The Holocaust in Hungary
Spring 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the mass deportations of Hungarian Jews, a seminal event in Holocaust history that continues to impact our world today. The Museum co-organized a major conference to present recent scholarship on this history and commemorated the anniversary during Days of Remembrance.
Until spring 1944, Axis-allied Hungary was home to the only major Jewish community still largely intact in Central Europe. As the war turned against the Axis, the Hungarian government of Regent Miklos Horthy initially refused to deport the Jews of Hungary to the Nazi killing centers, though it had subjected them to wide-ranging discrimination and taken steps that had already resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands.
After Horthy agreed to send Hungarian Jews to Germany “for labor” and then consented in March 1944 to have Germany occupy his country unopposed, the new government he appointed used the full range of Hungarian civilian, military, and police authorities to ghettoize, force onto trains, and then deport an estimated 440,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Most were murdered on arrival. By mid-July, the only Jews left in Hungary were in Budapest.
The Recent Rise in Antisemitism
Today Holocaust history in Hungary is under serious threat. The rise of antisemitism there in recent years has coincided with efforts to rehabilitate wartime political leaders and others who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany and collaborated in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
Today Holocaust history in Hungary is under serious threat.
Paul A. Shapiro, director of the Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, recently testified before Congress on the severity of the situation. Citing the vandalism of three major Holocaust-related monuments in Budapest, he said, “Assaults on Jewish institutions and members of the Jewish community have become more common, which is an outgrowth, in my opinion, of the government’s attempts to revise Hungary’s Holocaust history, lay blame on the victims, and exonerate the perpetrators.”
The Museum has called on the leaders of Hungary to unequivocally renounce all forms of antisemitism and racism and to reject every effort to honor those responsible for the genocide of Europe’s Jews.
On March 19, 2014, the Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies presented The Holocaust in Hungary: 70 Years Later, a major conference co-organized with the Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Mandel Center Director Paul A. Shapiro delivered opening remarks (PDF) and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Randolph L. Braham of CUNY delivered a groundbreaking analysis on the history and legacy of assaults on the historical memory of the Holocaust in Hungary (PDF).