Volume 4 Issue 3 CONTENTS

Kinga Frojimovics and Éva Kovács

Jews in a ‘Judenrein’ City: Hungarian Jewish Slave Laborers in Vienna (1944–1945)

 

In the early summer and autumn of 1944, more than 55,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to Austria as forced laborers. 17,500 of them arrived in Strasshof from various Hungarian ghettos in the summer of 1944. There, a real “slave market” was opened to meet the demands of Austrian entrepreneurs who urgently needed manpower in their factories and farms. The deported families—mainly mothers, children and grandparents—had to work in Vienna and in Lower Austria on farms, in trade, and in particular in the “war industry” (for example, in construction companies, bread factories, or oil refineries) as forced laborers. The working and living conditions of the forced laborers varied widely depending on the camp in which they were housed, the branch of industry in which they had to work, and the conduct of the local military administration in the camps and the various workplaces. In this essay, we highlight two fundamental aspects of the topic which are connected to two different methodological approaches to socio-historical understanding. On the one hand, we re-localize the history of Hungarian Jewish slave labor in Vienna on the basis of historical sources, documents and testimonies. On the other, using the same testimonies and archival materials, we portray the everyday lives and typical survival strategies of slave laborers.

Volume 4 Issue 3 CONTENTS

Kata Bohus

Not a Jewish Question?

The Holocaust in Hungary in the Press and Propaganda of the Kádár Regime during the Trial of Adolf Eichmann

 

In this paper, I examine the trial of Adolf Eichmann, portrayals of the trial in the contemporaneous Hungarian press, and the effects of the trial and the coverage on the formation of Holocaust memory in communist Hungary. The trial presented a problem for communist propaganda because it highlighted the destruction of Jews as the worst crime of the Nazi regime. While communist ideology’s anti-fascism defined its stance as “anti-anti-Semitic,” the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of World War II as a conflict between two opposing, ideologically defined camps (fascists and anti-fascists) made it difficult to accommodate the idea of non-political victimhood, e.g. the destruction of Jews on the basis of racist ideas and not because of their political commitments. Moreover, because of Eichmann’s wartime mission in Hungary, it was clear that the trial would feature a great deal of discussion about his activities there. Therefore, the Hungarian Kádár regime devoted considerable attention to the event, both within the Party and in the press. The analysis concentrates on two aspects: what did the highest echelons of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party intend to emphasize in the Hungarian coverage of the trial and what kinds of interpretations actually appeared in the press. In the end, the party’s political goals were only partially achieved. Control over newspapers guaranteed that certain key propaganda themes were included rather than ensuring that other narratives would be excluded. I argue that, while the Kádár regime in Hungary did not intend to emphasize the Jewish catastrophe and certainly did not seek to draw attention to its Hungarian chapter, as a consequence of the Eichmann trial there nevertheless emerged a narrative of the Hungarian Holocaust. Through various organs of the press, this narrative found public expression. Though this Holocaust narrative can be considered ideologically loaded and distorted, some of its elements continue to preoccupy historians who study the period today.

 

Keywords: Adolf Eichmann, communism in Hungary, Holocaust memory, communist press and propaganda

pdfVolume 3 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Zsófia Kádár

The Difficulties of Conversion Non-Catholic Students in Jesuit Colleges in Western Hungary in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century

The societies of the multiethnic and multilingual region of Central Europe became more diverse through the emergence of distinct confessions (Konfessionalisierung). The first half of the seventeenth century is especially interesting in this regard. In this period, the Catholic Church started to win back its positions in the Hungarian Kingdom as well, but the institutionalization of the Protestant denominations had by that time essentially reached completion. The schools, which were sustained by the various denominations, became the most efficient devices of religious education, persuasion and conversion. In this essay I present, through the example of the Jesuit colleges of western Hungary, the denominational proportions and movements of the students in the largely non-Catholic urban settings. Examining two basic types of sources, the annual accounts (Litterae Annuae) of the Society of Jesus and the registries of the Jesuit colleges in Győr and Pozsony (today Bratislava, Slovakia), I compare and contrast the data and venture an answer to questions regarding the kinds of opportunities non-Catholic students had in the Jesuit colleges. In contrast with the assertions made in earlier historiography, I conclude that conversion was not so widespread in the case of the non-Catholic students of the Jesuits. They were not discriminated against in their education, and some of them remained true to their confessions to the end of their studies in the colleges.

pdfVolume 3 Issue 4 CONTENTS

György Kövér

Intra- and Inter-confessional Conflicts in Tiszaeszlár in the Period of the “Great Trial”

At around noon on Saturday, April 1, 1882, Eszter Solymosi, a 14-year-old girl disappeared without a trace from Tiszaeszlár, a village in Szabolcs county in the Tiszántúl region. The case remains unsolved. In the course of a criminal procedure, one of the charges made was that the Jews living in Eszlár had murdered the girl and used her for a ritual blood sacrifice. Finally, in an extended trial held in Nyíregyháza the accused were acquitted in the absence of proof.

