Hungary

History

After the First World War, Hungary tried to regain territory it had lost due to the 1920 Trianon Treaty. With Hitler’s support, the country recovered southern Slovakia (1938), Subcarpathian Rus (1939) and Northern Transylvania from Romania (August 1940). In November 1940, Hungary joined the Axis alliance. In April 1941, it took part in the occupation of Yugoslavia, including the Bačka, the Baranya triangle and Prekmurje in the process. On 27 June 1941, Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union. However, after Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad and other battles in which Hungary lost tens of thousands of its soldiers, the Regent of Hungary, Miklós Horthy, clandestinly tried to back out of the alliance with Hitler. As a result, German troops occupied Hungary on 19 March 1944, and Horthy was replaced, on 15 October 1944, by the extremist Arrow Cross government. The German occupiers were driven out of Hungary by the Soviet Army on 13 April 1945.

According to a 1941 census, Hungary had a total population of about 9,340,000. The Jewish population was estimated at 401,000 according to religious criteria and at 511,000 according to racist criteria (a figure which rose to 825,000, once Jews living in the recently annexed territories were included). Anti-Jewish legislation excluded the Jews from Hungarian society. Jewish men were already subjected to forced labour in the first phase of the Holocaust, between 1938 and 1942. As early as in the summer of 1941, the Hungarian authorities deported some 20,000 Jews from Subcarpathian Rus, mostly refugees and foreigners, but also Hungarian citizens. They were taken to Galicia and shot in Kamenets-Podolskii (Ukraine) by German units. In January 1942, Hungarian military units and gendarmes murdered about 3,500 local people, including Jews, in Novi Sad and in its vicinity, in the Bačka region.

The second phase of the Holocaust in Hungary began with the German occupation of the country. While the Hungarian government fully implemented the anti-Jewish policies of Nazi Germany, the occupation forces were accompanied by a Sonderkommando unit under the command of Adolf Eichmann, in order to carry out the “Final Solution”. From 16 April 1944, ghettos were established in 185 localities in Hungary, with the exception of Budapest. Jews, however, did not stay long in these provincial ghettos. Most of them were transferred, after a month, to transit camps which had been set up in all of the Hungarian counties. Between 15 May and 9 July 1944, 438,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz, where most were murdered in the camp’s gas chambers. About 75,000 were selected for work and deported to other camps. Some 15,000 Jews were sent to labour camps near Vienna, 1,600 were sent to Bergen-Belsen.

According to the Germans’ original plans, the 200,000 Jews of Budapest were next in line to be locked into ghettos and then deported. From the end of June 1944, they had to live in so-called “yellow star houses”. After the Arrow Cross Party came to power, the so-called international ghetto was established in November 1944. It was destined for Jews with passports or protective documents issued by embassies of neutral countries, whereas the other Jews were forced to move to the sealed-off “large ghetto” early December. Others had already been drafted for forced labour, mostly in Austria and Bavaria. In Budapest, some 120,000 Jews survived in the two ghettos and in hiding. Out of the 760,000 to 780,000 Hungarian citizens labelled as Jewish in early 1944, around 250,000 survived the Holocaust.

Archival Situation

The Act on public records, public archives and the protection of private archival holdings (Archives Act, Act LXVI of 1995), divided public archives in Hungary into national (general) archives, specialised state archives, municipal (city and county) archives, archives of public foundations and other public bodies, as well as private archives open to the public. The Public Records Act was modified by Act LXI of 2012, which fundamentally changed Hungary’s archival system. On 1 October 2012, the Hungarian National Archives (Magyar Országos Levéltár), the central repository holding collections transferred from national government bodies, as well as all county and most of the city archives were integrated into the newly established National Archives of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár), a centralised, state-controlled body. There are a few municipal archives, which have not been merged into these new central archives, including the Budapest Municipal Archives. In addition, there are several specialised archives that hold records relevant for Holocaust research: some 20 church and 20 Jewish community archives as well as around 25 museums, major Budapest libraries and private collections.

EHRI Research (Summary)

The National Archives of Hungary hold most of the collections relevant to Holocaust research in Hungary. Other key collection-holding institutions include the Budapest Municipal Archives, the Hungarian Jewish Archives, the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, the Military History Archives, and the Holocaust Memorial Center, which are all situated in Budapest. EHRI has identified 75 Holocaust-relevant repositories in Hungary, a full list of which can be found in the extensive report. By December 2014, EHRI had created 126 collection descriptions, most of them in the Hungarian National Archives and the Hungarian Jewish Archives. For further details, see the extensive report.

