Randolph L Abraham describes the Holocaust in Hungary as being “replete with paradoxes. ” Explain and evaluate this statement in relation to both the German policy towards the Jews in Hungary in March to July 1944 and the Hungarian Jewish response. The Holocaust In Hungary represents Its own late, brutal, chapter In the full, appalling story of the Nazi genocide of the Jews of Europe. Conducted with an alliance of diplomacy and cold-blooded, ruthless efficiency, it was in some respects, the apotheosis of the Nazi death machine.
Typical of the Holocaust in general, the vents were disturbingly inhuman, but in this instance they were particularly noteworthy for the speed in which they took place. Whereas the previous path of the Holocaust elsewhere may have been – to borrow Karl Cleanses phrase – twisted , In Hungary It was emphatically not: as the product of the by now well rehearsed machinery of the Final Solution, it was in fact disarmingly swift and decisive.
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Such issues as the Jews for Trucks affair, and the Easterner train, should not distract from the fundamental fact that, from the German occupation in March, to the official end f deportations at the start of July, roughly 440,000 Jews were deported from the territory meaning that Hungary (excepting Budapest) was effectively rendered Juddering In less than four months.
If, as Abraham eloquently surmises, the issues arising are generally paradoxical In nature, they are rendered thus by the specific circumstances – or micro-history – in which they are framed (particularly in the timing relative to the general course of the war) coupled with the impact of this speed in which they occurred. The status of the War by spring 1944 was substantially different to that of early 1942 where the Final Solution had been formally Instigated at the Wannabes Conference). The German victories that had defined the early years had become Increasingly fleeting.
The Heartache had experienced heavy losses on the Eastern front (including the decisive blow in Straddling) and the despised Red Army were correspondingly making significant gains. The Allies had successfully invaded North Africa in 1942 and then Italy in 1943, with a substantial invasion of Northern France as an Imminent inevitability. Whilst there Is a degree of controversy amongst historians of the period as to the extent to which Germans considered the war lost at his point, it seems clear that for most it must have been acknowledged that defeat was at least a possibility.
Resources, both human and material, had been fundamentally reduced and the traditional nature of the conflict on the Eastern front, together with the demands of total manipulation and constructing and maintaining the active defense and fortification of the Atlantic wall – not to mention the realities the German War machine. In terms of the Final Solution, things had slowed down. Operation Reinhardt, its grim zenith thus far, had been concluded with the Harvest Festival at the end of 1943.
A reflection of Hemmer’s growing sense of unease about the security situation behind the German line, the notoriously bloody Harvest Festival had mandated the murder of all the Jews that remained alive in the Lubing District of the Counterarguments. By its conclusion, and partly with the assistance of those subsequently murdered, the death camps of Trebling, Isobar and Belize had all been destroyed where they had once carried out their dismal task now stood hastily erected farmhouses . With the Counterarguments now declared by Hammier Juddering, even the cream at
Auschwitz had fallen into underused with Bunker 2 being taken out of action entirely. Inside the heart of the Reich meanwhile, relations were drifting towards fissure with paranoia growing between both individuals and supposed national allies. Hitler had spent the best part of February addressing the supposedly imminent defection of Finland. Whilst these concerns had turned out to be premature, they forced him to breaking point with Hungary. German relations towards their ally Hungary had been irretrievably strained by intelligence reports that Hungarian Prime Minister
Sally had, with the permission of head of state, Admiral Worthy, begun to tentatively investigate the prospect of an armistice with both the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Hitler, deciding that he had finally had enough of their “treachery,” announced to Gobbles in a meeting on March 3rd that he wanted the situation dealt with in short order. In the actuality, if the circumstance was not entirely of Hitter’s choosing forced upon him as it was supposed, by the actions of his erstwhile ally the outcome was, from a German point of view, potentially fortuitous.
Amongst other hinges, Worthy had to this point been demonstrably reticent about dealing with the Jewish question with the gusto that Hitler was looking for meaning that an enormous Jewish community had been allowed to continue to live with relative impunity on the doorstep of the Third Reich. “In Poland,” Hitler had ranted to Worthy in 1943 (as recorded in the minutes of his interpreter Dry Paul Otto Schmidt) “this state of affairs had been fundamentally cleared up. If the Jews did not want to work, they were shot.
