We have compiled this glossary drawing in part from the summaries available on the websites of the Holocaust Memorial Center (http://hdke.hu/en) in Budapest, and the National Committee for Attending Deportees (http://degob.org/).
The Arrow Cross Party was led by Ferenc Szálasi, and based on his ideology of “Hungarism.” Its radical right-wing politics, nationalism, and antisemitism placed it close to German National Socialism, with the addition of irredentism, the aim of annulling the 1920 Treaty of Trianon to restore Hungary’s pre-Trianon borders.
Following Horthy’s unsuccessful attempt to take Hungary out of the Axis alliance with Germany on October 15, 1944, army officers sympathetic to the Arrow Cross occupied key positions of power, including the Buda Castle. Germany launched Operation Panzerfaust to prevent Hungary’s desertion, and kidnapped Horthy’s son. Horthy resigned, and appointed Szálasi as Prime Minister on October 16. Szálasi declared a Government of National Unity, and himself as Leader of the Nation.
Confiscation by the state of Jewish property, businesses and jobs, and their forcible redistribution to non-Jews.
Established in the summer of 1940 in the southern Polish town of Oświęcim, Auschwitz grew to become the largest camp in the German empire, spanning over 40 square kilometers, and containing purpose-built gas chambers and crematoria, dozens of sub-camps, factories and mines. It was camp commandant Rudolf Höss and colleagues who worked out a new method for killing large amounts of prisoners at once using Zyklon B, a hydrogen cyanide-based pesticide. A total of 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz, around 1 million of whom were Jewish.
The Auschwitz Protocols were based on the witness statements of Walter Rosenberg (Rudolf Vrba) and Alfréd Wetzer (Josef Lánik), who escaped Auschwitz in early April 1944. They described the workings of the death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, and estimated the number of people who had been murdered. The Protocols reached Hungarian and Western leaders in May and June, 1944.
Hungary joined the tripartite Germany-Italy-Japan Axis alliance on November 20, 1940. Hungary’s pro-German stance and desire to revise the 1920 Treaty of Trianon were rewarded by Hitler with the return of Northern Transylvania in 1940, under the Second Vienna Award. Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union in June 1941, and sent around half a million troops, including Jewish forced laborers, to the Eastern Front, where the Hungarian Second Army was decimated by the Soviets at the river Don in 1943.
László Baky (1898-1946) was a leading Hungarian National Socialist, and appointed by Horthy as Interior Ministry Secretary of State in March 1944, under Interior Minister Andor Jaross. Together with Jaross and László Endre, and working closely with Eichmann, Baky oversaw the deportation of Jews from the countryside. He was dismissed in August 1944, and reinstated in October under the Arrow Cross government. Executed by a People’s Court in March 1946.
On October 16, the yellow-star houses were sealed, and groups of residents were seized and organized into “ditch-digging companies” to forcibly work on fortifications around Budapest. When the Arrow Cross government restarted the deportations in early November, these forced laborer companies and thousands of yellow-star house residents were gathered together in the Óbuda brick factory. “On loan” to the Germans, they were force marched towards the western border to build fortifications. Many lost their lives en route. The death marches were suspended in late November, and, needing Jews as a workforce, the Arrow Cross government began their ghettoization.
The process of ‘de-Jewification’ was carried out with exceptional speed and efficiency. Moving from east to west, region by region, the ghettos and holding camps were liquidated and Jews packed onto cattle wagons and deported.
Mass deportations began on May 15, 1944. Empty trains arrived at the train stations nearest to the ghettos and holding camps. Jews were frequently searched while still in the ghetto, and closely accompanied along closed streets by the gendarmerie to the trains; many were beaten en route. At the stations, between 60 and 100 Jews and their remaining luggage were crammed standing onto the wagons, each which could hold around 40 people. One bucket of drinking water and one for relieving bodily needs was placed in each wagon for the journey which lasted some days, and included frequent long delays.
