Sunday, November 16, 2014

Public appeal to Hungarian Christians by the Jews - Summer 1944

In their excellent history of the Holocaust in Hungary, Zoltan Vagi, Laszlo Csosz & Gabor Kadar included a chapter on Jewish responses to the events unfolding around them.  Despite the cessation of deportations in the early July 1944, some Jews clearly believed this was merely a temporary halt to the killing process.  At some point a group of Budapest Jews wrote and published a series of pamphlets appealing to non-Jewish Hungarians to help their fellow Hungarians survive.  Or, if they would not help, then at least allow the Jews of Hungary to die within the borders of their homeland.
It would not be impossible to believe that the Nuncio, Angelo Rotta, saw or knew of this pamphlet or ones like it during the Summer of 1944. I have no evidence that suggests he saw this letter, but given that the nuncio was among the best-informed of anyone living in Budapest at the time, it would not be beyond belief to think he at least knew of the document.

Document 8-9A. (pp273-75)

The Hungarian Jews turn to Christian Hungarian society and raise their voices with a plea in the eleventh hour of their tragic fate.  They turn to those with whom they have lived together for a millennium, in good times and bad, in the country where our ancestors, fathers and grandfathers lie buried.

We did not say a word when we were plundered, lost our civil dignity and respect. And we did not resort to protest when we were thrown out of our homes wither.  However, it is now about our bare lives.  Moreover – and it hurts to even write this sentence – it is about the lives of only those Jews who remain.

We must make clear to Hungarian society that for weeks now, hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews have been deported abroad under tragic and cruel circumstances that are unparalleled in world history. 

[ … ] (In the next six paragraph the pamphlet describes the brutal details of the ghettoization and deportation.)

Will it be historically justifiable that almost six percent of the Hungarian citizens, almost a million people, were doomed to deportation and death without a trial and sentence?

Nowadays we do not have the time nor, particularly the chance to defend ourselves against one-sided charges, but we face those charges head-on.  Even if we made mistakes, they were no particular fault of ours, but arose from that economic system that had prevailed in the world, including Hungary, for a century and in which all productive forces (Christian and Jewish alike) participated.

The Hungarian nation might see it as appropriate to cast the Hungarian Jewry from its own midst, but how can the chivalrous Hungarian nation endure the cruel extermination of the helpless elderly, babies, unarmed defenseless people, and invalid veterans who list their sight and limbs in the war?

A way should be found for the remaining few hundred thousands of Hungarian Jews to emigrate if neutral states were contacted. [ … ]

We beg Hungarian Christian society to protect out children, defenseless women, all of us who are awaiting complete destruction.

We believe in the fairness of the Hungarian nation, which expects and claims justice from the world’s nations, and which cannot let this terrible death of the innocent happen.

But if our pleas are futile, then all we ask from the Hungarian nation is to put an end to our suffering in our own country, instead of putting us through the horrors of deportation, so that we can be buried in our motherland.

(Full citation: USHMMA RG 39.01, reel 26 [HJA XX-F-II, box D 6/4] in Zoltan Vagi, Laszlo Csosz & Gabor Kadar (2013) The Holocaust in Hungary: Evolution of a Genocide, Alta Mira Press & USHMM, Lanham, Maryland.)

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