I have found only one open conflict that took place in the public sphere prior to the trial held in Nyíregyháza that was thematized along Christian–Jewish confessional interests: the issue of Jewish education. However, there were numerous intra-confessional conflicts among the Christian denominations. The best way of reconstructing the subtle network of relationships connecting the villagers (Christians and Jews as well) is to make an effort to expose the capillaries of the “female public opinion” of the village. To do this, one must analyze the background of the discourses of the trial, the conflicts of the everyday life.

Rivalry between the approved Christian denominations found manifestation either in conversion or in mixed marriages. After the emancipation of the Jews, the Christian–Jewish conflict still took the form not only of blood libels, but also of the ritual forms of intimidation and violence.

Volume 3 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Mary Gluck

“The Jewish Ambassador to Budapest”: Mór Wahrmann and the Politics of “Tactfulness”

In this article I explore the cultural paradoxes associated with the articulation of Jewish identity in fin-de-siècle Hungary. By focusing on the political career of Mór Wahrmann, I trace the implicit contradictions of a liberal public sphere that officially recognized freedom of religion for Jews but implicitly banned all expression of Jewish cultural or ethnic difference. Reading Wahrmann’s career through his famous joke about the “Jewish ambassador in Budapest,” I argue that this system gave rise to a radically bifurcated public culture, which prohibited even the mention of a distinct Jewish identity in official politics or social life, but tolerated and even celebrated the performance of Jewish difference in the realms of commercial entertainment and humor. The paper is part of a larger book project entitled “The Invisible Jewish Budapest,” which attempts to recuperate the lost world of Jewish urban experience that flourished in Budapest in the years between 1867 and 1914.

pdfVolume 3 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Miklós Konrád

The Social Integration of the Jewish Upper Bourgeoisie in the Hungarian Traditional Elites

A Survey of the Period from the Reform Era to World War I

In the spirit of the principles of liberal nationalism, which dominated Hungarian political life from the Reform Era to the end of World War I, Christian politicians and intellectuals tirelessly emphasized their firm belief that, in addition to acculturating and identifying with the Hungarian nation, the Jewry must also integrate socially into majority Christian society. This call for integration also allotted a task to the Christian members of Hungarian society, namely that they welcome their compatriots into their social circles. The views of contemporaries notwithstanding, according to whom the greatest aspiration of the Jewish haute bourgeoisie was to gain acceptance into the circles of the traditional social elites and their families, this striving was really only characteristic of the second and third generations of upper-class Jewish families. With regards to the last stage of integration, in other words marriage into the families of the traditional elite, with one exception that confirms the rule, this was only possible for Jews if they were willing to convert. Following the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s, decades that were more open from the perspective of integration into the social sphere, the traditional elites closed ranks. The National Casino, which had been founded in 1827, accepted its last Jewish member in 1872. Neither the Country Casino that was created in 1883 (it was referred to as the Országos Kaszinó, i.e. the word “nemzeti,” or “national,” was replaced with “országos,” which means national in the more political sense) nor the Park Club (which was created in 1895) ever had a single Jew among their members, though both had many Christian members who had converted from Judaism. This constituted a clear contradiction of the liberal promise of social integration, though at the same time it also indicates that exclusion was not (yet) based on concepts of race.

Volume 3 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Frank Henschel

Religions and the Nation in Kassa before World War I

The paper aims to evaluate the role of religion in the everyday life of a multilingual town in the former Hungarian Kingdom in the second half of the long nineteenth century. It focuses in particular on the adaptation to and adoption of nationalist discourse and practice in religious communities. Religion as traditional and nation as modern ideological concept and symbolic order competed against each other for influence in society. However, religious representatives and nationalist activists also worked together in mutual initiatives. The main goal of the Hungarian nationalist program was linguistic homogenization, i.e. the Magyarization of society, and churches were assigned a special role in this project. They provided the possibility of gaining mass attention and could serve for mass inducement. At the same time, church institutions and services were spaces of everyday multilingual practice in mixed lingual areas. In the end, different confessional communities in Kassa (German: Kaschau; today Košice, Slovakia)1 showed different strategies. The Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, due to the resistance from the majority of believers or church clerks (who protested against Hungarian-only services), remained multilingual up to World War I. Other communities transformed themselves quite smoothly from multilingual to Hungarian-only and therefore “patriotic” or “loyal” communities, e.g. the Jewish Reform (Neolog) Community or the Local Greek Catholics, whereas the Calvinists had always regarded themselves as the true “Magyar Denomination.” In general, the churches always played a vital role in the social and cultural life of the town, in school and educational systems, in associations, or in the culture of memory. But many questions and discussions of the era were linked to nationalist requirements and objectives which concerned the church representatives.

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