Krisztián Ungváry on the memorial to the German occupation of Hungary: “The Living Horror”

Ungvary KrisztianBelow is the English translation of an article by Krisztián Ungváry entitled The Living Horror (Az élő borzalom) that appeared in the original Hungarian in HVG (January 21, 2014). It is about the memorial the Hungarian government insists on erecting despite very strong opposition by historians, the Jewish community, and all those who would like the Hungarian officialdom and people to face historical facts instead of hiding behind a falsified history of the Hungarian Holocaust.

A few words about Krisztián Ungváry. Born in 1969, his interest in history was already evident in his high school days. He won several nationwide history competitions with his writings on history.

After graduating from high school in 1988 he worked for a few months at the Military History Archives cataloging documents pertaining to the Hungarian military in the 1920s. He entered ELTE (University of Budapest) to study history and German in 1989. While still an undergraduate he spent a semester at the University of Freiburg where he did research in the military archives at Freiburg and the allied archives in Koblanz.  He graduated from ELTE with first-class honors in January 1995. 

Right after graduation he began working on his Ph.D. His doctoral dissertation was on the siege of Budapest (1944-45) which was published in Hungary and has had several printings. It was translated into German a year after its appearance in Hungary (Die Belagerung Budapest [1999]). The first English translation of the book  (The Siege of Budapest) appeared in England in 2003 and in the United States in 2006. We discussed Ungváry’s latest book entitled  A Horthy-rendszer mérlege: Diszkrimináció, szociálpolitika és antiszemitizmus  [The Balance Sheet of the Horthy Regime: Discrimination, Social Policy and anti-Semitism in Hungary] (Pécs: Jelenkor, 2013) only recently.

For anyone interested in Krisztián Ungváry’s list of publications, it is available on the Internet. Among them there are several that are also available in German or in English.

This translation is the work of someone who remains anonymous, but it was made public by “Gabi Nagy” on Facebook. Gabi wrote: “Please share. People must know.” 

* * *

On January 17, the Hungarian government decided to erect a monument commemorating the German invasion of Hungary. (…) I would hope that more will be said about the aesthetic qualities of Imre Párkányi Raab’s work – more precisely, its lack of aesthetic qualities. Here, I am concerned only with how he and the Budapest Gallery are falsifying history to ensure that this … sculpture is erected in a public space. This focus is justified because the government, which commissioned the monument, has omitted to consult professional historians before selecting the proposed work. I would like to fill the gap left by that lack of consultation.

The artist says his work “uses the methods of art history and evokes figures from cultural history with allegorical forms. (…) Two cultures are represented: one, which thinks itself stronger, and which is certainly more aggressive, towers above a more tranquil and softer-lined figure, that of the Archangel Gabriel, who represents Hungary. Gabriel, in cultural and religious tradition, is God’s servant or God’s power personified.

“On Heroes’ Square, the Archangel Gabriel sits atop a column, among the clouds. In my composition, he has been laid low. … He is depicted as handsome and tranquil. His body is perfect, and there is no fear in his eyes. His face is tranquil, his eyes are closed. The monument explains that his dream will turn into a nightmare. A culture, its wings broken, is being crushed by a greater power: the Third Reich and the symbol that represents it: the Imperial Eagle. The depiction of the eagle is the exact opposite of the Archangel Gabriel’s. The Imperial Eagle is an assemblage of mass produced icons and symbols. It sweeps in flight across the world. Soon it will reach us and engulf Hungary, putting its inhabitants in chains.”

In the view of the sculptors Miklós Melocco and György Benedek, the work described above is “unique and outstanding in the way it conveys meanings that go beyond the unmistakable message of the explicit symbolism. … The way it reflects history is also remarkable. … We accepted more than 200,000 Polish refugees. Our country was at peace until 1943. The German army massacred as it arrived, and their Hungarian servants in the Arrow Cross movement murdered the country. At most, they intended to leave behind a few Hungarian slaves, temporarily. This lends a terrifying naturalness to the sculpture’s stylised depiction.”

