BUDAPEST, capital of Hungary, formed officially in 1873 from the towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest, which each had Jewish communities.
Buda (Ger. Ofen; Heb. אובן)
A community was formed there by the end of the 11th century. Its cemetery was located near the Buda end of the present Pest-Buda tunnel under the River Danube. In 1348 and 1360 the Jews were expelled from Buda but returned after a short interval. As Buda became the royal residence under King Sigismund (1387–1437), its community rose to prominence in the Jewish life of the country. Its leaders were entrusted by the king with the representation of Hungarian Jewry, and the position of Jewish prefect was held by members of the Buda *Mendel family, who sometimes took part in royal ceremonies. After 1490 the Jews of Buda were subjected to continual persecution, their property was frequently confiscated and the debts owing them were often unpaid. Following the Ottoman victory over the Hungarians at Mohacs in 1526 many Jews from Buda fled abroad or to the western part of Hungary, while the remainder were deported to Ottoman territory. Shortly afterward, in 1528, Jews were again living in the Jewish quarter of Buda. A census of 1547 showed 75 Jewish residents in Buda and 25 newcomers. During the 150 years of Ottoman rule the Jews were severely taxed, but their numbers continued to increase. A conscription roster of 1580 numbered 88 Jewish families, comprising about 800 persons, including three rabbis, inhabiting 64 houses. They engaged in commerce and finance, and sometime rose to hold official posts in the treasury as inspectors or tax collectors. Jews specialized in the manufacture of decorative braids for uniforms; the family physician of the pasha of Buda was a Jew (c. 1550). In 1660 the community numbered approximately 1,000 and was the largest and wealthiest in Hungary. The ruinous fighting between the Ottoman and Austrian imperial forces put an end to this prosperity. The Jews sided with the Turks; when in 1686 Buda was taken by Austria only 500 Jews survived the siege, the Jewish quarter was pillaged, and the Torah scrolls were burnt.
Jewish residence in Buda was prohibited until 1689, when a few Jews began to resettle there and had a prayer room by 1690. In 1703, when Buda was constituted a free royal city, a struggle began between the Jews of Buda, who preferred to remain under royal protection, and the citizenry which made efforts to extend its jurisdiction to the Jewry. This culminated in a decree ordering the expulsion of the Jews in 1712. In 1715 Charles III ordered the burghers to end the continual disturbances
Organized communal life in Buda dates to the 13th century. Under King Matthias Corvinus (1458–90) the head of this community had jurisdiction over the Jews of the entire country. During the Ottoman era, Buda Jewry had Sephardi and Ashkenazi congregations. Two synagogues are known to have existed in 1647.
The first rabbi whose name is recorded was *Akiva b. Menahem ha-Kohen (15th century) known by the honorific of nasi. In the second half of the 17th century difficulties in finding appropriate candidates for the rabbinate of Buda compelled the community to employ as rabbis scholars passing through Hungary on pilgrimage to Ereẓ Israel. *Ephraim b. Jacob ha-Kohen, a refugee from Vilna, became rabbi of Buda in 1660. About this time the movement of *Shabbetai Ẓevi gained a large following in Buda; a number of rabbis, among them Ephraim's son-in-law Jacob Sak, supported the messianic movement. The Austrian capture of Buda is recorded in the Megillat Ofen of Isaac b. Zalman *Schulhof. Jacob's son was the celebrated Ẓevi Hirsch *Ashkenazi (Ḥakham Ẓevi). Among rabbis of the Haskalah period was Moses Kunitzer. Prominent Jews of Buda in the 19th and 20th centuries include the orator and poet Arnold Kiss (d. 1940), and the scholar and educator Rabbi Bertalan Edelstein (d. 1934).
The synagogue of the Jewish community of Buda fort is mentioned in the Buda chronicle of 1307 as having stood beside the Jews' Gate. It remained in existence until the expulsion of the Jews from Buda in 1360. The second synagogue, built in 1461 in the new Jews' Street, survived until the recapture of Buda. It is mentioned and reproduced in 17th-century engravings. A Sephardi house of worship has been revealed, dating back to the Ottoman era. Subsequently the Jews of Buda could only hold prayer meetings in rented rooms. In 1866 a temple was built in Moorish style in Öntöház Street. In the heyday of assimilationism (from the mid-19th century), especially after the administrative union of Buda and Pest, the Pest community repeatedly tried to impose its hegemony on that of Buda, which, however, succeeded in safeguarding its unique historical character. The Buda community opened an elementary school in 1830.
