3. "The Kőrösmező, Kamenec-Podolsk deportation" - training school of the Holocaust of 1944.
3.1 The defencelessness of non-Hungarian citizens, the so-called "aliens."
The increase of military expenditure, German demands, and calls-up into the army preparing to invade a part of Transsylvania, as well as the deepening of impoverishment were directly proportional to each other. No more material resources could have been squeezed out of Carpatho-Ruthenia by customary measures. As compared to the situation under Czechoslovak rule the condition of the economy and individual families deteriorated appallingly. Following the stopping of big communal works, the closing down of industrial plants and mines in Carpatho-Ruthenia the number of job opportunities diminished considerably. 10,500 householders in towns and 41,500 in villages became unemployed; together with the members of their families this meant 127,500 persons.1
Local people were employed at the Great Hungarian Plain ( the central - mainly agricultural - part of Hungary. ) From among the 60-80,000 applicants from Carpatho-Ruthenia, only 2-3,000 received day-labour in order to press down wages. Unemployment benefits, paid regularly in Czechoslovakia, were stopped. At the time of annexation the Carpatho-Ruthenian inhabitants hoped that salt, beans and sugar will be cheaper. The cartels, however, kept the prices forcibly high. In the North people expected that the price of textiles and industrial products will drop. Exactly the opposite happened A price increase of 200-300 per cent was characteristic. The state purchase price of agricultural produce (first of all tobacco and paprika) was only one eighth, one tenth of that in Czechoslovakia. The involuntary restriction of production made its effect felt. In the track of the "liberating troops" black market began to flourish. The administration issued an ordinance to cut old-age and social insurance benefits to one third and to introduce high tuitions instead of exemption from school-fees. Jews, because of their origin and the poverty of the locals, were unable to provide higher education for their children. Such a serious supply situation came about that even the implementation of anti-Jewish laws was not possible. The withdrawal of permits from retailers and small craftsmen would have made their daily life impossible at one stroke. Jewish skilled workers were indispensable in many fields.2 Mainly the Hungarians, but the intelligentsia and a large part of the local population - who did not flee - as well, placed their hope into the building out of a transitory situation and measures bringing about an equilibrium. Instead, the "almost colonial" exploitation increased, out of the already mentioned reason. I note without further details that an authorization was published in 1938 in para. 4 of Law XXXIV. 1938. In accordance with this law a line of Ordinances was prepared. Afterwards, in 1939, the No. 140 ME Ordinance, 1939, of the Royal Hungarian Ministry contained comprehensive instructions about the "transitory measures" - first of all law enforcement, as regards the integration of the legislation of territories annexed to the Hungarian Saint Crown, with the existing legal system of the country.
The fiasco of Hungarian rule in Carpatho-Ruthenia had to be admitted. The parliament and the office of the prime minister stated alike that the Hungarian government copied the German Reich only as far as the formalities of the entry are concerned. The Third Reich, for example, took steps in the Sudeten to win over all strata of the population; in Austria it raised the exchange rate of the Schilling, etc. The Hungarian government offended all strata of the annexed territories.3
To get out of this dead-end street, the Jewish question offered a solution this time too. The government, to neutralize the Jews of the fatherland, sacrificed in the strict sense of the word tens of thousand "Galician", "immigrated", "alien" Jews - in 1941, first in Hungary.
The frames of the terrorist organization were given. The ideology: the "institutionalization of race-preserving health-care, to protect the consummation of the eternal mission of Magyardom."4
Lists and registers were given too. The public service, financial administration, armed bodies, tax authorities, - all had detailed and up-to-date registers in their hands. The Central Alien Control Office ( KEOKH ), under the supervision of Department VII/b of the Ministry of the Interior, has been the summit organ of alien surveillance for decades. It kept records on German, Polish, Russian and Austrian Jews staying in Hungary. The aim of the Office was to prevent their naturalization. A special report was prepared in 1936, namely in the so-called liberal period. The report suggested ways and means - not necessitating an administrative law - to cut the number of Jewish immigrants, to keep local inhabitants under control and to oust those not born in Hungary.5 710 non-Hungarian citizens were expelled between 1920 and 1935. The situation was more complicated between 1920 and 1930, as those migrating to Trianon Hungary after 1921 received Hungarian citizenship. A complete file was laid down on 858 transmigrants. At the same time 1504 foreign citizens of Jewish religion were expelled on the basis of the so-called final decision. Further hundreds were expelled without any decision. The report referred to above specially mentions that the larger part of Jews settled in Hungary between 1931 and 1935 was above the age of fifty; "so they do not take job opportunities from before the Hungarians, and do not come into consideration as regards reproduction."
