Collection of Ottó (Natan) Komoly, Chairman of the Magyar Cionista Szövetség (Hungarian Zionist Organization), 1941-1944

Language of Description
1 Jan 1904 - 31 Dec 1990
Level of Description
Record group
  • German
  • Hungarian

Extent and Medium

56 files

Biographical History

Ottó Komoly (Hebrew name: Natan-Zeev Kahan) was born in Budapest in 1892; by profession he was an engineer. In 1940 he was elected Deputy Chairman of the Magyar Cionista Szövetség, and in 1941, he was elected as its Chairman. In 1943, the Budapesti Mentőbizottság (Budapest Relief and Rescue Committee) was established in Budapest and Komoly served as its chairman. In this capacity, he was involved with relief activities and attempts to smuggle Jewish refugees into the area of Hungary (mainly refugees from Poland via Slovakia). After the German occupation in 1944, the Committee, under the leadership of Israel Kasztner, conducted negotiations with the Germans in order to rescue the Jews of Hungary and was active in other ways on their behalf. In the autumn of 1944, at the initiative of Friedrich Born, Department A of the International Red Cross was set up, and Ottó Komoly was selected to serve as its head. The Department worked mainly towards the rescue of children. In the winter of 1944 there were 35 children's houses under the auspices of the International Red Cross. Over 5,000 children lived in these children's houses, as well as approximately 550 educators. In early January 1945 Komoly was murdered by Arrow Cross men in Budapest.

Archival History

The collection of documentation belonging to Ottó (Natan) Komoly and the personal items belonging to his widow, Mrs. Lila Komoly, and their daughter Leah arrived in Eretz Israel in 1946. Lila Komoly submitted most of the collection on loan to Dr. Sarah Friedlander that same year. After Dr. Friedlander's death in 1948, the documentation disappeared. It was rediscovered in May 1958 and returned to the Komoly family. In 1995, Leah Furst, Ottó Komoly's daughter, submitted the collection to Yad Vashem.

Scope and Content

Most of the collection is original and can be divided into two parts: A) The first part is Komoly's documentation from the period before World War II to the end of the war (Files 1-48). - Lectures and research papers prepared by Komoly in his professional area as an engineer and his activities as a Jewish Zionist leader;- Correspondence with Jewish organizations from Hungary and other countries, public figures and the Hungarian authorities regarding the rescue of the Jews of Hungary; - Eleven volumes of the work appointment book conducted by Komoly in Budapest, 1934-1944;- Newspaper clippings in Hungarian and other languages regarding the condition of the Jews, 1942-1944. B) In the second part of the collection there is documentation from the period following Komoly's death collected by his widow, Mrs. Lila Komoly, and his daughter Leah (Komoly) Furst (Files 49-56): - Correspondence, newspaper clippings in various languages, articles and biographies written in memory of Ottó Komoly.The work appointment books conducted by Komoly from 1934 to 1944 are an important part of the collection. All together there are 11 such appointment books (File 44). The outstanding appointment book is from 1944, in which, in addition to his daily agenda Komoly also wrote about his meetings in his capacity as Chairman of the Magyar Cionista Szövetség. He conducted this appointment book until mid-December, when he was captured by the Arrow Cross men.

Finding Aids

  • Description of the files are available on IDEA ALM system at Yad Vashem Archives reading room/

Existence and Location of Originals

  • YV archives

Publication Note

“The Diary of Ottó Komoly: August 21 – September 16, 1944”, Braham, Randolph L., Hungarian Jewish Studies, Vol. III, World Federation of Hungarian Jews, New York, New York, 1973, pp. 147-250; "Vajon megtelnek-e följegyzéseimmel e könyv lapjai?: Komoly Ottó naplója (1944)", Molnár Judit,Karsai, László and Molnár, Judit (eds.), Küzdelem az igazságért: Tanulmányok Randolph L. Braham 80 születésnapjára, MAZSIHISZ, Budapest, Hungary 2002, pp. 473-490; - written by Kinga Frojimovics.

Archivist Note

JL according to the RG description in ty YV computerized catalogue

Dates of Descriptions