Jews of Hungary Imploring Prime Minister Sztojay to Act on Behalf of Hungarian Jewry
The Provisional Committee of the Association of the Jews of Hungary, which in accordance with Government Decree No. 1,520/1944. M.E. is the legal representative organ of the Jews, is taking the liberty of respectfully revealing before Your Excellency and the Royal Hungarian Government the terrible situation which threatens Hungarian Jewry and which is causing despair for all of us in the wake of the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews of the Israelite and Christian faith which began in May and which has seemed to continue ever since. In the last hour of our tragic fate and in the name of the principles of humanity we beseech you in perturbed spirit and implore Your Excellency and the Royal Hungarian Government to immediately end the removal of hundreds of thousands of innocent people from the country.
The Jews of Hungary have borne with resignation the strokes of fate that have recently befallen them in quick succession. We bowed without a murmur before the many governmental decisions which deprived us of our wealth, family hearths, and civic honor and which excluded us not only from the national, but so-to-speak also from the human community. We cried out in pain only when they began along the country's borders to concentrate the Jews who were in the ghettos and deprived of everything into deserted factories and fields and subsequently to deport them from the country without regard of age or sex. At the beginning the deportation was restricted to the northeastern military operational zones and the southern border area; lately, however, it has been extended to the country's interior and thereby the assumption that the removal of the Jews was necessitated by military considerations has been invalidated. Also invalidated has been our hope that the masses removed from the country were being taken for labor; one can hardly square this assumption with the circumstance that people have been taken out of the country irrespective of age, sex, or health. According to the data at our disposal, by June 20 427,000 Jews, about half of the Jews of Hungary, suffered the terrible fate of deportation. This figure is divided as follows:
Although the pertinent Cabinet Decree ordered only that the Jews be placed in separate quarters of the city, in fact these separate city parts (ghetto) became concentration camps from where the provincial Jews were crowded, under even more miserable conditions, into brickyards, deserted mills, etc., located at the outskirts. It was from these internment camps that the physically and spiritually broken people were taken to the deportation trains, in many cases, according to our information, after undergoing severe interrogations and physical abuse, where they were crowded 70 to 80 into a freight car. The cars were sealed and there was no air except for the narrow ventilation slots. These unfortunates travelled for days deprived of everything, and without money. They received a few loaves of bread and two buckets, one full of water and the other for sanitary needs. This is how all of them were taken towards their unknown fate women, men, infants, the critically sick and the aged.
It was with great shock that we learned that these terrible things are continuing, in Kecskemet, Bekescsaba, Szolnok, Sarvar, Debrecen, Szombathely, Szeged, and several other places, and that tens of thousands of unfortunate people are placed in concentration camps at the city outskirts, obviously in order to be deported.
After all this it is with the greatest anxiety that we received the news that the deportations of the Jews of the capital is also to begin within the next few days, so that the dejewification of all of Hungary will become a reality.
Your Excellency! In the name of humanity and Gods command for neighborly love, we raise our voice against the relentless and merciless application of collective responsibility to one million Hungarian citizens, which is rejected and condemned by the Scriptures and the Church alike. We appeal before God and man to the sense of justice of the Hungarian nation which was always manifest and cannot now, in this crucial phase of its history, be denied, and which cannot permit the deportation of close to one million citizens without a hearing or judicial sentence, a cruel judgment such as has not been known in the Hungarian legal system. If there are sinners among us, as there are and can be in every community, let the severity of Hungarian law and judgment of the Hungarian judge strike them. But every just man, whatever his affiliation, must cry out in pain when innocent children and infants are taken to destruction in their mothers' arms, and when helpless invalids, the aged, and pregnant women are taken on their fateful journey without food, care, or proper clothing, in airless freightcars, on a journey from which there is hardly any return. The children of the many thousands of Jews who served with honor in World War I are taken away in the same way as the wives, children, and parents of the several tens of thousands of labor servicemen on duty on the battlefield or fulfilling auxiliary military functions in the rear during this war. In some cases, the people exempted on the basis of military or patriotic decorations have also failed to escape deportation.
According to the figures cited above, about half of the Jews of Hungary have already been deported. Now, when we are, so to say, in the last hour, we ask for mercy for those still at home and beg for the lives of innocent children, and refer to the 1,000-year-old history of the Hungarian homeland and to that commonality of fate that tied local Jewry to the Hungarian nation through good and bad times, since the founding of its homeland.
May it be permitted for us to quote from the speech by the Minister of Industry, Lajos Szasz, in Nyiregyhaza, which probably reflects the position of the Royal Hungarian Government:
The guide in the solution of the Jewish question cannot be anti-Semitism fueled by hate, but only and exclusively a love-imbued defense of race. No one wants to extirpate the Jews from the world; we only want to save our race from their harmful influence. I believe that all of us who are fighters and workers for, and the followers of the idea of, race defense will and would be very happy if the unlucky people of Ahasuerus found a home somewhere on the globe.
We believe unflinchingly in the Hungarian nation's love of justice and chivalry, which does not want and could not permit the destruction of hundreds of thousands of defenseless and innocent people. We believe in the holy spirit of humanity and in the rule of the world order of Christian morality. We place our lives, the lives of our parents, children, brothers and sisters, in the hands of the eternal Hungarian nation.
It is with broken soul and imploring hope that we look, in this tragic situation of ours, to the responsible government of the country, and beg it to put an end to the horrors of the deportation with extraordinary urgency, and to use the labor force of Hungarian Jews for production and for building of the country.
With respect to the Jews already removed from the country, we appeal to your Excellency to try to assure humane treatment for them and to make it possible for them, like other foreign workers, to support themselves and their families.
Addressing our appeal to save several hundreds of thousands of people entrusted to our care to the good will of your Excellency and the Royal Hungarian Government, and imploring once again for urgent consideration, we remain, with our sincere esteem, the Provisional Executive Committee of the Association of the Jews of Hungary.
Source: From: R. Braham, "The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary," Vol. II, New York, 1981, pp. 738-741.
Source: Yad Vashem - Eclipse of Humanity