The Retribution Process in Hungary

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The Retribution Process in Hungary Magyars at the Ground Level in Budapest, 1945-1948
Mellis, Johanna Leigh
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Committee Chair:
Freifeld, Alice
Committee Members:
Goda, Norman J
Bergmann, Peter E
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Subjects / Keywords:
Communism ( jstor )
Communist parties ( jstor )
Ghettos ( jstor )
Homes ( jstor )
Housing ( jstor )
Jewish peoples ( jstor )
Nazism ( jstor )
Political parties ( jstor )
War ( jstor )
World wars ( jstor )
History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
army -- arrow -- budapest -- certification -- committee -- communism -- communists -- crime -- cross -- de-nazification -- housing -- hungarian -- hungary -- hyperinflation -- justice -- magyar -- nazis -- postwar -- red -- retribution -- retributive -- survey -- trial
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
History thesis, M.A.


This study aims to examine the role of Hungarians in the retribution process in post-World War II Hungary. Most analyses on this process in postwar Europe concentrate narrowly on the war crimes trials in each country. By discussing the role of Hungarians in the retribution process in Hungary, I intend to complicate the picture of everyday life in postwar Hungary, and that of Eastern Europe more broadly. Under the guidance of Hungary's postwar governments from 1945-1948, the Certification Committee (Igazolo Bizottsag) instructed every citizen in Budapest to complete a postwar survey. On the surface the purpose of the survey was to help the Committee determine who collaborated with or profited from the Hungarian Nazi government's seizure of power. Despite outward aims to pursue retributive justice via-a-via Hungarian society in Budapest, the Committee conducted perfunctory investigations of the surveys. At the same time, Hungarians in the capitol city preferred to focus more on the reconstruction efforts and their own wartime sufferings than on rooting out former fascists. More importantly, they sought to convince the Certification Committee of their non-fascist behavior during the war, so that they could receive approval, and begin to rebuild their daily lives. In the few cases that Hungarians denounced their neighbors for wartime fascist activity, they did it as a way of seeking retribution for their wartime experiences. Furthermore, Hungarians concentrated on presenting themselves as bereft of Nazi affiliation and concerned with rebuilding their country as a way to conceal potential misbehavior during the war. ( en )
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Freifeld, Alice.
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by Johanna Leigh Mellis.

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2 2012 Johanna Mellis


3 To Greg Mason, who has been my closest companion and my rock for the last five years. I dedicate this work to him as a way of giving thanks for all of his suppor t in my personal and academic life. I look forward to sharing our lives together.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Department, of whose encouragement I express my deepest gratitude. I would especially like to thank my advisor Dr. Alice Freifeld, who introduced me to the fascinating world of Hungarian history. Thank you for your patience, and for continuing to believe in my abilities as a young scholar. I owe a tremendous debt to Edit Nagy, who bravely spearheaded my learning of the Hungarian language over the last several years. She continues to be an enormous supporter of my research interests, and of my thirst for all things Hungarian. I also thank my fellow graduate students in the field of Modern European History, for the countless intellectual discussions and daily moral support they have provided me. As for my parents, particularly my mom, thank you for guiding me throughout all of my personal endeavors as a child, and today.


5 T ABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 11 Post World War II Hungary ................................ ................................ ..................... 11 The Certification Committee and the Surveys ................................ ......................... 12 Postwar Process of Retribution ................................ ................................ ............... 14 Historians and Problems with Terminology ................................ ...................... 15 The Hungarian s in Budapest ................................ ................................ ............ 18 The Historiography of Postwar European Retributive Justice ........................... 20 Representing Hungarians in Budapest ................................ ............................. 25 2 CONDITIONS IN POST WORLD WAR II HUNGARY ................................ ............ 26 The Postwar H ungarian Government ................................ ................................ ..... 27 The Postwar Economy and Economic Hyperinflation ................................ ............. 3 0 Crying Out for Help: Material Shortages ................................ ........................... 32 ................................ ................................ ...... 34 Urban Reconstruction and Ties to National Renewal ................................ ............. 35 The Key to Funding the Reconstruction Efforts: Inflationary Financing ............ 37 ................................ .. 39 Hungarian Visions of Postwar Life ................................ ................................ .... 43 3 THE HOUSING CRISIS ................................ ................................ .......................... 47 Hungary, its Jews, and Ghettoization ................................ ................................ ..... 47 Ties Between Wartime Ghettoization and the Postwar Housing Crisis ................... 51 Postwar Housing Reconstruction ................................ ................................ ............ 52 The Home as the Embodim Economic Status ..................... 55 Receiving Approval From the Certification Committee ................................ ..... 56 4 THE CERTIFICATION COMMITTEE AND POSTWAR SURVEYS ........................ 58 ................ 58 Completing the Certification Surveys ................................ ................................ ...... 62 The Differences Between Pre and Post 1944 Living Arrangements ................. 64


6 How the Committee Viewed the Jews and Property Restitution Claims ........... 68 .......................... 69 ................................ ...... 70 Elements missing from the surveys ................................ ........................... 76 5 PROPERTY CLAIMS AND HOUSING DISPUTES ................................ ................. 81 The Initial Dispute: Kovsznay and Span ................................ ............................... 81 German Behavior ................................ .... 83 The Property Dispute: Kovsznay and Klein ................................ ........................... 85 The Role of the Letters of Support and the Witnesses ................................ ..... 87 ................................ .. 90 Unf Judicial System ................................ ................................ ....................... 92 ................................ .......... 94 The cases of Kovsznay Span, and Klein and the retribution process ..... 97 6 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 100 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 103 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 105


7 LIST OF TABLES page 4 1 List of applicants who owned one, one plus hall or kitchen, two, or three room apartments in District VII ................................ ................................ ........... 80 4 2 List of the percentage of District VII residents that subscri bed to these newspapers during World War II ................................ ................................ ........ 80


8 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S B UDAPEST F VROS L EVLTR (BFL) Budapest City Archives. All of the surveys and Certification Committee documents have been collected and archived here.


9 Abstract of T hesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of M aster of Arts THE RETRIBUTION PROCE SS IN HUNGARY: MAGYARS AT THE GROUND LEVEL IN BUDAPEST, 1945 1948 By Johanna Mellis May 2012 Chair: Alice Freifeld Major: History This study aims to examine the role of Hungarians in the retribution process in post World War II Hungary. Most analyses on this process in postwar Europe concentrate narrowly on the war crimes trials in each country. By discussing the role of Hungarians in the attempt at political justice in Hungary, I intend to complicate the picture of everyday life in postwar Hungary, an d that of Eastern Europe more broadly. Under the guidance 1948, the Certification Committee ( Igazlo Bizottsag ) instructed every citizen in Budapest to complete a postwar survey. On the surface the purpose of the survey was to help the Committee determine who collaborated with or profited from the Hungarian Nazi justice of Hungarian society in Budapest, the Committee conducted perfu nctory investigations of the surveys. At the same time, Hungarians in the capitol city preferred to focus more on the reconstruction efforts than on rooting out former fascists. More importantly, they sought to convince the Certification Committee of their non fascist behavior during the war, so that they could receive approval, and begin to rebuild their


10 daily lives. In the few cases that Hungarians denounced their neighbors for wartime fascist activity, they did it as a way of seeking retribution for thei r wartime experiences. Furthermore, Hungarians concentrated on presenting themselves as bereft of Nazi affiliation and concerned with rebuilding their country as a way to conceal potential misbehavior during the war.


11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Post World War II Hungary By the time the Red Army liberated Hungary in early 1945, the nation and its people were left in complete and utter ruin. The years of war wrecked havoc on the entire nation, most visibly on the architecture, governmental infrastructure, and th e social structure. While tens of thousands of Hungarian soldiers died fighting alongside the Germans, about 100,000 Hungarian Jewish men suffered in the munkszol g lt or the labor camps on the eastern war front. Furthermore, an estimated 400,000 of the c concentration and death camps in the summer of 1944. The Siege of Budapest, which lasted from December 29 th 1944 February 13 th 1945, remained one of the bloodiest battles of th Budapest and the rest of the country served to liberate Hungary from the Nazis, but also resulted in countless women being raped, civilians deported to the USSR, and even more destruction o After so much devastation and loss of life, the Hungarians, like other Europeans, were faced with the task of reconstructing their lives and country. How did Hungarians cope with the realities of postwar Hungary? How did they find lost family members? What of their pre war and wartime businesses? Considering that 27 % of the housing in Budapest was demolished, how did they deal with the housing crisis that followed the war? How did the Jewish victims of the Holocaus t, or of the labor camps in the East, rebuild their lives? These questions illustrate the basic challenges that Hungarians, and Europeans more broadly, faced in the first few postwar years. As a consequence of


12 coming to terms with the wartime death, destru ction and chaos that characterized post liberation Hungary, people from all walks of society struggled to deal with postwar life. The Certification Committee and the Surveys By looking at the wartime and postwar social and material conditions, Hungarians overall lifestyle of urban Hungarians in the immediate postwar years becomes apparent. In the first few years after the war, Hungarians in Budapest emphasized th e need to r eestablish their everyday lives through reclaiming their professions, seeking ways to ensure a s table income, and securing a living arrangement. Through the governmental surveys, the Certification Committee affiliations and lifestyles. 1 Decree No. 81/1945 M.E. on January 25, 1945, the Hungarian Provisional Government apest on July 1 of that year. 2 The Committee was intended to serve as a supporting institution to the postwar court system. 3 Its first task was to create surveys that questioned people about their personal backgrounds and wartime affiliations, so as to det ermine if they basic information like name, birth date, profession, and education, they also asked d newspaper subscriptions, etc. before, during, and after the war. 1 gazol eljarsok s a hbors bnk megtorlsa 1945 tan Magyarorszgon (The Certification Processes and the Punishment of War Crimes after 1945 in Hun AETAS 24. vf. 2009. 2. Szm, 164. 2 Randolph Braham, The Politics of Genocide: the Holocaust in Hungary, Condensed Edition Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000, 256. Papp, Gyula, 165. 3 Ibid.


13 These surveys illustrate the pre, during, and postwar lives of Budapest citizens, as they recorded it themselves. Thus, it is possible to get a glimpse of postwar life amidst the rising in flation in 1946, the property disputes that arose in part due to the housing architecture, thes e surveys demonstrate the extent to which Hungarians, both Jewish and non Jewish, sought to return to daily life without war and strife Rather than dwell solely on their wartime sufferings Hungarians instead focused on their present and future lives. But what did this new life entail? How did they envision themselves reestablishing everyday life amidst the chaos and destruction that surrounded them? Hungarians enjo ying simple pleasures like sports and viewing films at the theater. The fanfare that surrounded the reconstruction of the transportation system and the bridges enabled people to think about the places they wanted to go, see and experience. Films also serve d as a visual representation of how they should live their lives, such as how to view the present vis vis their recent experiences under Nazism. Additionally, they wanted to obtain new consumer items that they could not have during the war due to materia l shortages, such as radios and fashionable clothing. Newspaper advertisements illustrate the wide variety of shops that existed in Budapest after the war. Even though many Hungarians in the city could not afford these items, the advertisements showed them what they needed to have, and helped them determine what kind of postwar life they wanted.


14 Postwar Process of Retribution Regardless of their focus on reestablishing everyday economic and social stability, Hungarians were forced to confront how to deal wi th the fate of ex Nazis, former retribution. The creation of the postwar court system brought the recent Nazi occupation into sharp relief. As mentioned before, the Certification investigating and attempting to discern who collaborated and/or benefitted from the wartime regimes of Mikls Horthy and the Hungarian Nazi government in 1944. 4 The citizens in Budapest were involved in this process as well, as t he Committee used who did not. Moreover, the Committee asked Hungarians to write letters of support for their neighbors, co workers, families, and friends. In these letters Hungarians were with no connections to the Nyils (Arrow Cross) government or the anti Jewish laws; or, ies during the wartime regimes. Yet across Europe the process of rooting out former fascists was riddled with uncertainty. It was the first time in world history that an entire continent was forced to deal with war crimes of this magnitude. Postwar governm ents such as the Polish, Romanian, French, and Dutch all struggled to make sense of their experience with Nazism, and to a small extent the fate of their Jews. As part of the retribution process these governments were also challenged with the task of delin eating the parameters of 4 Although it cannot be considered a Nazi p uppet regime, the government under Regent Mikls Horthy enacted three anti Jewish laws between 1938 1941. More importantly for the postwar governments po stwar government viewed the top leaders who contributed to the decision to fight on the side of the Germans during the war as criminals as well.


15 wartime criminal activity. This was no different for the Hungarians. What kinds of behavior made an individual a Nazi? A collaborator? Is a collaborator strictly someone tion of Jews? For example, is a baker who supplied bread to Nazi officers in return for being allowed to remain in his apartment considered a collaborator or bystander? What constituted a bystander? These questions demonstrate the struggles that Hungarians and Europeans more broadly, experienced in trying to identify who collaborated or benefitted from the Nazi regime after the war. Without clear definitions of these categories and the types of behavior that signified each one, European leaders worked to e xpel all traces of fascism from their societies. Historians and Problems with Terminology Historians today continue to struggle with these definitions, as well as how to define the processes of de nazification and retribution in post World War II Europe. D e nazification implies that the governments and leaders after World War II, viewing ex Nazis and former fascists as the most dangerous elements to postwar society, focused their efforts primarily on purging these people from the government, economy, and so ciety. 5 However in Hungary both the Provisional Government and the Coalition Government sought to do more than just root out ex Nazis. They also strove to punish the top political elite that had dragged Hungary into the war as a German ally, a crime they d eemed nearly as egregious as being a former Nyils member. 6 Thus the term de 5 Timothy R. Vogt, Denazification in Soviet occupied Germany: Brandenburg, 1945 1948 Cambridge: Harvard Univer sity Press, 2000, 2. 6 The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath edited by Istvn Dek Jan Gross, Tony Judt, (Princeton, NJ: P Courts wanted to indict those that had brought the Hungarian people great suffering and humiliation,


16 nazification is not inclusive enough, as the process in reality involved searching for more than just ex Nazis. Furthermore, by focusing narrowly on the search and punishment of f bypasses the intent to look for wartime collaborators who did not belong to the Nazi or Arrow Cross Party, such as the baker mentioned earlier. A Hungarian did not need to be a Nazi or Nyils in order to aid, abet, and benefit from the German occupation. Consequentially one of the purposes of this analysis is to place the role Hungarians at the ground level, such as middle class jewelers, dentists, and clothing retailers in Budapest, in the cen ter of the postwar retribution process. nazification. By definition it includes punishments for all war crimes. 7 In comparison to the stipulations posed by using de nazification, retribution allows for th e inclusion of prosecutions and punishments of top level Nazis, to middle and lower class beneficiaries during the Nazi occupation. By focusing on the punishment and not the crime, it shifts the focus from simply the crime or the punishment on its own, to the intersection between the two: to how and why the postwar court systems punished collaborators of all kinds. This retribution, retributive justice, and political justice will be used rather than de nazification. It is also difficult for historians to ga uge how Europeans, and in this case the Hungarians, determined who the collaborators were. According to Jan Gross, the term The Provisional Government was initially created in Debrecen in the fall of1944 o nce the Red Army liberated the city, Once Budapest was liberated, the government move there. The Coalition Government was created by the free elections held in November of 1945, and it consisted of members of the Social Democratic Party, the agrarian based 7 Politics of Retribution viii.