The district chief prefects and the Royal Hungarian police captains were competent in settlement cases. They issued residence- and labour permits; the representative of respective ministries also participated in the decision. KEOKH ( the Central Alien Control Office ), on the basis of its own judgement "in each case applies the strictest measure and interpretation of laws and regulations towards foreign citizens of Jewish religion, who want to settle down. The office does everything within the limits of laws and possibilities to render settling down more difficult, rather prevent it." Each border station compiled a report on them every day, especially on escapees from fascist Germany and Poland. Persons without the citizenship of a foreign country were treated in such a way that "they can be removed without any obstacle." Besides, raids were also held regularly.
Further tightening was introduced after 1936: personal appearance in the capital; the abolishment of naturalization; additional raids "in those parts of the country where a large number of Jews live, as well as in the regions where the routs of infiltration of Eastern Jews go through, and in Budapest too."
In November, 1937, KEOKH held raids in Budapest among Jews having arrived from abroad. Regent Horthy told the Jewish delegation: the action was against "Eastern Galician" Jews only; no danger whatsoever threatens assimilated Jews.6
László Varga publishes noteworthy data on foreigners and persons staying temporarily in Hungary.7
Judit Fejes complementing Majsai’ s research, publishes in Appendix 1 the list of 171 men from 48 villages. The list was compiled in Ungvár on July 25, 1941. ( Tracing the Southern Boundary of the Border Region ( that is to be ) Freed of Jews and List of Jews to be expelled or Interned ) In appendix 2 she publishes the report of the police chief of the Ungvár border region, according to which 17,306 persons will be "transported" to the camp at Korösmezo and 15,567 persons will be moved further between July 15 and August 9.8
As regards Polish and Russian Jews, "all those whose expulsion was possible within the bounds of existing laws and regulations, were already removed by KEOKH from the territory of the country... The largest part of Eastern Jews lives here since decades, so hardly any opportunity presents itself to expel them within legal bounds."
The situation of Jews in Carpatho-Ruthenia was completely hopeless - in fact deteriorated further - from all points of view since the annexation. Neither Poland - especially after German occupation - nor the Soviet Union admitted them. From Poland the Germans and from the Soviet Union the border guards drove them back.9
Hungary, at the time of the annexation, registered them as "persons whose mother tongue is Hungarian", but did not give them citizenship. The Royal Hungarian Ministry of the Interior rejected any application for naturalization. Citizenship of the already non-existent Czechoslovakia was declared null-and-void. The 16,558 foreign citizens - mainly Jews - were regarded from the outset as stateless.10 The sufferings of the Jews of Carpatho-Ruthenia were multiplied by the fact that Hungarian anti-Jewish laws were introduced immediately on the day of the annexation. On May 4, two months after the invasion, anti-Jewish law No. 2 also entered into force. Families, inexperienced in Hungarian administrative procedures, were almost unable to adapt themselves to this. These mainly poor families were expected to produce documents, though they did not even have the money to do so. The mainly orthodox communities were handled with prejudice not only by the authorities but the traditional Jewish communities too.11
By confiscating their home, house and land, tens of thousands of discontented persons could have been satisfied. One could even get hold of their flat, house and land as they were defenceless. And as the "aliens" from among them have lived under the sentence of expulsion since 1936. As we mentioned already, the Hungarian authorities were looking for a legal framework to justify the inhuman measures.
3.2 "The Kőrösmező, Kamanets-Podolsk deportation" - Training School of the Holocaust of 1944.
"Kamenec-Podolsk - Training school of the Hungarian Holocaust" - this is not only a post-statement of the author of this study. Leading government politicians and organizers also regarded it as such! Miklós Kozma expressed on May 1, 1941, that "the Jewish question is a European question. The first step in Hungary is segregation; deportation would be the solution." But he does not regard sending into moderate reservation ( that is concentration camp, S.Á. ), brutal steps like throwing into the river" as possible. Better said, he does not yet regard it as timely. "The Jewish question cannot be solved seriously but can be kept within bounds, till the end of the war solves this question."
