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2014 - Memorial Year of the Victims of the Holocaust in Hungary

In 2014 we remember the victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, those who perished in the fateful year of 1944 and those who fell victim to persecution during World War II, between 1941 and 1945. In World War II, Hungary aligned itself with the Axis powers. Citizens classified as Jewish faced discrimination at home, were drafted into unarmed labor service often facing inhuman treatment, and about 18000 Jews, refugees and inhabitants of villages recently reattached to Hungary, were handed over to German authorities who murdered them near Kamenets Podolsk in August 1941. 

Despite such horrors, until 1944 the large majority of Jewish Hungarians held hopes of surviving the war, as deportations on a nation-wide scale had not taken place. When in spring 1944, Germany decided to occupy Hungary, the new pro-German Hungarian government, in cooperation with the Nazi bureau set up by Eichmann and with tacit approval regarding its actions against Jewish Hungarians from Regent Horthy, the head of state, changed course and pro-actively pursued the deportation of all persons classified as Jewish to concentration camps. In spring and summer 1944, almost half a million people were deported in the single largest genocidal operation of the war, most of them never to return. Following Regent Horthy’s belated change of mind and stopping of the deportations in July 1944, mass murder continued after the Nazis installed a puppet Arrowcross government in the fall of that year. Further tens of thousands were murdered in Budapest or in so-called death marches headed for Germany. Altogether, Hungary lost about or over half a million citizens in the Holocaust, and over 400.000 in the single fateful year of 1944, with hundreds of thousands more suffering injury and persecution.

This tragedy made possible by the abandonment and active genocidal persecution of its own citizens by the state machinery, in cooperation with Nazi Germany and under the passive gaze of the majority of society represents an episode in Hungarian history that we will continue to grapple with. On the 70th anniversary we have an opportunity to further face up to the collective responsibility of society for what happened, to better understand what was lost, to honor those who resisted, and to learn to cherish even more what miraculously survived. Balassi Institute is privileged to have the opportunity of working with distinguished partners and friends in this undertaking in the United States. Please join us at the upcoming commemorative events and in remembering the martyrs.

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