17 it problematic. 8 In other words, by labelin g certain behaviors as collaborationist, it fails to take into account all of the important contextual details that determined a particular situation vis vis the occ upiers, such as whether they were a wealthy businessman or an impoverished worker, might influence their choice to act in ways that were questionable after the war. 9 Thus, as Gross points out, collaboration was not entirely driven by the occupier. 10 Opportu nities for personal gain was a major motivator for working with the Nazis, as extra food, promises of protection, and chances of socio economic improvement were highly prized during the war. It remains difficult to formulate a category that encapsulates a ll of the terms of involvement with the Germans, particularly as those terms constantly changed throughout the course of the war. 11 Ultimately Gross calls for the use of a word between collaborator and resistance. 12 Tim Cole on the other hand argues for a m ore nuanced delineates the differences between one that is active, and one that is passive. According to Cole, the active bystander actively negotiated the terms of his existence in the occupied state. 13 This is best illustrated by the petitions made by Hungarians in Budapest in spring and summer of 1944 to either remain in their homes or move to a 8 Politics of Retribution 30 31. 9 Some people acted out of revenge from prior situati ons, such as if one man, after being forced out of business by another store or practice, informed on the man to the Nazis. The military situation of the war also impacted everyday life ke Poland that experienced double and triple occupation throughout the course of the war. 10 Politics of Retribution 25. 11 Ibid, 29. 12 Ibid, 31. 13 Bystanders 59


18 new one during ghettoization, which will be discussed in more detail later 14 A passive bystander is someone characterized by their inactivity vis vis the Nazis. By explaining the difference between an active and passive bystander, Cole insists that for some Europeans the bystander position entailed purposeful action, rather th an just the lack of action that other historians attribute to the term. Although it remains difficult to determine who was an active or passive bystander, the two categories are essential to understanding how Hungarians viewed their wartime activities in t he postwar years. The Hungarians in Budapest The surveys and Committee documents indicate how the Hungarians, rather than emphasize the need to punish those that aided and abetted the mass destruction of European Jewry, instead focused more simply on conv incing the Committee to certify pro Hungarian attitude during the war, they could begin to reestablish their daily lives and routines. Ultimately most Hungarians preferr ed to believe that they did not participate in fascist or anti Jewish activities, and they thereby strove to present 15 This focus on reconstituting their everyday housing situations, jobs and lives, rather than on condemning their most recent past with Nazism and connections to the Holocaust forms the heart of this analysis. For most Hungarians in Budapest, their main goal in the immediate postwar years lay in trying to rebuild their live s and establish everyday stability. This is most clearly seen in the housing crisis, as few apartments 14 Ibid. 15 One way they did this was to selectively forget inconvenient details and adopted interpretations of their Hungarian activity under the occupation. This narrative dictated that the alliance with Germany, enactment of an ti Jewish laws, and the deportation of Hungarian Jews were imposed on them by the Germans and a few extremist Hungarian leaders. This will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.


19 remained fully intact after the war, leaving thousands in need of housing. This lead to a struggle amongst Hungarians to prove ownership over their prope rty. There was massive pressuring on the government to build new housing facilities. A small number housing ownership; these cases, however, were not characteristic of the majority of the population in the capital city. While some Hungarians did participate in the retribution process and helped to find and prosecute war criminals, they remained small in number. Instead, most Hungarians in Budapest longed for life to return to normal after the chaos and destruction of the war. In doing so they focused on proving their wartime innocence in the surveys and through outside letters declared their political reliability. After having their innocence verified by the Certification Co mmittee, the residents of Budapest could continue rebuilding their daily lives and businesses, and their city as well. Ultimately, the Hungarians in Budapest did not emphasize the need to recognize Jewish population. These beliefs about the Holocaust were not reserved for only the non Jewish Hungarians. Many Hungarian Jews did make at least one reference to their wartime suffering in the surveys, usually that they were forcible ghettoized or conscri pted to work in a labor camp on the Hungarian front lines. Yet they stopped short of seeking compensation or official recognition of their experiences from the Committee. On the whole they did not attempt to use the questionnaires, or the Committee, as a w ay to alert the authorities of the injustice done to them by local Hungarians. In the few instances that appear in the certification documents of Budapest, District VII, in which Hungarian Jews denounced non Jews for their wartime activities, they usually pursued it for the purposes of property


20 restitution. Instead of dwelling on their wartime experiences Hungarian Jews also sought to return to their daily lives. The Historiography of Postwar European Retributive Justice In order to broaden the scope of th is analysis, the last question that this study attempts to answer concerns the similarities and differences between the retribution process in Hungary and those that occurred elsewhere in Europe. The years 1945 1948 saw a proliferation of war crimes trials and retribution courts, as nearly every European country sought to eradicate the traces of fascism from their societies. During the Cold War some, mainly East German historians, believed the postwar crimes trials in Soviet occupied Eastern Europe occurred with more rigor and precision than in Western European countries. 16 Since the collapse of Communism and the opening of previously closed archives historians have begun characterizing the retribution processes across Europe as having more similarities than differences. In his study on denazification in Soviet occupied Brandenburg Timothy Vogt argues that Soviet policies were formed in a much more ad hoc fashion than previously assumed. 17 More specifically he believes that the Soviet denazification process in Brandenburg was marked by significant confusion and more flexibility than East German historians were willing to admit. 18 As a consequence the war crimes trials and retribution courts in the Soviet zone of Germany appear more akin to those in the West. 19 Oth er historians of postwar Europe have advanced this argument as well. In the edited volume The Politics of Retribution 16 Vogt, 3 4. 17 n use of the term. 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid.


21 arguments by stating that in the immediate post World War II years European countries pursued the r etribution process along very similar lines, with similar goals. 20 Aside from their contextual differences, each country sought to achieve political and economic stability, and to legitimize their power as a postwar ruling institution. It was these goals th at motivated them to create war crimes tribunals, certification commissions, and in retribution. Furthermore, he says that: Both sides of the divide had good reason to put b ehind them the experience of war and occupation, and a future oriented vocabulary of social harmony and material improvement emerged to occupy a public space hitherto filled with older, divisive, and more provincial claims and resentments. 21 t succinctly sums up how leaders in Eastern and Western Europe viewed the postwar processes at hand. Aware that the populace desired to place the blame on specific individuals, in the first few months after liberation the war crimes courts administered har sh retributive justice largely only to the key players. 22 Some executed in full view of observers. Moreover, the authorities allowed observers to take private photos of the event as well as one professional photographer so that he could disseminate pictures of it to the reading public in newspapers. 23 leaders hoped that the newspaper photos would reinforce their anti fascist narrative and 20 Politics of Retribution 303. 21 Ibid. 293. 22 In fact, some of the harshest treatments were conducted before the war was even over. An example of uring which the Czechs violently forced the Germans out of their home and back to Germany. For more, see Ben Frommer, National Cleansing: Retribution Against Nazi Collaborators in Postwar Czechoslovakia New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 23 Andre a Pet Faces of Death: Visualizing History edited by Andrea Pet and Klaartje Schrujvers, Pisa, Edizioni Plus: Pisa University Pre ss, 2009, 39 57.


22 thus garner support for the trials from the public. 24 execution demonstrates their eagerness to observe political justice in action, specifically had a spe cific agenda in mind with these trials and executions, which was to ostracize, prosecute, and punish ex Nazis as a way to legitimize their rule. The postwar governments punished the war criminals based on ex post facto laws, or laws that retroactively chan ged the legal status of certain activities that were regime was highly encouraged by the Nazis themselves, in the postwar years these activities were highly criminalized and punishable. After the initial fury of prosecuting the major war criminals, in most countries the pace of the war crimes trials slowed down oftentimes paralleled t the nation physically, culturally, and socially. This is also evident in how postwar governments accepted ex Nazis into their ranks, which leaders believed would help ime activities, as well as ensure their loyalty to the postwar social order. In her article on the trials in Bordeaux, France, Sarah Farmer illustrates how complex and divisive some of the war crimes trials became due to the issues of ex post facto laws. I n the 1953 trial a small group of men were charged with the collective responsibility for the mass murder of over 600 French citizens in Oradour sur Glane in 24 Pet argues that due to the Christian symbology of photos taken by private parties, the privately Hungarian war criminals to the execution of Christian martyrs, which implied that these men were heroes, and not perpetrators. This of course served to clash with the dominant narrative. Pet 51.


23 June of 1944. Almost all of the French Alsatians were found guilty of being collectively responsib le for the crime and received punishments of hard labor from five to twelve years. 25 Farmer details how the French public was utterly divided over the use of the ex post facto law. Several weeks after the verdict was delivered the National Assembly interven ed and gave amnesty to the Alsatians, a move that was greatly applauded by most Frenchmen. Yet Farmer explains how when the law of collective responsibility was passed in 1948, It was generally welcomed by Frenchmen. This shows the decrease in public suppo rt for the war crimes trials after the initial postwar years. Moreover, Farmer convincingly argues that the National Assembly believed it more important and urgent to conserve national unity than to punish war criminals. 26 This and other cases illustrate t he ambiguity surrounding ex post facto laws, and how some postwar governments struggled to come to terms with it. Her study also highlights the shrinking of popular support for political justice after the initial post World War II years. Furthermore, Farme the French Assembly fits within the historiography of the postwar retribution process as a whole. European leaders chose to sacrifice the aim of conducting a thorough and ongoing prosecution of war c riminals as well as active bystanders in the interest of facilitating national, social, and political reunion. They believed that by advocating governments in turn hoped t hat 1945 would serve as a breaking point with the past, as a Year Zero moment for their nation and people. 25 In September of 1948 the French Parliament passed a retroactive law on collective responsibility fo r crimes committed during the Nazi occupation. The Politics of Retribution 201. 26 Ibid, 206.


24 those in Eastern and Western Europe. After the initial sense of urge ncy and enthusiasm for the trials of leaders like Szlasi, Lszl Brdossy, and Lszl Baky, interest quickly waned. When it came time to contribute to the retribution process their wartime activities and focused on national renewal. As with the trial in France in 1953, the Provisional and Coalition governments did not thoroughly root out ex fascists or beneficiaries of the Nazi regime, particularly as the Communists accepted s ome of them into their ranks. Instead, the postwar Hungarian governments, and the Communist Party in particular, concentrated on legitimizing their authority in the eyes of the public through national reconstruction and stabilizing the economy. Hungarian h istorian Istvn Dek seems to excuse the postwar governments and national courts for falling short of the aims of the retribution process. He says that: Still, the fact remains that never before had the peoples of Europe attempted, on such a large scale, t o deal with ordinary and political criminals in their midst. Nor had there ever been such a continent wide soul searching. Those who were punished for good reason far outnumbered those who were punished unjustly. 27 Dek makes an interesting point regarding the hitherto known enormous scale of the retribution process. But while Dek tries to pardon the postwar judicial systems from the 28 I agree with Judt, as I argue t hat the retribution process was incredibly active bystanders in each country. In pursuing notions of national renewal and political 27 Ibid 12. 28 Ibid, 301.


25 legitimacy European leaders, esp ecially in Hungary, chose to conduct a less thorough process of political justice and retribution. As Judt says in the Preface to The Politics of Retribution the time for reevaluating twentieth century European history is upon us. 29 The postwar period in p articular serves as one of the most critical moments in that history. Representing Hungarians in Budapest As a consequence of the available documents, this analysis concentrates on the attitudes and actions of the Hungarians in Budapest, and not in other cit ies or in the countryside. Thus the following study only claims to represent the Hungarians in Budapest. The name of the institution that presided over the Certification Committee, the Budapesti Nemzemti Bizottsag (BNB), or the Budapest National Commit tee, refers to the fact that it was located and operated in the capitol city. However it is not likely that the citizens in Budapest were the only Hungarians to complete postwar questionnaires about their pre, wartime, and postwar activities and lifestyles If Committees existed role in enacting political justice across the nation could offer extremely valuable insights. 30 29 Ibid, ix. 30 A comparison study between the Hungarians and Committees in Budapest and Szeged would be fascinating. In the southernmost models to promote populism and a Hungarian version of antisemitism. 30 Due to its history with fascism a comparison analysis between Budapest and Szeged on the topic could thereby offer some interesting perspectives on the to pic.