If they could not work, they had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli, with which a healthy body may become infected. Whilst it is prudent to guard against the suggestion that it was the opportunity to deal with this issue that represented the sole, or certainly principal, motivation that underpinned the invasion, it would be wrong to suggest that it wasn’t a convenient secondary factor: As ever, it was the progress and path of the War that remained integral and Hungary offered attractive several opportunities to the Reich .
Quite apart from the resources available in terms of raw materials, the Country featured a number of industrial enterprises that were heavily in Jewish hands. The acquirement of this industry, getter with the raw materials such as fuel and food on offer, was a pecuniary opportunity commensurately vital in assisting the war effort, as lining the pockets of available furthermore, offered a valuable human resource at a time when it was needed. With an economy based on total manipulation and additional demands labor being made on Coachman, the timing of this suddenly available vast seam fresh labor was outstanding.
The consolidated bombing campaign of occupied Europe being conducted by the RAFF and OAF, had necessitated the construction huge underground facilities in which the Nazis new VI (and eventually V) weep loud be built. The process of construction was labor intensive, dangerous and unpleasant, and could be more efficiently performed by humans than machines perfect work, of course, for the Jewish slave labor force. The prospect of plunk too, should not be forgotten plunder had after all, become an integral issue in management of the Final Solution, and the Jewish assets of Hungary were current untapped.
The invasion itself, when it occurred, was bloodless. The Regent, Admiral Worthy summoned to a meeting with Hitler at the Palace of Sleekness in Austria on Mar 5th: Whilst there, and being subjected to an intense and bizarre interrogation the Fuehrer, an occupation was mounted. Pursuant to the, frequently fractious, negotiations with Hitler at Selfishness, Worthy was forced to replace his Prime Minister Sally with Dome Stay, the former Ambassador to Berlin.
Stay, as proud anti-Semite was a figure much more sympathetic to Nazi ideology than his predecessor he was also a figure that Worthy (who would retain his position) – said to have believed would be suitably strong towards German demands (a Nat product of his background as a soldier). In addition to the newly chosen Prime Minister a German plenipotentiary (from whom Worthy would take orders, would installed) together with a German Security Police force under a Higher AS and Pop Leader. This was a structure of command that would allow the Jewish Question addressed in short order.
The Holocaust as it unfolded in Hungary was very much a product of the AS experience gained in Operation Reinhardt (albeit within a drastically reduced Tim frame) and was co-ordinate personally by Coachman who had been stations waiting with his staff at Matheson from the beginning of March, and entered the country before the end of the month. Jewish Councils, pacified with appropriate assurances regarding the future safety and wellbeing of the Jews, were swiftly established to manage practical relations and enforce the rapidly emerging en legislation.
Wearing the yellow Star of David was to become a legal requirement all but a few Jews, beginning in short order the familiar process of seeking to sol Jerry from the Community at large (needless to say, incidentally, that it was the responsibility of the Jews themselves to source the material for these stars, and ensure that they were the right size, color and affixed in the correct manner) . Further laws were introduced virtually simultaneously that required Jews in moms professional industries to give up their Jobs and curtailed their access to wealth.
Journal of the Hungarian Jews Kiddo Lapel fell under censorship by the Gestapo eventually every Jew was confined to his or her dwelling place. All Jewish assets, the State (with severe penalties for any Hungarian looking to assist their Jewish neighbors) . With isolation now consolidated, categorization – the necessary practical groundwork for deportation followed. Any guilt or sympathy that the rest of the population may have been feeling about the fate of their erstwhile neighbors, must surely have been partly assuaged by the correspondent number of excellent openings and opportunities that had suddenly become available.
The categorization process also had the side effect of exposing the full potential of the aforementioned plunder available to the occupying force. The homes that had been left, though allegedly sealed, were ransacked for valuables – appropriated by individuals and the State. Through brutal methods, possessions were stripped from internees throughout the categorization and deportation process, and grotesquely sadistic ordure attempts were used to extract any remaining assets that were being kept by the victims undeclared.