At the end of June 1944, Governor Miklós Horthy came under pressure from two sides: the Nazis and the majority of the Hungarian government wanted the remaining Jews deported, while prominent individuals close to Horthy and international representatives, including Pope Pius XII, King Gustav of Sweden, and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, tried to persuade him to stop the deportations. The military situation at the time undoubtedly favored the Allies and, with the publication of the Auschwitz Protocols, more and more information had come to light regarding the workings of the death camps. Horthy’s decision to suspend the deportations was influenced not so much by the Protocols, since he had been aware for some time of the realities of the “Final Solution”, but rather by the international outcry they generated. On July 6, Horthy issued a directive to suspend the deportations. At this point, only the deportation of the Budapest Jews remained.
László Endre (1895-1946) was appointed by Horthy as Interior Ministry Secretary of State in March 1944, under Interior Minister Andor Jaross. Together with Jaross and László Baky, and working closely with Eichmann, Endre oversaw the deportation of Jews from the countryside. He was dismissed in August 1944, and reinstated in October under the Arrow Cross government. Executed by a People’s Court in March 1946 for crimes against the state.
Eichmann (1906-1962) was the SS lieutenant colonel in charge of ghettoizing and deporting Jews to death camps across the eastern half of occupied Europe. He arrived in Budapest with his commando on March 19, 1944, and ordered the deportation of every Jew from Hungary, plans for which were finalized with the Hungarian authorities in the first week of May. Eichmann personally oversaw deportations from Budapest as late as July, 1944. Eichmann was captured by Mossad agents in Argentina in 1960 and tried in Israel, where he was executed in 1962.
Unarmed forced labor was the Horthy regime’s solution for bringing “untrustworthy” elements (Jews, Communists, national minorities) into the war effort. By 1942, tens of thousands of Jewish forced laborers had been sent to the eastern front to face arduous conditions. After the Arrow Cross takeover of power in October 1944, Jewish males in Budapest aged 16-60, and Jewish women aged 16-40, were forcibly conscripted, thousands of whom were marched to the western border to build fortifications, or employed in concentration and labor camps in Germany. Between 50-70,000 people died in the combined forced labor projects.
In order to prevent Hungary’s departure from the war, German troops entered Hungary on March 19, 1944. Prime Minister Miklós Kállay fled, and Horthy appointed a government that was satisfactory to the Nazis and their Hungarian supporters. Former Hungarian ambassador to Berlin and long-standing antisemite Döme Sztójay was appointed Prime Minister.
The plan to ghettoize then deport the Jews was worked out by Adolf Eichmann and his commando, together with Hungary’s new Interior Minister László Endre, a dedicated antisemite and experienced civil servant. Ghettoization began on April 15 in Transcarpathia in the east, and the process moved westward across the country until early June, when deportations from the countryside were complete. In small communities and villages, Jews were herded together and transported to the nearest town or a ghetto erected on its outskirts, and from there to holding camps, most of which were brick factories. The time allowed for packing and forcible relocation varied from minutes, to days. Urban Jewish communities were generally forced to live in cramped conditions within an existing Jewish district, or in ruined parts of the town.
After putting an end to the death marches on November 21, 1944, the Arrow Cross government crammed the Jews of Budapest into two ghettos. The ‘small’ or ‘international’ ghetto in Újlipótváros, Budapest’s 13th district, contained those who held protection papers issued by a neutral state, which were also forged in great number. The international ghetto area around Szent István Park and Pozsonyi Road was, by December, soon overcrowded with almost 40,000 people living there, often with up to 60 people sharing one room.
The ‘large’ ghetto in Budapest’s 7th district contained Jews without protection documents, and was sealed off from the outside using palisades. Measuring 0.3 square kilometers, by January 1945, 50-70,000 Jews lived in the ‘large’ ghetto, with up to 14 people sharing one room.
The total population of the two ghettos together was around 100,000, all of whom were prey to the constant threat of Arrow Cross raids and shootings at the Danube. Under the Arrow Cross government, around 8,000 Jews were killed by ‘party service’ activists, and a further 9,000 died from the bombing, hunger, illness or suicide. Many thousands were in hiding throughout the city with the help of non-Jews, or false papers. These were the last two large ghettos in Nazi Europe, and liberated by the Red Army between January 16-18, 1945.