26 CHAPTER 2 CONDITIONS IN POST WORLD WAR II HUNGARY O n t he eve of 1945 Hungary was on the brink of political and social ruin. Under Admiral Mikls Germans. Since almost none of the fighting prior to 1944 occurred on Hungarian soil, the nation, i ts people, cities and towns remained largely intact. After deposing Horthy in late 1943 however, the Germans occupied the country with the help of the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross Party (the Nyils). During the first month of the Nazi occupation the head of the capital. Anyone who possessed a machine gun could become judge and 1 the Arrow Cross Party too k over. When the Soviets neared Budapest in late 1944 they besieged the city, during which near chaos ruled the capital city and countryside. While the Nazis tried to maintain power they arbitrarily took Jews to the Danube at night and shot them. 2 T he Buda pest Jews barely escaped deportation in the spring and summer of 1944, hey were forced to hide out during the Nazi occupation to avoid being shot, and had to constantly move from place to place in order to avoid being taken. 3 1 Kenez, 35. 2 Ibid. 3 Some historians believed that Horthy did everything in his power to protect the Jews of Budapest. According to them he halted the deportations in the summer of 1944 in order to save them, as they were about to be sent to the dea th and concentration camps. Other historians, like Istvn Dek argue that Horthy took more of a middle of the road position in regards to the Jews, saying that he stopped the trains at. For more, see The Politics of Retribution


27 conditions; the Soviets continued the looting began by the Nazis, and they arrested Hungarians at random. Peter Kenez argues that the aggression and brutality of the Soviet soldiers in Hungary signified their aims to punish the Hungarians as a w hole for 4 As a consequence of experiencing the Nazi and Soviet occupations one right after the other, the brutality and suffering they experienced in 1944 1945 become emblazoned in Hungarian collective memory. The Postwar Hunga rian Government Once the Soviets gradually liberated Hungary from East to West, local governments were hastily reorganized so that the so committees contributed to the local administrations, in addition to the various political parties. 5 Ind ependent Smallh significant p ublic support after the war. 6 This support s what Tibor Valuch describes as 1945 until the Communist takeover in 1948. According to Valuch, this meant that the Hungarians possessed a certain fai th and will in creating harmony amidst the social and political change, so that 4 Kenez, 39. After seeing their homeland invaded and destroyed and their women raped by a collection of German, Hungarian, and Romanian armies, the Soviets viewed liberation as a chance to return the favor so to speak, or to commit the same types of atrocities they suffered from earlier. Kenez says that while, 5 Social History of Hungary: From the Reform Period to the End of the Twe ntieth Century edited by Gbor Gyani, Gyrgy Kvr, and Tibor Valuch, translated by Mario Fenyo, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2004), 541. 6 The Independent Smallh


28 a new order could be created under the auspices of social justice and greater equality. 7 conditi ons of their liberation: that in spite of the Communist presence, this was people. The National Provisional Government, which was initially established in Debrecen prior t controlled by the Hungarian Communist Party, the MKP (Magyar Kommunista Part). Upon relocating to Budapest, th e non Communist members of the Provisional G overnment sought t o minimize the Communist influence, pass an extensive land reform, and rebuild the governmental infrastructure and economy. 8 The Provisional G overnment looked to establish political legitimacy by holding free elections, which they held in November of 1945. towards the Communist Party, as the MKP received only 17 percent of the votes, as did votes, at 57%. Yet s ome Hungarian historians, like Lszl Borhi, disregard the election strong to overcome between 1945 1947. 9 relies too heavily on th e decisions and actions of top political leaders, and does not other, non 7 Social History of Hungary 590. 8 Kenez 90 95. 9 Borhi, Hungary in the Cold War, 1945 1956: Between the United States and Sovi et Union Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press, 2004


29 more indicative of working classes, characterized how Hungarians felt towards the Communist Party. 10 As a function of the wartime fighting, dep ortations, and the redrawing of national boundaries, enormous numbers of Europeans were on the move between 1945 1948. Thousands of surviving Jews stayed in the concentration camps for several months, which more often than not were turned into Displaced Pe After being nursed back to health in the DP camps, some Jews, especially the Hungarian Jews, attempted to move back to their homelands in search of family, friends, and their community. At the same time a population transfer was imposed on the Hungarian government. While the Germans and Slovakians in Hungary were transferred back to their respective homelands, many of the Hungarians living on the Slovakian Hungarian border were forced to move back to Hungary as well. These transfe rs situated Hungary at the crossroads of the large scale population movements of the postwar period. Thousands of Europeans, particularly those in Eastern Europe, debated about whether to return home under the auspices of the Soviet occupation or to immig rate abroad. The territorial gains from Romania and Slovakia under the Vienna Agreements ethnic due to the increase of Romanians and Slovakians under their rule. But after signing the Peace Agreements in 1947 Hungary was restored to the borders designated by the Treaty of Trianon, which 10 working classes did not support the Communist Party, as illustrated by the election results. This in turn motivated the Communist Party t o appeal directly to the Contemporary European History Vol. 13, No. 4, Theme Issue: Political Legitimacy in Mid T wentieth Century Europe (Nov., 2004), pg 453 475.


30 fourths after World War I. 11 The loss of its territorial gains, in addition to the transfer of the remaining German and Slovakian peoples, The Postwar Economy and Economic Hyperinflation The Hungarian economy also suffered immensely at the end of the war and during the immediate postwar years. Crippled by the extensive war costs Hungary lost upwa rds of 40 percent of its wealth. Then, indiscriminate banknote printing under the Arrow Cross f their own printed money caused th e Hungarian to experience the highest rate of hyperinflation in recorded world history. 12 created in order to keep track of the inflation and to help citizens determine the approximate value 13 rapidly that prices skyrocketed on a daily basis. This is depicted in the changes in the cost of an issue of the Hungarian Communist newspaper the Szabad Np or The Free People. On May 4 th 1946 the price for an issue of the paper was 11 The Entente Powers after World War I forced the Hungarian government to sign the Treaty of Trianon, left thousands of ethnic Hungarian in Romania, Czechoslovakia, and some in Yugoslavia. The Hungarians, who felt (and continue to feel) wronged by the Trianon, argued for the return of its lands many, the Vienna Awards in 1938 and 1940 gave Hungary back significant portions of the land it lost due to Trianon. After the war the Allied Powers reduced Hungary it its interwar size, and gave the territorial gains back to Romania and Czechoslovakia. 12 K enez, 12 13. 13 They also used high denominations of the currency so that they could reuse old bank notes, and simply change the color and number value on them.


31 14 The drastic increase in prices, coupled with the housing crisis and raising unemploymen t rates, devastated the already flailing Hungarian economy. As the Coalition g overnment gradually began to focus on rebuilding Hungary, they st 1946. By introducing the forint at a rate of 1 forint=4x 10 29 the coalition government hoped that it would stabilize the shaky economy. Despite the introduction of the forint, 50% remained the same as they were in 1938, or even lower. 15 In the governmental surveys conducted in 1945 1946, one of the questions asked about prewar and postwar incomes, with the aim of determining who benefited financially from the Hungarian Nazi regime. Although most did not report a postwar income, for the few Hungarians who did their answers accurately reflected the postwar economic crisis. For example, Tivady B from 20,000 350,0 16 representative of the urban middle class than other socio economic classes in Hungary, the increase in their salaries, like in the newspaper prices described earlier, demonstrate the extent to whic h the economic situation affected Hungar ian society. The 14 Szabad Np Saturday, 1946 March 4, and Sunday 1946 March 5 15 Kenez, 125 126. 16 Survez, Tivad ar Bokody, 12 February 1945, Letter, Kovsznay to Committee, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, Budapest Fvros Levltr (BFL), United States Holocaust ond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary


32 hyperinflation compounded the rising unemployment rates, the difficulty in finding housing, and the disarray caused the by the war T he double occupation during the war also served to further exacerb ate the already unspolitical, economic, and social base of Hungary. Crying Out for Help: Material Shortages There were numerous other indicators of the economic crisis, such as the severe lack of shoes, particularly for children. An article in the Szabad Np describes how only higher quality shoes were being sold on the black market, thereby leaving the average Hungarian with access only to the lower quality shoes available in stores. 17 Mo reover, due to transport delays likely caused by the destruction of the railway lines during the war, there were only a small number of the lower quality shoes available in stores, announcement in December of that year that they were allocating 8,000 pairs of shoes to boys and girls in school. 18 The newspaper article even goes as far as to detail how many shoes were given to each street in Budapest. 19 Shoes were not the only consumer item that was lacking in Hungarian society, as food shortages also wrecked havoc on th e population. A newspaper article from May 23 rd 1946, discusses how in Budapest 100 percent of the population paid 50,000 17 Mirt drga a cip ? (Why are shoes expensive ?) Szabad Np 1946 21 November, pg 3. 18 Ibid. 19 The fact that the article only discusses the distribution of shows t o children in Budapest illustrates one Mark Pittaway discusses how in an effort to increase their voter base in the urban middle class, the MKP relentl essly announced and boasted of their efforts to help the economy and the material conditions of the 461.


33 year for food in order to meet the caloric stand ards. 20 In the countryside, about 96 21 For most Hungarians, the total cost of food per year comprised the major ity of their income. The enormous cost of food, coupled with the housing crisis, the shortage of shoes, and the lack of other material items, thereby affected Hungarians of all socio economic stature. In District VII in Budapest the average income listed on the surveys (for the few that provided it) w as between 200,000 1946. For the majority of the Budapest residents in District VII who belonged to the middle bourgeois and haute bourgeois, the combination of the food shortage and hyperinflation meant that on average they spent abo ut 20% 25% of their postwar annual income on food. While this may not initially appear to be an extraordinary amount, one must remember that the middle class comprised less than 10% of the total population in Hungary. 22 For the working class, who earned sig towards food per year must have a been a substantial portion of their postwar annual income. The lack of food and hyperinflation also contributed to a spike in crime, as workers in Budapest pilfered f rom their factories in order to supplement their insufficient diets and incomes. 23 20 alria 5 0,000 peng, 2 00% fizet semels Szabad Np 1946 May 23rd. 21 expensive than the paper from May 5, only eighteen days earlier. 22 Social History of Hungary 290. 23 Pittaway, 460. Pittaway does not mention any other types of crime that took place in the capitol, yet other crimes were certainly committed. Corruption was also rampant at the time, which will be discussed in relation to the Certification Committee.


34 As part and parcel to the mass movement of peoples during the war, many Europeans returned home with the goal of rebuilding their lives. This was no different in Hungary, as many Jewish and non Jewish Hungarians attempted to find their lost loved ones. 24 One of the ways that Jews and other Hungarians tried to find their families was hroughout the beginning of 1945 until the end of 1946 newspapers in Hungary. Some ads appeared in chart like form and simply included the born Weinberger Erzsbet, 1909), with a contact location, name, and telephone number. 25 Others included much more detailed information about the missing person, such as an ad for Bint Gyrgy, which stated that he had been in a labor camp, marched off to Szekszrd, a small city in southern Hungary, and was then captured by the Russians. 26 widow and her two children. 27 Although these three do not represent the entire range of missing persons ads printed in newspapers at the time, they do demonstrate the types of information that family members were willing to share about their lost loved ones; this is perhaps best rthermore, it is interesting 24 The search for loved ones was magnified for several reasons. One was the number of displaced Hungarians in Hungary and all over Eastern and Central Europe. It was also due to the large portion of the Jewish population in Bud apest that survived, and because of the thousands of Jew ish men that worked in the munkszlglot or the Hungarian labor battalions on the Eastern front. 25 Szabad Np Sunday, 1946 May 12, pg 2. 26 (Work Szabad Np 1946, 28 February, pg. 6. 27 Ibid.


35 was printed by the Communist newspaper, the Szabad Np It is surprising that the Communist newspaper would allow an ad like that to be publish ed, since it contained disparaging information about the Soviets. Normally the Communists would have censored it, since they did not allow printed information to contain negative statements about them. Urban Reconstruction and Ties to National Renewal The destruction of the capital city during the Siege of Budapest created the grounds for feelings of victimization amongst the Hungarians, in that it symbolized their own suffering under the double occupation of first the Nazis, and then the Soviets. In other words, the physical damage to the city, and to the rest of Hungary more generally, the war. The damages wounded Hungarian pride and identity, and were thus utilized as a m after being freed by the Soviets was so strong that construction began in Pest before the war even ended. A streetcar line was fixed and began to operate again on Februa ry 7 th 1945. 28 In addition to establishing a new police force and implementing land reform, importance of reconstructing the major landmarks in Hungary, particularly in Budape st. This was evident in the speed with w hich many of them such as the Szchenyi and Freedom Bridges that connected Buda and Pest, were rebuilt and reopened in the first three years. 28 Kenez, 51.


36 Less than a year after liberation, on January 18 th 1946, the newly cons tructed Kossuth Bridge was completed. T he Kossuth Bridge was built so that Hungarians could have access to both sides of the city by foot, since the preexisting bridges (i.e. Szchenyi, Margit Bridge) were still under reconstruction. Although there was ori ginally a festive celebration planned for the opening of the Kossuth Bridge, it was cancelled by Transportation who believed that it would be best celebrated by the mere fact that many Hungarians could now walk to and from the two sides of the city. 29 Several days before and after the opening of the Kossuth Bridge the story covered the front page of the Szabad Np and other national newspapers, which illustrates the extent to which the reconstruction process was thought to be central to p ostwar Hungarian identity. The Szabad Np in particular placed an enormous emphasis on the 30 The slogan appealed to Hungarians of all socio economic backgrounds to a certain extent, since it emp hasized the rebuilding process. It architectural destruction. astructure were either rebuilt or newly constructed, the newspapers and Hungarian government continued to emphasize the ties between architectural rebuilding and social renewal. When the 100 th tram car was built in November of 1946 on the street line betwe en Nagyszombat and Simon street in District III for example, the government stressed that the new tram car would enable more university students to attend classes, and for children to arrive to school in 29 hid (On Friday Kossuth Bridge Will Open Szabad Np 1946, 16 January, pg. 1. 30 Pittaway, 461


37 time. 31 These examples illustrate how after the compl etion of nea rly every construction project, the newspapers, particularly the Communist one boasted of the significance of that particular project, and of its importance to both national and social renewal. The connection between architectural reconstructi on and social identity served to distract the Hungarians from the realities of the postwar world. For Hungarians, the government and welcome relief from the tragedies of wa r, the enormous hyperinflation of the currency in 1946 1947, the food and shoe shortage, the destruction of their beloved capital, and the double occupation of the Nazis and then the Soviets. The Key to Funding the Reconstruction Efforts: Inflationary Fin ancing Berend, the state was the primary investor in rebuilding heavy industry and architecture. 32 Since the state provided the money for two manufacturing p roduction, it had to face the economic situation head on. From June of 1945 onward increasing amounts of printed money entered the mainstream economy. As a result the state pursued a policy of inflationary financing, where they used the overabundance of pr inted money to make reparation payments and investments in reconstruction projects 33 Thus the state, at the behest of the Communist Party, directly controlled the production of money and the amount of it invested in both of these activities. As a consequen ce the reconstruction projects were c ompleted with incredible 31 th in Szabad Np 1946, 20 November, pg. 2. 32 Ivn Berend and Tams Csto, Evolution of the Hungarian Economy: 1848 1998 Vol 1: One and a Half Cen turies of Semi Successful Modernization, translated by Brian McLean, New York: Columbia University Press, 2001, 260. 33 Berend and Csto 266.