This process of appropriation created some friction between the Hungarian, and the occupying force. The friction was not caused by humanitarian factors, as one might suppose, but by the frustration that the Hungarian were experiencing at not receiving all the spoils themselves. The categorization process, when it began on April 16th in Cartoon-Ruthenium and northeastern Hungary, was meticulously planned. The operation was to progress in 6 zonal phases, culminating in the final zone of Budapest.
The rationale that underpinned the decision to manage the process in this manner, was the perception that the assimilated Jews of the Capital could be reasonably assumed to be more potentially cognizant of what was occurring, and would be prevented – by this approach – from looking to escape their fate by absconding to rural areas (as it happened, Worthy intervention preventing deportations came in a timely fashion for these Jews, coming as it did before they had been rounded up).
Unlike the ghettos of the Counterarguments, these were ghettos designed to be used for very short periods. They were also formed for a specific reason. Conditions were varied, but generally appalling, with locations ranging from brick factories to pigsties – with some being completely in the open air. Provision of food became the responsibility of the Jewish Councils, and rations were meager. With the naivety that would in some respect come to define them, the Councils petitioned the Nazi administration on these issues, finding that their entreaties were given short shrift.
Whilst the path of the Holocaust was, within Hungary, ruthlessly swift, it did offer the prospect, borne out of the unique terms of the Sleekness Agreement, for some of the amounts well resourced Jews to negotiate escape with their captors. In a notable exception to the occupation elsewhere, the terms of the Schools Sleekness Agreement meant that the Nazis were technically unable to enforce the compulsory takeover of businesses : This distinction allowed for a limited number of Jewish industrialists to do deals to secure escape for themselves and their families, using the sale of their business as leverage.
Such deals reflect a paradoxical degree of pragmatism in Nazi ideology, with the practical benefits of the deals considered more important than the total, unconditional annihilation of World Jerry. Further deals to ensuring the greater good – in Hitter’s perception – of further genocide. As elsewhere, categorization was the mechanism for entrainment and deportation. Necessary agreements were made to allow trains to move from Hungary to Auschwitz and the wheels were set seamlessly in motion.
What transpired was the notorious camp’s deadliest hour. With ruthless efficiency transports began within 6 weeks or so of the initial occupation; 12-14000 Jews a day were sped towards their doom . The camp was redesigned and the notorious ramp was introduced to speed up the process of selections. The crematoria became burnt out with overuse and even the decommissioned Karma 2 was hastily brought back into operation. Eventually it even became necessary to resort to open pits for the disposal of bodies.
By the start of July, when under considerable international pressure Admiral Worthy re- established control of the Jews of his Country and halted the deportations, around 438,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported – most of whom (394, 000) would meet their end in the gas chambers of Auschwitz . Unlike the previously completed Operation Reinhardt, and the Holocaust by Bullets hat preceded it, all of this occurred unambiguously and with utter impunity, with the world watching.
In what is perhaps the greatest paradox of all, this is for some the moment where the Allies are invited to share culpability with the perpetrators the implied culpability of the inactive bystander, as opposed to the active perpetrator, but a register of culpability nonetheless. By April 1944 reports had started to emerge from Auschwitz specifically – notably in the so-called Auschwitz Protocols – that detailed what was happening there.
It has of course been suggested, controversially and lengthily elsewhere, that the particulars f the Final Solution were widely known in advance of this, but these reports of 1944 with particular reference to Auschwitz were in relative terms unmistakable and irrefutable. It is from this, as previously mentioned, that the bulk of Abraham’s paradoxes stems; why, in such circumstances, did it happen? Why, if the Nazis knew that their crimes were being watched did they continue with them, where they had been so secretive elsewhere?
Why, given the precipitous course of the War, did they risk exposing themselves as individuals and as a nation to unconditional condemnation and retribution if the War was lost? Why, if the Allies – and the free world knew about the massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent people did they not intervene? Why, if they knew what was to befall them did the Jewish victims make themselves so vulnerable, and so willingly acquiesce to their executioners?
