One-Day Symposium, November 9, 1999
The Holocaust in Hungary, as elsewhere, leaves many questions unanswered—history provides as many puzzles as clues. Scholars refer to a "Golden Age" for Hungarian Jews from the end of the nineteenth century to World War I, when the the country was hospitable to Jewish emigration and assimilation, and when the Hungarian kingdom enjoyed the support and loyalty of its Jewish population.
The Hungarian Jewish community was the largest community to be deported so late in the war, and those outside Budapest were deported with frightening speed. Yet, until the German occupation in March 1944, Hungary was a place where Jews could still find refuge from the Holocaust.
The Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies sponsored this symposium to examine the impact of the Holocaust on Hungary and the efforts of Hungary to confront its past and come to terms with the implications.
Session I: Welcoming Remarks and Background Presentation
Welcoming Remarks—Paul Shapiro, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Paul A. Shapiro is Director, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, USHMM. He served earlier as Assistant to the Museum Director for Special Projects. Before joining the Museum, Mr. Shapiro was involved for over a decade in the development of the Museum’s archival collections. A specialist in the Holocaust in Romania and a former editor of the Journal of International Affairs (New York) and Problems of Communism (Washington), Mr. Shapiro holds degrees in government, international affairs, and history from Harvard University and Columbia University.
Hungary, the Holocaust, and Hungarians: Remembering Whose History?—Tim Cole, Lecturer, Department of Historical Studies, University of Bristol, and 1999–2000 Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Tim Cole has been on faculty at the University of Bristol, where he has taught twentieth century European social history since 1995. He did his undergraduate and postgraduate work at the University of Cambridge. In 1997, he was awarded his PhD on the ghettoization of the Jewish community in Budapest in 1944. His research interests focus on the Hungarian Holocaust, geographies of the Holocaust, and contemporary representation of the Holocaust. For the academic year 1999–2000, he is the Pearl Resnick Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, working on geographies of ghettoization in Hungary.
Session II: The Holocaust in Hungary
Three scholars offer their perspectives on how Hungary has come to terms with its involvement in the Holocaust.
Continuities and Transformations in Post-War Anti-Semitism in Hungary—Paul A. Hanebrink, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Chicago, and Fellow, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Paul A. Hanebrink is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Chicago and was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies between September and December, 1999. The dissertation he is writing is entitled The Defense of Christian Hungary: The Christian Churches and the Rise of Political Antisemitism in Hungary, 1919–1944. Mr. Hanebrink has received many scholarships, including a Fulbright grant, the ACLS Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, an honorary Mellon Fellowship, and the Javits Fellowship.
Retribution or Revenge? War Crimes Trials in Post World War II Hungary—István Deák, Seth Low Professor, Department of History, Columbia University
- István Deák is the Seth Low Professor, Emeritus, of History in the Department of History at Columbia University. He received his MA and PhD from Columbia University. He was the chairman of the American Association for the Study of Hungarian History in 1980 and the Director of the Institute on East Central Europe at Columbia University between 1967 and 1980. His research concerns nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, specifically collaboration, resistance, and retribution in Europe during and after World War II. He is the author of numerous articles, research notes, reviews, and books, including Weimar Germany’s Left-Wing Intellectuals: A Political History of the Weltbühne and Its Circle and Beyond Nationalism: A Social and Political History of the Habsburg Officer Corps, 1848–1918.
Assault on Historical Memory: Hungarian Nationalists and the Holocaust—Randolph Braham, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Director, Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, City University of New York
Randolph L. Braham is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Director, Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Member, Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Publication of his two-volume work The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry: A Documentary Account (1963) distinguished Dr. Braham as a pioneer scholar in Holocaust Studies. He is coeditor (with Scott Miller) of The Nazis’ Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary (Wayne State University Press, published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1998) as well as author and editor of more than three dozen other works on the Holocaust in central and eastern Europe.
Session III: Survivors’ Perspectives of the Holocaust in Hungary
Four survivors offer their perspectives of the impact of the Holocaust on Hungary
George Pick, Arlington, Virginia
- George S. Pick was born in Budapest, Hungary, and spent his childhood there during the war. In 1956, Mr. Pick received a diploma in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Budapest. He left Hungary during the revolution of that year and settled in the United States. He joined the faculty of Catholic University as an instructor in 1957, earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from that institution in 1962, and became an assistant professor of mechanical engineering there in 1963. In addition to teaching, he was a part-time consultant with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 1962 and with the National Engineering Science Company in 1964, which he joined in 1965. He went to Naval Ship Research and Development Center in 1966 as an aerospace engineer, where his principal area of activity was high-speed gas dynamics. Between 1977 and 1988, Mr. Pick worked as an Engineering Manager in the Navy’s High Energy Laser Program Office. He was Systems Engineering Manager in the NATO Seasparrow Project Office from 1988 to 1994. Mr. Pick retired from the government in January 1995 but continues to work as a private consultant. He has been a volunteer with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum since January 1993.
