Records of the Orphans’ Court of Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County, 1876-1950
- Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun vármegye Árvaszékének iratai, 1876-1950
1071,07 linear metres Textual records
Orphans’ Courts were administrative bodies serving as public trustees in the counties and cities in Hungary between 1877 and 1950. According to Act 20 of 1877, Orphans’ Court was declared the public trustee of first instance. The Orphans’s Court consisted of a chair, at least two members and a notary as well as the Public Prosecutor, but the latter did not have a right to vote. Act 35 of 1923 modified this system and from this time on one assessor handled the matters of orphans and other clients, under the supervision of the chair. The Orphans’ Court was entitled to appoint guardians and wardens and to supervise them, to make decisions concerning the wealth of the wards, boarding, and the maintenance and other matters concerning the children of divorced parents, and various other matters.
The records of the Orphans’ Courts were handed over to the Pest County Archives, the predecessor of the National Archives of Hungary, Pest County Archives in the early 1950s.
The records of the Orphans’ Court from 1944 is one of the key sources pertaining to the nationalization of the wealth of Hungarian Jews in spring-summer of 1944. According to decree no. 230.000/1944 of the Ministry of the Interior on April 10 1944 on the handling of the assets of “absent” Jews (that is, those who were promptly taken to the ghettos and collection camps after April 16 and therefore could not report their property as prescribed in governmental decree no. 1600/1944 issued on the same day) fell on the Orphans’ Courts of the counties and cities. They were entitled to appoint public trustees and guardians to take over and handle all the property of the Jews. Soon after, government officials realized the task was far beyond the ability of the Orphans’ Courts. At the beginning of May, Financial Directorates were made responsible for the appropriation, inventorying and safekeeping of Jewish property. Post-1944 records in the collection contain plenty of information pertaining to the inheritance of citizens murdered during the Holocaust. In 1947, the Hungarian state initiated legal procedures in order to identify heirless or unclaimed property of people who fell victim to Fascist persecution, overwhelmingly Jews. The Orphans’ Courts were the key administrative bodies in this process. Relevant records of the Orphans’ Court of Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County from this period include declarations of death introduced by relatives at the local District Courts. According to Governmental Decree no. 4700 of 1945, the procedure was announced in the state bulletin Magyar Közlöny and after 60 days the given person was declared legally dead, unless the authorities received evidence that he or she was alive. Besides, there are two other types of files in this part of the collection:
- inventories of inheritance, which consist of the names of successors, the place and dare of declaration of death. The inventories were taken in the presence of one of the successors
- guardianship cases: in the absence of the owner or any legal successors, the property was declared abandoned and placed under the guardianship of state-appointed individuals.
The records of the Orphans’ Court of Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County were arranged into the following provenance subgroups (állag): IV. 410. a. Minutes of council meetings, IV. 410. b. Presidential records, IV. 410. c. General records, IV. 410. d. Records of Orphans’ Prosecutor–Árvaügyészi iratok, IV. 410. e. Records of Orphans’ Cashier–Árvapénztári iratok. Within these groups, the files are arranged chronologically, the number of files re-started each year. Certain cases from the years 1938-1944 are handled separately and arranged in alphabetical order.
A broad selection of the Holocaust-related records from 1944 is available at the Hungarian National Archives in the special collection prepared on behalf of the National Office of Hungarian Israelites (MIOI) in the 1960s, known as ‘Series I’. Series I is held by the Óbuda section of the National Archives of Hungary. Copies are available in the YVA and the USHMMA.
Ernő Lakatos, ed. A Magyar Állami Levéltárak fondjegyzéke, Vol. III. A Területi Levéltárak fondjegyzékei Part 13. A Pest Megyei Levéltár fondjainak jegyzéke. Budapest: Magyar Országos Levéltár, 1975.
The description was prepared by László Csősz
EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0