Hungarian Jews from Carpathian Ruthenia (today, mostly in Ukraine) depart from railway stock cars at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and are processed; those deemed young and healthy enough for work will be selected for internment at the camp as laborers, while the elderly, children, women with young children, the weak and disabled will be sent to the gas chamber. Auschwitz concentration camp, Auschwitz (Oświęcim), Poland. May 1944.

A Jewish couple is photographed in the Budapest Ghetto after the arrival of the Soviet Army in Hungary. The ghetto was created on 29 November 1944  by the fascist Hungarian government, led by Ferenc Szálasi. It was surrounded by a high fence and stone wall that was guarded so that contraband could not be sneaked in, and people could not get out. The ghetto lasted for less than three months, until the capitulation of Hungarian and German troops in Budapest on 13 February 1945 following the Battle of Budapest. More than half of those that were forced into the ghetto in 1944 were sent to concentration camps, starting almost immediately from the establishment of the ghetto. From occupation to liberation, the Jewish population of Budapest was reduced from 200,000 to 70,000 in the ghetto. Budapest, Hungary. February 1945. Image taken by Yevgeny Khaldei.

As the fall of the Germans got closer and more certain, more and more people tried to put some distance between themselves and the Arrow Cross Party, the Hungarian variant of Nazism. This phenomenon has its roots in human nature. In general, people believed the slogans of the Arrow Cross press about a Jewish-Bolshevik-Plutocrat front- which seemed to prove that the Jews were the most powerful people on earth: at one and the same time they held in their hands, through their diabolical cleverness and their web of contacts, the Western capitalist countries and Russian Bolshevism. Consequently, whichever of these groups reached Budapest first - the Western capitalists or the Russian communists - their first move would surely be to punish or reward people for their mistreatment of the Jews at a time of crisis. So a trend began - one might even say a secret movement - aimed at providing people with suitable alibis. Everyone tried to exonerate himself in advance. People lined up witnesses and contacts designed to show how they had sabotaged the regime, and how many Jews, and particularly how many Jewish possessions, they had saved. Rumor had it that some people began to visit the ghetto, and look up the occasional Jewish neighbor. Wags called this sudden enlightenment ‘alibi-baba’. The term really described a characteristic lament in all humankind: a tendency to turn towards the party in power. It was precisely the opportunists who now believed that the Jewish sun was rising.


Maskerado: Dancing Around Death in Nazi Hungary, Tivadar Soros

Hungarian Jews, recent arrivals at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, who were not selected for interment and labor, are moved onward to the gas chamber for execution. The elderly, women with young children, children, the ill or disabled and “surplus” individuals were routinely singled out for immediate extermination upon arrival after selections to separate the healthy and able-bodied from those deemed unfit for work. Auschwitz concentration camp, concentration camp, Auschwitz (Polish: Oświęcim), Małopolska Voivodeship, Poland. May 1944.

Hungarian Jews from Carpathian Ruthenia (today, mostly in Ukraine) arrive by train at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The first transports of Jews from Axis ally Hungary to Auschwitz began in early May 1944 and continued even as Soviet troops approached. It is estimated that from an original population of 861,000 people considered Jewish inside the borders of Hungary between 1941 and 1944, about 255,000 survived; a survival rate of just 29.6%. Auschwitz concentration camp, Auschwitz (Polish: Oświęcim), Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland. May 1944.   

Pécs (Hungary) (AFP) - Hungary bean 70th anniversary commemorations of the Holocaust on Wednesday amid boycotts and protests by Jewish groups which accuse the government of whitewashing the country’s role in the mass deportations of Jews in 1944. Marking the day when Hungarian Jews were first placed in ghettoes in 1944, ceremonies were held around the country as part of “Holocaust 2014”, a programme of events organised by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government. In Budapest, President Janos Ader and Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics lit candles at a monument by the Danube commemorating the thousands of Jews shot into the water in 1944-1945 by the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross militia. A ceremony was also to be held at Budapest’s Holocaust Museum, with trees planted and candles lit to remember the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Source: AFP

Hungarian and German soldiers round up Jews in Budapest for deportation. From the start of German occupation in 1944, Jews and Gypsies (Roma) were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkinau concentration camp with complete cooperation of Hungary’s fascist leader Ferenc Szálasi of the Arrow Cross party. By the end of the war, the death toll was between 450,000 and 606,000 Hungarian Jews and an estimated and 28,000 Hungarian Gypsies. When the war ended, Szálasi was captured by American troops and returned to Hungary. He was tried by the People’s Tribunal in Budapest in open sessions and sentenced to death for war crimes and high treason and was hanged on 12 March 1946. Budapest, Hungary. October 1944.

MUST Read & ”Time does not help. It only deepens the feeling that something is missing. One simply learns to live with such trauma.”: A Holocaust Survivor Tells of Auschwitz at 18 and, Again, at 90.