With a view to the experiment, it was palpable to "get rid of ", rather liquidate those who were denounced by nationalist, anti-Soviet, anti-Semitic, war propaganda. "Infiltrators, they endanger the security of the country, they come from the East, alien body in national Hungary"!, -sounded. It was possible to experiment with a given group, in such a way that the action covered the whole country. As an individual administrative case, it was remitted to the competence of an office. Besides the very precise instructions of the anti-Jewish laws and uninhibited anti-Semitic propaganda, each and every person of Jewish religion was threatened with the stamp of "statelessness" ( namely: rootlessness ), the withdrawal of stay-and work permits and with internment. Word by word: "The rule of the citizenship law of the old state, according to which everybody born in Hungary is Hungarian citizen... fell; today every Jew is considered to be an "alien" as long as his Hungarian citizenship is not verified."12
The Bárdossy government did not undertake openly the first Holocaust step. Implementation was left to a second- and third degree authority, the KEOKH. KEOKH tried to destroy all documents and data. Scattered remnants could probably be found in the regional archives of the Ukraine.13 KEOKH, in 1938 already, "ordered the police- and border authorities to prevent increased infiltration of Jews. "Beyond the provisions regarding the stay in Hungary of foreigners, "in case of foreigners of Jewish race, origin ( S.Á. ) was also taken into consideration above these standpoints."
Following the annexation of the Upper Northern Regions and Carpatho-Ruthenia to Hungary, when the 2nd anti-Jewish law came into force too, 2000 Jews were expelled up to October 10, 1941, "by the way of selection within the inhabitants of mixed race or with doubtful citizenship." This figure, however, is but the peak of the iceberg. Those, whose internment was not made possible by domestic or international legal means, were interned by KEOKH. Such internment camps were to be found in all parts of the country, like: Garany, Dömös, Ricse, Gyula, Nagykanizsa. In Budapest, besides the central detention barracks, 7 so-called auxiliary detention barracks were established in Szabolcs, Magdolna, Páva, Colombus, O and Damjanich streets and in the synagogue in Rumbach street.
The preparation of internment was finished by the end of May, 1941. The first list was complete, with description and address. The division of labour between the Ministry of Defence and the VII. Public Security Department of the Ministry of the Interior was finalized. Relevant instructions came into force. The police and gendarmerie organizations began to function. Only three questions remained open: How wide circle of stateless persons will be drawn under the jurisdiction of the decree? Where should the Jews be interned to? And last: What means will make it possible to achieve "maximum success", to mobilize dissolute groups selected for the implementation, and at the same time to disarm the Hungarian Jewry and avoid probable and open foreign condemnation? This latter contradiction explains the urging by the Ministry of Defence, and the playing for time by the conservative Ministry of the Interior.
The German attack against the Soviet Union offered an excellent opportunity for the overture of the first act of the Hungarian Holocaust. Hungary joined without delay. Military administration was introduced on a part of occupied territories beyond the Carpathian mountains. The Government Commissioner of Carpatho-Ruthenia and leading military circles -most probably in the first days of July - discussed the idea suggested by KEOKH: The advance of our army in Galicia made possible to deport Polish and Russian Jews living in Hungary back to their earlier place of birth.14 The General Staff and the Government Commissioner of Carpatho-Ruthenia, with the tacit approval of the Regent and the government of Hungary, decided "to expel all persons with doubtful citizenship from Carpatho-Ruthenia and hand them over to the German organs in East-Galicia."