EHRI Research (Extensive)

A. EHRI approach to Hungary: Pre-existing research and third-party surveys, available archives, expert support

The first large-scale survey of Holocaust-related archival records in Hungary was launched in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was conducted by Elek Karsai and his associates on behalf of the National Agency of Hungarian Israelites (MIOK). The main result was a broad selection of documents known as “Series I” that is available on 180 microfilms in the Hungarian National Archives, Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 1994, a follow-up project was launched by Ágnes Ságvári, which resulted in the creation of minor collections of selected Holocaust records in all the municipal (county) archives in Hungary, as well as a series of source publications. In 1993, a research guide to archival materials relevant for Jewish studies in Hungary (including some Holocaust-related parts as well) was published: György Haraszti and Géza Komoróczy (eds), Magyar zsidó levéltári repertórium [Hungarian Jewish Archival Guide] Vols. 1-2. Budapest: MTA Judaisztikai Kutatócsoport, 1993. Due to the re-organisation of the material, merging archives, newly found or added records and several other reasons, the information provided by this guide has remained incomplete, requiring updates and corrections.

The finding aids and descriptions currently available at the archives in Hungary tend to provide scholars specialised in Holocaust Studies with little specific information. With the sole exception of the Hungarian Jewish Archives, none of the archives in Hungary provides visitors with detailed finding aids in English. Only some offer online collection descriptions but in most cases only a general overview of the holdings is available online. However, many institutions have launched digitalisation projects and there is an increasing number of online finding aids.

The research teams of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Yad Vashem Archives have conducted extensive research in the previous two decades in Hungary. They prepared detailed collection-level and file-level descriptions for institutions of particular importance to Holocaust research, including the Hungarian Jewish Archives, the National Archives, the Budapest Municipal Archives, the Archives of State Security and the Institute and Museum of Military History.

The most important comprehensive documentary account on the topic in English is The Holocaust in Hungary. Evolution of a Genocide by Zoltán Vági, László Csősz and Gábor Kádár (Washington, DC: AltaMira Press-USHMM, 2013). It offers a selection of archival material from various archives in Hungary and abroad. The most relevant archival sources, especially on the history of the ghettoisation and deportation in 1944 are summarised in the entries of Randolph L. Braham (ed.), Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocaust in Hungary (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2013)

EHRI’s experts on Hungary have made good use of the online finding aids on the microfilmed Hungarian records available on the USHMM website as well as of the valuable survey material we have obtained from colleagues at the Yad Vashem Archives. In addition, they have consulted archivists of the key collection-holding institutes.

EHRI's research team in Hungary includes László Csősz, a former senior historian at the Holocaust Memorial Center and now chief archivist at the Hungarian National Archives, Ferenc Laczó, research fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena and Laura Csonka, PhD student at the ELTE University in Budapest.

B. Characteristics of the Hungarian archival system and specific challenges

According to the Act on public records, public archives and the protection of private archival holdings (in short: Archives Act, Act LXVI of 1995), public archives in Hungary were divided into national (general) archives, specialised state archives, municipal (city and county) archives, archives of public foundations and other public bodies, as well as private archives open to the public. The Public Records Act was modified by Act LXI of 2012, which brought about fundamental changes in the archival system. The Hungarian National Archives (Magyar Országos Levéltár), the central repository holding collections transferred from national government bodies as well as all county and most of the city archives, were integrated on 1 October 2012 into the newly established National Archives of Hungary (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár), a centralised, state-controlled body. A few municipal archives have not been merged into these new central archives, including the Budapest Municipal Archives. In addition, there are several specialised archives, some 30 church and 20 Jewish community archives as well as other collection-holding institutions, including about 25 museums, major Budapest libraries, and private collections that are holding records relevant for Holocaust research.