From July 24, 1944, the Swiss Legation’s Department of Foreign Interests under Carl Lutz, and Halutz Zionist activists based their activities at former glass trader Artúr Weiss’s offices at Vadász Street 29 in the fifth district. Over 3,000 people also took refuge here in the “Glass House”, until the Arrow Cross raided the building on December 31 and murdered many of the inhabitants, including Weiss himself.
An admiral in the Austro-Hungarian navy until the end of WWI, Miklós Horthy (1868-1957) was Governor of Hungary from 1920 to 1944. The interwar “Horthy era” is associated with conservatism, attempts to regain former territories, and antisemitism. Horthy brought Hungary into the Axis alliance in November 1940, and exercised his right to appoint and dismiss governments and government staff until he was forced to resign in October 1944.
The IRC ran a children’s home for Jewish orphans whose parents had been deported, and a network of 32 children’s homes in private apartments to care for Christian children of Jewish origin. One of the oldest IRC national organizations, the Swedish Red Cross, played in a significant role in saving Jews in Hungary, issuing high numbers of safe-conduct letters and protection documents (passports).
The first order issued by the Gestapo’s Jewish affairs department was for the Israelite Congregation of Pest to form a Jewish Council, through which instructions would be conveyed to the Jews. Like all other Jewish Councils (Judenräte), the Council was to be led by trusted community leaders public figures, and to gather information to be used for deportation purposes. Under Samu Stern, the Council published the Paper of the Hungarian Jews, and was reformed under Hungarian jurisdiction on April 22 as the Interim Executive Committee of the Association of Jews in Hungary. After the Arrow Cross takeover, the Jewish Council was resurrected, and oversaw the establishment of the large ghetto in Budapest’s seventh district.
The first anti-Jewish legislation passed in Europe after World War I was the 1920 Hungarian numerus clausus (Latin for “closed number”), which restricted the number of Jews who could study at university, and was passed in the first year of Miklós Horthy’s regency, and during Pál Teleki’s first premiership.
The first “Jewish law” was passed in 1938 during Béla Imrédy’s premiership, and restricted Jewish participation in the free professions (trade, finance and industry) to 20 per cent. This law also defined those who had converted to Christianity after August 1, 1919, as “Jewish.”
The second “Jewish law” of 1939 was submitted to Parliament during the Imrédy government, and passed under Teleki’s second premiership. It restricted the proportion of Jews employed in intellectual professions to 6 per cent, forbade them from employment in the state administration and justice apparatus, and from teaching in middle schools. Further, Jews were now also forbidden from holding managerial positions at theatres or newspapers, from holding industrial or trade licenses, and their rights to buy agricultural land were also restricted. Jews were now defined as individuals with at least one parent or two grandparents who were members of the Israelite faith.
The third “Jewish law’ was passed under László Bárdossy’s premiership in 1941, and banned mixed marriages, and punished sexual relations between Jewish men and non-Jewish women. In the following years, hundreds of anti‑Jewish decrees and orders were issued in Hungary. Using terminology from the Nazs’ 1935 Nuremberg race laws, this third law defined all those as Jewish who had two grandparents of the Israelite faith.
In the spring of 1945, the lives of surviving Hungarian Jews were saved by the Allied forces’ victory, and the Nazis’ defeat. Yet after liberation, many thousands of survivors still died of hunger or illness. By the end of 1945, thousands of deportees and former forced laborers had returned home, where they received assistance from the National Committee for Attending Deportees.
After the Arrow Cross takeover of power, the brick factory in Budapest’s third district on Bécsi Road 136 functioned as a holding camp and was one of the last stations used in the deportations and death marches.
Arrow Cross armed units that carried out repressive measures against Jews, military deserters and other civilians. At least 8,000 Budapest Jews fell victim to these units, which often acted without orders, plundering and murdering at will.
The plundering of Hungarian Jewry was institutionalized by the “Jewish Laws”. In under a few weeks, the Sztójay government sequestered Jews’ real estate, businesses and belongings for redistribution. Tens of thousands of requests were submitted to the Hungarian authorities from all social classes for property and goods confiscated from Jews.
