’t give a d**n whether you approve or misapprove my postings. However, I would like to assure you that I am not a “histerical non-scientist”.

    Please remember : Thesis + counterthesis = synthesis. As long as you only consider information that supports your agenda, the result is not history.

    The role of Horthy was not to different from that of either Iraqi or Afghan leader under the total occupation of their respective countries by the US.

  13. Then explain to me how it was possible for Horthy to stop the deportations in July? How was it possible that he could simply say no to the Germans in March and April when they wanted Béla Imrédy to be the prime minister and Horthy refused?

    As for the approval or disapproval of your postings. It is not question of approval or disapproval. Your facts were wrong when you argued with Tappanch. The facts speak for themselves. Horthy’s change of heart occurred after the Romanians changed sides and their armies were at the Romanian-Hungarian border. To state it again: the Romanian switch occurred on August 23 and it was the next day, on August 24 that Horthy forbid the removal of the Budapest Jews from the country. Edmund Veesenmayer, Germany’s representative, doesn’t go and arrests Horthy. Instead he simply announces Horthy’s decision to the German Foreign Ministry and adds that Eichmann is asking for his relief since his mission with Horthy’s decision became superfluous. Does that sound to you as Horthy’s total subjugation by the Germans?

  14. Let’s take Rumania first. Their record is not the best either:
    “Romanian government’s role in murder of more than 400,000 Jews must be widely exposed”
    “The commission compiled undeniable evidence that implicated Romanian culpability in the systematic murder of Jews. It also found that Romania bore responsibility for the deaths of more Jews than any other German allied country other than Germany itself.”
    See: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4142322,00.html
    Dr. Balogh states that “The facts speak for themselves. Horthy’s change of heart occurred after the Romanians changed sides and their armies were at the Romanian-Hungarian border.”
    Let’s look at the facts:
    5 Apr 1944 Soviet troops captured Dorohoi, Romania.
    8 Apr 1944 Ivan Konev ordered Soviet 27th Army and 40th Army to attack Romanian positions near Târgu Frumos. Romania.
    9 Apr 1944 In Romania, Soviet 27th Army captured Târgu Frumos while Soviet 42nd Guards Rifles Division wiped aside Romanian 6th Infantry Division and captured Pascani 14 miles to the west.
    10 Apr 1944 German Großdeutschland Division counterattacked westward from Podu Iloaiei toward Târgu Frumos, Romania. To the south of Târgu Frumos, Romanian 1st Guard Division and Romanian 7th Infantry Division attacked in concert. Soviet troops withdrew from Târgu Frumos by 2200 hours.
    12 Apr 1944 German troops wiped out a small pocket of troops (elements of Soviet 206th Rifle Division and Soviet 3rd Guards Airborne Division) west of Târgu Frumos, Romania.
    31 May 1944 a German counterattack near Iasi, Romania was repulsed.
    2 Jun 1944 Secret peace talks began between Romania and the Soviet Union in Stockholm, Sweden.
    14 Jul 1944 Soviet troops under Rodion Malinovsky captured Iasi, Romania.
    20 Aug 1944 2nd Ukrainian Front and 3rd Ukrainian Front launched the Second Jassy-Kishinev Offensive into northeastern Romania. The Romanian 3rd Army was broken, while Axis shipping was attacked by Soviet aircraft on the Romanian coast.
    21 Aug 1944 Soviet 6th Guards Mechanized Corps separated German 6.Armee from the Romanian 3rd Army in northeastern Romania; as the Germans under Generaloberst Johannes Frießner fell back, Romanian troops began to refuse orders from German officers to engage the Soviets.
    23 Aug 1944 In Bucharest, Romania, King Mihai I removed Marshal Ion Antonescu from power and began to publicly engage the Soviet Union diplomatically. To the northeast, Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front and 3rd Ukrainian Front encircled German 6th Army.
    24 Aug 1944 The Romanian Royal Guards blocked the German attempt to occupy Bucharest as Romania declared war on Germany. German Luftwaffe responded by bombing the Royal Palace.
    25 Aug 1944 King Mihai I of Romania called for war with Germany.
    26 Aug 1944 German forces led by Lieutenant General Reiner Stahel attacked Bucharest, Romania.
    29 Aug 1944 Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front captured the Ploesti oilfields in Romania.
    31 Aug 1944 Soviet forces captured Bucharest, Romania.
    2 Sep 1944 Romanian troops entered the German legation in Bucharest, Romania. German Minister Manfred von Killinger shot himself after citing that a ship’s captain should also go down with a sinking ship; Romanians arrested the remaining diplomats and military attachés including General Erik Hansen, Admiral Werner Tillessen, General Alfred Gertenberg, and General Karl Spalcke.
    5 Sep 1944 Soviet forces repulsed a German-Hungarian counter attack near Klausenberg, Romania.

    So how can Dr. Balogh see Rumanian forces on the Hungarian border in Aug 24? Easley, it fits her agenda even if it is devoid of facts.
    Yes, Horthy had some influence. Mostly because the Germans had no troops available to fight or even disarm the Hungarians also. (Although both cases were discussed in German circles.)

  15. Whether the Romanians were better or worse, or the same is beside the point. So, let’s concentrate on the Hungarian-Romanian border. Of course, they were at the Hungarian-Romanian border. Where else would they have been? They were at home on the Romanian side of the border. And now let me quote from “Magyarország a másik világháborúban. Lexikon A-Zs (1996). On p. 374: “The Romanian army immediately after changing sides, on August 25th, was already attacking Hungarian territories.”

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