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About Hungary, Budapest and the Jewish Quarter

Many have said much about Budapest, some have even written down and published their thoughts. Though articles, books in English are not as numerous as the Hungarian ones, we are trying to offer a list as complete as possible. If you'd like to share your ideas, hints on our page with others, please contact us.


The opinions expressed in the articles, videos, documents do not necessarily reflect those of the administrators of this webpage.



Stories from the Jewish Quarter of Budapest


The Jewish Quarter of Budapest


What area does the Budapest Jewish Quarter cover actually?
Is it a Jewish concentrated area?
How many Jews live in it?
How many synagogues does it have?
Why are old buildings being demolished in it?

Read, listen, learn and come to see it for yourself. Perhaps the best idea to discover this hidden treasure of Budapest is an EXTENDED tour.



0. What's beyond the walls in the Jewish quarter? Understand through this 10 minute long video: Legacy For Sale - Hungary

1. Bulldozing history. Interest group fights the demolition of Budapest's historic architecture (read full article...)
2004 oct./Diplomacy and Trade - Hungary's International Monthly

The destruction of yet another landmark art nouveau building recently passed with little notice in a historic district of Budapest. The building, which stood tall on Holló utca, was once nestled on a bustling road known as "Goldsmiths street," in the old Jewish district of downtown Pest. Before it was reduced to rubble, the building was still in good condition, despite its decaying facade. The beautiful carpentry, arch-shaped windows and gilded door handles bore witness to the artistic splendour of the dawning 20th century. The staircase and balconies of the house were built by noted silversmith Lipot Fleischmann in 1913 and were ornamented with delicate wrought iron works. In the courtyard, adjacent to the house, the remains of a small art nouveau factory could still be seen. Fleischmann, in his day, could access it directly from his apartment.
...
"The old Budapest is dying," fears György Szegő, editor-in-chief of New Architecture Today. Erzsebetvaros is "unique" in Anna Perczel's opinion. "It is particularly rich in 19th and 20th century architecture and is a rare mix of eclectic, classicist and art nouveau styles," says the architect, who rang the alarm bell with authorities as early as 1996. Her comprehensive study found no less than 97 buildings of historical value in the area. The Office of Historical Monuments then started the process of labelling the buildings "protected," yet with insufficient staff and not enough power, the office was unable to complete its task. "Only a few houses are protected. The entire zone is threatened, including the Mikveh, the only Jewish ritual bath left in Pest, on Kazinczy street," Perczel says.

2. Save the Jewish Quarter in Budapest! (read article...pdf.)
2005 Oct./The Clean Air Action Group

3. Childhood in Times of War - by Andrew Salamon. (read full story)

Chapter IV. The "Final Solution" (1944)
C. Street Smarts/(2) The Budapest Ghetto
I knew this part of the city well. The ghetto was the old Jewish quarter, and included the Great Synagogue of the city. Now, after only a few short months, the ghetto had deteriorated so drastically that I felt like I was seeing the area for the first time. The full horror of the living conditions hit me hard.
What I saw was beyond my worst expectations. I had heard about the Polish ghettos, but this was Budapest, not some primitive city!

4. Budapest Ghetto Gets Facelift (read article...)
2006 Oct. 27/The Jewish Daily / FORWARD.com

For many decades, through the Holocaust and communist rule, the streets of the ghetto were largely flushed of any Jewish presence.
...
During the past few years, the abandoned buildings of the seventh district have been revitalized by a number of new bars created by young Jewish men returning to the former stomping grounds of their ancestors - a historically Jewish area turned by the Nazis into a Jewish ghetto. Most of these bars carry no outward sign of being Jewish but have become known for their young Jewish clientele - a sampling from Budapest's 100,000-person Jewish community.

5. The Siege of Budapest: the Nadir in Hungarian History. (read article...)
2003 Jan. 05/UCLA International Institute

The Soviet army had Budapest surrounded on Christmas Eve 1944. Up to that point the city had survived the war largely intact. There had been some bombing by American forces in the summer of 1944, but it had been directed at industrial areas and the railroads. During the siege, there was shelling, but no heavy artillery. There was no food, electricity, gas or water, but because Budapest was still quite old fashioned in many respects, the people managed with wells, wood, coal and private baking for the duration of the siege. The conditions in the ghetto were much worse, with no food being delivered at all after December 24, 1944. Pest, on one side of the Danube, was liberated by Soviet troops first, on January 14, 1945, while Buda held out for another month against the Soviet advance. The taking of the Royal Castle and the caves beneath it was a massacre, with only some 700 escaping the fighting.