A network of houses under Swedish, Swiss and International Red Cross protection from November 1944, the vast majority of which were in the “international ghetto” in Újlipótváros, the 13th district, between Szent István Park, Szent István Boulevard, Csáky Street (today Hegedűs Gyula Street) and Wahrmann Street (today Victor Hugo Street). Despite the houses’ protected status, residents were not safe from frequent armed Arrow Cross raids.
Temporary passports issued by the Budapest embassies of neutral states, primarily Switzerland, Sweden, and the Vatican. Together with protective letters (Schutzbriefe), these documents allowed the bearer to claim a special legal relationship with the state in question, thus in theory exempting them from deportation.
Hitler laid out his ideas in Mein Kampf (My Struggle), which he started writing in prison, and which was published in 1925-6. “Race theory” divided humanity into unequal races, and held that “race mixing” would lead to the destruction of the stronger race. In Hitler’s view, all of history was shaped by a struggle between Aryans, who embodied all positive characteristics, and Jews. This ideology did not contain anything new, as it drew on late nineteenth-century nationalist, racist, antisemitic, anti-Christian and, later, anti-Bolshevik theories. Hitler was particularly influenced by the ideas of Joseph Gobineau, Ernst Renan and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
The State Security Surveillance was established on March 28, 1944 as a special investigative unit of the political police that focused on preventing anti-Fascist and left-wing activity, and on confiscating Jewish property. It was led by Péter Hain, and placed directly under Interior Ministry Secretary of State, László Baky. Modeled partly on the Nazi RHSA (Reich Main Security Office), the unit became synonymous with torture, cruelty and corruption, and earned its nickname as the “Hungarian Gestapo.” In June, Baky sacked Hain and dissolved the unit, which was reformed once more under Hain’s leadership after the Arrow Cross took power in October.
Ferenc Szálasi (1897–1946) was the leader and chief ideologist of the Arrow Cross Party, active in radical right-wing politics since the mid-1930s. From October 16, 1944 to March 28, 1945, he led the “Government of National Unity” and styled himself “Leader of the Nation.” Tried by a People’s Court in Budapest and executed in 1946.
Döme Sztójay (1883-1946) was the pro-German Prime Minister between March 22 and August 19, 1944. Tried by a People’s Court in Budapest and executed in 1946.
The forced wearing of the yellow star was first introduced in German-occupied Czech lands in 1941. In Hungary, Jews over the age of six were obliged to wear a 10 x 10 centimeter, canary yellow Star of David on their clothing from April 5, 1944.
A network of almost 2,000 Budapest apartment buildings designated compulsory residences for Jews from June 1944. Already in May, the Interior Ministry had limited Jews’ access to bath houses, hotels, restaurants and cinemas, and prescribed certain times of day when Jews were allowed to buy rationed groceries.
While houses inhabited by Jews were occasionally marked in Germany, and Nazi-occupied France and the Netherlands, the Hungarian legal prescription of marking all houses in which Jews were obliged to reside was unique in the history of the Holocaust.
The mayor of Budapest issued the first decree and a list of over 2,600 designated houses on June 16, and a second decree on June 24, with a final list of 1,944 designated yellow-star houses, with the aim to forcibly relocate and concentrate the Jewish population of the city. In the intervening period, residents submitted petitions to Budapest Metropolitan Council: non-Jews wanted their houses removed from the list, while Jewish residents wanted their houses added. Compared to the first June 16 list of houses, the second list contained far fewer houses on the western Buda side of the Danube.
Zionist organizations active in 1945-45 included: the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee, formed in 1943 to rescue Jews in neighboring countries; the Jewish Agency, the diplomatic representation wing of the Zionist movement; and left-wing groups falling under the umbrella organization Halutz (Hebrew for pioneer), the largest of which was Hashomer Hatzair. Based at the “Glass House” on Vadász Street, Hashomer Hatzair were active in waging armed and unarmed battles with the Arrow Cross, the forging of protection documents, and assisting large numbers of people to go into hiding.