These two documents are especially significant from the tactical point of view. The Jews "will return home", - so not a deportation but almost a re-conquest of their own land will take place. The murderous operation is not carried out by Hungarians, they only arrange travel, - and the territory emptied as a consequence of the flight of the Ukrainian population, will be handed over to the German authorities. ( "To begin a new life." )
The chief prefect of Máramarossziget, in his own scope of authority, issued a county regulation and called upon the Jews of the county on July 8, 1941, to report voluntarily (!!), saying: they will go to agricultural areas, "there will be no difficulties to begin a new life." His example was followed by other high-ranking officials. These local actions were stopped, obviously to avoid a sensation. KEOKH, however, with the co-operation of the armed bodies, on the basis of ministerial Ordinance 192/1941. res. VII./b of July 12, 1941 carried through at a stroke, within 10 days, the concentration of Jews at Korösmezo, followed by their deportation. In order to mislead international and domestic public opinion, KEOKH referred to continuity, on the grounds of Law XXVIII. of 1930.15
We are not going to speak in detail about the horrible, inhuman circumstances; the internment camps at Valóc, Királymezo and Ruszpoljana; starvation at Korösmezo and Havasalföld; the transportation of 2000 persons/day in box-cars to the camps and from there to the places of execution; nor about the mass murders committed by the German troops. Nobody has more precisely revealed the fate of these - as the reports say - 17,306 persons than the scenario reconstructed and the fate-tragedies written briefly by Arthur Geyer and Károly Majsai. We took our data from them.16
By comparing figures, texts and executive ordinances, I point out that a country-wide, centrally organized deportation and mass murder took place in July, August, September, 1941. The naming of the act as "Carpatho-Ruthenian" was only a cover-name in order to diminish its importance. It is a historical error, human short-sightedness and a serious professional mistake of historians to handle the massacre at Kamenec-Podolsk as a peripheral, individual case.
The "action" was stopped by Ferenc Keresztes-Fischer on July 31, 1941. The Hungarian-Israelitic Patron Bureau ( Magyar-Izraelita Pártfogó Iroda ) closed down its emergency kitchen in the concentration camp at Havasalföld on August 18. KEOKH’ s report of August 18 said that there were 96,228 registered foreign citizens in the country. From among them not more than 6176 were described as Jews of Russian or Polish origin. 3768 of them lived in the capital, 2408 in the countryside. The Hungarian-Israelitic Patron Bureau gave higher figures in August already. 10,653 persons registered by KEOKH, were struggling for citizenship. It was an enormous work to obtain the documents prescribed by the new regulations to prove a century-long living of their family in the Monarchy or in Hungary within the Monarchy. There were 170 verified Hungarian citizens among those expelled. The application for citizenship of 3490 persons was, by this time, in the final phase of approbation. Notwithstanding, the already mentioned "plan of Máramaros" aimed at the deportation of 30-35,000 Jews at the beginning of July.( The number is given so unpunctually in the reports ).17
The "Őslakó" ( "Native" ) newspaper in Carpatho-Ruthenia demanded an "immediate expulsion irrespective of their citizenship issue."18 The local authorities in the North ordained the expulsion of 50-60 per cent of the Jews.19 KEOKH - saying that deportations were stopped only a few days before - speaks about 17,656. "deported persons." It refers to its list of August 18, in which it registered the expulsion of 17,000 "Russian, Polish and other - but now stateless - citizens".( 13.00 in the countryside and 4.00 in Budapest ) The Ministry of the Interior admitted itself that further hundreds of Hungarian citizens of Jewish origin were deported. At some places in Carpatho-Ruthenia - in the village of Beregduborka, for example - the authorities first asked the Jews to send in the documents verifying their citizenship, then deported them under the pretext of the lack of documents. On October 5, 1941, at the session of the Hungarian-Jewish Assistance Fund a report was held according to which quotas were set village by village as to the number of Jews to be deported.
Deportations went on outside Carpatho-Ruthenia too. The deportation of the Jewish population of 18 villages outside Carpatho-Ruthenia was documented by Elek Karsai in his publication of sources, a classical work to this very day.20 The head of KEOKH continued to deport or expel persons after August too. When the huge, spectacular action was over, KEOKH availed itself of the "silent" means of bureaucracy. In the autumn still 500 applications for citizenship lay unregistered on the table. Hundreds of families from Máramaros, Nagyszöllos, Huszt and Csíkszereda were thrown over the border in 1942. It was hardly possible to close the "Carpatho-Ruthenian" action as a "joyful act", as some tried to do.
However, the reference and allusion causing uncertainty of existence, remained. "The Ministry of the Interior changed the procedure of issuing citizenship certificates and introduced further strict formalities."
Kozma and his government waited for the declared "European solution."
3.3 The Hungarian governmental preparation of the total annihilation. Examples on the completeness of registration.
The immediate introduction of anti-Jewish laws in Carpatho-Ruthenia had a special importance. That is to say, a heap of ordinances and regulations was issued following the invasion. I refer, as an example, to the files and their fragments in some public administration units of various size. The most important documents are those of the office of the sub-prefect, as he was the actual head of public administration.