38 reparation payments were completed during the runaway inflation. 34 The speed with which the reconstruction pro jects, fully backed by the government, proceeded astounded Hungarians and foreigners alike, and became a symbol of pride for the nation. to implement a controlled economy in Hu ngary at the time. 35 To a certain extent this 36 By June of 1946 the government began regulating the scarce supplies of energy and raw materials, and also severely limited the existence of free markets within the country. The state maintained a steady grip on the direction of investments, to such an extent that 91% of 37 ementation of inflationary financing. The continued printing of money further exacerbated the hyperinflation. Berend discusses how despite the gains spurred by the speedy reconstruction process and significant portion of reparations payments completed, the hyperinflation shocked materials and methods possible were used in the reconstruction projects, little attention was paid to technical innovation. 38 For example, the texti le industry was revived using fifty year old British machinery retrieved at bottom of the barrel prices. 39 As a 34 Berend, 267. 35 Berend, 263 265. 36 The state and then German government in 1944 intervened heavily in the ongoin gs of the economy and material production during the war. They both regulated production towards the war effort, and geared the economy towards sustaining the production of war materials. This in turn prepared the nation for a controlled economy after the war, since the mechanics were already in place. 37 Ibid, 264. 38 Berend, 276. 39 Ibid.


39 consequence the bridges, railway lines, and the like were completed under the cheapest circumstances possible, which made for outdated modes of p roduction and materials in many cases. Regardless, the speed with which the state paid a significant portion of its reparation payments and reconstructed main buildings and transportation systems served to mend most of the physical and economic damages fro m the war. Rather than dwell on the impossible postwar conditions, most Hungarians instead chose to focus on moving forward with their lives. One way to do this was to contribute to the postwar recons truction efforts. In his memoir about the immediate postwar years the middle class intellectual Sndor Mrai observed that he found it he rebuilding efforts. 40 He explains that: People surmised that they would benefit if they replaced broken where one could get bread, shoes, medical help was real history. This is how we lived then, in bombed out Budapest. 41 In addition to focusing on how to obtain food, shelter, and becoming approved by the Committee, the Hungarians also viewed the reconstruction of their beloved capitol as a way to benefit th eir lives. This is all the more remarkable considering the meager payments that the Provisional Government allocated them in return for their efforts, and pecific kind of honor in their work. For them, the 40 Sndor Mrai, Memoir of Hungary: 1944 1948 translated by Albert Tezla (Budapest, Hungary: Corvina and CEU Press, 1972), 120. 41 Ibid.


40 honor of labor was the most valuable and human of all forms of honor. 42 In the ruined apartments, he says, residents were again living the lives of human beings, and within a few short mo nths after the siege they pieced Budapest back together again. 43 Interestingly, Mrai says that the Hungarians who b elieved in this kind of honorary labor were primarily reared as Social Democrats 44 This illustrates that although some Hungarians believed tha t the reconstruction efforts contributed to individual and national renewal, they did not all necessarily view it as a Communist slogan per se. This does national renewal to the reconstruction process simply under the guis their own victory, country lay in ruin, so people said, but that was merely a flowery expression. In reality, 45 The ism influenced them to believe that it was meaningful to rebuild their homes, their city, and their lives, in spite of the social, economic, and political chaos. why the Hung arians in Budapest contributed to the rebuilding process, particularly when position he describes and admires. Unlike much of the urban population, Mrai was a 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid, 120 121. 44 Ibid, 120 45 Mrai, 121 122.


41 middle class Hungarian. As a self proclaimed bourgeois writer Mrai could not claim to represent the feelings and viewpoints of those who contributed to the reconstruction effort on t heir own accord, as they consisted mainly of the lower class workers. Although parts of his home were damaged during the Siege of Budapest he did not experience the same devastation as most other Hungarians, and nor was he penniless. As a consequence of hi s social position his argument cannot be considered wholly representative of the working class citizens who contributed their labor. Another reason why Hungarian workers in Budapest so readily contributed their labor to the reconstruction efforts lies in the struggles they faced to meet their caloric, housing, and material needs. During the war more than two thousand factories experienced significant damage, which resulted in halving their production. 46 Places of industry like the Fant Oil Refinery and the Hungarian Wagon and Engineering Factory in suffered damage that either entirely or partially inhibited their production. 47 The damage to the factories hurt the populace as well, as it rendered much of the Hungarian working class jobless. In May of 1945 industrial employment had decreased to on e third of its size in 1944, and output was down to one fifth. Thus many Hungarian workers chose to aid the reconstruction efforts in order to obtain a transitional job and earn an income until their workplaces were rebuilt. Since inflated money flooded r ebuilding projects across the country, sites of construction needed able and willing workers to complete the job. It was thus only a matter of re employing the skilled labor that had worked in the economy before. 48 46 Berend, 255. 47 Ibid. 48 Berend, 276.


42 The resulting numbers of employed Hungari an workers rose 80% between 1946 1948, which raised the rate of productivity as well. 49 Although the average wage of a Hungarian worker in these projects did not come close to the value of their interwar salaries, they provided a jumping off point for them to begin providing for their families once again. Even if they did not view the same type of honor in labor Mrai described, in the end many Hungarian workers knew that they needed to start the process of working and earning money for their families. Even if they failed to feel a sense of honor in aiding the reconstruction efforts, they most likely took pride in attempting to provide for their families during a time of utter devastation. Regardless of whether they viewed their labor as an honor or as a way to feel pride in their role as the provider, significant cities and countryside. The conditions of postwar Hungary were not unique in Europe, as cities, towns, and villages across the continent lay in complete ruin. After liberating Eastern Europe country by country, the Soviets stayed and occupied them. While shortages of food and material goods were experienced in most countries at the time, the hyperinflation that gripped Hungary was (and remains) the most severe case in all of world history. The lives, as well as the life of the nation. As a consequence the determination with which they r rather to their own pride in work ing to rebuild the nation That sense of honor was not always present when it came time to deal with the postwar housing crisis. The shortag e of livable housing offered a different opportunity for the Hungarians in Budapest. 49 Ibid.


43 status, some Hungarians resorted to unfavorable behavior in order to prove the validity of their living arrangements. This type of behavior was not characteristic of all Hungarians however, and it was due in large part to the exceptional nature of the housing crisis. Hungarian Visions of Postwar L ife and their willingness to contribute to the normalcy in their daily lives. But what did this normalcy entail? As demonstrated by the desire to find lost family members, Hunga rians strove to put their families back together and forge new lives without the recent memories of the war. As will be discussed in the next few chapters, in the surveys Hungarians avoided discussing their role in fascist activities, and on the whole they did not seek opportunities to denounce known former fascists or active bystanders. Instead most Hungarians focused on the more mundane details of everyday life, as well as the simple pleasures. The sports articles in the newspapers served to distract Hung arians from the pains of postwar life. These articles appeared with more frequency the more that time passed, as sports clubs and associations were slow to recover after the war. A newspaper from December 12, 1946 discusses the surprising victory of the j pest football (soccer) team over the Szolnok team. 50 The article details how the new striker on the j pest team scored two goals the article does not discuss how many peop le were in attendance, it seems that due to 50 Sport: G lszret jpesten, jpest Szolnok 10:1 (Sport Goals in jpest jpest Szolnok, 10:1 ), in Szabad Np 1946 December 12, pg 6.


44 the increasing n umber of sports articles in the newspapers the attendance to sports games gradually increased in the postwar years, as did the readership of the articles. Aside from being a distraction, sports p rovided a way for Hungarians to develop a sense of community around their teams, and served as a source of pride. After the Nazi occupation, the destruction of the city, and the continued Soviet presence after the war, the Hungarians needed a symbol of pri de to rally around. life. Furthermore, films were an important medium through which Hungarians received information on how to live their lives. An article in the same newspa per issue discusses the films shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, which was the first time the festival took place. The short article discusses the film Die Letzte Chance or The Last Chance ward, or the Gold Award for the best film. According to the article the film describes the fight against Nazism, in which 2 escaped prisoners of war flee to Switzerland and establish a refugee smuggling operation for the Italian underground. With its themes of resistance and perseverance the storyline most likely resistance activities and ability to create a new life after escaping, Die Letzte Chance showed viewers the value in hard work and new beginnin gs. Whereas most films simply received a simple advertisement in the newspapers, this one enjoyed a short descriptive article in addition to the advertisements shown in the days thereafter. This article was not intended to be an explicit advertisement, lik e in the radio ads that populated every daily newspaper. Yet the article offered enough information about the film in order to entice the Hungarians in Budapest to view it.


45 By 1947 advertisements for films, plays, concerts, and exhibitions were seen in the newspapers almost everyday. As with the sports articles, the entertainment ads were initially short and infrequent, and eventually grew in proportion to the increase in performances across the city. During this time Western music and films were still show n in the theaters and music halls. For example, an entertainment ad in April of 1947 says that the American film Of Mice and Men was to be shown at the Madach Szinhz (theater) that week. 51 Interestingly, this ad was printed in the Communist newspaper the S zabad Np The existence of the ad shows that despite the strong Communist standing in the Coalition government Western culture and influences still existed in Hungary, and that the Communists were willing to include it in their paper even in 1947, a year before they seized power. As for the Hungarians themselves, not all of them could afford a trip to the theater or opera house to view these performances. Yet the fact that the opportunity existed at all was most likely a cause for optimism for the Hungaria n populace. These performances, like the sports games, served to distract them from the stress and unhappiness that was characteristic of postwar life. They also offered them a goal to work towards that paralleled their focus on reestablishing everyday lif e. In other words, if someone could not afford to spend the time and/or money on a film or sports match immediately after the war, then they could work towards earning enough to enjoy them in the future. By enticing and instructing Hungarians on what films concerts, and sports games to watch, the newspapers and advertisements served to delineate what they needed to strive for in their postwar lives. 51 rdemes megnzni, meghallgatni ? (What to see, Szabad Np 1947 April 27, pg 8.


46 These activities encouraged people of all classes to strive for more stability and money, so that they coul d experience the entertainment available. Hungarian working class men contributed to the reconstruction efforts in order to begin providing for their families until the factories reopened. Although for some it proved difficult to partake in the entertainme nt enjoyed by middle and upper class men, the existence and advertisement of these activities motivated many of them to work towards becoming economically stable enough to enjoy them as well. Whereas the wartime activities of working class men were reviewe d and approved by their factories, middle class men and women focused on receiving approval from the Certification Committee. After receiving approval they also could return to work and begin reestablishing their daily lives. As with the workers this consi sted of achieving the economic means to enjoy films, concerts, and the like, as well as obtaining the consumer items that they desired. In addition to achieving economy stability and the time for more leisurely activities, many Hungarians in Budapest neede d to find secure living arrangements. The housing crisis that followed the mass destruction of apartment buildings and ghettoization policies made life extremely difficult for the Hungarians. Settling into a reliable living situation was instrumental to th e task of moving forward with their lives.


47 CHAPTER 3 THE HOUSING CRISIS housing situation as well. Since approximately 27% unlivable after the war many residents struggled to find available apartments during these years. One of the positive effects of the German and Slovakian population transfer was that a number of apartments lay vacant in the initial months after the war. Since these apartments t echnically lay vacant, homeless Hungarians could and did move into them without a permit or official rental agreement. Although the provisional government discussed the possibility of opening up the vacant apartments for the displaced Hungarians from Czech oslovakia, due to internal debates the Ministry of Finance failed to reach a decision in a timely manner. An article in the Communist newspaper the Szabad Np covers the unresolved situation in October of 1946, nearly a year and a half after the end of the war. 1 This demonstrates the extent to which the Provisional Government, marred by the tensions between the Communists and other opposing political parties, failed to reach an effective consensus on issues such as the housing crisis in the immediate postwa r years. Hungary, its Jews, and Ghettoization The vacancies left by the expelled Germans and Slovaks did not prove to be the biggest problem for the Hungarians and official authorities, however. The tensions between the Hungarian Jews and non Jews over the question of apartment ownership and property rights ultimately became one of the most contentious issues of the immediate postwar years. 1 Szabad Np Friday, 1946, 4 October, pg. 4.


48 Horthy and the Hungarian government held off on ghettoizing the Jewish communities and deporting them until spring of 1944, after which they were rounded up and deported with unprecedented swiftness. 2 The speed with which the Hungarian Jews, compared to the Polish Jews and other communities in Europe, were deported and exterminated differed to an enormous extent; by the time the Hungarian Jews were taken in the spring of 1944, the Nazis had greatly improved their methods from their experience with the rest of Eastern European Jewry. Thus, in the spring of 1944 the Nazi deportation and killing process had greatly increased in its efficiency and speed within a few months, from when they were first ghettoized in March 1944, to Admiral r 400,000 Hungarian Jews had perished, mainly in Auschwitz. 3 While the Jews in the countryside only resided in the ghettos for a few weeks before being deported to Auschwitz and other camps, the Budapest Jews were ghettoized mainly into ghettos across the city. 4 One of the consequences of ghettoization all over Europe concerned the non Jewish residents whose apartments 2 Historians are divided as to why Horthy held off the deportations until 1944, and why he halte d them in the summer of 1944. Randolph Braham argues that Horthy did not stop the deportations in time to save non Cole says that Horthy stopped them due to geopolitical issues and mounting pressure from the Catholic Church and other sources. Randolph Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1981), Vol. 1, 374 375. Tim Cole, Holocaust City: The Ma king of a Jewish Ghetto (New York, NY: Routlege Press, 2003), 192. 3 Holocaust and Genocide Studies 23, No. 1 (Spring 2009), 54 75, 5 6. 4 Provincial Hungarian Jews were ghettoized and deported before the Budapest Jews. In Budapest, ghetto area per district. The districts with the larg est ghettos were District IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and XIV. Tim Journal of Historical Geography 22, 1 (1995) 300 316, 307. Cole discusses a little about the ghettoization process of towns outside of Budapest in another article where he talks about the northwestern town of Krmend. Also see 75.