Obuda (Hung. Óbuda, Ger. Alt-Ofen, Heb. אובן ישן)
"Old Buda," a village and later part of Buda, had a Jewish community in the 15th century which disappeared after the Ottoman conquest in 1526. It was rehabilitated from 1712 on, when the Jews lived under the protection of the counts Zichy, who granted them a charter in 1746, and to whom they paid an annual protection tax. The 1727 census records 24 Jewish families living in Obuda, and the 1737 annual conscription roster, 43. By 1752 there were 59 families, and the community employed two rabbis and three teachers; by 1784 there were 109 families with four teachers. The 1803 conscription list records 527 families. An elementary school was opened in 1784, the first secular Jewish school in the country. Moses *Muenz was rabbi in Obuda from 1781 to 1831. The Jewish linen weavers of Obuda won a reputation for the town; the Goldberger factory had an international reputation. After the revolution of 1848–49 a large contribution was levied on the Obuda community. The old synagogue of Obuda was demolished in 1817 and an imposing new one, still in existence, was consecrated in 1820. Julius *Wellesz was rabbi of Obuda from 1910 to 1915.
Jews are first mentioned in Pest in 1406; in 1504 they owned houses and land. Records again mention Jews living in Pest from the middle of the 16th century, and a cemetery is known to have existed by the end of the 17th. After the Austrian conquest in 1686, Jewish residence within the city was prohibited. In the middle of the 18th century Jews were allowed to attend the country-wide weekly markets held in Pest, but the only Jews permitted to stay in the city for a specified time were Magranten ("transients"; see *Familiants laws). In 1783 Joseph II abrogated the municipal charter with its exclusion privileges and permitted Jews to resettle in Pest. The first "tolerated" Jew received permission to settle within the city walls in 1786 in return for paying a "toleration tax" to the local governorate. Article 38 of the De Judaeis law passed in 1790 ratified the legal position of the Jews established under Joseph II. In Pest, however, the law was understood to apply only to Jews living there before 1790, hence new arrivals were not permitted to settle permanently. An attempt was even made to expel the married children of the "tolerated" Jews. In 1833 there were 1,346 Jewish families in Pest. The restrictions on Jewish residence were abrogated by article 29 of the annual national assembly of 1840. Jews had the right to establish factories, and engage in trade and commerce as well as to acquire property. Pest Jewry took the lead in pressing for the abolition of the tolerance tax, and in 1846 the "chamber dues" were abolished. On the outbreak of the Hungarian revolution of 1848, Jews volunteered for civil defense, but the German citizens of Pest objected to their enrollment. On April 19 a mob which attacked the Jewish quarter was repelled by the military. Nevertheless many Jewish youths enlisted in the revolutionary army, and the Jews of Pest gave large financial contributions to the revolutionary cause. After the suppression of the revolt, a huge contribution was levied on the Pest community, and to help
Active community life is not recorded in Pest until the first half of the 18th century. The first synagogue was opened in 1787, and in 1788 the community received a burial site from the municipality; Moses Muenz of Obuda officiated as rabbi. The first rabbi of Pest (1793), was Benjamin Ze'ev (Wolf) *Boskowitz. Other noted rabbis of the community were Loew *Schwab, S.L. Brill, W.A. Meisel, S. *Kohn, M. *Kayserling, S. *Hevesi, and J. *Fischer. The new constitution for the religious community, approved by the local authorities, came into effect in 1833. The noted Orientalist I. *Goldziher served as secretary of the Neolog community of Pest from 1874 to 1904. A separate Orthodox community was established in Pest in 1871. Koppel *Reich became its rabbi in 1886, and a member of the Hungarian upper house in 1926.