In Hungary, any natural person may, upon preliminary application, have free access to archival records held in public archives. Access to public records preserved in the National Archives of Hungary and its branch institutions are regulated by the Archives Act and its modifications since then (Amendment CXL of 1997. Enacting Clauses 19 and 20/1198. MKM), the Data Protection Act (LXIII of 1992) and the Privacy Act (LXV of 1995). One of the most important regulations concerning personal data of an individual mentioned in the records is that these data must not be published sooner than 30 years following the death of the person concerned, or if the year of death is unknown, for 90 years following the birth of the person concerned, or if both dates are unknown, for 60 years following the date of issue of the archival material concerned. “Personal data” is defined as any data that can be related to a certain natural person (“person concerned”) and any conclusion that can be drawn from such data about the person concerned.

C. EHRI identification and description results on Hungary

C. I. In Hungary

In Hungary, EHRI has so far identified 85 archival institutions, which are relevant for Holocaust research. EHRI has carried out archival descriptions in six of them: the Budapest-based Hungarian National Archives, the Budapest Municipal Archives, the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, the Military History Archives, the Hungarian Jewish Archives, and the Holocaust Memorial Center.

1. National Archives

  • National Archives of Hungary, Hungarian National Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Pest County Archives, Budapest (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Pest Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Bács-Kiskun County Archives, Kecskemét (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Bács-Kiskun Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Baranya County Archives, Pécs (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Baranya Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Békés County Archives, Gyula (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Békés Megyei Levéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Békés County Archives, Békés Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Békés Megyei Levéltár Békési Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County Archives, Miskolc (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County Archives, Alsózsolca Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén Megyei Levéltár Alsózsolcai Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County Archives, Sátoraljaújhely Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén Megyei Levéltár Sátoraljaújhelyi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Csongrád County Archives, Szeged (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Csongrád Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Csongrád County Archives, Hódmezővásárhely Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Csongrád Megyei Levéltár Hódmezővásárhelyi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Csongrád County Archives, Makó Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Csongrád Megyei Levéltár Makói Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Csongrád County Archives, Szentes Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Csongrád Megyei Levéltár Szentesi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Csongrád County Archives, Csongrád Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Csongrád Megyei Levéltár Csongrádi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Fejér County Archives, Székesfehérvár (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Fejér Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Győr-Moson-Sopron County Archives, Győr (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Győr-Moson-Sopron Megye Győri Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Győr-Moson-Sopron County Archives, Győr, Mosonmagyaróvár Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Győr-Moson-Sopron Megye Győri Levéltára Mosonmagyaróvári Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Győr-Moson-Sopron County Archives, Sopron (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Győr-Moson-Sopron Megye Soproni Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Hajdú-Bihar County Archives, Debrecen (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Hajdú-Bihar Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Hajdú-Bihar County Archives, Hajdúböszörmény Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Hajdú-Bihar Megyei Levéltár Hajdúböszörményi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Heves County Archives, Eger (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Heves Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Archives, Szolnok (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Komárom-Esztergom County Archives, Esztergom (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Komárom-Esztergom Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Komárom-Esztergom County Archives, Komárom Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Komárom-Esztergom Megyei Levéltár Komáromi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Nógrád County Archives, Salgótarján (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Nógrád Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Nógrád County Archives, Balassagyarmat Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Nógrád Megyei Levéltár Balassagyarmati Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Nógrád County Archives, Bátonyterenye-Tiribes Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Nógrád Megyei Levéltár Bátonyterenye-Tiribesi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Somogy County Archives, Kaposvár (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Somogy Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Archives, Nyíregyháza (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Tolna County Archives, Szekszárd (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Tolna Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Vas County Archives, Szombathely (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Vas Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Vas County Archives, Kőszeg Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Vas Megyei Levéltár Kőszegi Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Veszprém County Archives, Veszprém (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Veszprém Megyei Levéltára),
  • National Archives of Hungary Veszprém County Archives, Pápa Branch Archives (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Veszprém Megyei Levéltár Pápai Fióklevéltár),
  • National Archives of Hungary Zala County Archives, Zalaegerszeg (Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Zala Megyei Levéltára),
  • Budapest Municipal Archives (Budapest Főváros Levéltára, BFL).

2. Municipal Archives

  • Székesfehérvár City Archives (Székesfehérvár Megyei Jogú Város Levéltára),
  • Győr City Archives (Győr Megyei Jogú Város Levéltára),
  • Tatabánya City Archives (Tatabánya Megyei Jogú Város Levéltára).