49 now lay inside the ghetto boundaries. Tim Cole describes how once the local Hungarian officials designated which parts of Budapest were par t of the ghetto and which were not, Jews and non Jews began petitioning the Arrow Cross government to change the ghetto boundaries. 5 Hungarians within both groups sought to re situate their apartments vis vis the ghetto boundaries so as to prevent moving Whereas the Jews wanted their homes placed within the ghetto, non Jews asked for their apartments to be excluded from the ghetto altogether. By remaining in their long term living arrangements, both Jews and non Jews wanted to maintain some semblance of normal boundaries occurred in most cities and large towns in Hungary, it was done to the largest extent in Budapest. 6 While urban Hungarian Jews were thoroughly assimi lated and lived throughout the city, the districts that housed the most Hungarian Jews were V, VI, and VII. 7 When it came time to ghettoize the city, rather than confine the Jews to only seven ghetto areas, as had been decided in May 1944, there were to be housed throughout the city. 8 Instead of moving the Jews to the ghetto, the ghetto moved to the Jews. 9 Cole argues that for many of the Hungarians Je ws and non hat was of majority 5 gement Holocaust Studies Vol. 11, Summer 2005, no. 1, 55 74, 67. 6 7 District V was well populated with Jews since it was located in j Liptvros a sizeable mi ddle class Jewish neighborhood. District VII was (and is today) considered the Jewish quarter and houses the Do h ny Synagogue. Cole says that VI is also home to part of the Jewish quarter. Tim Cole, Holocaust City: The Making of a Jewish Ghetto New York: Routlege Press, 2003, 86. 8 Cole, Holocaust City, secluded in only certain parts of Budapest, that way more areas would be judenfrei After a door to door survey was conducted on June1st 2 nd 1944, they realized that it would be easier to ghettoize Jews into areas that already housed them, rather than make them move into areas like the Mria Valria working class slum neighbor that was home to very few Jews leading up to that p oint. Ibid, 107. 9 Ibid, 107.


50 concern was that they be allowed to stay where they live 10 Both groups wanted to avoid the inconveniences that moving apartments entailed. They needed transportation large enough to fit the furniture that could be moved, and people to help with the moving process. Hungarians understood that by moving their be longings, they would be forced to leave the unmovable items in their old homes. This, coupled with the loss of the property itself, meant that they would lose a considerable amount of wealth by moving. For non Jews, as a consequence of moving the ghetto to the Jews, the odds of staying in their pre 1944 houses were not in their favor. Yet a small group of non Jews petitioned the ghetto boundaries for other, more self serving reasons than those just discussed. The Arrow Cross government promised non Jewish H ungarians that they would receive accommodations that were equal to or better than their old homes if they were placed within the ghetto lines. This encouraged a small group of Hungarians to take advantage of the situation and argue for their apartments to process, and thus improve their living conditions. Furthermore, the apartments that these Hungarian s then occupied were usually former homes of Jews. Interestingly enough, these Hungarians were arguing for the same thing as the Jews: for their homes to be situated within the ghetto. For Cole, the petitions against the initial ghetto boundaries illustrat e how both Jews and non Jews attempted to negotiate not only the 11 Moreover, that some non Jews desired to take advantage of the opportunity presented 10 11 Ibid, 68.


51 by the ghetto and subsequent petitions in order to better their housing arrangements is a testament to some non ghettoization. Rather than be passive bystanders, the actions of these Hungarians demonstrates the exte nt to which some non Jews not only went to great lengths to maintain the stability of their home life, but that some also attempted to capitalize on the Ties Between Wartime Ghettoization a nd the Postwar Housing Crisis war. Rather, the forced movement of both Jews and non Jews out of their pre 1944 apartments in order to accommodate the ghetto boundaries contributed to the postwar housing crisis and property disputes. Although the Nazis promised the non Jewish Hungarians better housing if they had to move out of their homes, it is likely that some of them simply moved into a vacant apartment of their own choosing. On the other hand most Hungarian Jews were crammed into small apartments within the revised list of war, others sought to reclaim their pre 1944 apartments from the people t hat had since occupied them. Thus, the postwar housing crisis was not only caused by the destruction of buildings during the war, the forced expulsions, and the return of Hungarians from the the main contributors to the postwar housing shortage. By forcing both Jewish and non Jewish Hungarians to relocate in order to accommodate the ghetto lines, the ghettoization process in 1944 provided the foundation for the postwar housing crisis. In all, about 40,000 Hungarians Jews and


52 12,000 non Jews were forced to move from their pre 1944 homes in the early summer months of that year. 12 The local Hun garian officials in Budapest ultimately reinvestigated the ghetto boundary lines with the petitions in mind, and subsequently submitted a second list of ghetto houses that were to be situated within the ghetto. Therefore, according to Cole the petitions, a nd thereby both the non Jewish and Jewish Hungarians, influenced the ghettoization process in the city. 13 Moreover, by contributing to the ghetto process in 1944, Jewish and non Jewish Hungarians also aided the postwar housing crisis to a large extent. Pos twar Housing Reconstruction Although numerous articles appeared in the Szabad Np and other newspapers about the lack of housi ng from 1945 government s nor Perhaps this was done in order to minimize the magnitude of the housing shortage to the Hungarian public. Regardless, apartments remained in high demand throughout the immediate postwar years. As with the fanfare conducted upon the completion of construct ion projects, the building of new apartment buildings were reported by newspapers like the Szabad Np with considerable celebration. Yet this is not to say that the construction of new apartments and the rebuilding of national monuments received the same l evel of enthusiasm from the public; rather, that although the new apartment buildings did not earn the same attention as the monuments, the fact that they were reported with significant regularity demonstrates both the gravity of the shortage and the impor tance of new apartments to Budapest society. 12 Ibid, 67. 13 Ibid, 68 69.


53 When the construction of two different apartment buildings was announced in October of 1946, articles about the progress of the structures appeared in the Communist newspaper multiple times a month. One of the g roups of apartments was built in Mria Valria, a working class slum in Budapest located in present day Jzsef Attila Laktelep Although it was characterized before the war as having poor and unsliving conditions, the situation in Mria Valria worsened due to the destruction caused by the war. Described by the Szabad Np 1944 diseases, and an average of 8 10 family members lived in every apartme nt. 14 The conditions of Mria Valria were some of the worst in the city, and the area did not improve in 1945 and for most of 1946, since materials and money proved too scarce to begin rebuilding. In October of 1946 the government announced the beginning of the construction of reconstruction with national renewal, as the article discusses how the new buildings would provide space for mu ch needed food stores. They also said th at the apartments would be big enough for families of young and adult children. 15 Since the two articles on the Mria Valria slum neighborhood appeared within nine days of each other in the Szabad Np it appears that the Communist Party planned the articl es so that readers would first learn about the terrible conditions of the area, and then praise the party after reading about their efforts to improve the living conditions of the slum. This thereby 14 Szabad Np 1946 Oktober 16, pg 5. 15 kba klztznek a Valria nyomortelep laki (New homes to move into for the slum residents Szabad Np 1946 Oktober 25, pg 3.


54 demonstrates not onl to bo ast of its own reconstruction efforts as a way to revive the Hungarian society and livelihood, but also the extent to which the party viewed the housing crisis as an issue of the utmost importance. In October of the same year, the newspaper also announced plans to construct one hundred new apartments near Gyngysi Street, close to the shopping district on with social renewal became much more obvious. By citing the ne ed to fight against unemployment, the Communist Party emphasized that the Hungarians in Budapest, particularly the workers, needed to help build the apartments, from which they would receive gainful employment and enough compensation to buy real bread. 16 Th e article apartments, the construction of these apartments on Gyngysi Street would alleviate the housing shortage. They also claimed that it would help bring the laborers ou t of the poverty stricken state that characterized much of the urban population. Once the apartments were finished, which the article says would happen quickly once the government finds enough Hungarian labor, they would be fully equipped and ready for Hun garians to move in. 17 The tone and message of these articles about apartments were reminiscent of the one expressed in the articles on the completion of the new trolley car and the Kossuth Bridge discussed earlier. All of them attempted to link reconstr ucti on with national renewal. They explained citizens of Budapest to re establish daily routines, and to bring Hungarian society out of 16 Szabad Np 1946 Oktober 30, pg. 4. 17 Ibid.


55 its state of poverty and countrywide destruction. Thus, even though the construction of new apartments did not receive the same level of fanfare in the newspapers, they were written about with significant regularity, which demonstrates the extent to which the housing shortage in Budapest was considered instrumental to the devastation. Moreover, by being linked to the postwar destruction, it was thereby consequently to the pursuit of national and social renewal. The Home as t Economic Status The housing shortage affected Hungarians on the most basic level. For many, the home signified their livelihood, and their place in society; in other words, the condition of economic wellbeing. Gbor the aspirations and self image of the people who inhabited them. 18 In the context of the po stwar capitol, the fact that 27% of conditions remains striking. 19 In addition to suffering enormously from the bombardment of their beloved city during the Siege of Budapest, experiencing the Nazi occupation, and being forced to move during g hettoization, Hungarians in Budapest struggled to come to terms with how the housing shortage proved detrimental to their everyday lives and routines. For most of them, the housing shortage affected at least several people in their family. In addition, a s mall percentage of the urban residents conducted their business or professions inside their homes, particularly those that lived there either part 18 Gbor Gyni, Parlor and Kitchen: Housing and Domestic Culture in Budapest: 1870 1940 (Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press, 2002), 115. 19 Social History of Hungary 544.


56 time or full time. 20 Of those who used their homes as both a workplace and living space, many of them were ind ependent wholesalers or businessmen, like Ignacz Balassa, who ran his wholesale wine business from his apartment on Almassy Tr, number 11. 21 He lived in a two room apartment, which sugg ests that he used one of the rooms solely for business purposes. Gyni discusses how for these types of tenants, the workplace and the living space were the same. 22 Prior to the interwar years only a small portion of the residents of Budapest lived thi s way, since before the two spaces on th e whole tended to be separate. T he d estruction from World War II drastically changed things. With most of the city in ruins from the war, it is highly likely that more people had to combine the workplace and living space in their homes than before. 23 Thus, the loss of all or part of e could bring financial disaster to the family; not only were their homes and everyday modes of living disrupted, but economic losses incurred by the devastation of workplaces further decimated both the urban and rural Hungarian population. Receiving Appro val From the Certification Committee With their homes in ruin and inflation skyrocketing, most Hungarians sought to repair their economic and living situations as quickly as possible. This led them to focus on reestablishing their everyday routines, which centered on receiving approval from the Certification Committee and securing a living space. T he postwar government, and the Communists in particular, preferred to certify people quickly in order to complete the de retribution process and move on with the i r postwar plans. Yet t he citizens of Budapest 20 Gyni discusses how the Hungarians that occup ied their apartments the whole year were usually the breadwinners of the family. 21 Survey, Ignacz Balassa, 20 May 1945, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 22 Ibid. 23 Gyni, 52.


57 did not know this, and so they feared the consequences of being denied approval. If denied, it could mean a forced suspension from work or prison time, being denied family. Almost just as important was the for the apartment that they resided in. Seeing as many Hungarians, both Jews and non Jews, moved apartments during the wa r, it was inevi table that more than one person would claim the rights to an apartment. Thus, for the Hungarians in Budapest the ultimate goal in the immediate postwar years lay in receiving approval from the Certification Committee so that they could conti nue to work, and to validate the right t o remain in their living space.


58 CHAPTER 4 THE CERTIFICATION CO MMITTEE AND POSTWAR SURVEYS The Hungarians believed that the decisions made by the Cer tification Committee (Igazol Bizottsg) helped determine the course of their postwar lives. White collar employees in public administrations and industry, as well as factory workers, were subject to verification by the Committee. 1 In order to return to th eir jobs they need ed to prove their loyalty to the postwar regime, and not to the 1944 Nyils government. 2 In the terms of the Communist Party, Hungarians needed to prove that they acted it mean to act in either of these capacities? Like with the uncertainty over what activities delineated a collaborator and active or passive bystander, the Communists were ambiguous about what characterized certain behaviors as democratic or undemocratic. But by analyzing Communist ideas about work and the importance of a classless society, in conjunction behavior come into sharp relief. In order to reverse the widening gap bet ween the classes and eliminate the production value the Communists strove to construct a c lassless society. In 1950 Hungarian Communist leader Mtys Rkosi 1 Pittaway, 463. 2 Ibid


59 3 Fortunately for the Communists the devastation wrought by the war and postwar hyperinflation effectively removed many of those barriers for the workers. Many workers, middle and upper class Hungarians emerged penniless from the war, which served to level much of Hungarian society. As a result the distinct class boundaries that existed before the war gave way to fluid notions social leveling effect of the war thus directly served the goals of the Commun ist Party. citizens. Authorities were looking for surplus spaces in the remaining houses for homeless residents. The surveys helped locate underutilized apartments. As will be de picted in Chapter Five, the Communists also did not look kindly on those of the upper middle and upper class that owned multiple apartments in Budapest. To avoid being consumer ism, or any ostentatious behavior. In any event, hyperinflation and scarcity was a great level and people tended to purchase only what they absolutely needed. Furthermore, the middle and upper class Hungarians on the whole did not contribute physical labor to the reconstruction process like the workers; thus by taking more than their share of the available goods, housing, etc., coupled with their reluctance to aid the Hungarians. the reality of middle and upper class life were closely scrutinized during the Certification Committee hearings and trials. This will be discussed in more detail in Chapter Five in 3 Pittaway, 461.


60 relati on to a female furrier and two plaintiffs accusing her of antisemitic and undemocratic behavior. professionals, independent wholesalers, and industrialists were subject to r eview by the Committee. It was, as Mark Pittaway explains, part of a series of anti fascist measures, most of which were aimed to root out former fascists. This included those who were fasiszta magatar tsuk ) during the war, who disrupte democratic spirit of rebuilding, as well as anyone who benefitted from the regime by receiving financial or social aid. 4 T he postwar surveys and Certification Committee also aimed to remove left wingers who were deemed too radical by the Com munists. 5 individually, the members were also instructed to be deliberately lenient to workers and poor peasants. 6 They were also told to keep track of those who joined either the So cial Democratic or Communist parties after belonging to a far right party or association during the war. 7 Hungarians were not automatically denied approval if they belonged to a fascist organization. If a person could demonstrate that they had reformed the ir Committee oftentimes approved them. If however the Committee decided to reject an fascist behavior, the penalties ranged from j ob loss, suspension of political and/or working rights, a six to twenty four month stay in 4 Papp, 168. Pittaway, 463. 5 Ibid. 6 Papp, 168. 7 Ibid.


