Hungary, Anyone?

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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:00 pm

About a month after the deportations of Jews to Auschwitz from the provinces in Hungary had begun, Swedish ambassador to Hungary Carl Ivan Danielsson and his aide Per Anger sent a telegram to the Utrikesdepartementet (UD, or Foreign Ministry of Sweden) that said:
According to reliable intelligence from various sources, deportation and extermination [förintelse] of the Jews accelerating. In eastern and southern Hungary the largest portion of Jews already deported to extermination camp Kattovitz.
It was based on this intelligence that Danielsson and Anger requested, and received, authorization from the UD to provide "emergency passports . . . for people with connection to Sweden."

About two weeks prior to this, Danielsson had cabled the UD that Jews from Budapest would ultimately also be deported to Germany and Poland.

Note: Katowice lies about 25 miles north of Auschwitz. The word förintelse, as I've learned it, means "annihilation"; Förintelsen (the annihilation) is the Swedish word adopted for the Holocaust.

[Levine, pp 108-109]
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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:01 pm

On 16 June 1944, two days after sending the telegram mentioned above, Danielsson and Anger reported to the UD that already over 420,000 Hungarian Jews had been removed from the country and that

Image

Further, the two diplomats wrote, in Budapest "stubborn rumours say that large numbers of transports [are] directed to Poland, where the human cargoes are exterminated by means of gas."

Therefore, the Swedes began pressing the Hungarians and Germans to exempt Jews from deportation if they held Swedish papers based only on their intent to acquire Swedish citizenship. This approach sometimes worked, although not in large numbers and, at the time, it was already too late for almost all Hungarian Jews who'd lived outside Budapest.

[Levine, p 110]
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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:39 pm

Per Anger reported (Levine p 114) on the 30 June 1944 meeting at which Swedish King Gustav V's appeal to Horthy - protesting "the extraordinarily severe methods which your government is resorting to against Hungary's Jewish population" and requesting that Horthy act to "save those who remain" - that Horthy was "personable" but noncommittal. According to Anger, Horthy "regretted not having greater possibilities to hinder what was happening to Hungary's Jews" and told the diplomats that "the Germans stand behind all measures against the Jews." During this period, Danielsson and Anger had been reporting, in fact, frustration in that in their efforts to intervene on behalf of Jews with ties to Sweden, the Hungarian authorities routinely blamed the Germans, and the Germans routinely blamed the Hungarians (Levine p 110).

During the 30 June meeting, Horthy further explained the Hungarians' policy, however, according to Anger, as owing in part to the fact that Hungarian government officials "were anxious to transport Eastern Hungary's Jews away because of the communist elements." Horthy explained also that "the Jews have little in common with the Hungarian people."

It would be about a week later that, finally succumbing to international pressures and internal issues Horthy refused to allow the Jewish deportations to continue, notably in Budapest.
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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:16 am

In mid-July 1944, after Horthy had halted the deportations and whilst officials waited to see if there'd be a resumption, Swedish diplomats worked frantically to get Jews out of Hungary to safety in Sweden. Officials in the Swedish legation in Budapest were indeed able to reach agreement with Hungarian deputy foreign minister Arnóthy-Jungerth that 450 Jewish children, women, and elderly could be brought to Sweden from Hungary. The method proposed by the Swedes was to use a "collective passport."

Hitler had agreed, in principle, according to a telegram Ribbentrop sent to Veesenmayer on 10 July, that small groups of Jews under Swedish (and Swiss) protection could leave Hungary "on condition that the removal of the Jews to the Reich that was temporarily stopped by the Regent is now going to be immediately and as quickly as possible completed." In other words, Hitler would allow a few 100s of neutral-protected Jews out of Hungary only if the Hungarians allowed deportation of the remaining quarter of a million or more Jews from the country.

Thus, at the same time as the Swedish-Hungarian agreement was reached, in Berlin von Thadden was telling a Swedish diplomat there that neither the Germans nor the Swedes "were legally authorized" to make such a deal, "which was a domestic Hungarian matter," albeit one already agreed by Hungarian officials! In any event, von Thadden told the Swedish diplomat, according to the latter's report, that it would be "preferable to release a little Jewish haberdasher rather than the big business and industry Jews, who always showed themselves to be the most dangerous and most antisocial elements."

Eichmann chimed in, writing to Berlin from Budapest, "we will, for as long as possible, draw out the ongoing efforts for some Jews to emigrate so that after the evacuations resume, all possibilities for emigration are choked off." Eichmann was not as sensitive to diplomatic needs in dealings with neutral countries and allies. He was to leave Budapest shortly after this, frustrated that Horthy hadn't rescinded his halt decision.

Levine writes, citing Lozowick, who details German negotiating methods in his book on Eichmann's office, that Eichmann's tactics were SOP and that the Germans, despite dangling bait now and then, "had no intention of letting these Jews depart" and remained committed to "killing those Jews currently under neutral protection."

