Police attempt to control the crowd of Jews, who are waiting outside a branch of the Swiss legation located in the Glass House on Vadász Street hoping to obtain Schutzbriefe that would protect them from deportation. In the foreground is the car used by Vice Consul Carl Lutz. US Memorial Museum, courtesy of Agnes Lutz Hirschi
Number of Jewish-designated residences (22 June 1944) per 100 m square cell. The size of the circles is proportional to the number of residences and varies between 1 and 13. Selected districts in Buda and Pest.
Estimate of streets most likely to be used by Jews walking to the closest market hall during the time window (2-5 pm) they were allowed to leave their place of residence. The thickness of the green line varies between 1 and 512. Selected districts in Pest.
Map of the walled Pest ghetto, November-December 1944.
This case study examines the process of ghettoization of the Budapest Jewish population as it unfolded between May 1944 and January 1945 and from the perspectives of the victim, the perpetrator, and the bystander. The spatial scale of analysis is that of the city.
Ghettos were created in Hungary towards the end of the war. According to the national ghetto legislation, Jews were to be concentrated in ghettos in towns and cities with a total population above 10,000. Ghettos reshaped–temporarily–the Hungarian urban environment. There was flexibility in Hungary with regard to the precise nature and shape of ghettoization. Broadly speaking, ghettos varied in terms of whether they were located in the centre v. periphery of towns and cities, and in their degree of concentration v. dispersion from place to place. In some places, a single closed ghetto was created. In other towns and cities, one or more ghetto areas were constructed. Elsewhere, ghettoization was enacted at the scale of the individual house. In Budapest, what we see across 1944 is an enacting of all three strategies, with ghettoization enacted at a variety of scales, down to the single apartment in a building.
A broad range of analytical frameworks are important in trying to understand the evolving shape of ghettoization in Budapest in 1944. Alongside the binaries of concentration v. dispersion and absence v. presence, we work here also with a series of other productive binaries: center v. periphery, visibility v. invisibility, accessibility v. inaccessibility. The construction of a historical GIS of the Budapest ghetto allows for exploration of the spatiality of ghettoization at a variety of scales from the city, through the two banks of the Danube (Buda and Pest) and the fourteen wartime districts, to the scale of the street, apartment building and individual apartment. Here we are interested in the different narratives that emerge at differing scales.
Using a variety of spatial analytical tools and methodologies, we examine the dynamics of the ghettoization process in Budapest as an alternate of concentration and dispersion of Jews across the city and characterize the ghettoization process as a tension between creating spaces of absence and spaces of presence of Jews in the city. The Historical GIS we created allowed us to map spaces of potential interaction between Jews and bystanders at the scale of the single building and street. We also mapped the daily lives of the Jews as concerns accessibility to public places and to each other, building a hierarchy of residential segregation and isolation. Together, these analyses allow us to present a compelling multi-scale, multi-temporal study of the Budapest ghetto in its successive implementations.
Scale: Urban, Neighborhoods
Time: May 1944 to January 1945
- Victim’s perspective: concentration v. dispersion, social networks, daily life, potential interaction with bystanders, visibility v. invisibility
- Perpetrator’s perspective: concentration v. dispersion, visibility v. invisibility, “doctors of space”
- Bystanders: potential interactions with victims
Tim Cole and Alberto Giordano