See *Orthodoxy, *Reform
The Jews of Pest rented a place for worship in the Orczy building in 1796, whose congregation observed the conservative ritual; a more progressive temple existed in the same building, known as the "Kultustempel." In 1859 a double-turreted Moorish-style temple was built in Dohány Street. Construction of the octagonal temple in Rombach Street was completed in 1872. In 1913 the synagogue of the Orthodox congregation was erected in Kazinczy Street.
The first Jewish school in Pest was established in 1814 by Israel *Wahrmann. A Jewish girls' school was opened in the fall of 1852 and in 1859 a Jewish teachers' training college was founded. After the attainment of emancipation, a number of Jewish schools closed down, including those in Buda and Obuda. The Orthodox congregation of Pest opened its school for boys in 1873. The Rabbinical Seminary and its secondary school (gymnasium), opened in 1877, helped to make Pest the center of Jewish learning. The Pest community established a comprehensive secondary school in 1891. Following the widespread antisemitism aroused by the *Tiszaeszlar blood libel case in 1882, the idea of establishing a Jewish secondary school (gymnasium) found increasing support, and in 1892 Antal Freystaedtler donated one million forints for this project. The school was opened in the fall of 1919 as the Pest Jewish Boys' and Girls' Gymnasium. Because of the existing discriminatory restrictions, the Pest community also opened an engineering and technical college and a girls' technical college. The rabbinical seminary and a secondary school continue to function.
Welfare and communal institutions of the Pest community included a hospital, opened in 1841; the hospital of the Orthodox congregation, opened in 1920; the Hungarian Jewish Crafts and Agricultural Union (MIKEFE), established in 1842; the Pest Jewish Women's Club, founded in 1868, which established an orphanage for girls in 1867; an orphanage for boys, established in 1869; the deaf and dumb institute, founded in 1876; and the blind institute, founded by Ignác Wechselmann and his wife in 1908. In 1950 the Orthodox community and the communities of Pest, Buda, and Obuda were unified by government order, forming the Budapest Jewish community existing under conditions similar to those prevailing in other communities in Soviet satellite states.
The annual registers of 1735–38, the first to show the number of Jewish families residing in the area which forms Budapest today, recorded 2,531 heads of families of whom 1,139 engaged in commerce. The Jewish population increased with the development of a capitalist economy and the growth of Budapest into a metropolis and reached its highest level in the period preceding and immediately following World War I. Subsequently it declined sharply due to the lowered birthrate, an increasing number of conversions to Christianity, and emigration during the counterrevolution and the Horthy regime. There were 44,890 Jews living in Budapest in 1869, 102,377 in 1890, 203,687 in 1910, 215,512 in 1920, and 204,371 in 1930. (See Table: Jewish Population of Budapest.)
According to the census of 1941, the last before the Holocaust, Budapest had a Jewish population of 184,453, representing 15.83% of the total of 1,164,963. In addition, the city also had some 62,000 converts or Christians who were identified as Jews under the racial laws then in effect. As a result of the anti-Jewish
The status of the Jews turned for the worse after the German occupation, which took them and their Christian supporters by surprise. On the day of the occupation, the Germans arrested a large number of hostages – prominent anti-Nazi Hungarians as well as influential Jews – on the basis of lists prepared in advance by the Gestapo. They also arrested a large number of ordinary Jews who happened to be in and around railroad stations and boat terminals. Most of these Jews were first interned in the facilities of the National Rabbinical Seminary, then transferred to the internment camps at Kistarcsa and Topolya, from where they were among the first to be deported to Auschwitz in late April. Supreme control over Jewish affairs was exercised by the Eichmann-Sonderkommando. The SS was able to implement the Final Solution program at lightning speed primarily because it had received the support of the newly established Döme Sztójay government that placed the instruments of state power at its disposal. The Sztójay government, constitutionally appointed by Miklós Horthy, Hungary's head of state, played a determining role in the planning and implementation of the Final Solution. Within the government, the Ministry of the Interior headed by Andor Jaross and his two undersecretaries of state, László Endre and László Baky, coordinated its anti-Jewish activities with the Sonderkommando. On March 20, the leaders of the Jews of Budapest were ordered to establish a Central Jewish Council with exclusive jurisdiction in all matters affecting the Jews of Hungary. The Council was organized under the chairmanship of Samu Stern, the head of the Jewish community of Pest, and included representatives of the major communal organizations: Ernö Boda, Ernö Petö, and Wilhelm Károly, representing the Neolog community of Pest; Samu Csobádi, representing the Neolog community of Buda; Samu Kahan-Frankl and Fülöp Freudiger, representing the Orthodox community; and Nison Hahan, representing the Zionists. As elsewhere in Nazi-dominated Europe the Council of Budapest, while doing its best to serve the community, was exploited by the Nazis as an instrument for the implementation of their sinister designs. The Council's Nazi-censored weekly, the A Magyar Zsidók Lapja (Journal of Hungarian Jews), served as a major vehicle in the Nazis' anti-Jewish drive, distracting the Jews from the danger awaiting them.