61 an internment camp, and various prison sentences and capital punishments. 8 By attempting to remove the remaining fascist elements from society, the Certification Com mittee tri ed to act as an agent of the retribution process in Hungary. At the same time, by seeking out potentially dangerous left wingers as well, the Committee, with the strong backing of the Communist Party, also sought to eradicate the other dangers to Hungary. Courts in Hungary were well known for cases concerning high profile ex fascists, like the Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szlasi and his governing cabinet. After the war the the state, or crimes against humanity 9 As the first step in the retribution process the Certification Committees handled the initial hearings about people suspected of fascist behavior. If the Committee decision was appealed, the case would then be passed on to the Committee and the courts the use of cross filing cases, or using evidence from nitial case. As will be depicted in the complex case that will be discussed in the next chapter, cross filing cases did not always work in the ways that the defendants and plaintiffs intended. 8 Papp, 165. 9 not considered a crime at the time that it was committed. In addition, these courts were more like party courts, in that each of the main political parties designated a member of their party to the council of the court The Politics of Retribution 233, 236


62 Completing the Certification Surveys For the Hungarians, the f irst step of the approval process required them to complete mandatory postwar surveys, which asked questions regarding their date of birth, birth place, education and profession, as well as pre and postwar incomes and housing sizes, political affiliations, and newspaper subscriptions, to name a few. A sample size of seventy five surveys was analyzed in an attempt to draw a few conclusions about the inhabitants of Budapest. This particular set of surveys was completed by the residents of District VII, or the Jewish Quarter in Pest. Very few of the applicants answered every question. In fact, the vast majority of them only completed half the survey, while a few only offered basic information about themselves. Thus, when looking at the percentages and numbers w ithin the sample size one must remember that they were determined from the answers given, and not from every answer on all seventy five surveys. As previously discussed, when the Germans and Hungarian Nazis ghettoized the city in 1944 they formed the ghett os around where the highest numbers of Jews already lived. Since District VII was the Jewish Quarter and was home to one of the biggest Jewish communities in Budapest, it housed one of the largest ghettos in the entire city. Thus a significant portion of t he applicants from the area were Jewish. To be more precise, in the sample size forty four Jews, or nearly 59%, completed surveys for either their homes in the district or their businesses located there. 10 Although an analysis of seventy five applications c annot claim to be wholly representative of all of District VII, at 10 The surveys did not ask Hungarians about their religiou s or cultural backgrounds. Out of the sample size only four people mentioned that they were Jewish. live in the ghetto, spending time in a labor camp, o r being personally affected by the anti Jewish laws.


63 not more. Of the seventy five surveys analyzed twenty two were married with one child, seven w ere married with two or more children (no one exceeded three children), twenty one were married but child less, while eleven were either divorced, unmarried, or widows/ widowers. As for education, about 46.6% completed at least two years of polgri iskola or the elementar y schools developed in the late nineteenth century in order to train lower level civil servants. Only about 10.6% completed between two and four years of kzepiskola or the high school dedicated to preparing more men to be intellectuals an d suifor higher level bureaucratic positions. Table 4.1 illustrates the different types of apartment sizes in District VII, and more importantly how more Hungarians in the sample owned a two room apartment than any other size. 11 It also shows how scarce it was for Hungarians to occupy a three bedroom apartment considering the economic hyperinflation and struggles to get adequate food and clothing. Table 4.1 shows how many applicants resided in the different sized apartments. Out of the sample size twenty one people, or 28%, occupied a two room apartment. It is not surprising that after the two room apartments the one room spaces, or the studio apartments, were the most popular, as they were easily the most affordable before the war. With the inclusion of D esz Balla, only three of the applicants (or 4%) increased their living space between 1944 and when they completed the survey. Only 12% were 11 In Hu ngary, the number of rooms in an apartment did (and does not today) correlate with the number of bedrooms. A one room apartment is similar to a studio apartment in the United States. Thus, a two room was a one bedroom and one room apartment, three rooms me ant two bedrooms and one spare room, etc.


64 forced to move to a smaller apartment, while a considerable 17.3% were lucky enough to remain in their pre 1944 homes. This is also not a surprise, since the occupied their prewar apartments. Aside from a few dentists and lawyers, 58% the respondents worked in independent businesses as wholesalers, such as in wine, clothing, and other consumer items. A few of them belonged to professional associations, such as the Hungarian ian Industrialists Association About 18% of the Jewish men admitted to forced labor in the munkszolglt or the labor battalions on the Hu ngarian front lines in the East. Working in the labor camps spared the men but sometimes not their families, from moving into the ghetto. 12 A few of the older Hungarians, both Jewish and non Jewish stated that they had fought in the Hungarian Army during World War I, and several of them received honorary awards for their service. The Differences Between Pre and Post 1944 Living Arrangements The purpose of the questions concerning inco me differences and house size were to determine whether the respondent had received any housing improvements or increases in income due to affiliations with the Nyils government. The question ever, since the 12 spared being forced to move during the ghettoization process, which ended up saving many of their lives. Cole de to move into the ghetto, most of their families were forced to do so. For more, see Tim Cole, Holocaust City.


65 salary indicates that although most of the questions on the survey were aimed to gauge Hungary complicated matters further for the Committee, such as when the hype rinflation caused many incomes to increase drastically. The same stipulation applies to the question about changes in house sizes; due to ghettoization, nearly 52,000 Hungarians had moved apartments in 1944, and as a consequence of the destruction of most live in either their pre 1944 of 1944 1945 apartments. 13 People moved with such frequency during the war and immediate postwar years that it was difficult to clarify who had benefited from the Nyils regime in this respect, and who had not. In referring to Table 4.1, of the 12% that moved to smaller living spaces most of them included extra details in their surveys that discussed being forced to move during the war. Several of them mentioned that before moving the Nyils looted them of their finest items, which sometimes resulted in stripping the Jews of their personal wealth. A more extreme survey describes how Hungarian Nazis dragged him and his wife from the ghetto onto the street after moving there, and the n robbed his ghetto residence of all their personal belongings. 14 Although only 12% of the sample size was forced to move apartments, the answers and details they provided offer an apt depiction of the suffering they endured at the hands of the German and H ungarian Nazis. Yet District VII was unique in that most of its Jews did not have to move out of their prewar homes in order to reach the apartment buildings designated as part of the ghetto. Jews were more likely 13 14 Survey, Zoltn Sndo r, unknown completion date of the survey, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary.


66 to have been forced to evacuate their apar tments, taking only easily transportable belongings with them to shared spaces in Yellow Star houses. Thus by looking at another district that was less populated by Jews it could be possible to explore a more complete picture of the displacement of both Je ws and non ghettoization. an enormous income increase between 1937 1945, perfectly illustrates the ways that Hungarians could profit from ghettoization Ba l la moved from a one room to a two room Jewish home. 15 By improving his living arrangement to a larger apartment, he benefitted from the ghettoization of the city to some extent, and thereby from the Nyils government as well. Whether it was intentional or not remains unclear. Balla did not attempt to reclaim or return to his one room apartment. In fact, when first asked about his current living situation he stated that he lived in a three room 1944 housing conditions however, he answered that he changed from a one room to a two room apartment. The discrepancy between the two answers could mean one o f two things. On the one hand, it could mean that he mistakenly wrote the wrong number of rooms for one of the questions. That implies that he either increased his living space by one or two rooms in the last year of the war. On the other hand, the differe nce between the two answers could mean that he first increased his apartment size by one room, and then moved again to a larger apartment between 1944 and when he completed the 15 S urvey, Des Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary


67 survey in April of 1946. The likelihood that the second situation occurred is c onsiderable. In light of the architectural damage and the mass movement of Hungarians, Germans, Slovaks, and Hungarian Jews, a person could move into an taneously occupy an empty apartment carried significant weight in the postwar years. If the previous owner tried to reclaim the space, unless he or she had possession of that a partment. This will be discussed in more detail in Chapter Five in relation to a court case involving competing claims to property rights. In the case of Balla, it is highly likely that he used the chaotic atmosphere of the wartime and postwar years to imp rove his living situation, and thus his social status, by occupying increasingly larger apartments. e not unique in this regard. Tim Cole discusses how numerous Hungarians capitalized on the ghettoization process and increased thei r living space. Yet due to his focus on the Holocaust period in Budapest, he neglects to push his argument further. In addition to the ghettoization process, Hungarians like Balla also benefitted from the devastation and mayhem that characterized the immed iate postwar Balla to increase his social standing during the after the war. From this perspective, Jewish Hungarians profit ed from the 1944 Arrow Cross regime in their home life and social status, whether by accident or by purposeful action


68 If some non Jews had the opportunity to improve their living arrangements, then the Hungarians Jews, like the Jews across Europe, were usu ally forced into smaller, more cramped living quarters in the ghettos. For the Turkish Jew Gbor Behr, the ghetto process afforded him little more than that. Upon being forced to move to the ghetto he went from a three room apartment to a one room. 16 As a married man with two children, it meant that four people were forced to live in a one room, or a studio apartment. His survey does not reveal whether he had a kitchen or hall, or full comfort utilities. But it can be assumed that squeezing four people in a one bedroom space, considering that two of them were adults, was difficult indeed. That Behr and his family moved from a three room apartment most likely made the situation even more challenging. His case is not atypical of ghetto living, however. In ghe ttos across Europe Jewish families were forcibly moved into tight living spaces, and oftentimes they had to share that space with other Jewish families. the Certification Committee hoped to find; in contrast to Ba lla, Behr did not profit from the Nyils regime, and instead lost a significant amount of personal wealth in that time. As a Jew, his story attests to the suffering and loss that European Jews as a whole experienced as a result of the Holocaust and the af termath in the postwar years. How the Committee Viewed the Jews and Property Restitution Claims By analyzing answers from people like Bokody, Balla, and Behr, it is clear how me 16 Survey, Gbor Bhar, 24 Maz 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary Behar listed his birthplace as Constantinople, or Istanbul, and said that in the last census he declared his nationality as Turkish. Since he has a Hungarian name, one can either surmise that his parents were Hungarian, or that he Magyarized his name upon moving to the state. Behar unfortunately does not offer this information.


69 buildings, and hyperinflation complicated matters even more, by making it more challenging to determine who benefitted from the Nyils regime as a result of premeditat ed actions and intentions, and who improved their lot simply due to circumstance. And lastly, the Committee did not recognize the plight of the Jews that explicit Communis t policy not to support Jewish efforts to take back what was legally theirs. In the case of Jewish owned apartments and houses that Christians had taken 17 The Communists, who e xercised significant control over the Committee, did not illustrate that it was important to sympathize or attempt to right the wrongs that the Jews endured during the war. As depicted in Table 4.2, Hu ngarians most commonly reported that they read the Magyar Nemzet and Npszava newspapers 18 Of the seventy five total applications analyzed from District VII, nineteen of them reported reading more than one newspaper on a daily basis. As with the rest of th e questions, the Certification Committee most their wartime and postwar political affiliations. Yet unless there was other, more pertinent information that belied thei r political stances, the Committee did not attempt to question someone based solely on their newspaper subscriptions. Of the twenty one applicants who provided their political affiliations, seventeen were members of the Social Democratic Party between 1919 and their completion of the survey. Four of them 17 Kenez, 158. 18 The Magyar Nemzet was a moderately conservative paper, and Npszava w paper


70 were either former or current Communist party members 19 Perhaps since the order to punish former Nazis Hungarians pr eferred to leave the question blank. Seeing as a significant percentage of the urban population refused to answer this question on wartime activities. ation in fascist organizations affiliations the vast majority of them did not respond. If a Hungarian did respond to one of these questions, they either provided an extremely vague answer, or described how they had relinquished all contacts with that group many years prior. Why the lack of clear responses? The answer to this question is simple. The applicants sought to conceal the truths about their wartime behaviors as much as possible. Since the occupation, ghettoization, and initial deportations of Budapest Jews had occurred only one two years before (depending on when they completed the surv ey), the physical and Budapest had something to hide, and they believed that the postwar Provisional and Coalition governments wanted to comb through Hungarian society in search of wartime criminals. The anti fascist rhetoric of the Communist Party in particular made no secret 19 One of the Communists was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, not the Hungarian one. In 1919 the Magyar Kommunist Part successfully overthrew the short lived democratic government headed by Mihly Krolyi. The Communist government, the Hungarian Sovie t Republic, also did not last and after Mikls Horthy and his conserv ative allies overthrew the Communists, they followed through with a White Terror that sought to purge the country of all the Communists. This nearly decimated the Magyar Kommunist Part, which could not successfully rebuild its support base until the last f ew months of the war, with the help of the Red Army and Moscow.


71 that they wanted to excise all elements of Nazism, and anti communism, from Hungarian society. In order to prevent suspicion about their wartime behaviors t hey did their best to veil the realities of their wartime activities, by refusing to respond to the more incriminating questions and offering ambiguous answers when possible. Thus, it retribution process. consequences if their applications were rejected by the Committee. The punishments that accompanied the rejection in particular frightened people from participating more whole heartedly in the process of retributive justice. Even the most lenient punishment, being suspended from work for six twelve months, threatened the very livelihood of the accused and his or her family. And yet imprisonment in a labor camp had even worse of mouth, neighbors, friends, and families alike had to determine how they would continue with their relations with the accused, if at all. The public humiliation of being declared from society. wartime behavior is best depict ed in the answers apartment. In addition to experiencing an enormous increase in income and improving his living situation, he belonged to a few noteworthy affiliations. In 1929 Balla was a member of the Egysges Part, or the Unity Party, which was a Fascist party based in


72 Szeged that rallied behind nationalist and racist beliefs that mirrored the other fascist groups across Europe. 20 Furthermore, Balla was also a member of th e Baross Szvetsg, a Christian business association that sought to rid the commercial sector of Jewish influence. Although Balla says that he was only a member of the Egysges Party for six months and of the Baross Szvetsg for one year, his participatio n in the two groups raises serious questions about his interwar and wartime beliefs, particularly concerning his stance towards the Nyils government. To add further insult to injury, Balla took over a food and wine store from Jakab Kornfeld, a Hungarian Jew. 21 Balla claimed that he did not receive any stock from the store, and that he did not buy it directly from Kornfeld. 22 On June 13 th 1942 he received a permit to conduct business at the store, after which it appears that he ran the business as usual. 23 A lthough from the surface his survey does not divulge any political character and personal intentions become questionable. After combining his membership in the Egysges P art and Baross Szvetsg with the situation with the thoroughly by the Certification Committee. Instead, on April 24 th 1946, Balla received his approval from the Certification C ommittee. 20 The Unity Party was a Christian based political party that formed in 1922 and based in Szeged, and rose to prominence when its leader Istvn Bethlen became Prime Minister of Hungary in the 1 920s, and when Gyulas Gombos ruled as Prime Minister from 1932 1936. After 1939 its name changed to the Party of Hungarian Life The Unity Party was known for its radical right beliefs, as they were high nationalist and utilized racist propaganda. For more, see Peter Sugar, History of Hungary 21 1940s. 22 BFL Budapest, Hungary 23 Ibid.


