Commemorating the pogroms of Hungary of 1919
Commemorating the pogroms of Hungary of 1919
After the collapse of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 the “white” Hungarians launched a wave of Antisemitic pogroms. The Jews were blamed for the atrocities of the Communist regime and many Jews were brutally killed by medieval and barbarian methods. It's a forgotten history that most Hungarians are not really proud of. But let's see the background to understand why it was shocking to see pogroms in the 20th century Hungary.

A relevant majority of the Hungarian population just like in Germany blamed the Jews for losing the world war one, despite the Jewish military contribution was higher than any other nations' similarly to 1848. After 1918 many Hungarian Jews were valiantly fighting the Czech, Slovak, Romanian and other troops who wanted to take territories and independence from the historical Hungary. The Jews were present in all military units and later fought in the short lived Hungarian Red Army too. This was a good excuse for the Hungarians to blame the Communism and the defeat on the Jews. Tombstones in Jewish cemeteries are still haunting about the sacrifice of many teenager Jews who fell in action while fighting the Czech forces in the town of Balassagyarmat, Northern Hungary.

Despite the Jews’ contribution in the defence of Hungary, brutal pogroms broke out in the autumn of 1919. Historians and people mostly think that the Eastern European pogroms only happened in the Russian Empire (including Ukraine, Poland etc.) but there's a black spot already on Hungary's pre-world war two history.

As of the autumn of 1919 Jews are widely being attacked and killed. Records are revealing brutal executions. A poultry trader Jew, called Schontal was beheaded in front of his children in 1919 in the town of Celldomolk - which was near the place I grew up.

Entire Jewish communities were targeted, attacked and looted, Jewish communities that were in fact anti-Communists and not a single Jew took part in the Communist movement were also tortured. One such Jew was even arrested by the Communists prior to the pogroms only to be killed by the hand of Hungarian anti-Communists. In the same town, Istvan Weiss a Hungarian lieutenant who valiantly fought in the first world war was also lynched by the mob. How can someone attack a decorated officer who fought for the entire Hungarian nation on the front line? This would have been impossible if the Hungarian Antisemitism had not existed.
We are in a time before the first anti-Jewish law is implemented in modern Hungarian history, which will happen in 1920, it's the numerous clausus that limited the number of Jewish students. Till present day, both right- and left-wing Hungarian politicians and the Hungarian government are trying to whitewash their crimes and blame all the atrocities and Antisemitism on the Germans, they hold the Germans responsible for the Hungarian Holocaust.
We know from trials that the Hungarians vehemently aided the Germans during the Holocaust, but we do not know much about the pogroms of 1919. Jewish war veterans were executed and Jewish women and children were raped, many in front of their own parents.

Archives confirm brutal pogroms broke out in the following Hungarian cities/towns/villages:
Kemeneshogyesz, Budapest, Lepseny, Celldomolk, Esztergom, Vorosbereny, Tolnaozora, Alap, Szilvasbaltas, Cece, Marcali, Racalmaskulcs, Simontornya, Berhida, Satoraljaujhely, Erzsebetfalva, Nagyszokoly, Balatonszemes, Diszel, Gyor, Vizvar, Kisber, Abony, Kecskemet, Felsogalla, Tortel, Kunszentmiklos, Solt, Kerekesegyhaza - as we see the pogroms happened in multiple locations, even in the Hungarian capital.

These facts are mostly unknown till today. I have sourced the information from local newspapers, the main one is the Egyenloseg (Equality) from 1919, a Jewish newspaper that reported the atrocities in detail. Some other sources are local where the pogroms took place.
And now let's ask the question: were the Nazi Germans the only one who can be held responsible for the Eastern European Jewish holocaust? The above testifies that Antisemitism in Hungary was as high as in the Nazi Germany, but much less "organised". My conclusion is that the Hungarians as a nation are responsible for the Holocaust. While it’s true that there were Jewish seniors in the Hungarian Soviet Republic, the average Jew suffered as much as the Christian Hungarian during the Communist rule. Let's not forget the martyrs who were killed 20 years before the World War Two started.

We need to remember them too, when we remember the victims of the Holocaust. The pogroms of Hungary remind me of the Lviv Pogrom of 1941.

Peter Kovacs Rosenbluth
Jewishdocumentaries.info

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