The main aim of this study is to arouse attention. In the whole of Europe the proportion of Jews was the highest here. In the 20th century they constituted 14 per cent of the population. Their number has increased organically since the 18th century: Being orthodox Jews, they generated large families; emigration from czarist Russia - as a consequence of persecution - can be regarded as permanent; as regards the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, significant mobility was originated by marriages, trade contacts, changing labour opportunities and conditions.
The Jews made up an organic part of the economy and society of the region. Their activities, in the strict sense of the word, were vital. They were attached mainly to agriculture, in primary production, processing and trade alike. These branches of profession secured their survival and existence, their domicile and actually the improvement of their living conditions. The proportion of Jews was the highest in this region within pre-Versailles Hungary. In 1880 their number was 40,000, ten per cent of the population. In 1931 their number was 91,845 ( 12,51 per cent ) and in 1941 119,000 ( 14 per cent ). Hungarian statistics registered the population according to mother tongue only. The category "Jew" was not used. The verification of the approximate number of Jews was possible only on the basis of Yiddish-speaking persons. Czechoslovak statistics, on the other hand, ran the registers according to nationalities. This was the reason of large differences in numbers. Following the Hungarian occupation, the category "Jew" again disappeared from the statistics. The exact number of Jews can be established only later, in the light of the implementation of anti-Jewish laws.1
The fate of the Jews in Carpatho-Ruthenia - the Carpathian Ukraine, by its present name - is especially tragic.2 It was here where the largest number of so-called displaced Jews - that is, Jews without Hungarian citizenship - lived. Up to 1941 their stay permit was regularly extended by the Central Alien Control Office. ( Külföldieket Ellenorzo Országos Központi Hivatal - KEOKH ). This means that their precise and up-to-date registration was available any time. They were the very first deported and almost completely exterminated from the territory of enlarged Hungary in 1941, three years before the German occupation! This deportation of "Korösmezo" ( the place in Carpatho-Ruthenia where the Jews were gathered and kept prior to deportation ) and the series of murders in the area of Kamenec-Podolsk in Galicia were the training school of later events. Since the action was stopped by the Minister for the Interior after one month, international and domestic public opinion, as well as the official "Hungarian Jewish" public opinion qualified it an isolated symptom and failed to take precautionary measures.
Furthermore, another event aggravated the situation of the Jews in Carpatho-Ruthenia. Following the Hungarian marching-in of 1940, the region was placed under military administration with a special legal status. The introduction of civil administration - six months later - did not bring about a meaningful change either. The war against the Soviet Union, the forced carrying through of "magyarization", as well as the irredentist policy and the massive transfer of greedy civil servants sealed fatally the destiny of Jews traditionally living in one geographical block.
The question may rightly arise: Why do Holocaust researchers deal relatively sporadically with this Holocaust symptom, entirely unique in Europe? Are, perhaps, the Carpatho- Ruthenian Jews scattered all over the world so disinterested? Or, perhaps, a circle did not crystallize out yet which would make it its duty to put on record and analyze vanishing traces, to uncover sources?
The main reason of the shortcomings of research work should be looked for in the historical adversities of this geographic and administrative unit. Up to 1920 the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, - regarded even there as a poor, peripheral area. From 1920 up to 1938 it belonged to the Czechoslovak Republic, - without autonomy. It enjoyed the achievements of parliamentary democracy but did not receive special material and moral support in order to step on the road of development and attain equal chances. For many reasons, Hungarian rule applied the policy of plundering. Finally: after 1944 it was attached to the Soviet Union as a frontier area of the Ukraine, Russianized, without any hope of at least partial restitution of stolen Jewish property and wiped-out Jewish culture. At present, it is the suffering object of great Ukrainian nationalism.
The fate of the documents is tragic. They partly disappeared. As of today, the danger of their loss and disappearance is imminent. The documents are thrown about by the official organs of four (!) states. The Czechoslovak documents are partly in order. Because of the lack of interest, the documents in the archives of present-day Slovakia are neglected. Documents from the period of Hungarian rule, in accordance with the Paris peace treaties of 1947, got into the archives of the Soviet Union. There the documents were not destroyed but their processing did not take place because of political and ideological reasons. ( The regime did not tolerate any autonomism or peculiarities. The registration of persons and valuables of the annihilated Jewry began in 1945 - as an action to prepare anti-fascist measures - in the wake of the activities of the Extraordinary State Commission to Investigate Nazi Crimes on Soviet Territory, but there was no follow-up. The prevailing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and the firm intention to disperse the mainly Hungarian- and Ruthenian-speaking population, prohibited the opening up of the past. )
Today we have to face the consequences of the Kiev policy of centralisation. The autonomy of Carpatho-Ruthenia does not arise. The separate handling of its documents, the documentation of its past clash into ideological barriers. Unimaginable misery, prevailing in the archives too, strengthens the tendency to "sort out" and centralise.
The arrangement of documents in the successor states of the Soviet Union does not take place in the order of the date of origin but according to "subject" laid down voluntaristically. A large number of document-bundles may have been lost for ever! In such a case one may question the lack of events and documents but they cannot be reconstructed. The present study, in line with the aforesaid, is divided into the following chapters:
1./ The place of Carpatho-Ruthenia in Hungarian irredentist plans.
2./ The impact of the introduction of Hungarian administration.
3./ The "Korösmezo, Kamenec-Podolsk deportation", - training school of the Holocaust of 1944.
4./ The description of the Holocaust of 1944. The evaluation of left-behind and known data.
5./ Guide to the material to be processed in detail. Proposal for its use at eventual claims negotiations.
The concluding part of the study, submitted as an independent unit, contains the detailed outline of a necessary and urgent project for the subject-wise arrangement of the material noted in the guide.
As the project requires more time, work and expenses than a study, I request the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture to deal with its realization separately.
1Nationality ( mother tongue ) data of the settlements in Carpatho-Ruthenia( 1880-1941 ). Central Office for Statistics ( Központi Statisztikai Hivatal - KSH ), Budapest 1996 ( Hereafter KSH 96 ) pp. 13-14. and 48-49.
2Hereafter - irrespective of the title of the documents - Carpatho-Ruthenia is used in the study.