Their opinion is a surprise, because students have been failed at university for less egregious historical distortions. Not to mention that the symbolism is unfortunate. It has already been pointed out that the “Nazi” eagle is actually a German national symbol – making its use in this monument both artistically and politically tasteless. (…)

But the tasteless execution is nothing compared to the historical distortions. Let’s take them in turn:

1. The events of 1944 are, to say the least, more complicated than a story of “bad” Germans fighting “good” Hungarians. Eichmann himself was thrilled by his experiences here, observing that the Hungarians must surely be descended from the Huns since nowhere else had he seen so much brutality “in the course of solving the Jewish question.” So much for the “more tranquil, softer-lined figure”.

2. The German invasion did not put the country’s population in chains. Rather, it opened the way for the country’s right-wing elite to redistribute the possessions of some 800,000 people. Very many people received some share of the spoils, and for that reason they are unlikely to have felt oppressed.

3. Not 200,000 but 70,000 Polish refugees arrived in Hungary. This is also a very large number and a positive story, but it has nothing to do with the German invasion.

4. Hungary was indeed an island of peace for many people until 1944, but not for its Jews. Apart from the more than 100 laws and regulations passed against Jews, there were pogroms in several places (in Kisvárda in 1938, and in Munkács and Máramarossziget in 1942), mass murders (a total of 700 Jews died in Southern Hungary in 1942), the mass deportation of some 17,000 people to Kamenets-Podolskii, continuous deportations of those who escaped until autumn 1942, not to mention inhumanely forced labour, which itself caused the death of more than 10,000 people by 1944. This isn’t as much as the millions of deaths elsewhere, but I wouldn’t call it a small number either.

5. The German army did not commit massacres as it arrived in Hungary. What we refer to as massacres were exclusively planned by the Hungarian authorities and partially carried out by them. Proposals to place the entire Jewish population in ghettos had been floated in Parliament as early as 1941, and it was only the tactical maneuverings of prime minister Miklós Kállay and Miklós Horthy, the head of state, that had stopped the proposals coming to a vote. But by March 1944, Hungary’s state bureaucracy had made the necessary preparations for bringing several hundred thousand people’s lives to a close, making sure that they had fully paid their water, electricity and gas bills before they were loaded into the cattle trucks.

6. Here it’s worth recalling that Hungarian authorities were not just implementing ideas they had got from the Germans. Some anti-Semitic measures were enacted over the protests of the Germans, as with the deportations to Kamenets-Podolskii, where in their eagerness, Hungarian authorities caused a humanitarian catastrophe by sending 10,000 robbed and starving Jews to an already devastated area. Some of them were immediately killed in ‘amateur’ pogroms carried out by local Ukrainian anti-Semites. It was only after this that the Germans decided to kill the Jews in order to ensure there was enough food for the local Ukrainian population, reduce the risk of an epidemic and to further their own anti-Semitic programme. This was the first mass murder in the history of the Holocaust whose number of victims ran into five digits. But the Hungarians behind the deportation had known from the outset that their actions would result in mass murder. Miklós Kozma, government commissioner for Carpatho-Ruthenia, the man principally responsible for the action, wrote as early as 1940 in his diary that “Himmler, Heydrich and the radicals are doing what they want to do. In Poland, people are being exterminated … The Polish Jewish ghetto near Lublin is partially solving the Jewish question, so vast is the scale of the deaths.” In July, news arrived of executions, but this did not stop the perpetrators – symbolised in the present monument by the Archangel Gabriel – from carrying on.

7. The “Arrow Cross servants” had nothing to do with the German invasion. A coalition government was formed in Hungary after the invasion, in which the former government party played a central role alongside Béla Imrédy’s Hungarian Renewal Party and a smaller national socialist party. But the Arrow Cross was NOT part of the government. Indeed, Szalasi, the Arrow Cross leader, criticised the deportations of the Jews, saying it was a waste of the nation’s labour reserves. One current ruling party politician said that the Hungarian state’s sovereignty was limited at this time because “a large part of the cabinet had been arrested.” Let’s count: two members of the Kállay government were arrested by the Gestapo – the prime minister himself and the interior minister. Nine ministers were not just free, but members of the new cabinet. Put it differently: there were only two members of the new, post-invasion government who had not been ministers before 1944. To be sure, one of the exceptions was the Döme Sztójay, the new prime minister, but both exceptions had been part of the pre-1944 Hungarian upper elite. Hardly “a large part of the cabinet”.

