Joseph Goebbels: On the “Jewish Program” in Hungary
(August 23, 1944)
Central Information Service of NSDAP and the Reich Ministry for Peoples Enlightenemnt and Propaganda
Issued by Dr. Goebbels
Sequence No.121 C
Berlin, W.S. August 23, 1944
The Jewish Problem in Hungary
After March 19, the most important problem to be solved in Hungary was the Jewish problem. If during recent years this question was intentionally and grossly neglected by previous Hungarian governments, despite all their anti-Jewish laws, this happened for the follwing reasons: First, the Jews were most able to assimilate themselves, and they therefore produced an increase in statistics in favour of the Hungarian population. On the other hand, the Jews were connecting links towards the enemy side and it was thought their manifold connections to the Anglo-American camp could be put to good use, in order to have protectors at eventual peace negotiations, in case of an enemy victory.
It stands to reason that after March 19, the German authorities in Hungary spare no efforts to eliminate the Jewish element as quickly and efficiently as was possible. Due to the fact that the Russian front was very near, purification was begun in the north-eastern regions (Northern Translyvania, the Carpathian region) where the Jewish element was numerically strongest. Then the Jews were rounded up from the remaining Hungarian provinces and transported to Germany or areas of the German sphere of power. 100,000 Jews were left with the Hungarians to be employed in labour batallions. By July 9, the date fixed, the Hungarian countryside was cleared of Jews. Here work was performed in the shortest possible time with astounding consistency and rigour. An essential condition for achieving success in this campaign was the fact that the steps were taken against the Jews met with the full approval of the majority of the Hungarian people. As a restricting factor, it must be observed, however, that a great number of Jews were not affected by these measures, because the Hungarian anti-Jewish laws were taken as the basis for the definition of “Jews.” Thus, for instance, all Jews married to non-Jews, or on whom higher military distinctions were conferred in the World War are exempted. Up to July 9, some 430,000 Jews from the Hungarian provinces were handed over to the German authorities. The Jews are taken over at the Hungarian frontier and up to this point the carrying into effect of the provisions of the anti-Jewish measures, and also the responsibility in this respect lies with the Hungarians.
Difficulties in Removing the Jews from Budapest
The last stage of the anti-Jewish measures was to have been the removal of the Jews from Budapest. Some 260,000 are here involved. In the meantime, however, pressure from hostile and neutral countries grew so strong (Hull, the King of Sweden, Switzerland, the Pope) that pro-Jewish circles in Hungary did their best to influence the Hungarian Government and to try to prevent further steps against the Jews, and particularly to stop handing them over to the German authorities. The Hungarian gendarmerie summoned to Budapest to remove the Jews were recalled again. When the date fixed for the beginning of their removal expired without anything happening, the Jews of Budapest again felt cock-sure and - also in respect to the military situation - displayed a triumphant attitude.
In the meantime Hungarian and foreign plans of the most diverse kinds have been discussed for a new settlement of the Jewish question. As a consequence of American threats to carry out heavy air-raids in retaliation if vigorous measures were taken against the Budapest Jews, Hungarian politicians made proposals in all earnest that an agreement should be reached with the Anglo-Americans, according to which for each day when Hungarian territory was not attacked by Anglo-American aircraft, 50 Jews would be delivered to England, and for each day when Anglo-American aircraft bombed Hungarian territory, 1,000 Jews would be handed over
to Germany. A further example of these grotesque proposals is the offer of the Swiss group of bankers under the leadership of the banking house Baer in Zurich, offering right away to take over the first batch of 1,000 Jews in Switzerland, paying the National Bank of Hungary the sum of 100,000 Pengos in return for each Jew.
The solution of the Jewish problem in Hungary is today an issue of European security; responsible persons in the Hungarian Government have recognized this and up till now have drawn the necessary conclusions. It is assumed that the necessary steps will also be undertaken with regard to the problem of the Budapest Jews.
Sources: Jenoe Levai (ed.), "Eichmann in Hungary," Pannonia Press, Budapest, 1961, pp. 141-142; Yad Vashem