Within a few days after the occupation, the Jews of Budapest, like those of Hungary as a whole, were subjected to a large number of anti-Jewish measures calculated to bring about their isolation and eventual destruction. Starting on April 5, the Jews were compelled to wear a yellow star on their outer garments. Unlike the Jews of the countryside, however, the Jews of Budapest escaped being placed into a ghetto – at least until early December 1944. The authorities decided against establishing a territorially contiguous ghetto for fear that the Allies might then bomb the other parts of the capital. The Jews' freedom of movement was severely restricted, especially in the wake of the first major bombing that took place on April 2. At first, the Jews were ordered to vacate hundreds of apartments for Christian bombing victims. They were later concentrated in buildings that were identified by a yellow star. The so-called yellow star buildings were selected on the basis of a housing inventory made in May as ordered by Endre earlier in the month. According to that inventory, 2,681 of the close to 36,000 residential buildings in the capital were originally designated as yellow star houses. As a result of complaints by Christians, the yellow star designation was subsequently removed from 700 to 800 buildings, drastically reducing the living space assigned to Jews. In accordance with the June 16 order issued by Mayor Ákos Doroghi Farkas, the relocation and concentration of the Jews of Budapest in the designated yellow star-marked buildings was completed by June 24. Overall responsibility for the resettlement of the Jews was exercised by Rezsö Müller, the head of the Housing Department of the Jewish Council, acting in conjunction with József Szentmiklóssy, head of the Social Policies Section of the Municipality of Budapest. At first the Jews were allowed to leave the buildings only between 2:00 and 5:00 P.M., a restriction that was later eased to 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. György Auer and other leaders of the Association of the Christian Jews of Hungary campaigned for the exemption of the 40,000 to 50,000 converts from these restrictions.
Under the Nazis' original plan, the Jews of Budapest were to be deported to Auschwitz following the completion of the anti-Jewish drive in the countryside. The plan failed because Horthy halted the deportations on July 7 – a decision he took largely in response to pressure from abroad and especially the realization that the Axis would lose the war. The Nazis, nevertheless, managed to continue their deportation program until July 9, liquidating the Jewish communities in the cities surrounding the capital, including those of Kispest, Újpest, Sashalom, and Szentendre. While the Jews of Budapest were under the constant threat of deportation, they survived relatively intact until October 15, 1944, when the Arrow Cross Party, popularly known as the Nyilas, came to power with the help of the Germans.
Under the leadership of Ferenc Szálasi, the Nyilas unleashed a terror campaign against the Jews. Thousands of Jews, labor servicemen and others, men and women, were murdered by roaming gangs and thrown into the Danube. Tens of thousands,
Representatives of the Vatican and the neutral powers in Budapest did their best to help the Jews by issuing various protective passes (Schutzpässe). Officially, some 7,800 Swiss, 4,500 Swedish, 2,500 Vatican, 698 Portuguese, and 100 Spanish Schutzpässe were issued. A large number of these safe-conduct passes (and a variety of Hungarian identification papers) were reproduced and distributed by the underground Zionist groups, saving countless numbers of Jewish lives. It was during the Nyilas era that foreign representatives, including Angelo Rotta of the Vatican, Carl Lutz of Switzerland, and Raoul *Wallenberg of Sweden, engaged in heroic rescue efforts. The Jews in possession of foreign passports or protective passes were placed in specially designated "protected buildings" that came to be known as "the international ghetto." With the approach of the Red Army, close to 70,000 Jews were placed in a closed ghetto established in District VII, close to the Dohány Street Synagogue, early in December. They lingered there under awful conditions during the Soviet siege of the capital, suffering thousands of casualties. The Nazis and their Hungarian accomplices planned to destroy the ghetto prior to their withdrawal. At the end, the ghetto together with the Pest part of the capital was liberated by the Red Army on January 17–18, 1945; the Buda part was liberated on February 13.