8. Eliminating the Hungarian nation did not feature among the goals of the German invasion or even long-term Nazi plans. The claim that they would have “temporarily left behind a few enslaved Hungarians” is completely false. The Nazis intended to exterminate Slavs and Jews, not others. Finally, it is exceptionally sneaky to argue that the monument “is dedicated to the memory of all victims,” as government party politician Antal Rogán has claimed. The German occupiers were responsible only for a relative handful of victims. Easily 99 percent of the deaths were caused by the Hungarian authorities who enthusiastically deported the Jews, and it was also the Hungarians that profited. When the unfortunates finally arrived in Auschwitz, everything had already been taken from them, including their wedding rings.

It is very wrong to try and pretend that both victim and murderer were on the same side. But this is what is being done. Authorities didn’t even consider building a central Holocaust memorial – and that’s no coincidence, since it would then be necessary to discuss Hungarians’ roles in all this. It would be very noble if someone whose grandfather died as a soldier on the banks of the Don river or had been killed while carrying out forced labour, were to mourn alongside someone whose grandfather had been driven out in 1944 and then been killed by German or Hungarian authorities. But this monument excludes that possibility by showing no empathy for a group of victims in whose death Hungarian authorities played a central role.

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88 comments

  1. Eliezer :
    Professor Krisztián Ungváry writes:
    “Proposals to place the entire Jewish population in ghettos had been floated in Parliament as early as 1941, and it was only the tactical maneuverings of prime minister Miklós Kállay and Miklós Horthy, the head of state, that had stopped the proposals coming to a vote.”
    While I am surprised to see a positive sentence about Horthy from a historian who is generally against him, …

    There is nothing positive about Horthy in that sentence, which does only acknowledge the competition beetween rabid anti-semites in Parliament and calculating anti-semites in Government from 1938 on.

    Here’s a little quote about Horthy’s Finance minister from March 1938 to October 1944: Mr. Reményi-Scheller said that the Jew Bill had to be written so as to give satisfaction to the anti-Semites and at the same time not to destroy the opportunity to raise money for the five-year plan. He said that any sincere person would be satisfied because the bill was a commencement and if public sentiment demanded more drastic measures the principle had been laid down and it was now easier to do it.” – Montgomery, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, April 14, 1938.

  2. Ed:
    “No, but Jaross was a member of Béla Imrédy’s government already in 1938. And it was Jaross who picked Endre and Baky. And, of course, it was Horthy who appointed all of them.”

    But not of Kallay’s government, right? You are trying to claim a continuity from Kallay’s government to that of Sztójay’s. There is none.

    “Some people look at Slovak “state” during 2WW – reign of Tiso similarly to some people in Hungary on Horty “Hungary”.”

    Some. But the Jews ran from Slovakia to Hungary and not vice versa.

  3. “But the Jews ran from Slovakia to Hungary and not vice versa.”

    Yes, that was their biggest mistake – and for many it was the last one …

    So this shows that Hungarian governments have always been very good at hiding their intentions?

    Sometimes I wonder what you’re trying to prove …

  4. Eliezer :

    Ed:
    “No, but Jaross was a member of Béla Imrédy’s government already in 1938. And it was Jaross who picked Endre and Baky. And, of course, it was Horthy who appointed all of them.”

    But not of Kallay’s government, right? You are trying to claim a continuity from Kallay’s government to that of Sztójay’s. There is none.

    Eliezer, it’s a good thing to check before you categorically announce something to be true or false. It is not very difficult to find out that you are wrong. Enough to read the list of cabinet ministers in all three governments during 1944. You claim that there is no continuity whatsoever between the Kállay and the Sztójay governments. But as you can see, this is not the case.

    So, let’s see it The Kállay government had an incredible number of ministers: 19 in all. The Sztójay and Lakatos governments were much smaller. Each had only 11 cabinet posts.

