Prof. Dr. Ágnes Ságvári
Words of Introduction.
Thank you very much for the invitation which makes it possible for me to summarize the results of my research into the Holocaust in Carpatho-Ruthenia.
Fifteen years ago, in 1984, I forwarded to the Archives of Yad Vashem - through illegal channels - the microfilmed copies of a partial collection containing registration certificates of the Jewish Communities of Buda and Pest. Fifteen years ago I personally took - via Cairo - hundreds of minutes taken by representatives of the national committees - founded in 1945 - with survivors of the Holocaust in some blocks of houses. Eight years ago, upon the request of Yad Vashem and with the support of Leumi Bank, and with the co-operation of fifty colleagues of mine, in some just opened central and county archives, I started a discovery research of model value. This research is based on the provenance - collecting documents according to origin - principle. The particularly Hungarian Holocaust structure of the central authorities and county administration unfolded itself before me. The educational material compiled with nineteen county archives in my editorship was based on this listing. The English language Brief of the series and 667 documents were also sent by me. The collecting of documents by László Karsai and his team is also based on this two-year research work, as well as on György Haraszti’s note entitled Directory of Archival Holding Relating to the History of Jews in Hungary. In connection with the reconstruction of the Hungarian Holocaust organization, the Holocaust maps of Budapest and Hungary were made. I set up a public Holocaust collection in the Political History Archives. One can find in it - besides the relevant laws - the annotated list of ordinances. This list was published by Róbert Vértes in 1997. My two other publications prescribe the peculiar Hungarian Holocaust structure, the place and role of public employees in it, and the mechanism of the change of the elite. These publications are as follows: First, my article presenting the system of Holocaust archival sources, and second: my study - sorry to say, published only in Hungarian - "Did they do it on order?"
As regards the just finished phase of my work, I owe deep thanks to the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. They have given me moral and financial support in publishing in English the archival review and in taking the steps in my Carpatho-Ruthenian research. Thanks to their support, I was able to compile and publish my latest study: "The Holocaust in Carpatho-Ruthenia".
In the course of my research, by the punctual presentation of the role of Hungarian gendarmerie in the Holocaust, I managed to sketch up an important element of the Hungarian genocide.
There is one more important reason why I am especially grateful for your kind invitation. I hope that following the debate, we shall exchange views about the methods and acceleration of our comparative analysing work in Central Europe. Such an analysis is timely and can be done with joint efforts. The Prague Kaffka Society and the Berlin Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung also urge us to do so. This historical comparative - not parallel but comparative - analysis would lead us to understand the life-after of Holocaust, the trauma and seemly new aspects of Jewish and national identity.
I have come to the end of my introduction. I would like to make a remark concerning a debate among historians: Namely, what does historical remembrance actually mean? Let me refer to the debate between Jacques Derrida and Josif Haym Yerushalmi. The debate is about the difference between the search for "historical truth" and the search for "factual truth". Yerushalmi says, that factual truth is preferred by "ordinary historians." The other party prefers the searching for historical truth as opposed to factual truth.
I am of the opinion that computerization can bring about synthesis in the research of East-European Holocaust. The authors of the Holocaust Encyclopaedia have made a successful attempt to formulate generally acceptable notions. This should be developed further. We are able to draw up the computerized system of notions, organization, methods, data on sociography, etc. Only computerized processing can provide clearly arranged and convincing picture to the young generation about the economic, social and intellectual consequences of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.
The bulk of my lecture was made available for you in writing. I am looking forward to your remarks and questions.
Thank you for your attention.