Jews

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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