By Alison Smale via nytimes

BUDAPEST — HIGH above the hubbub of Budapest’s main tourist street, Eva Fahidi flits, birdlike, around her warm apartment, lined with books and plants. The setting is cozy, and the hostess and narrator, at 90, a lingeringly beautiful charmer. So the contrast with the Holocaust horror she is describing is all the more complete.

When she was 18, she was, as she put it, “ripped off the school bench to be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau,” one of an estimated 437,000 Hungarian Jews rounded up outside Budapest and dispatched to death camps in just 57 days in 1944.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, she recalled, “was not ready. It was too fast. The gas chambers were big enough that people could still be suffocated to death. But the crematories could not manage. So corpses were being burned on open fires.”

“Really, at the very first moment you knew something was wrong. It was the huge stench of burning corpses — only we didn’t know.”

Ms. Fahidi lost 49 relatives in the Holocaust, including her mother and sister Gilike, then 11. Her last glimpse of them was on the ramp at Birkenau, where arriving Jews were sorted into those sent instantly to the gas chambers and those — like Ms. Fahidi — selected for hard labor and thus a chance at survival. She was later transferred from Auschwitz to Münchmühle, a camp near Stadtallendorf, in the German state of Hesse.

HER father also perished in the camps, whose horror she has chronicled in a memoir in this 70th year since the liberation of Auschwitz, and which she wishes to see judged, finally, when a former Auschwitz guard goes on trial in Germany in April.

“When I came home from the Holocaust,” she said, using an everyday phrase in German that seems implausible when containing so much tragedy, she ran right past the house in Debrecen, eastern Hungary, where her prosperous family had lived.

The house was so rundown, she said, that “I knew instantly I would not have anyone to look for.” The inhabitants “were complete strangers who really did not let me in my own home.”

It turned out, in late 1945, that she did have a distant aunt and uncle who had survived. For two years, she said, she was bedridden — because of a congenital condition that left her unable to sit for long periods after the camps — in their home in Nove Zamky, now part of Slovakia. Her uncle, a doctor forced by the anti-Semitic laws of post-World War I Hungary to get his medical training in Vienna and Prague, was, like her, an avid reader. He gave her Marx’s “Das Kapital,” which she read “from the first word to the last.”

“I knew,” she smiled, “that the capitalist world cannot survive, that my father was an exploiter and the only theology that can make people happy is Marxism. All this, with my bourgeois background!”

Her embrace of Marxism led to a young man who within a week became her first husband. The haste, she said, reflected her loneliness and sense of displacement.

It is “unnatural and unworthy, how I lost my family,” she said. “At my age now, it is normal not to have grandparents, parents, uncles or aunts. But when it happens as it did, you cannot simply get over it.”

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Marrying within a week happened “because we felt so terribly alone that it was quite natural to say yes, now at least I have a husband, and one belongs somewhere.”

“We were both young and happy and determined to save the world with Marxist theories.” She smiled again. “We didn’t quite succeed.”

Young Jewish Marxists like Ms. Fahidi and her husband “did not really realize that Russia had been promised all the Eastern countries” at talks in Yalta and Potsdam, she said. When the Communists turned on Jews as enemies, her husband was among those arrested and jailed in 1951. To get a job, she was forced to divorce him, something he could not forgive when he was released after Stalin’s death in 1953, she said.

They parted, with Ms. Fahidi remarrying in 1959. Before that, Europe’s turbulent 20th-century history again shook up her life.

Hungary’s rebellion against Communism in 1956 created a brief window of freedom during which she landed a job at a foreign trade enterprise. Even after the revolt was crushed, Ms. Fahidi’s precious foreign languages, imparted by her upbringing in the polyglot former Austro-Hungarian empire, enabled her to continue work in the field — in the end, for 42 years — and thus travel abroad.

IT was not until 1989, when anti-Communist revolt was again brewing, eventually felling the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union itself, that her distant past bubbled up.

Hungarian newspapers published announcements that officials in Stadtallendorf were looking for survivors of the Münchmühle camp. “That was my camp,” she said. “I didn’t want to believe it. What in heaven’s name did they want now, after 50 years?”

“It turned out,” she said, that the Germans of Stadtallendorf “wanted to ask our forgiveness.”

Slowly, Ms. Fahidi embarked on a journey through memory that took her back to Auschwitz-Birkenau on July 1, 2003, 59 years to the day after she arrived in 1944. “The trees had grown beautifully,” she sighed. But nature could not eradicate the pain.

“One of the biggest lies is that time could help,” she said. “Time does not help. It only deepens the feeling that something is missing. One simply learns to live with such trauma. And if you don’t get to the point where you can forgive them, then I think you can’t go on living.”

“I needed a lot of time,” she said. “Six decades.”

After that 2003 visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ms. Fahidi declared it her duty to share what she remembered, and wrote her memoir, “Die Seele der Dinge,” or “The Soul of Things,” published in German in 2011 and later in Hungarian.