The losses of the Jews of Budapest were not as great proportionately as those incurred in the countryside. At the time of the German occupation, Hungary had a (racially defined) total Jewish population of 762,007, of whom 231,453 lived in Budapest. Of the total of 564,507 Jewish casualties incurred during World War II, 100,803 (17.8%) were from Budapest. Of these, 85,453 were killed during the German occupation and 15,350 before the occupation, especially in labor service. At the end of 1945, Budapest had a Jewish population of approximately 144,000, representing 75.78% of the total of about 190,000 Jews who then lived in Trianon Hungary. Of these, 119,000 had been liberated in Budapest: 69, 000 in the ghetto, 25,000 in protected houses of the international ghetto, and 25,000 who had been in hiding (most with false Aryan papers). The others had moved to the capital from other parts of liberated Hungary.
The Jewish community of Budapest had a strong base for revitalization. During the first phase of the post-liberation period, the survivors devoted much time to the day-to-day problem of survival and the arrangements for the return of the liberated deportees. They organized communal hostels and public kitchens, supported largely by the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – the Joint. The Neolog and Orthodox Jewish communities resumed their operations soon after the end of hostilities. The Neolog community was led by Lajos Stöckler (the last head of the Central Jewish Council), who was also elected president of the National Bureau of Hungarian Jews. The Orthodox community was led by Samu Kahan-Frankl, who concurrently served as head of the Central Bureau of Orthodox Communities. The various relief and welfare organizations were unified to form the National Jewish Aid Committee under the chairmanship of Frigyes Görög, the head of the Joint in Hungary. The National Committee for the Care of Deportees was in charge of aiding the return of deportees and recording their personal accounts.
The surviving Jews regained their legal rights under the terms of the Armistice Agreement of January 20, 1945. In accordance with these terms, on March 17, the Provisional National Government repealed all the anti-Jewish laws and decrees that had been enacted during the Horthy and Nyilas eras. The Jewish communities' drive for restitution and reparation ended in failure, largely because of the bankruptcy of the state after the war and the policies of the Soviet-backed Communist regime that was installed in 1948–49. The political and socioeconomic measures of the Communists induced many of the Budapest Jews to leave the city. In particular, the antisemitic drive of the Stalinist era, disguised as a struggle against Zionism and Israel, convinced approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Jews to leave the city after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, mostly for Israel and other parts of the free world. During the Communist era, the Jews of Hungary were represented by the National Representation of Hungarian Jews, an umbrella organization led by Endre Sós and later Géza Seifert. It operated under the guidance of the Department of Religious Affairs, an agency of the Ministry of the Interior.
Following the systemic change of 1989, Jewish life was revitalized with the emergence of a number of social, cultural, educational, and Zionist organizations and institutions. The National Rabbinical Seminary, the only theological institution in the Soviet Bloc, was transformed into a Rabbinical University. Several of Budapest's synagogue, including that on Dohány Street, were refurbished, and in 2004 the Páva Street Synagogue was transformed into a Holocaust Museum. A Jewish day school sponsored by American philanthropist Ronald S. *Lauder was opened. The Jewish community of Budapest in 2004 included most of the approximately 80,000 Jews living in Hungary, constituting the largest concentration of Jews in East Central Europe. Of these, only 3,000 to 4,000 were dues-paying members of either the Neolog or Orthodox communities.
[Randolph Braham (2nd ed.)]
A. Buechler, A zsidók története Budapesten (1901); A. Fuerst, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 2 (1948), 109–86; S. Scheiber, Magyarországi zsidó feliratok (1960), 141–300; F. Grunwald, A zsidók története Budán (1938); Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), passim; Új Élet (fortnightly since 1945), passim; L. Venetianer, A magyar zsidóság története (1922), 147–280, 286–303; Z. Groszmann, A pesti
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.