3. Specialised State Archives

  • Institute and Museum of Military History – Military History Archives (Hadtörténeti Intézet és Múzeum - Hadtörténelmi Levéltár),
  • Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security (Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti Levéltára),
  • Archives of Political History and of Trade Unions (Politikatörténeti és Szakszervezeti Levéltár),
  • Semmelweis Museum, Library and Archives of the History of Medicine (Semmelweis Orvostörténeti Múzeum, Könyvtár és Levéltár),
  • National Educational Library and Museum (Országos Pedagógiai Könyvtár és Múzeum),
  • Archives of the Loránd Eötvös University (Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Levéltára),
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics Archives (Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem Levéltára),
  • Corvinus University of Budapest Archives (Budapesti Corvinus Egyetemi Levéltár - Közgáz Levéltár),
  • University of Pécs Archives (Pécsi Tudományegyetem Egyetemi Levéltár),
  • University of Szeged Archives (Szegedi Tudományegyetem Levéltára).

4. Church Archives

  • Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pécs (Pécsi Püspöki és Káptalani Levéltár),
  • Central Archives of the Lutheran Church in Hungary (Evangélikus Országos Levéltár),
  • Library and Archives of the Unitarian Church of Hungary (Magyarországi Unitárius Egyház Könyvtára és Levéltára),
  • Ráday Archives of the Dunamellék District of the Reformed Church in Hungary (Dunamelléki Református Egyházkerület Ráday Levéltára),
  • Synod Archives of the Reformed Church in Hungary (Magyarországi Református Egyház Zsinati Levéltára),
  • Historical Archives of the Kalocsa Archbishopric (Kalocsai Főegyházmegyei Levéltár)
  • Archives of the Romanian Orthodox Church (Román Ortodox Egyház Levéltára),
  • The Scientific Collections of the Sárospatak Calvinist College – Archives of the Tiszáninnen District of the Reformed Church in Hungary (Sárospataki Református Kollégium Tudományos Gyűjteményei - Tiszáninneni Egyházkerületi Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Roman-Catholic Diocese of Szeged-Csanád (Szeged-Csanádi Püspöki Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Székesfehérvár (Székesfehérvári Püspöki és Székeskáptalani Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Tiszántúl District of the Reformed Church in Hungary and its College (Tiszántúli Református Egyházkerületi és Kollégiumi Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Eger (Egri Főegyházmegyei Levéltár)
  • Primate’s Archives of Esztergom (Prímási Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vác (Váci Püspöki és Káptalani Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese (Szerb Ortodox Egyházmegyei Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Greek Catholic Bishopry (Görögkatolikus Püspöki Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Szombathely (Szombathelyi Püspöki Levéltár),
  • Archives of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Veszprém (Veszprémi Érseki és Főkáptalani Levéltár),
  • Calvinist Collections of Pápa - Archives of the Dunántúl District of the Reformed Church in Hungary (Pápai Református Gyűjtemények - Dunántúli Református Egyházkerület Levéltára).

5. Archives of the Jewish Communities

  • Hungarian Jewish Archives (Magyar Zsidó Levéltár),
  • Archives of provincial Jewish Communities,
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Debrecen (Debreceni Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Győr (Győri Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Kaposvár (Kaposvári Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Miskolc (Miskolci Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Nagykanizsa (Nagykanizsai Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Nagykőrös (Nagykőrösi Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Pécs (Pécsi Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Sopron (Soproni Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Szeged (Szegedi Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Székesfehérvár (Székesfehérvári Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Szolnok (Szolnoki Zsidó Hitközség),
  • Archives of the Jewish Community of Szombathely (Szombathelyi Zsidó Hitközség).

6. Archives of Public Foundations and public collections

  • Holocaust Memorial Center, Collections (Holokauszt Emlékközpont Gyűjteménye),
  • National Széchényi Library (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár),
  • Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library Budapest Collection (Fővárosi Szabó Ervin Könyvtár Budapest Gyűjtemény).

7. Other relevant collections

  • State and municipal museums (to be specified)
  • Private collections (to be specified)

C. II. In other countries

Archival sources pertaining to the Holocaust in Hungary can be found in the archives of all seven neighbouring countries (Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia) as well as in other foreign countries, most importantly Germany, Israel and the United States. Key foreign archives holding material pertaining to the Holocaust in Hungary include the United States Memorial Museum Archives, the Yad Vashem Archives, the Bundesarchiv, and the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington DC. While most records are written in Hungarian, finding aids and working languages differ in all these places. This continues to pose a serious challenge to researchers. Consequently, the identification and investigation of these archival documents require extensive international cooperation.