She hopes especially to encourage scrutiny of the past in Hungary, which like other central and eastern European nations has not really examined its history of the era.

“At some point it has to come,” she said. “Because much repeats in history, and if you don’t know what happened and what consequences it has, then it can happen very quickly again.”

ON the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, she spoke at a Berlin ceremony hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel, then traveled with Germany’s president, Joachim Gauck, to Auschwitz for commemorations there. Her 22-year-old granddaughter, a photographer who previously evinced scant interest in her grandmother’s past, was along.

Now she had asked her grandmother to draw her section of Birkenau. Instead, Ms. Fahidi had made a collage on wood, which she fetched for a visitor. Uncannily, it somehow captured Birkenau’s desolation.

Not one to sit still — she cracked open a bottle of red wine and fielded at least three calls during a two-hour talk — Ms. Fahidi has a new goal.

Last year, she was bitterly disappointed when one of the few surviving Auschwitz guards indicted at this late stage by German justice died in Pennsylvania, a day before an extradition order was to be executed. The deceased man, Johann Breyer, was born in her year, 1925, and she had wanted the chance to look him in the eye at trial and ask how he could have stood on the ramp.

Now the German authorities are preparing to try another Auschwitz camp guard, Oskar Gröning, 93, in April. Her fervent wish is that he not die before her.

“Nothing is too slow for German justice,” she said, displaying gall for the first time. “They are doing everything so you won’t have a trial, because either the delinquent dies, or gets senile.”

anonymous asked:

I heard about twin brothers who were Hungarian Jews who both lived through the Nazis and the Communists. They both emigrated to Canada. One became a Hasidic Jew. The other married a Gentile and raised his daughter (and only child, the person I heard this from) Christian. Before he died, he took her to his home village in Hungary, explaining "This used to be a church" or "This is where they shot ___" and finally admitted he stopped being Jewish and didn't know how his brother could stick with it.


It’s very sad indeed. It also reminds me of a true story of R’ Mendel Winenki and his younger brother Mordechai under the reign of the Czar (I think Nicolas I). 

They were drafted into the army and taken away from their home on the day of R’ Mendel’s bar mitzvah. But the two brothers managed to escape somewhere on the way while in some base. The younger brother Mordechai, however, had been tortured by a goy and had become cripple. Because of this he couldn’t walk fast. At one point as they were close to a village he couldn’t go on. So Mendel told him he would run to the village and come back with help. But when he came back with some of the local Jews to get his brother, his brother was gone. Many years passed by and Mendel grew up to be Rabbi Mendel Winenki, a Ruv in his own right. 

His brother Mordechai on the other hand also survived. But unlike his older brother he grew up as an Orthodox priest. While Mendel was getting help a countess passed by and found the boy on the side of the road. She had “mercy” on him, took him in, became his surrogate mother and sent him off to grow up in a monastery to become a priest. They told him he was crippled because of what the Jews did to him and turned him into a vicious anti-semite. An anti-semite who would incite others to pogroms and even to falsify papers claiming the Czar himself had ordered a pogrom and had granted the Jews’ possessions and money to the goyim.

To make a long story short. He was the cause of a major pogrom against the community of his own brother. In the wake of the evil decree R’ Mendel tried to reason with the governor of their district (who was being advised by Mikail the priest). Eventually R’ Mendel recognized Mikail the priest as his long lost brother and was completely heartbroken, making all other Jews present at the meeting swear not to tell his father about Mordechai’s fate. In the end R’ Mendel broke the news to Mikail the priest, who refused to believe it and did his own research. One night, not long before the set date for the pogrom, he disguised himself and slipped into a shul just before maariv. He sat there and listened to the tunes as he looked in a siddur and it all suddenly sounded and felt very familiar to him. That is… until they came to Krias Shema. Once R’ Mendel and the others’ raised their voices and said “Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echod!” the priest couldn’t contain himself and started to weep as he fled the shul. He eventually confronted the countess who confessed and told him everything what had happened. That all she did was to “save his life and soul”. Sadly enough the priest was so indoctrinated by this hate that he was convinced he himself was indeed part of a cursed people… because he set up the destruction of his own father’s family and people.

When the time came he tried to stop the bloodthirsty Russians but they laughed at him and thought he was crazy- as he was the one who convinced them to do this and was preaching about “hating the Jew” in the first place. During the pogrom itself he went to the shtetel in a last attempt to stop it, but of course it didn’t work. His own father was murdered in the pogrom that he caused, his brother -R’ Mendel- was wounded but survived, and his niece (R’ Mendel’s daughter) was almost violated. Almost… because he -Mikail the cripple priest- intervened and fought off the attacker, who happened to be the son of the governor who had raised him, and paid for it with his own life.

It all sounds like a movie but unfortunately it really happened.