|Hungary, which was
a satellite state of Nazi Germany, had a Jewish population
of 725,007 in 1941. The majority of these Jews (401,000) lived
in Trianon Hungary, with the others residing in the territories
acquired by Hungary during the years 1938-1941: Felvidek from
Czechoslovakia in November 1938 – 67,000; Carpathian
Ruthenia from Czechoslovakia in November 1939 – 78,000;
Northern Transylvania from Romania in August 1940 – 164,000;
and Delvidek from Yugoslavia in April 1941 – 14,000.
Anti-Jewish discrimination in Hungary, which began in the
1920’s with the institution of a quota on the number
of Jewish students in Hungarian universities intensified
following the Anschluss (union of Germany and Austria in
March 1938) with the passage in May 1938 of a law limiting
the participation of Jews in professions and the economy
to 20%. A year later, this figure was reduced to 6% for the
economy and a definition of Jews in racial terms was formulated.
In 1939 the Hungarian government introduced the “Munkaszolgalat,” a
forced labor service for Jewish men of military age, who
were put to work primarily on war-related projects, many
close to the front. Almost 42,000 Hungarian Jews died in
these units prior to the Nazi occupation of Hungary on March
19, 1944. More than 18,000 additional Jews were murdered
prior to that date, most of whom (17,000) were foreign Jews
living in Hungary who were rounded up by the government in
July and August 1941 and deported to Kamentz-Podolsk, where
the SS murdered them, together with local Polish Jews. More
than thousand Jews were killed in Novi Sad and other places
in the Delvidek region in January and February 1942 by Hungarian
military and gendarmeries units. German demands that Hungary
deport its Jews to the death camps were, at this point, however,
This situation was drastically altered when Germany occupied
the country on March 19, 1944 and installed a pro-Nazi government,
which immediately passed numerous anti-Jewish decrees and
paved the way for the mass deportation of Hungarian Jewry.
The first measures were the Aryanization of Jewish property
and the ghettoization of the Jewish population in the provinces,
which already began in mid-April in Carpathian Ruthenia and
northeastern Hungary. The ghettoes only existed for a relatively
brief period, as their primary purpose was to facilitate
the deportation of the Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death
camp, which commenced on May 15 and ended on July 9, 1944.
During that period 437,402 Jews were deported from 55 major
ghettoes and concentration centers in 147 freight trains.
Most were immediately murdered shortly after arrival at Birkenau.
By the time that the Regent Miklos Horthy finally stopped
the deportations, the only Jews left in Hungary were those
in Budapest, who starting in June 1944 had been forced to
live in special buildings marked by a yellow star. Their
situation severely deteriorated following the ascension to
power on October 15, 1944 of the fascist Arrow Cross party,
which unleashed a wave of terror against the Jews. Thousands
were force-marched to the vicinity of Vienna to build fortifications,
while many others were kidnapped and murdered by Arrow Cross
gangs. In early December, almost 70,000 Jews were ordered
to move into a ghetto established in the Jewish section of
Budapest, where thousands died as a result of the horrendous
conditions of disease, starvation, and cold.
In all, 564,500 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust,
of whom 63,000 were killed prior to the Nazi occupation.
Of those who perished after March 19, 1944, 267,800 were
from Trianon Hungary (85,500 from Budapest and 182,300 from
the provinces) and 233,700 were from the areas annexed by
Hungary from Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia during
the years 1938-1941