6. The Old Jewish Quarter. (read article...)
EUROTOMIC.com

The constructions of the Old Jewish Quarter are mostly unchanged and tourists who walk around could observe it almost the same way it looked until World War II, when it was inhabited. This quarter used to have a large amount of houses, residences, shops, and synagogues among others. Nowadays, it is almost completely uninhabited, although visitors could find a few people as well as religious shop or other kind of store open now and then.(...)
As it can be seen, this part of Budapest has an extremely tragic past, but nowadays can be interesting to visit it and observe it as an historical area. Many of its constructions still stand and count with the same structural elements they would have when they were just built hundreds of years ago.

7. Saving Budapest's Jewish quarter - one building at a time (read article...)
Skyscrapercity.com

Since 2002, six tenements in this maze of streets have been demolished, giving way to spanking new apartment blocks and office buildings. Some are twice as tall, intruding sharply on the bygone grace of the late 19th-early 20th century facades.
"The old buildings are disappearing," complained one of the local activists fighting the trend, Orsolya Egri. "Instead of destroying them we should remember our past and cherish what we have."

8. Budapest's Jewish Quarter Under Threat (read article...)
2007 April 19, by Marion Kraske/ Spiegel Online International

In Budapest's historic Jewish quarter, a cafe owner is fighting an uphill battle to protect the area against the encroaching property developers. But with international investment funds flocking to the quarter to make a killing, how long can the traditional character of the area survive?
Everywhere in districts 6 and 7, still known by their old imperial names, Theresienstadt and Elisabethstadt, workers are hammering, building walls and demolishing buildings.(...)
Theodor Herzel, the founder of the Zionist movement, was born in 1860 in one of the Art Nouveau buildings lining the area's narrow streets, where there are still kosher butcher shops, kosher bakeries and kosher restaurants. There is a Torah school on Dob Street, and Europe's largest synagogue stands on Dohany Street.
But everywhere one looks the masonry is crumbling and entire streets are derelict. The Rumbach Synagogue, designed by Viennese Art Nouveau architect Otto Wagner and complete with small, Asian-inspired towers, has the look of a major construction site. There is apparently a shortage of funds for the renovation.

9. Budapest quarter wins reprieve from the demolition men (read article...)European Jewish Congress

Budapest Ghetto Wikipedia article
The Budapest ghetto was a ghetto where Jews were forced to live in Budapest, Hungary during the Second World War. The area consisted of several blocks of the old Jewish quarter of the city surrounding the main synagogue...

Budapest Ghetto - a personal account of the Budapest Ghetto

Decree On the Establishment of the Budapest Ghetto Jewish Virtual Library
The Hungarian Government orders the separation of the territory assigned to the Jews (the ghetto) from the territory inhabited by non-Jews. The buildings facing the streets and roads specified as boundaries are not included in the area assigned to the Jews.
Non-Jews may not live in the areas assigned to Jews and may not work there, and authorities and public institutions may not have offices in these areas...

Commemorating 'Pariah Landscapes': Memorialising the Budapest Ghetto, 1945-2000
This place of history, the Budapest ghetto, was in many ways not typical of other Holocaust ghettos. This, after all,was the only ghetto to be liberated rather than liquidated. While the majority of Hungarian 'Jews' had been ghettoised and then deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the early summer of 1944, Budapest's 'Jews' were spared deportation... Thus the city's 'Jews' were still living in the ghetto when the Soviet Army reached Budapest in January 1945. During the summer of 1944 close to 200,000 'Jews' were housed in ghetto houses throughout the city, but in November 1944, a closed ghetto was set up in the heart of Budapest, in the traditional 'Jewish' quarter...

Congressman Lantos Commemorates Liberation of Budapest Ghetto Embassy news from Hungary's American Embassy
On January 19, 2006, Congressman Tom Lantos attended the ceremony at the Dohány Street Synagogue commemorating the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the Budapest Ghetto...

Personal Reflections - In Ghettos The story of Bertha (Panni) Guttman, A Nazi Holocaust Survivor of the Budapest Ghetto...With a difference
During the month of November, 1944, we heard that the Hungarian Nazis, members of the Arrow Cross Party, will come to our buildings with the Yellow Star and will take all the Jewish women under 40...