It is in general terms a narrative of action and inaction; decisive action on the part of perpetrators, and decisive inaction on the part of the victims and the bystanders. The paradoxes above aren’t exhaustive of course (questions regarding the conduct of the Hungarian population and Leadership for example, are enormously problematic), ND are painted with very broad strokes, but they lie at the heart of the issue as it is addressed here. On the subject of how much they truly knew about what had been occurring across Europe in the previous years.
Controversy is ongoing on this subject, but there is general consensus that by this stage of the War, information was relatively freely available (to them) about the reality of the Final Solution and what it entailed. In the first instance, Jewish soldiers had fought on the Eastern Front in Labor Battalions, returning (albeit with small numbers of survivors) with stories of what they had reasonably witnessed of what would become known as the Holocaust by Bullets.
If this did not directly articulate the mechanism of death that they would face, it unambiguously confirmed the murderous intent of the Nazi regime. Later, Jewish refugees escaping from the affected territories would frequently enter Hungary with their own testimony. Finally (though not exhaustively), international relief organizations – whose role would grow disseminated specific information as they received it (to leaders of the Jewish Councils at least).
There were clearly regional variations – Budapest was better informed than the outer lying areas for example – ND it must be remembered that the Jews of Hungary were not one homogeneities group but information it is fair to say, existed. David Cesarean (in a choice of phrase shared by Abraham) characterizes the perspective of the Jews of Hungary in the light of this as “short sightedness” . He suggests that in their conduct, the Hungarian Jews appear to willfully ignore the events occurring to other Jews across much of occupied Europe – the scale of which made the notion of ignorance implausible.
It is difficult to disagree with this summation, but is worth, in addressing the paradoxes of the question, investigating some of the circumstances hat may have underpinned such a willful delusion. It makes sense in doing this to start with the Jewish Councils, who had such a crucial role in the process. The increased volume of information pertaining to the Final Solution put the Jewish Councils in a challenging position. Their paradoxical role became one of assisting the community, and assisting albeit inadvertently in their demise.
Their Job was “lulling the Jewish masses into submission by giving them a false sense of security’ . They co-ordinate no active response, resistance or meaningful protest and offered little more than passive acquiescence. The perspective of Council members was partially manipulated or steered by the specific treatment that they, and their families, were given (as had been the practice of the Nazi administration across occupied territories, members of the Council were routinely exempted from measures corresponding to the Jewish population in general).
Even within their ranks though, prominent Jewish leaders were divided in an extraordinarily polemic way, on the subject of what the reality of the occupation entailed – whilst in Budapest, for example, Flop Freudian the Orthodox Leader, remained confident hat they would not suffer the fate of the Polish Jews, Onions Kahn took a more fatalistic tone, saying “Our fate is not only material ruin, and not even a chain of physical and mental tortures and the beating down of the last fibers of our human dignity, but rather certain physical annihilation. It’s a confusing dichotomy and it is perhaps marginally easier to make sense of the lack of meaningful intervention, when such divergence of opinion existed active resistance after all, represented a Protocols were made available to the Councils, but information regarding their content was never formally, or widely, disseminated by them. There is a degree of controversy about the micro-history of the dates involved, but the headline “bottom line” remains true.
As has been identified by a number of historians, in real terms with the given time frames such a dissemination of information would most likely have been an act of semantics (on an ideological level, it would have furnished the Jews with some sort of ownership of their fate – but on a practical level, it’s unlikely that this would have, or could have, counted for much) but it remains a paradox. Ultimately, the Councils were peopled by individuals who were attempting to process ND act upon information with no meaningful historic precedent – and very little time.
Abraham identifies this swiftness of the Holocaust in Hungary as being the root cause in general of the impotence in mounting any sort of consolidated resistance. Beyond the influence of the Councils, Abraham identifies a series of further assumptions, or perceptions, which informed the attitude of the Jews en masses.. He suggests, in a key observation that locates a fundamental existential truth, that to this point – and after nearly five years of vicious, murderous persecution Hungary had en “an island of safety in an ocean of destruction” for the Jews.