    So, out of the eleven ministers of the Sztójay government four served in the Kállay government and three in the Lakatos government. And these are only the ministers. I have no easy way of checking from here how many undersecretaries remained.

    In the tghe Kállay government: (1) István Antal, (2) Lajos Csatay, (3) Lajos Reményi-Schneller,and (4) Lajos Szász. In the latter: (1) Lajos Csatay, (2) Lajos Reményi-Schneller, and it also included the minister of interior from the Sztójay government: Miklós Bonczos who was the minister of interior. Keep it in mind that it was the minister of interior who was in charge of the deportations. Bonczos most likely would have been sentenced to death after the war but he had the good sense of escaping alongside the German troops. He emigrated to Argentina where many of these war criminals ended up.

  5. Eva, you have not yet managed to catch me with a factual error (which is possible, of course). I wrote that “Andor Jaross, László Endre and László Baky were NOT members of Kallay’s government”. Is that right or wrong?

    That demand to fire Kallay was a reason for the entire occupation (Hitler demanded it a year earlier as well) – right or wrong?

    That there was no any continuity in the policies of Kallay and Sztójay – right or wrong?

    And that the minister of Interior of Kallay was a benevolent Kerestes-Fisher immediately arrested by Gestapo – right or wrong?

    As regards to Lajos Csatay (who committed suicide on Oct. 16) – he probably was the only one who had a continuity in his policy and tried to help the Jews in army labor battalions.

    Two personal questions: 1) In my article I am using a photo of the new monument from your article published couple days ago, with proper reference – any objection? 2) Do you read in Russian?
    Eliezer

  6. I am finishing any discussion with you on the members of the the Kallay government who also served in the Sztójay government. You said that there was no continuation whatsoever in the personnel of the two. Four names were not enough for you. So, let’s put an end to this discussion for good.

  7. I told what I told that 3 main perpetrators were NOT in Kallay’s governemnt. And that there was nothing in common between the two governments in their Jewish policies.

  8. A picture of the proposed monument in discussion, from your article:
    “One statue comes, another one goes. Maybe”, January 20, 2014;

  9. Eva wrote:
    “Miklós Bonczos who was the minister of interior. Keep it in mind that it was the minister of interior who was in charge of the deportations.”

    I even did not mention this name. He was appointed on August 17th, 1944, 8 days before replacement Sztójay with Lakatos, and served until October 12. Hie name has no relation to what I wrote.

  10. Eliezer, you would have been wise to leave the subject of who was who in what government in 1944 alone. You keep insisting that there was no continuation of government officials between the Kállay and the subsequent governments. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time to check out every minister’s past in the Sztójay government. I simply mentioned four ministers whom the two governments had in common. But you kept insisting. So, by the end, I decided to look more thoroughly into this matter. You will not be happy.

    As I mentioned earlier the Sztójay government had nine ministers out of whom only Andor Jaross hadn’t been member of a previous government.

    So, István Antal, minister of justice and minister of education and religious matters, was undersecretary of state in the ministry of justice between April 17 1935 and April 1 1938 and again between April 2 1938 and April 17, 1942. He was minister without portfolio in charge of national defense propaganda between April 17, 1942 and March 22, 1944.

    Miklós Bonczos, minister of interior, was undersecretary in the ministry of interior between December 14 1938 and July 14,1942 when he became undersecretary in the Ministry of Justice (July 14 1942 to August 7, 1944). He was minister of justice between August 7, 1944 and October 12, 1944.

    Lajos Csatay became minister of defense on June 12, 1943 and served until October 12, 1944. He committed suicide after he was arrested by the Gestapo.

    Béla Imrédy served between May 23 and August 7,1944 as minister of the economy. He served as finance minister between October 1, 1932 and January 6, 1935, when he became the governor of the Hungarian National Bank. After his return he served as foreign minister until 1938 when he became prime minister.

    Andor Jaross indeed was not a member of previous Hungarian governments. The only one!

    Béla Jurcsek, minister of agriculture, was undersecretary in the ministry of commerce and transport. He also was member of the Szálasi government. Committed suicide on the run somewhere in Germany.