The sub-prefect of Bereg county, 1938-1944. From record group No. 1057:
-Circular issued by the military command of Kassa on treatment of
Jewish nationals 1941-1944 ( 54.sz. irat ).
-Registration of Jewish assets. The distribution of land to veterans, disabled servicemen, etc. 1943-1944.
-List of Jewish homes, their letting out, with a list of names. 1944.
The sub-prefect of Ugocsa county. Documents concerning Nagyszöllos. 1939-1944. From record group No. 258
-Regulation on the withdrawal of rights of Jewish debtors 1941-1943, 33
-Registration of Jewish assets 1942-1944, 145 pages, document No. 581.
-The confiscation of Jewish land 1942-1944, 102 pages document No. 721.
-The confiscation of Jewish shops, 1944. 55 pages.
-The handing over of Jewish houses to the Gendarmerie, 1944. 15 pages
-Application of non-Jewish nationals for the verification of their nationality, 25 pages.
The Chief Prefect of Ugocsa county. 1940-1944. From record group No. 259.
-Ordinances of the Ministry of Defence to send 6000 industrial workers to Germany, 4 pages
The sub-prefect of Ung county 1938-1944.
-Register of Jewish proprietors. Without number of pages.
-The distribution of the assets of Jewish nationals by the military in 1941( !S.Á. ) Withoutnumber of pages
-The surveillance of Jewish nationals by the Gendarmerie. Without number of pages.
-Appeal of Jewish communities against unlawful taxation in 1942.
-List of Jewish assets 1943-1944, 106 pages.
-Questionnaire for the claiming of Jewish land.
-Dismissal of Jewish public officials. List, 105 pages, documents nos. 729 and 730
Public administration committee of Ung county 1939-1944. From record group No. 158.
-Ordinance of the Ministry of Agriculture to nationalize land of Jewish
nationals. List, 111 pages.
-Complaints of Jewish nationals against the nationalization of their land, 1942. 30 pages.
-List of land nationalized from Jewish nationals of Ung county, 1943. 76 pages.
-Distribution of Jewish land, 1943.
-List of Jewish nationals, 84 pages.
-The demolition of the Jewish ritual house at Korösmezo, 1942-43, 23 pages.
-The supervision of Jewish merchants, 1943, 14 pages.
-Separately: the supervision of Jewish timber merchants, 1943, 26 pages.
Public administration branch-office in Máramaros, 1939-1944. From record group No. 162.
-Request of a Zionist organization to permit workers of Jewish
nationality to emigrate to France, 1939.
-The activities of Jewish associations in more documents, 43 pages.
-List of persons deprived of their Hungarian citizenship, 1939-1940, 86 pages.
-Handing over of Jewish assets, land to schools, 1941-1944, 136 pages.
-Minutes of Jewish communities in Perecseny and Antalóc, 1940-1941.
The mayor of Munkács, 1938-1944. From record group No. 1553.
-Activities of Jewish associations 1939-1940 and 1940-1941, in more
files, 93 pages.
-List of Jewish merchants, 74 pages.
-Request of Jewish merchants to keep their business closed on Saturdays.
-Rejection. 66 pages.
District notary of Bustyaháza, ( district of Técso ), 1938-1944. From record group No. 686.
-Confiscation of Jewish shops and houses in 1941.
-Activities of Jewish associations, 1941
-Prohibition of trading activities of Jewish nationals, 1941.
-Confiscation of Jewish forests, 1942.
District notary of Nagybocskó ( district of Rahó ) 1939-1944. From record group No. 146.
-List of names of inhabitants of Jewish nationality in Polena Village,
-List of names of inhabitants of Jewish nationality in Bocskó Village, 1939.
-List of names of inhabitants of Jewish nationality in Középapsa village, 1939.
-List of names of inhabitants of Jewish nationality in Gyertyánliget, 1939.
-Confiscation of the assets of interned Jews.
We can get hold of all these documents, together with hundreds of other
I have prepared a project on this to the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.
I repeatedly draw attention to the danger of the disappearance of archival material.
1MT, jvk. jun. 20.