73 Another man who admitted to being a member of the Baross Szvetsg was a lawyer by the name of Dr. Bla Koppny. In a sim ilar fashion, Dr. Koppny stated that he was only a member of the Christian association through his profession, and that he 24 As with Balla, Koppny offered at best a vague answer explaining his membership, by saying that he only joined the group for membership. regarding his wartime activities that may shed light on his membership with the Christian association. During the war, many Jewish businessmen and professionals sought help from no n Jews by signing their businesses over to them for safekeeping, which was called a Strohman (straw man) agreement. 25 By doing this the Jewish former proprietor could still participate in the business and receive some income from it, and not be punished for breaking the law. 26 According to Koppny, once the assets of Jozsf Krammar, a Hungarian Jew, were frozen as a consequence of the Second es. 27 In both the general survey and the business survey Koppny refuses to characterize his business dealings with Krammar as a Strohmann agreement, despite giving this answer to the question about any involvement in this type of transaction. In the end, t he Strohman agreement 24 Survey, Bla Koppany 23 April 19 45, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL, Budapest, Hungary. 25 Yehuda Don, Genocide and Rescue: The Holocaust in Hungary, 1944 edited by David Cesarani 47 76. 62. 26 entrepreneurial ventures. According to this law, the ration of independent or self employed Jewish businessmen compared to non Jews had to be lowered to six percent. For more, see Yehuda Don, 27 Survey, Bla Koppany, 23 April 1945, BFL Budapest, Hungary.


74 Koppny most likely believed that if he specified his business dealings with Krammar as a Strohman agreement, the Committee would refuse to approve him Without an approval from the Committee Koppny would experience difficulties in finding a job in the years after the war. Koppny stated that after the war he returned the valuables, money, and apartment to Krammar. 28 Koppny did not provide any other inf ormation, and there are no documents from the Committee or from any supporting parties to describe what happened to Koppny, Krammar, or the apartment and goods; nevertheless, a few assessments arise from the available source materials. In a simil ar vein a s Balla, Koppny denied being seriously involved with the Baross Szvetsg beyond belonging dealings with Krammar, speaks to the contrary. Rather, it appears as though Ko ppny businesses of Jewish influence and participation. This would explain his involvement with Krammar and his business and assets. Despite stating that he returned all of another. At the same time, there is no proof that Krammar attempted to sue Koppny in court to reclaim his belongings, and there are no Committee documents that detail a n indictment of Koppny for any pro fascist beliefs or activities. As with Balla, we are left Jozsf Krammar. Although Balla received approval from the Certification Commi ttee, the existing sources do not reveal whether Koppny experienced the same outcome. 28 Ib i d.


75 involvement in the Baross Szvetsg and reading about the Strohman agreement with Krammar, t case further. The absence of any documents from a Committee hearing or court case for Koppny or Krammar suggests that the Committee did little more than briefly glance over the se surveys, and then submitted their approval of Koppny. This type of uncertainty about the fate of Koppny unfortunately characterizes the vast majority of Hungarians in Budapest after the war. The cases of Balla and Koppny remain indicative of the Communist Party approve Hungarians as swiftly as possible; since the Committee and Communist Party focused mainly on eradicating ex fascists and overly radical leftists, people like Balla and Koppny did not constitute a threat to the postwar state. As for Koppny, the focus of his survey answers lay in receiving approval from the Certification Committee in order to return to work and resume his daily life; as a consequence, he avoided designating his arrangement with Krammar as a Strohman agreement, most likely to avoid being rejected by the Committee. Once applicants submitted their surveys, the Certification Committee spent several months evaluating them before taking the next step, most likely due to the sheer number of survey s submitted at the time. The next step involved posting a notice on the co workers to submit letters of support detailing whether they believed the person in question exhib ited any pro fascist, pro Nazi behavior during the war. The notice usually provided a window of about nine ten days during which people could bring their letters


76 of support to the Committee building. These letters often proved instrumental to a se, as will be analyzed in more detail later. Elements missing from the surveys It is worth noting the types of information that remained absent from the surveys. Aside from a few exceptions, the surveys were largely completed by Hungarian men. This was l argely because the Provisional Government required every Hungarian male to complete a survey. Furthermore, since they needed to complete a survey in order to be certified and be allowed to return to work, Hungarian men promptly submitted the surveys upon r the war, either from the front lines, a labor battalion, the concentration or death camps, or from a Soviet prisoner of war camp, then she was instructed to complete the survey in his ab sence. Some women, usually widows, filled the forms out in their own name. If their husband had not returned yet or the wife did not know that he was dead, they refrained from providing any personal information in the questionnaire, except to report that t hey were completing the survey for their husbands. In the case of Mrs. Salomon Achs, born Mria Knpler, and Mrs. Jen Barabs, as war widows they explained the difficulties they endured financially; while Achs describes vagyonta lan ) as a result of the war and being a widow, Barabs did her best to provide for her two children as a shopkeeper. 29 In addition, the two women appeared to be friends, as Barabs submitted a letter of support for Achs. 30 In the next section the case of Mrs Bl Kovsznay, a married woman and a fur trader, 29 Survey, Mrs. Salomon Achs, 10 August 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, I gazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary. Survey, rabs, 7 June 1945, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 30 Survey, Mrs. Salomon Achs, BFL Budapest, Hungary


77 will be discussed in great detail, which promises to display more about Hungarian father completed the survey, and not eve n the mother. Aside from these few examples, as a result of the overwhelming male presence in the surveys the image that arises from the immediate postwar years in Hungary for the most part is glaringly devoid of a What the surveys la suffering and experiences during the war. The surveys and Certification Committee as a Communist Party played a significant role in the Committee and the creation of the surveys, they remained focused on their anti fascist campaign throughout the immediate postwar period. As a consequence they did not concern themselves with questions regarding the ghettoization process, the d eportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews outside of Budapest, or the labor battalions on the Hungarian Eastern front of the war. In spite of this, numerous Hungarian Jews inserted bits and pieces of their experiences in the surveys. Lajos Ke resztessy, a bank manager, reported that he suffered persecution because of the anti Jewish laws, in response to whether he was connected to the implementation of them. 31 In an answer by the widow Mrs. Miks Kohn, she says that either the Germans or the Nyi ls in Sopron, a city near the Austrian Hungarian border, killed her husband in March of 1945. 32 In most of their 31 Survey, Lajos Keresztessy, 29 April 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/a, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 32 Survey, Mrs. Miks Kohn, no date, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary


78 surveys Hungarian Jews included at least one statement about their horrible experiences during the war, either about forced ghettoization or th eir work in labor battalions in the East. This demonstrates that absence of questions about their experiences did not prevent H ungarian Jews from sharing them in the surveys at the time. In the minds of the Certificatio n Committee and the Communists rootin g out known In the end, the Communists, the Certification Committee, and the Hungarians in Budapest stressed above all else the need to receive approval, so that everyone could resume their daily lives. In fact, in many of the surveys people addressed the Committee directly, asking if they could be approved. Mrs. Jen Barabs, for example, declared that she had submitted her paperwork after liberation, and that she was still waiting to receive an approval from the Committee. 33 By requesting to be approved on the survey, Barabs sought to receive her certification as qu ickly as possible, most likely so that she could resume her work as a small shopkeeper. In other cases, Hungarians attempted to receive certification from institutions other than the Committee. In one such case Zoltn Ferenc, an independent shoemaker, aske d the Hungarian could not certify him, since they were not credited as a verification institution. 34 Even though only the Certification Committee contained the legal rights t o approve 33 Barabs submitted her paperwork to the Committee in 7 June, 1945, and d id not receive the 34 Survey, Ferenc Zoltn, 6 April 1945, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary


79 Hungarian went in their attempts to become approved. Without that approval, they ris ked being suspended from work or imprisoned, which could threaten the quality of their postwar life. For some the inability to work stalled their job placement and/or advancement. Since the sole focus of the majority of Hungarian society lay in reestablish ing modes of every day life, they went to great lengths to receive approval from the Committee in the first few postwar years.


80 Table 4 1. List of applicants who owned one, one plus hall or kitchen, two, or three room apartments in District VII Number of b edrooms Number of Applicants Percentage One room 17 22.6% One room plus hall or kitchen 5 6% Two rooms 21 28% Three rooms 6 8% Table 4 2. List of the percentage of District VII residents that subscribed to these newspapers during World War II Newsp apers Subscribers Percent of Total Magyar Nemzet i 13 17.3% Npszava 17 25.3% Esti Kurir 8 10.6% jsag 7 9.3% Magyarorszg 3 4% Pesti Hirlp 4 5.3%


81 CHAPTER 5 PROPERTY CLAIMS AND HOUSING DISPUTES Despite the high frequency with which Hungarians in B udapest moved apartments during the last few years of the war, property disputes did not occur at the rate that one might assume. Since some Hungarians moved multiple times, while others lost all of their belongings due to the bombing damage, it proved dif ficult to find or obtain official they had to rely largely on letters of support, like the ones submitted to the Committee to help people receive their certification, and w itness testimonies. By analyzing one particularly complex case involving multiple properties and several opposing parties, unique insights arise about Hun garian attitudes towards the retribution process, the st Party. The Initial Dispute: Kovsznay and Span The case involves a woman by the name of Mrs Bl Kovsznay who conducted a relatively prosperous fur business in Budapest. In her initial survey, completed April 24 th 1946, she reported that she was ma rried and with one child, a nd that she lived in a three room apartment on Tas Vzer Street. 1 In addition to the apartment on Tas Vzer Street, she used an apartment on Somogyi Bla Street to run her business. 2 There is nothing particularly remarkable about was able to remain in her three room apartment during the war, and that she had been Kovsznay would have been of specia l interest to the Certification Committee. But by 1 Although Kovsznay indicated that she was married on the surv ey, her husband is not mentioned at all in the Committee proceedings, in the letters of support from either sides, or even in her own testimony. 2 Survey, Mrs. Bla Bogdany Kovsznay, 24 April 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1 946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary


82 examining the evidence that accompanies her survey, which consists of over forty total documents, it becomes clear that Kovsznay was at the center of multiple contentious property disputes, due largely to her wartime behavior in her business dealings and relations with her employees. Hungarian Jew whose fianc worked for Kovsznay during the war. On April 14, 1946, Pan submitted a let ter to the Committee that detailed his relations with Kovsznay. In this letter he levied several accusations against her, the first of which was fraternizing with the German soldiers during the war. 3 Span dis cussed how Kovsznay supplied him and his fianc with food from time to time and helped them find hiding spots during the war. 4 When Kovsznay hid in a house in Buda during the siege Span and his fianc future brother i n law. 5 After liberation the three of them agreed to form a partnership for the fur business. 6 For a little less than a year Span, his fianc, and Kovsznay worked together peacefully, although they did not sign an official agreement for their partnership. I n February of 1946 Kovsznay abruptly eliminated Span and his fianc from the business. 7 Even though Span contained several furs that he bought during their partnership, without official documentation of the business agreement Span could not induce Kov sznay to compensate him. Span explains how according to a 1941 3 Letter, Span Pan Frigyes to Certification Committee, 14 April 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/b, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 It seems that Kovsznay agreed to form the partnership with Span and his fianc because they protected her machines and inventory in early 1945 when she fled to Buda during the Siege and beginning of the Soviet occupation. Ibid. 7 Ibid.


83 government decree, all businesses needed to submit paperwork to the government detailing their total assets and goods in February of every year. 8 He argues that out of the business was part of her attempt to evade paying all of her taxes. By removing Span and his fianc from the business, Kovsznay 9 Span states that Kovsznay was trying to take advantage of the p ostwar chaos in Hungary by attempting to cheat on her taxes and claim that furs were theirs and not hers 10 German Behavior of Kovsznay did not end business dealings were also connected to her wartime affiliations with the Germans, Nyils member 11 Although he made this accusation at the beginning of his letter, he refrains from explaining it in full until the end of his statem ent. Span describes how during the Arrow Cross regime Kovsznay frequently entertained SS soldiers in her fur shop, and sometimes in her bunker with plinka and music. 12 Although Span does not say that Kovsznay benefitted financially in her business from h er friendship with the Germans, in his mind her behaviors needed to be taken seriously by the Committee. By emphasizing the gravity of her actions, it is clear that Span hoped that the Certification Committee would withhold their approval. 8 Ibid. 9 Span accused Kovsznay of a much larger tax evasion scheme, but it is too complicated to detail here. Essentially, Span spotted an error in one of the itemized forms that Kovsznay completed with another vendor. The form said that Kovsznay and the vendor sold fewer products between the two of them than Sp an claims that they did. When Span tried to fix the error, both Kovsznay and the vendor accused him of lying. Kovsznay also charged Span with embezzlement. Even though the reasons for this charge are not described, it was probably related to his role in finding the tax evasion scheme. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. how she had a bunker. Perhaps she lived on the bottom floor of the building and had access to it there.


84 He knew that by denouncing Kovsznay for having overly friendly relations with the German SS in the initial part of the letter that the Committee would take the case into consideration. Span did not denounce Kovsznay in order to c retribution efforts. Rather, it appears that largely he denounced her in hopes of This was not uncommon, as Hungarians viewed the Certification process as one that could be molded in their favor. If the Committee ref used to approve her, and penalized her for pro fascist activity, then Kovsznay may not be have able to run her business. 13 If Kovsznay, a successful fur trader in the context of postwar Hungary, was permanently banned from running her business, then that could leave an opening for others in the fur industry in Budapest. Span would most likely have benefited by the void left by Kovsznay in the fur business. Thus it seems that Span denounced Kovsznay for personal gain. But this type of personal gain was no t characterized by greed. Rather, people were motivated by need and loss. In other words, since Span was penniless it meant that he would have had the means to survive the postwar years, perhaps with a little extra income. Additionally, people like Span wh o lost their wealth, status, and/or property needed to blame someone for their losses. Thus for Span, preventing Kovsznay from conducting her business most likely served to meet his basic needs, and the desire for retribution. 13 substantial role in the proceedings, nor did he provide a testimony. By speculating about the nature of their relationship, It appears as though Kovsznay co ntrolled her business by herself, and her son remained in the background. In the event that Kovsznay would be prevented from continuing her business activities, Otto would have to take the reins of her fur shops. Perhaps Span viewed this as an opportunity for himself, to take some of her business.