    Antal Kunder, minister of commerce and transportation, was undersecretary in the same ministry in 1938-39 when he became ministry of industry (November15- 1938-25 July 1939).

    Jenő Rátz, minister without portfolio, designated deputy to the prime minister, was minister of defence between 14 May 1938 and November 15, 1938).

    Reményi-Schneller, finance minister, was undersecretary in the ministry of finance between March 9, 1938 and October 16, 1944. He also became Szálasi’s finance minister (October 16, 1944–March 27,1945). He was executed as a war criminal.

    Lajos Szász, minister of industry, was undersecretary in the ministry of finance between June 30, 1937 and Oct. 19, 1942. Between October 19, 1942 and Aug 29, 1944 he was minister without portfolio in charge of food supply. He became Szálasi’s minister of commerce and transportation between October 16 and March 27, 1944). He was condemned to death as a war criminal.

    I hope that this will put an end to this useless hairsplitting.

  11. @Eliezer: in your first comment you mentioned Jaross, Baky and Endre not being former members of the Kállay Cabinet as a counter-argument to Ungváry saying “there were only two members of the new, post-invasion government who had not been ministers before 1944.” (emphasis mine).

    1) Since the only minister in the lot was Jaross, and he had already held such a title before 1944, your counter-argument is not valid even if your facts are accurate.

    2) You attempted to reframe the issue by mentioning specifically “Kállay’s government” and the notion of “main perpetrators”, two items which didn’t appear in Ungváry’s sentence.

    Though this move itself borders on trolling, it seems obvious to me that you are merely defending the same thesis as the current Hungarian Government would have us swallow. This thesis – that of a benevolent, protective State before March 44 – is wrong.

    The Kállay Cabinet consistently pursued the anti-Semitic policies of the previous years, refusing the re-entry of Hungarian Jews abroad, enacting new laws and decrees meant to further strip them of their possessions and livelihood, developing the forced labor service, denying them any right to justice (as in the case of the massacre of several hundred Jewish forced laborers near Zhitomir in 1943), allowing for an unbelievable level of anti-Semitic expression in the press and civil society, and finally entertaining the idea that a hundred thousand Hungarian Jews from the annexed territories could possibly be deported to the Reich.

    Was the situation of Jews in the surrounding countries worse at the same period? Often. Did the German invasion favor a quick evolution towards ghettoisation, deportation and mass murder? Indeed. However, unless you’re ready to disregard completely years of historical studies on the subject, none of these points weigh much in regard of the severe process of civic, social and economic deprivation the Hungarian State continuously submitted its Jewish and Roma citizens to.

    Realized not only with all the scientific resources of a modern state, but also tragically disguised under the promise of modernity itself, this process was an integral part of the extermination. This is what those drawing the line today in March 1944 would like us to forget – whereas this is what we, children of the European modernity, should all try to understand about the Holocaust.

  12. Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Andor Jaross indeed was not a member of previous Hungarian governments. The only one!

    As you noted before, Jaross was a minister (for the annexed territories, without portfolio) under Imrédy beetween Nov. 38 and Feb. 39.

    Sorry, you are right. I got mixed up with all these dates and names. Jaross was minister of the returned Czechoslovak areas between November 15, 1938 and April 1, 1940.

    So, Sztójay was alone in this case. He was only ambassador to Germany between 1935 and 1944. So, he was only the representative of the Hungarian government.

  13. MarcelDé has rightly mentioned again that long before the Germans took over in 1944 Hungary treated its Jewish people badly,putting some of them into labour camps e g.

    I’ve written before about the famous mathematician Turán Pál who was sent to one of the camps in 1940! Just consider this: A world famous scientist is sent to a labour camp???

    Does anyone know how many Jews had to endure this and on what basis were they selected? Sounds really crazy to me?