2"Kárpát-Ukrajna gazdasági-szociális-kulturális viszonyai a magyar uralom elso éveiben - The economic-social-cultural conditions of Carpatho-Ruthenia during the first years of Hungarian rule." Tilkovszky: pp. 238-253. Eloterjesztés Teleki miniszterelnök részére a magyar-orosz kérdés megoldása ügyében - Report to Prime Minister Teleki regarding the social and demographic solution of the Hungarian-Russian question. 1939 MOL ME Társadalompolitikai osztály 4. csomó ( bundle ) sz.n. ( Without number )
3Hegedus Lóránt beszéde - Speech of Hegedus, Loránt, 1939 dec. 15. Felsoházi Napló 1939/I p. 195; és MOL Nemzetiségi osztály 64. cs. ( bundle ) F. 16371/1939.
4Tilkovszky: Legenda és valóság - Legend and reality, pp. 39, 57.
5One copy of the reports of KEOKH was sent to the cabinet of regent Horthy. The documents we process can be found: MOL K Szekció K 149. The present summary is No. 5, 1936. Published: Holocaust füzetek No. 8, pp. 89-97. As to the organisation, structure, personnel of KEOKH and its role in the Korösmezo deportations, see: Hollós, Ervin: Rendorség, csendőrség, VKF 2 - Police, Gendarmerie, VKF 2 ( Dep. 2 of the Chief of Staff ), Budapest, 1971, pp. 230-236.
6Tilkovszky, Lóránt: A zsidó-törvények - The anti-Jewish laws. Braham-Pók: The Holocaust in Hungary. Fifty years later. Columbia University Press 1997 ( Hereafter: Fifty years. )
7Varga, László: A Holocaust és ami utána - The Holocaust and after. In: Fifty years pp. 513-518.
8Fejes, Judit: Carpatho-Ruthenia in 1941. In: Fifty years, pp. 306-327.
9Following the introduction of anti-Jewish laws in Carpatho-Ruthenia, but before the German occupation of Galicia, many Carpatho-Ruthenian Jews tried to escape to Soviet territory too. See: Tilkovszky pp. 167-168.
10KSH. 96, p. 44
11As regards the social and cultural differences and the conflicts between the Jewish communities of Carpatho-Ruthenia and those in the fatherland, see: Randolph L. Braham: A kulturális és szociológiai sajátosságok. Hitközségek és közösségi szervezetek c. fejezetek - Cultural and sociological characteristics. Communities and communal organizations, in: A népirtás politikája - The politics of Genocide, Budapest 1997, Vol. I. pp. 79-93. ( hereafter: Genocide )
12That’ s why dates, the number of victims, the role of Hungarian official organs in mass murders cannot be established accurately. The most authentic descriptions up to now: Geyer, Arthur: Az elso magyarországi deportálás - The first Hungarian deportation, Új Élet Naptár 1960-61, pp. 75-82; Majsai, Tamás: A korösmezei zsidó deportálás 1941-ben - The deportation of Jews at Korösmezo in 1941, Ráday Gyujtemény Évkönyve IV-V. 1984-85 pp. 59-86. ( Hereafter: Majsai ) He quotes Kozma’ s declarations on pp. 66-67.
13MOL K 149 1936-5 sz. n. ( Without number ) Kozma levele a kormányzó kabinetirodájának - Kozma’ s letter to the Regent’ s cabinet, 1936 május 4.
14Majsai: pp. 66-67
15MOL K 148 BM eln. iratok 1084 cs. ( bundle ) 4. tétel
16About the sufferings and mass-murders in the region of Kamenec-Podolsk see: Genocide pp. 202-206.
17Számszeru adatokat lásd: Majsai :67 és Zsidó Pártfogó Iroda ( MIPI ) 1941-42 évi jelentése - data and figures see: Majsai 67 and Jewish paternal bureau ( MIPI ), 1941-42 report, Magyar-Zsidó Levéltár
18"Oslakó és a zsidó kérdés" - "Oslakó and the Jewish question", In: "Oslakó", 1941 IV. évf. 30. sz.
20Karsai, Elek: Vádirat a nácizmus ellen. Dokumentumok a magyarországi Holocaust történetéhez, I.-III. - Indictment against nazism. Documents on the Holocaust in Hungary, I-III Budapest 1958-1967; I. pp. 11-12 and MOL K 150 általános iratok 4529.