KISTARCSA


KISTARCSA, transit camp 9 mi. (15 km.) N.W. of *Budapest, where Hungarian Jews were detained during World War II. In the 1930s opponents of Horthy's regime and left-wing political prisoners, including many Jews, were interned there. When Hungary was occupied by the Germans (March 19, 1944), a large number of Jews were immediately arrested and shipped to the *SS-run Kistarcsa camp administered by the Hungarian police. The camp commandant, Istvan Vasdenyei, behaved well and cooperated with Jewish organizations. A trainload of 1,800 Jewish prisoners was dispatched from Kistarcsa to *Auschwitz on April 29, 1944, followed by another 18 train-loads of similar size with Budapest's Jews. Information about the Auschwitz extermination center and the unbearable living conditions of its inmates had reached Hungary during the German invasion. The camp became more particularly known when *Eichmann and his assistants attempted various deceptions after Regent Horthy decided (June 26, 1944) to halt the deportations. Eichmann would not accept the Hungarian order for cessation and on July 14, he made an attempt to ship 1,500 Jews from Kistarcsa. His move was revealed to leaders of the Jewish Council in Budapest, who succeeded in alerting Horthy. On Horthy's intervention, the trainload was turned back before it could cross the border. Eichmann considered this move as a heavy blow to his extermination program and ordered a new transport. It was organized by SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Franz Novak and his men, specially sent to Kistarcsa (July 19, 1944) to order the Hungarian camp commander to round up the 1,500 persons released from the previous transport for reshipment. They contended that "Eichmann will not stand for the flouting of his orders, not even by the Regent." This transport (of 1,200) reached Auschwitz. To prevent the Jewish leaders from again getting Horthy's intervention, Eichmann called them to his office, where his assistants Otto Hunsche and Hermann Krumey detained them all until the train crossed the border. About 1,000 Jews remained in the camp until it was dismantled on September 27, 1944, which coincided with Yom Kippur, and they were then sent to other labor camps. Eichmann's role was raised at his trial in Jerusalem as evidence of Eichmann's intransigence on matters of persecution of the Jews. On Feb. 3, 1965, Krumey and Hunsche were sentenced but released, as it was deemed they had already served sentence through previous custody. On July 11, 1968, Hunsche and Krumey were brought for retrial in Frankfurt. On August 29, 1969, the defendants were found guilty and sentenced: Krumey to life imprisonment with hard labor and Hunsche to 12 years imprisonment.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

G. Hausner, Justice in Jerusalem (1967), index; J. Lévai, Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (1964), passim; E. Landau (ed.), Der Kastner-Bericht… (1961), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary (1981).

[Yehouda Marton]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.