    Some background info on Turán (not too mathematical …) you find here:
    http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Turan.html

    “One might have expected that this brilliant young mathematician would have easily found a university position. However, this was far from the case since the severe discrimination against him because of his Jewish origins meant that he could not even obtain a post as a school teacher. In order to support himself financially, and give himself the chance to continue his mathematical researches, he had to make a living as a private mathematics tutor. By the end of 1938, five years after his first paper appeared, he had sixteen papers in print in internationally important journals world-wide. At last he managed to get a position as a school teacher when, in 1938, he was appointed as an assistant teacher of mathematics at the Hungarian Rabbinical Training School in Budapest. “

  14. Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
    January 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm | #13 Quote

    “Though this move itself borders on trolling,…”

    Since this is the 2nd time I am accused here on trolling, I just see how intolerant this place to any dissent though the main line of discussion on this site is highly controversial. And though you that I am rather well-informed on the topic.

    But you mention one piece of information that I have been unfamiliar with:

    “as in the case of the massacre of several hundred Jewish forced laborers near Zhitomir in 1943),”

    I would be greatly obliged for a reference about the case. Thank you.

  15. Eliezer :

    And though you that I am rather well-informed on the topic.

    But you mention one piece of information that I have been unfamiliar with:

    I’m sorry I don’t see here a well-informed person. You argue until blue in the face trying to deny the connection between the Sztójay government and its predecessors. And then it turns out that you are wrong. Facts prove that you are wrong. That not question of tolerance or intolerance. You are simply wrong. Factually.

  16. “Facts prove that you are wrong. That not question of tolerance or intolerance. You are simply wrong. Factually.”

    I see exactly the same about you. But since I cannot think you, being a professor in the area, do not know the basic facts, I have come to see you as a leader of a political party with a certain agenda. I have written an article on the topic, almost a book (about 100 pages long) in Russian, and I am pretty confident in knowing the facts. Some were taken from your publications.

    Mr. Marcel De writes:
    “you are merely defending the same thesis as the current Hungarian Government would have us swallow. This thesis – that of a benevolent, protective State before March 44 – is wrong.”

    I do not read your internal newspapers and may only guess the position of your present government. But if this is its thesis, I agree with it except one word: “benevolent’. After removing this word, the thesis is true 100% and the fact. Pity you feel need to fight it by re-writing the history.

    I am stopping this useless discussion. When my paper is published, I will give here the reference, the abstract and the table of content in English. Maybe still some of your readers would be interested.

  17. @eliezer: nothing personal I assure you, everyone likes a win. But the whataboutery seemed obvious.

    The massacre of Hungarian Jewish slave laborers at Kupyshche (Купищі) on April 29., 1943 is mentioned in Braham, The Hungarian Forced Labor Service (p. 39) & The Politics of Genocide (p. 45). Also in Lower, Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine (p. 150).

    And probably in Ungváry, Hungarian Occupation Forces in the Ukraine which as far as I remember also revealed several instances of Hungarian officers collaborating with their German colleagues for the murder of Ukrainian Jews beetween 41 and 43.

  18. Eliezer :
    Mr. Marcel De writes:
    “you are merely defending the same thesis as the current Hungarian Government would have us swallow. This thesis – that of a benevolent, protective State before March 44 – is wrong.”
    I do not read your internal newspapers and may only guess the position of your present government. But if this is its thesis, I agree with it except one word: “benevolent’. After removing this word, the thesis is true 100% and the fact. Pity you feel need to fight it by re-writing the history.

    So, if I’m not mistaken, according to your future paper the Hungarian State before March 1944 was protective of its Jewish citizens?

    Just my opinion of course, but I find it impossible to consider that a functioning state consistently stripping its citizens from all their rights is protective in any way, in any context. I just wish that you may read Braham and Hilberg some day, it’s a pity neither have been translated in Russian.

  19. Thank you. A quote in return:

    “By the second half of 1943, Hungarian Jews had become firmly convinced that they would survive the war under the continued protection of the aristocratic-conservative regime of Miklos Kallay. The conviction of the Jews was founded on the assumption that Hungary, an independent member of the Axis alliance, would continue to remain sovereign under the leadership of Kallay government. The assumption was shattered in the spring of 1944, when Germany, having become convinced of Hungary’s resolve to extricate herself from the Axis, decided to occupy the country. The occupation virtually ended Hungary’s existence as a sovereign state and eliminated the governmental and political leadership on which the Jews dependent for their protection.”