Albert L. Lichtmann, MD, McLean, Virginia
- Albert L. Lichtmann was born in Budapest, Hungary. He attended a public elementary school for four years and then spent eight years at the Budapest Jewish High School. His education was interrupted at age 16, when he was taken to a forced-labor camp. He survived the war and returned to Budapest to finish high school. Upon graduation, he entered Peter Pazmany Medical University of Budapest, obtaining his license to practice medicine in 1953. He was a doctor in Hungary until the uprising in 1956, when he escaped to the United States. After becoming licensed to practice medicine in the United States, Dr. Lichtmann became a specialist in the field of anesthesiology. He has practiced at both Fairfax Hospital and Northern Virginia Doctors Hospital, where he was Chief of Anesthesiology for 25 years. Dr. Lichtmann retired in 1998, after 36 years in the field, and now resides in Northern Virginia.
Eva Hevesi-Ehrlich, Bethesda, Maryland
- Eva Hevesi-Ehrlich was born in Budapest, Hungary, but resided with her family in the country town of Székesfehérvár until the age of six. The family returned to Budapest when her father was offered a position as one of the associate rabbis at the Dohanyi Synagogue. She attended Budapest public elementary and high schools and then went on to apply to universities. Being Jewish, she was not accepted to the school of her choice. She managed to attend another university, however, and took courses in the arts and sciences, although she wished to pursue a career in medicine. She was forced to leave the university shortly after the Nazi occupation began. She returned to Budapest after the war, received her certificate, and then emigrated to the United States. She has worked at the Library of Congress and in the fields of real estate and interior design. Mrs. Hevesi-Ehrlich has been a wife of almost fifty years, and is the mother of three and the grandmother of five. She currently resides in Maryland.
Rabbi Laszlo Berkowits, Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church, Virginia
Rabbi Laszlo Berkowits is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia, where he served from his ordination in 1963 until his retirement as Senior Rabbi in July 1998. A native of Hungary, Rabbi Berkowits earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati; and a Bachelor of Hebrew Letters degree, a Master of Hebrew Letters degree, and a Doctor of Divinity degree at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, Throughout his distinguished career in Falls Church, Rabbi Berkowits has focused his attention on religious, civic and humanitarian concerns. He is a member of the Virginia Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights and serves on the DC Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. Rabbi Berkowits is a former member of the Executive Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and past president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of that organization. For 1995–1996, he served as president of the McLean Clergy. He is a member of the board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and a founding member of the Fairfax County Community Action Project and of the Board of the McLean Choral Arts Society. Rabbi Berkowits has served on the Board of the Health and Welfare Council of Falls Church and of Hospice of Northern Virginia and is a former member of the Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council, Fairfax County School System. From 1965 to 1972, Rabbi Berkowits was Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University.
Session IV: Closing Address
Charles Fenyvesi, Senior Writer, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and author, When the World was Whole
Charles Fenyvesi is a writer based in Comus, Maryland. He was a senior writer with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1998 to 2000 and garden columnist with the Washington Post between 1982 and 2000. His previous affiliations include senior writer, U.S. News & World Report; editor, the Washington Jewish Week; staff writer, the Washington Post; editor, The National Jewish Monthly; and associate editor, Near East Report. Mr. Fenyvesi has freelanced scores of opinion pieces, political analyses, personality profiles and reports in the Washington Post, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. He is the author of three books: Splendor in Exile, When the World Was Whole, and Trees for Shade and Shelter, for Memory and Magic. A fourth book, entitled Five Angels in Hell, is scheduled to be published by Syracuse University Press in 2000. Mr. Fenyvesi was born in Hungary in 1937 and emigrated to the United States after the Hungarian revolution of 1956. He received his AB from Harvard University in 1960 and an MA from Madras University, India, in 1962.
- Occasional Paper: Hungary and the Holocaust: Confrontations with the Past. 2001 (PDF)