He is speaking in relative terms of course, because the anti-Jewish legislation of 1938, and ongoing anti-Semitic measures during the war years, meant that the life of the average Jew in the country did not compare favorably with that of his or her neighbors (it must be borne in mind too, that in 1941 some 15000 stateless Jews had murdered by insupportable after being deported from Hungary ) but the point resonates.
Having lived in such circumstances through the sustained heat of the conflict, and under the erect gaze of the perpetrators, it is very possible to understand some complacency – particularly given the changing course of the War. There were too, the unequivocal assurances of safety by the AS; assurances that appeared rational, based on the widely held assumption that the unpopular occupation was too fragile to withstand such an assault (as had occurred elsewhere) on members of its population.
The economy, which was heavily influenced by the Jewish population, was also supposed to be too important for the Nazis to risk or endanger on such matters of principal. Parliament would surely protect them if the need arose came as well – particularly as Worthy was maintaining his position as head of state. These assumptions are indeed “short sighted” and even naive – but they aren’t entirely illogical. In the actuality, fatally they proved too fragile to withstand or weather the speed of events beyond.
The issue of paradox for the Jews of Hungary is then perhaps worth investigating not so much from the point of view of the availability, or acquisition, of information or knowledge, but more from the point of view of the interpretation and application of this in respect of the context. The Jews may have been caught out by the speed of events, but on calm reflection the signs and warnings were apparent and present. Is the paradox then – and it is almost unbearably tragic that the information was there, but for some reason, they didn’t want to see it.
Discussing the issue on Bib’s Document programmer, Tony Sunshine characterizes the phenomena as “knowing but not believing. ” David Cesarean develops this point on the same programmer, The paradox then, is then that the Hungarian Jews being deported allowed themselves to enter a state of active ignorance – they knew what was happening; new and did nothing. Equally bewildering, though form an entirely different perspective, is the question of why the Nazis chose this point to allow the Holocaust to come into the light; why it was now, with defeat as a discernible possibility, that the fiercely maintained veil of secrecy should be lifted.
The liquidation of the remaining Jews in the Harvest Festival was a necessary factor in the process of ensuring that Europe was Juddering. As well maintaining security (as far as was Hammier was concerned) though, it also served the purpose of ensuring that no Jews would survive to tell the tale of what had occurred. Secrecy had always been a pre-requisite of the management of the Final Solution, with issues such as the location of the death camps, their internal design and their management all informed by a desire to maintain confidentiality.
In a telling correspondence between Hammier and Clocking of November 1943, Glossiness’s reference “During a visit, you, Researcher, held out to me the prospect that a few iron crosses might be awarded for the special performance of this difficult task after the work had been concluded” – is conspicuously not alluded to in the Archduchess’s response . This was always to be “this is an unwritten – never to be written – and yet glorious page in our history. ” The death camps were not left as a towering example of a defining historic moment, they were – as has been previously mentioned – destroyed, their footprint disguised.
The Final Solution may ultimately have needed the circumstances of War to allow for its existence, but it was also predicated on the War culminating in a German victory. Through 1944, as Ian Shakers articulates in The End, the successful allied invasion of mainland Europe in June, combined with the emphatic gains for the Red Army and allied victory in Rome made a German defeat seem all but inevitable (if not to every last committed Nazi). The act of continuing with the Final Solution, where the secrets of Auschwitz were becoming known, made the potential for denial impossible.
Furthermore, formal conversations with the Hungarian regarding its management were a unique example of the Holocaust being openly discussed, co-ordinate and planned with a foreign power. This is unmistakably the Holocaust coming into the open (which is to to suggest that there weren’t still Nazis working hard to attempt to cover their own backs). Why such a bold, and public, act as this should have been embarked on at such a precipitous point of the war, is perplexing. There are diverging opinions, or possible opinions, to explain why this would have been the case.
Ian Shakers identifies the fact that by this stage of the war, Hitler had become increasingly convinced that virtually every act perpetrated against the Reich happened at the instigation of – or as a result of – the Jews (“this entire bestiality has been organized by the Jews” as he said in May 1944) . Placed within this matrix of logic, the escalation of the War contiguously raised the stakes of the Jewish Question -winning the War became intrinsically contingent on killing the Jews.