    I assume this writer is “simply wrong. Factually.” He is Randolph L. Braham, p. 13 of the abbreviated edition of his book “The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary,”

  20. “I just wish that you may read Braham and Hilberg some day, it’s a pity neither have been translated in Russian.”

    My friend, our quotes crossed in mail – I sent you “my” quote not yet knowing about your valuable (and arrogant) advice. Don’t you think arrogance is a poor substitute for logic and knowledge?

  21. “Just my opinion of course, but I find it impossible to consider that a functioning state consistently stripping its citizens from all their rights is protective in any way,”

    But, if we talk without trying to offend, can’t you understand that this was exactly the case?
    Can you imagine Kallay almost DAILY receiving German demands for deportations and daily rejecting them? Can you imagine him asking the governmental party of what conditions they would allow him to function and receiving the firm reply that the condition is antisemitism?

    Functioning state? At those years and those conditions? Just Kallai-Kettos was possible.

  22. “…from all their rights is protective in any way”…

    P.S. Rights did not matter in those days, only life.

  23. Eliezier: A state that takes away the very basic rights of some of its citizens and treats them as “less than” bears responsibility when the situation culminates in murder…. whether the original intention was to kill or not.

  24. @eliezer

    Sorry, but your logic seems fuzzy again. In the quote, Braham accurately reports (he develops the subject extensively further) that most Hungarian Jews believed that the regime was protective. It doesn’t mean he thinks they were right to think so.

    As a matter of fact, Braham writes a few lines later: “Having survived most of the war, the Hungarian Jews, highly patriotic and largely assimilated, developed a basically false sense of security. Even though they, too, experienced the consequences of the anti-Jewish drive of the wartime era – they suffered more than sixty thousand casualties before the German occupation – they continued to delude themselves to the very end.”

  25. @Eliezer

    Mussolini, Antonescu (also allies of the Reich) and even Pétain (who wasn’t an ally, though he tried hard to offer his services) did also reject German demands at the same period. It was a common bargaining chip, even more so after they acknowledged the possibility that Hitler could fail against the Soviet Union.

    In the case of Hungary, exploiting Jews for financial gain as much as possible was a clear strategy from 1938 on, as illustrated by Reményi-Schneller’s conversation with Montgomery. But apart from straight out robbing of liquid assets, such exploitation was time-consuming since in many cases you couldn’t just ‘magyarize’ someone’s business and hope it would instantly perform as well.

  26. Eliezer :
    “…from all their rights is protective in any way”…
    P.S. Rights did not matter in those days, only life.

    Of course I disagree.

    Hungary wasn’t Poland, nor Belarus nor Ukraine – which is why I mentioned the notion of a ‘functional state’. Much like Germany or France, it wasn’t a war zone where action could be self-motivated. It needed laws, registers, lawyers, notaries, genealogists, physicians, associations etc.

    Rights were of the utmost importance – and progressive, systematic deprivation of rights lead to death. Allow me to be arrogant once more and suggest a movie: Monsieur Klein (Joseph Losey, 1976).

  27. It is strange and sad that Eliezer (I still wonder what his motives are …) tries to describe the efforts of the Hungarian state before 1944 as a kind of “protector of the Jews”:

    We don’t kill them outright – just a few (and those were not Hungarian citizens, no …), we sent them to war in Russia (unarmed of course and without clothes and food), we just put them into labour camps (where some will die of course from overwork and malnutrition …), we just take away their businesses, their jobs and their valuables, we put them into prison if they have sex with a non-Jew, and so on …

    As someone wrote “Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws were among the most lenient …”

    A really bizarre interpretation of reality!

  28. @wolfi : I don’t find it bizarre, on the contrary this is a very common conception, in Hungary of course and often abroad, too.