[Levine pp 193-197]
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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Thu May 31, 2018 8:24 pm

Sergey Romanov is not impressed with Il Re di Convoluzione's junior partner, even though (I've been assured) Il Re's books are in all the best libraries.
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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:50 am

Munkácsi, who was, as noted previously, secretary for the Budapest Jewish Council, is at pains in How It Happened? to assure readers that Hungary's Jewish leaders did not know about the Final Solution, or have even an inkling that the Germans might deport Hungarian Jews or murder them, before the Vrba-Wetzler report reached Council members.

But to my mind his narration raises questions about this:

* The concept of mass murder of the Jews prior to the Final Solution was widely known in Hungary based on the Kamenets-Podolsk massacre (this is well discussed by Braham but Munkácsi touches on reactions to this large shooting).

* Hungary was surrounded during the war by countries where large-scale Jewish liquidations were carried out: as Munkácsi says by Austria, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia (as well as by Serbia and Croatia which go unremarked by Munkácsi).

* Munkácsi discussed how Zionist activists from Slovakia, who fled to Hungary in 1942 in the face of the deportations shook up Hungarian Jewry for the better, bringing already clarity, urgency, and bravery to the work of Hungary's Jews; Munkácsi writes that in part "It was the deportations from Slovakia . . . that breathed new life into the Zionist idea" and "injected fresh blood." But there is testimony that Tiso knew about the extermination of Slovakia's Jews during 1942; also in 1942 the Working Group believed that the Slovakian deportations meant death for the deportees, and based on church concerns/pleas and German non-communication, in fall 1942 Tiso's government suspended deportations of Slovakian Jews. As Munkácsi says, Jews who fled Slovakia "tried to warn everyone not to believe a word of the Germans. The Slovakians knew the in every country where the Nazis gained a foothold they started using the same gentle language as they did in Hungary, and ended up orchestrating bloody deportations."

* In his June 1944 circular, "An Appeal to Christian Society," Munkácsi wrote that much of Hungarian society knew nothing about what was happening to the Jews - but this came a year and a half after the strong Allied statements of late 1942 (in line with this, Munkácsi explained that no Jews had escaped from death camps, thus there was no knowledge of what went on in them; one can assume that Munkácsi had Auschwitz in mind and one can understand that Hungary's Jewish leadership didn't know the particulars behind the Allied proclamations - reports from Jews escaping from death camps in part - but I have trouble understanding the Budapest Jewish leaders were entirely unaware of the Allied statements, let alone BBC broadcasts).

* Munkácsi's text is at best vague on when the Budapest Jewish leadership received the Vrba-Wetzler report, what they did with it, and how they used it; also, Munkácsi quotes from a number of appeals from the Council and others during May and June 1944 to Sztojay, Horthy, and other Hungarian authorities, none of which even directly reference the Auschwitz Protocols; the text creates a feeling of a leadership group burying difficult news and information. But some of these appeals mention in passing, as common knowledge, the "sad incidents that culminated in the final deportation of Jews in other countries," about which according to Munkácsi the petitioners were in the dark.

* Munkácsi let on that he was aware as early as April 1944 that neutral governments were protesting Hungary's Jewish actions and that "neutral foreign press condemned" the deportations and mass murders of Jews, including that Jews were being sent to "Germany [sic], where the vast majority were gassed." This passage is rather odd, in that the deportations from the Hungarian provinces to Auschwitz didn't begin until mid-May; Munkásci tried to explain that the Hungarian action, due to its being last and due to the speed with which it was conducted, was more open than the actions in other countries, where, he said, the mass murder was "at least glossed over by the Gestapo."

* Some phrases used by Munkácsi suggest knowledge or strong suspicions among some Hungarian Jewish leaders: "The few who had foresight were accused of defeatism"; German deception at the time of the deportations from the provinces "gave anxious families a certain measure of hope that the people were really being moved abroad for work," when supposedly Hungarian Jews didn't yet doubt German intentions.

Munkácsi, How It Happened, pp 55, 92-95, 105, 136, 145, 169, 191

These are just questions that Munkácsi's account raises without resolution. Braham, of course, came down very hard on the Jewish Council for what I recall as their almost intentional blindness. Anyway, I've made a note to myself, to go along with my longstanding note to read more about the Slovakian deportations, to look back through Braham but also Hilberg, the collection The Tragedy of the Jews of Slovakia, Levine's book on Wallenberg and Sweden, Cesarani, and other books for details on the Working Group and Slovakian refugees in Hungary.
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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:41 pm

Munkásci was well aware that many Hungarian Jews believed that the Jewish Council was holding back - and he knew that the Council engendered strong opposition. So negative was the Council's reputation that, Munkásci recounted, this joke circulated amongst Budapest Jews during 1944:

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Re: Hungary, Anyone?

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:46 pm

I won't summarize Munkácsi's discussion of late summer 1944 but just note that Munkácsi has terrific stuff on the German reaction to Horthy's halt to the deportations in July 1944, how they reacted, and what they made of it, as the war turned ever worse for them during the summer and fall.
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