Hungarians have been marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Budapest ghetto. BBC news
Survivors of the ghetto, top politicians and church representatives attended the service in Budapest's large Dohany Street synagogue, near to what was the central ghetto area...
60,000 people survived in terrible conditions in the narrow streets of Budapest's seventh district, despite constant efforts by the Nazis and the Arrow Cross to destroy them...

Budapest's Jewish quarter starts long rise from the ruins Michael Logan, dpa 03/22/2006
The decline began during World War Two, when the quarter served as a ghetto for many of the city's 200,000 Jews. Around half of the Jewish community was killed during the Holocaust and the area never quite recovered...
Residential group, OVAS, has led the charge in protesting the changes in recent years, complaining that firms are only interested in making a quick profit by knocking down historic buildings and throwing up cheap apartment blocks...
The local district council began demolishing the building despite protests by OVAS, the Cultural Minister and even the Budapest Mayor...

Fighting for Budapest's ghetto By Agnes Bohm and Ruth Ellen Gruber - Cleveland Jewish News
The ghetto, in a zone known as the Seventh District, is the only place in the downtown area where traditional Jewish shops still operate, such as a kosher butcher, a Judaica bookstore, a kosher pastry shop and a jewelry store. A few buildings still bear Stars of David on their facades or iron grills and have mezuzahs on their doors.
With more than a dozen buildings in the area of Budapest's historic Jewish ghetto facing demolition, a civic group has launched a campaign to save the quarter from real estate developers...




Holocaust related articles and links

1.
A: Holocaust glossary from the A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust
B: Holocaust glossary from the Jewish Virtual Library

2.
Holocaust Victims from the A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust

- Jews
- Roma (Gypsies)
- Poles and other Slavs
- Political Dissidents and Dissenting Clergy
- Persons with Physical or Mental Disabilities
- Jehovah's Witnesses
- Homosexuals
- Other Victims

3.
A: Perpetrators from the A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust
B: Perpetrators from the Jewish Virtual Library

- Legal policies
- Propaganda
- Violence-terror and death

4.
Rescuers from the A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust

- Raoul Wallenberg

- Carl Lutz

- Hannah Szenes

- Giorgio Perlasca

5.
Holocaust Memorials from the A Teachers Guide to the Holocaust

- archival ghetto and camp photographs
- other archival photographs
- contemporary camp photographs
- camp memorials
- art and architecture
- Holocaust memorials
- miscellaneous galleries

6.
Basic bibliography of the Holocaust from the Yad Vashem

Listing of over 200 books in English that are generally regarded by scholars and teachers as important in the study of the Holocaust.

7.
Holocaust chronology from the Yad Vashem

A timeline of the events of the Holocaust with over 300 events from World War I until the end of World War II.

Visual History Archive Hungary Shoah Foundation Institute

Online special: Remembering Raoul Wallenberg

BIOGRAPHIES OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS

Holocaust Encyclopedia - Hungary United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Before World War II, approximately 200,000 Jews lived in Budapest, making it the center of Hungarian Jewish cultural life. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Budapest was a safe haven for Jewish refugees..

Hungary before the German occupation United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Pressured by domestic radical nationalists and fascists, Hungary fell increasingly under the influence of Germany as the Nazi regime consolidated itself in the 1930s...

Deportation to killing centers United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
After they began to methodically kill Jews in specially constructed killing centers, the Nazis deported Jews by train and, when trains were not available and the distances were short, by forced march or truck...

Hungary after the German occupation United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Hungarian gendarmes were sent into the rural regions to round up the Jews and dispatch them to the cities. The urban areas in which the Jews were forced to concentrate were enclosed and referred to as ghettos. Sometimes the ghettos encompassed the area of a former Jewish neighborhood. In other cases the ghetto was merely a single building, such as a factory...

Gyorgy POLLAK / Budapest, Hungary Missing Identity

Holocaust Memorial Ceremony in Budapest European Jewish Congress

Hungary Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day and Liberation of Ghetto European Jewish Congress

The angel of Budapest - Angel Sank Briz, 1910-1980

The Holocaust in Hungary The Importance of Gender, Age and Geography for the Jewish Experience

National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance Supreme Court of the United States

Holocaust Memorial Center
From Deprivation of Rights to Genocide
The subject of the Holocaust Memorial Center's permanent exhibition is the history of Holocaust in Hungary. Its aim is to recount and present the suffering, persecution and massacre of those Hungarian nationals - mainly Jews and the Roma - who were condemned to annihilation in the name of the racial ideology.

Memorial Museum of Hungarian Speaking Jewry

Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau

Anna Frank Museum



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