    In France as well until the 80s it was commonplace for people to think that it was all the Germans’ fault, and since so many Jews had survived it hadn’t been that bad. Then some major academic and artistic works were published, a couple of high-profile trials were held, not to mention the controversy on Pdt. Mitterrand’s friendship with a certain former Chief of Police…

    In both cases (France and Hungary), I think the main responsibility of those misconceptions lays with the political class of the post-War regimes. Both the Hungarian communists and the French gaullists-socialists-communists found it easier not to scratch the surface of their country’s history during the pre-war and war years.

  29. Wolfi:
    January 29, 2014 at 3:39 am | #29 Quote
    ” Eliezer (I still wonder what his motives are …) ”

    I wonder as well. What are your hypotheses?

    Marcel De:
    “French gaullists-socialists-communists…”

    All together? Gaulissts with communists? So who then on the right side?

  30. @Eliezer: indeed, together; an alliance forged when domestic & foreign Resistance movements were unified. Roughly speaking the right-wing was gaullist.

    By the way, blaming only ‘Germany and a handful of fascists’ was a certainly a useful narrative to heal the country immediately after the war. Since it took the French 40 years to develop a far more accurate one, and the subject was more or less frozen in Hungary for decades, I don’t blame Hungarians who still buy it. But I do blame the current Hungarian Government for entertaining it today. It is neither valid nor useful for the country’s future, unless you want to pull it backwards.

  31. wolfi writes: “It is strange and sad that Eliezer (I still wonder what his motives are …) tries to describe the efforts of the Hungarian state before 1944 as a kind of “protector of the Jews”

    Just an example in 1942 the German authorities initiated a collection and deportation of Jews in German controlled territories. The Romanian government objected because the discriminatory measures applied to Rumanian, Croatian and Slovak Jews but not to Hungarian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Italian and Swiss Jews. Similar events occured in 1943 also. Hungarian Jewish citizens could still travel in German controlled areas with Hungarian passprts. For this and more issues see”The Holocaust in Romania” by Radu Ionaid.(2000)

  32. @Louis:

    You’re diverting again – kindergarden logic …
    This is about Hungary!

    I gave you the example of the famous mathematician Turán Pál who was sent to a labour camp in 1940 – how did the Hungarian government “protect” him?
    He probably would have died working there if it hadn’t been for that guard who wondered about his name …

    And Turán was invited to Denmark (after the war) by Harald Bohr (brother of the Nobel prize winner) and then to the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton (where Gödel and Einstein worked) – compare this to the way Hungary treated him.

    PS.

    You might of course say that Turán was lucky to get into this labour camp – the rest of his family was killed …

  33. @Louis Kovach : simple jealousy beetween Adolf’s pets.

    Protection? In France, the rounding-up of Hungarian Jews started in 1941, and went on the following years. They were interned in concentration camps such as Drancy or Compiègne. Those who could not prove their Hungarian citizenship (and consular authorities did little to help them) were classified as ‘NR’ (citizenship not recognized) and good for deportation. The others were left to rot in horrible conditions.

    Those who were not interned (yet) were made to wear the yellow star in the summer of 1942, a few weeks before the Romanian Jews – another ‘protected’ category, I wonder if Horthy did protest… As the French anti-Semitic legislation was closing in on all Jews, even the few who for various reason had enjoyed a relative protection, like Dr. Legmann (then head of the Hungarian-French dispensary, who actually helped many of his compatriots to get away from the machine) were deprived of their livelihood and abandoned to the arbitrary of the French police, German forces, and simple neighbors. No wonder so many Hungarian and Romanian Jews joined the armed resistance !

    That’s the kind of ‘protection’ the Hungarian Government provided. While at the same time, it did everything NOT to repatriate its Jewish citizens living abroad, dodging seven deadlines agreed upon with the Germans beetween Sept. 1942 and Aug. 1943.

  34. Ad: Elieser January 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm. “But the Jews ran from Slovakia to Hungary and not vice versa”.

    The vast majority of politicians of present Slovakia does not claim that the Slovak state during 2WW protect (Slovak) Jews. Some Jews (because of their profession, function) have so called exception.

    And how was – in your opinion – situation of (Slovak) Jews, Gypsies (Romas) and Slovaks in south parts of Slovakia (Slovak part of 1st Czechoslovakia) occupied by Horty´s Hungary after Munich treaty ?

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