Even Gobbles noted in April 1944, “the Fuehrer’s hatred against the Jews has intensified even further reporting that in the words of the Fuehrer the Jews were “responsible for the mass murder of women and children in the Anglo-American bombings. ” In this climate of increasing anti-Semitic obsession, it is perhaps not surprising that the concerns of post-War secrecy, found themselves becoming secondary by some distance, to the equines of addressing the Job at hand.
In a vein tangential to this issue, it would be possible to suggest that the manner in which the Final Solution was conducted in Hungary was borne out of tactical necessity. The growing proliferation of information about the Holocaust would have obliged those managing it in Hungary to act with haste. As has already been discussed, the approach to the pattern of zones of action in the Country was designed with a view of leaving Budapest till last – based on the assumption that the Jews of Budapest would be most likely to be in receipt of information about Nazi intentions, and so could try and flee to the countryside.
Concerns about Jews receiving information and co-ordination action based up on that, were thus clearly factors in the AS consciousness (particularly given the uprisings in Isobar, Trebling and Warsaw). With this in mind, the need to act decisively and biblically could supersede operational matters of secrecy. The Nazis were perhaps further emboldened in this by the lack of action from the free world at large Tony Sunshine identifies the fact that by 1943 public activities in Britain in response to the Holocaust “had almost faded away.
It’s speculative of course, but this lack of international dissension must surely have had an impact at this very specific Juncture – it certainly had some sort of impact when it finally came. Peter Lingering implies an interesting interpretation of the Nazi strategy of secrecy at this point in time, in respect of Hammier. He identifies the fact that Hemmer’s speeches to Heartache Generals became more open, and more explicit on the subject of the Final Solution as the War reached its conclusion.
In what would be a high stakes strategy, Lingering suggests that this behavior is designed to implicate he largest number of people possible in the crimes – “the Researcher wanted to make it clear to senior officers… That in the event of a military defeat, they would not be able to pretend that they were unaware of the fact that the murder of the European Jews was one of the regime’s war aims. ” It is interesting to extend this concept of guilt by association to the question of the manner in which the Holocaust in Hungary was dealt with.
It would be possible to make the case that the paradox of Nazi behavior at this stage, was partly determined by a desire – or even need – to ensure that Hungary as a nation were secured to Germany by virtue of their collaboration in the Final Solution. In an occupation that was fragilely maintained, and in a territory that was sensitively positioned, implicating them in the Final Solution was a strategy that could mandate loyalty and compliance – but only if the World was aware of that for which they were responsible, and only if Hungary were aware of this in turn.
The ability to share, and further decentralized, responsibility could doubtless too have proved appealing. Nights and unimaginable stress on the Nazi Leadership (frequently coupled with well now physiological conditions) meant that these were men making Judgment calls in a very specific set of circumstances. Extending logic and reason only ever relative concepts in the Third Reich – in such circumstances becomes in turn a relative exercise.
The acknowledgement of this is obviously not to absolve or excuse any decisions, but to locate the specificity of the context in which they were made (and to suggest contributory factors to the paradoxical nature of their decision making). Whilst avoiding any sort of further “armchair psychology’ it’s also worth identifying the fact that these are individuals who had been allowed, by this stage, to act with an extraordinary impunity for almost five years – the notion of cause and consequence, soaked through an ideology that had only become more concentrated – must surely be borne in mind.
Quite clearly, the scope of the paradoxes of the Holocaust in Hungary extend much further than those investigated in this essay (space forbids discussion of the Trucks for Jews Affair, the Easterner train, Zionist intervention and so on). The fact that this invasion of Hungary was to be the last invasion mounted by the Nazis – and yet was heir most ruthlessly efficient, means that it somehow assumes the status of a grim, consolidating coda; a coda in which paradoxes seem strangely appropriate.
The sense that it was in some way, avoidable, informs it with a particular sense of tragedy – which is probably appropriate too.