85 ing Kovsznay Hungarians at the time. His initial partnership with Kovsznay provided he and his wife with a healthy income after being left penniless after the war. 14 He knew that if Kovsznay was suspended then he a nd his fianc could receive that income once again. Rather than genuinely contribute to the postwar retribution process, it appears as though Span denounced Kovsznay mainly in order to meet his basic material needs and quell the feelings of loss from the war. In the context of postwar Hungary, this can The Property Dispute: Kovsznay and Klein survey to the Committee, and quickly found employees, fellow business vendors, and neighbors to submit letters supporting her political reliability and generous nature. Span did the same, to the extent that when the Committee met in early June of 1946 they had amassed numerous support letters for b oth sides. Interestingly enough, the bulk of the they trial cross filed cases and included a situation that was completely unrelated to the business relations between Span and Kovsznay took cent er stage. It involved a Hungarian Jew by the name of the Sndor Klein, who was in a property dispute with Kovsznay that was under investigation in a separate case with a regional court. 15 Yet the details of it ended up being a deciding factor for the confl ict between Kovsznay and Span. 16 Despite 14 Ibid. 15 Minutes of Committee hearing, 25 April 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary The document says that the case was being investigated by the Tab l Birsg. 16 The reason why it became a part of the case between Kovsznay and Span was because Span mentioned it briefly in his first letter to the Committee, as a way to bolster his accusation that Kovsznay had committed multiple fraudulent crimes in t he span of a few years.


86 from the proceedings with Span, both he and the Committee believed that it was inextricably linked to the case at hand. The prope rty case between Kovsznay and Klein reveals important insights into the motives of the Certification Committee and Hungarians at this time. During the war, apartment t hat might be available for rent. 17 Klein, who ran a fur business in the apartment on Karoly Street, rented it in 1941 from a man by the last name of Halsz. 18 Unfortunately for Klein, the man who owned the permit for the fur business died, and without one he was forced to shut down the shop Upon hearing about the situation, Kovsznay applied for the rights to the apartment, which she hoped to use as another storefront for her business. 19 Since she obtained a permit already and Klein did not, she won the righ ts to the apartment. 20 After the war Klein attempted to sue Kovsznay in order to receive their apartment again. 21 According to Span and several other witnesses in the case, Kovsznay took advantage of and used her connections with the Germans to obtain the property. 22 A few of them, Span included, also accused Kovsznay of taking unfair advantage of Klein since he was Although he most likely did not intend for the dispute between Klein and Kovsznay to play a large role in his own lawsuit, witnesses were collected to discuss the property dispute, which forced the issue to the fore. 17 Ibid. 18 Wh en Halsz returned home after being in a labor camp and found that Kovsznay had won the right to rent it in 1943, he tried to sue her for the apartment. Klein also tried to obtain the ownership rights to the apartment from Halsz in the Arbitration Court but since Kovsznay had already received ownership rights in her case with Halsz, Klein was unable to pursue his claim. Ibid. 19 Ibid. 20 It is not clear whether Kovsznay won from Klein the right to lease or own the apartment in 1943. 21 The case between Klein and Kovsznay was heard by the Tabl Birsg, or the Arbitration Court. 22 Letter from Span Pan Frigyes to Committee, BFL Budapest, Hungary Minutes of Committee hearing, 25 April 1946, BFL Budapest, Hungary


87 actions. 23 The charge that Kovszn ay purposefully sought to remove Klein from the fur business also fell in line with the aims of the Baross Szvetsg, and the numerus clausus participation in higher level education to 6%. Considering that Hungarian Jews comprised over 15% of the students in the law and medical schools at the time, the professions as well. Whereas the Baross Szve tsg wanted to eradicate Jewish influence from the commercial sector completely, the numerus clausus law called for a more moderate position. Yet the two helped to institutionalize the belief amongst Hungarians that Jews did not belong in Hungarian society much less in the more sought perspective Kovsznay Klein from conducting business, largely because of his Jewish origin. The Role of the Letters of Support and the Witnesses Karoly apartment ov er Klein because he was Jewish strengthened his own case in court. His accusation of her ties with the Germans also made the case particularly pertinent for Span By denouncing Kovsznay for exhibiting both pro German and punishing former fascists. In addition to S 23 Minutes of Committee hearing, 5 June 1 946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary


88 was submitted before the Committee hearing that described her pro German attitude in a little more depth. The letter stated that Kovsznay used the basement cellar of the Somogyi Street apartment building as a p lace to conduct illegal activities. 24 According to this letter Kovsznay routinely invited SS soldiers into the basement to drink, which caused them to behave in offensive ways. 25 Written by Ern Bauer the letter was signed by seven people total, who were m the building. At the end of the letter Bauer encourages other witnesses to step forward and corroborate his statement. Regardless of whether anyone else substantiated hat he did not mention Span in the letter ility. Furthermore, it suggests that Kovsznay did display a pro German attitude during the war, to the extent that she openly entertained As part of her defense Kovsznay arranged for a collection of witnesses whose aim was to verify the positive aspects of her business dealings and her friendliness and generosity towards her Jewish witnesses the claims issued against her in connection to the case with Klein, the majority of her witnesses were Jews, which she most likely believed would boost the credibility of the statement Felsenburg a businessman in the silk in dustry, described how Kovsznay continued working with him during the war, despite 24 Letter to Committee, Ern Bauer, no date, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 25 Ibid.


89 the increasingly antisemitic atmosphere that characterized the city. 26 After being ghettoized in 1944 Kovsznay continued her friendship with him, even when he wore a yellow star. 27 Felsenburg describes how at one point Kovsznay sympathized with him 28 By confirming both the equality of her business relations and her willingness to continue her friendships with Jews, Felsenburg suppor ted the image that Kovsznay wanted to display to the Committee, in order to disprove the slew of accusations against her. Another witness by the name of Mrs. Frigyes Behzsey, a saleswoman in ing spot in the city in 1944 Kovsznay allowed her to hide in her shop. Behzsey also said that when she moved to the ghetto Kovsznay visited her often and brought her food. 29 Non Jews also t from a few of her business vendors described how Kovsznay consistently helped friends regardless of their background, and that they always purchased high quality goods from her at fair prices. 30 Lastly, they said that both Kovsznay and her son Otto, who stayed in the affairs. 31 By confirming that Kovsznay did not discriminate against anyone in her business ventures or her personal relationships, Felse nburg, Behzsey, and her non Jewish vendors attempted to dispel all of the accusations against her. In other words, 26 Letter o f supp o iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 27 Ibid. Felsenburg did not say in his testimony whether he received the yellow star before or after he was ghettoiz ed, or if Kovsznay saw him outside or inside the ghetto. There is also no information included in the court documents about whether her house was included in the ghetto or not. 28 Ibid. 29 Minutes of Committee hearing, 25 April 1946, BFL Budapest, Hungary 30 Letter of support for Kovsznay, Behzsey, 2 May 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 31 Ibid.


90 they aimed to demonstrate that Kovsznay was friendly towards all Jews and even helped a number of them, and that she conducted her business fairly. The Com Kovsznay In June of 1946, only a few months after Span originally accused her, the Committee presented their decision: although about Kovsznay they still su spended Kovsznay from conducting business for six months. 32 Initially the Committee did not thoroughly explain the reasons behind the verdict to either Span or Kovsznay, despite Kovsznay request to do so. It seems that the Committee did not believe Spa remained wary of Kovsznay socio economic position, which will be discussed shortly. As a result Kovsznay submitted one last letter to bolster her testimony. In the letter Kovsznay expl ained how the Arrow Cross officials strongly urged her to cease both her business relations and friendships with Jews, because she was gaining the reputation of being a zsidoberenc or a friend of the Jews. 33 Kovsznay seemed to include this statement in or antisemitic. She also claimed that Span intimidated her with his statements in front of the committee, and that he threatened her and one of her witnesses before the hearing. 34 This assertion confir ms a statement made by one of her witnesses, who said 32 Letter, Kovsznay to Committee, BFL Budapest, Hungary 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid.


91 that Span aggressively tried to dissuade her from supporting Kovsznay in the hearing. 35 Lastly Kovsznay reiterates a statement that she made earlier, which was an attempt to address the accusation con cerning her friendly relations with the German soldiers. She said that her connections with them began long before the war, as they were from Leipzig and she conducted business with them as fur traders in years prior. 36 When they arrived in Budapest they e stablished contact with her, and she sought to maintain the friendships so as that she could continue her business relations with them. 37 By explaining the nature of her relations with the German soldiers Kovsznay does not deny the claims made by Span and Bauer that she entertained SS soldiers in her cellar. But by explaining her actions in light of her business ventures, Kovsznay attempts to disprove the allegation that she supported the Germans and their occupation of Hungary. Instead she asserts that sh e interacted with the soldiers for business reasons only. Furthermore, she tried to substantiate her letter by reiterating that she did not support the German or Nyils occupations Kovsznay attempted to defend her character with a few key points: that sh e was a zsidoberenc (friend of the Jews) and not antisemitic, that she conducted her business fairly with everyone, and finally that she entertained the German soldiers as a way to ensure business ventures er business displays her focus on establishing everyday routines and achieving a s table life amidst the chaotic events of the war and postwar years. 35 Letter of support for Ko vsznay, Desz Dienes, 31 May 1946, Fond. Xvii, 417, Igazlo Bizottsg iratai, 138/1, 1945 1946 1 box, BFL Budapest, Hungary 36 Letter, Kovsznay to Committee, BFL Budapest, Hungary 37 Ibid.


92 System that appealing to the P Karsai argues that they did not always provide defendants with a fair trial, as they sometimes refused to hear the statement were already well known by the court. 38 According to Karsai, this offers only one of many examples why the postwar court system did not perform the postwar trials in the fairest way possible. 39 K relation to the Certification Committee, which she criticizes for failing to perform several of the necessary requirements to ensure a fair trial. Her complaints included not questioning any of the witness witnesses to swear on the Bible prior to speaking, and for not informing any of the witnesses, herself included, of their rights, except for Span. 40 Although it is difficult to determine if Kovs 38 Karsai 242. 39 Although Karsai says that it is not up to the historian to judge whether the Hungarian postwar fell short of offering fair and proper trials of the accused. He also says that the judges and the Co uncil members of the courts, who were basically representatives of the political parties, used the platform of the trials to declare their own version of history according to their political beliefs. 242, 248. 40 Letter, Kovsznay to Committee, BFL Budapes t, Hungary


93 According to Gyula Papp however, the Comm ittee and court system committed crimes far worse than not informing witnesses of their rights. In addition to their inconsistent practices during the hearings, the Committee also accepted enormous bribes from some applicants, usually major companies, desi ring approval from them. chairman of the Committee with instructions to allocate the money in advance of the decision to the other members. 41 In another case a major bank offered a daily rate of the decision, for fear that they would be denied approval. 42 Although the rate of hyperinflation makes it difficult to determine the exact amount that the se companies offered the Committee, it demonstrates the high level of corruption that characterized the Certification Committee and its proceedings. Although there is no evidence in the documents of defendants or plaintiffs bribing their witnesses, there is no reason to believe that it did not happen. It probably occurred on a much smaller scale than in the big companies, since individual Hungarians had very little personal wealth to work with. As mentioned earlier Kovsznay and one of her witnesses report ed being threatened by Span with physical force if they followed through with their plans in the hearing. If some people were threatened on account of one of the Committee meanings, then there is a significant chance that other individuals bribed their wit nesses to vouch for them. These bribes show that the Certification Committee allowed monetary gifts to prevent them from pursuing their job of political justice in postwar Hungary. In other 41 Papp, 172. 42 Ibid.


94 words, they accepted the bribes in lieu of conducting a thorough i nvestigation of the records more meticulously, they might have withheld their approval. Moreover, it depicts how the Committee chose to override the purpose of the survey s, and thus the de nazification process, altogether. Since the Committee was tied to the postwar court system, it also speaks to the level of corruption that characterized the postwar judicial system as a whole. The Certification Committee provided several justifications for their refusal to retract or lessen month suspension. The Committee, after showing decl 43 The Committee believed that Kovsznay committed the largest crime when she acquired the rights to a ment and then proceeded to leave it unoccupied during the war. 44 The Committee also said that she acted undemocratically ( antidemokratikus ) during the 45 It is interesting that although the survey did not ask questions of Hung arian Jews about their wartime sufferings, they viewed the assertion that one of the indicators of fascist behavior lay in occupying and/or gaining t during the course of the war 46 43 Letter, Kovsznay to Committee, BFL Budapest, Hungary 44 Ibid. 45 Ibid. 46 Papp, 172.


95 apartment because he lacked a permit, and not because he was Jewish. It is clear that Despite belonged to a Hungarian Jew. Additionally, since they ask ed her repeatedly how and seemed to believe that this was an issue as well. As a consequence of being notified of office, and then refusing to name the person, the Committee had more reason to believe that she behaved undemocratically. In this light, the Committee took into serious ections in the dealings with the wartime governments, both before and during the Nazi occupation, in 47 The highlights their opinion of her socio economic status. As discussed in the beginning of Chapter Four the Communists believed that anyone who owned more than their share apartments, of which the Karoly Street one remained empty, the Communists saw fit to punish her for her non working class lifestyle. In addition, since furs were considered a 47 Klein, Kovsznay, and Span all list different dates. Regardless, it still happened before the Nazi takeover, making it possible that she benefitted from connections in the Horthy government in addition to the Nazi one.


96 luxury item and th us only the upper middle class and elite could buy them, the Communists had further reason to disapprove of her work and life. By suspending her from working for six months they knew that her business would suffer immensely, which could threaten her socio economic stability. Thus their ruling was also part of their goal to undo the strict class hierarchy and create a classless society. Lastly, throughout Kovsznay as a meltsgos asszony or a lady of honor (my l ady). This was a nineteenth century term that conferred the status of the Committee to her high status. In the end his tactics worked to a certain degree. Although the Committee did not imprison or punish Kovsznay too severely, they Communist lifestyle and business. By suspending her from work they set the wheels in motion for her to suffer financially, which could have socially leveled her high class status. Unfortunately for Kovsznay, i n the context of the postwar retributive efforts her activities were no longer acceptable. They demonstrated that she benefitted from the Nazis, who were no longer in power. Perhaps if the Nazis had won the war, and not the Soviets and the other Allies, Kovsznay and others like her would not have been indicted for fascist behavior. true intentions with the retribution process: to remove dangerous elements from society, whether because they were ex fascists, revolutionary leftists, or members of the old socio economic order that did not fit in wi th their goal of creating a classless society.


97 The cases of Kovsznay Span, and Klein and the retribution process inclusion of her case with Klein, illustrate several important aspects a bout the role of property disputes vis Property disputes were one of several ways that Hungarians could denounce their neighbors, employers and employees, and other people of pro Nazi atti tudes and fascist behavior during the war. The cases of Span, Kovsznay, and Klein suggest that most Hungarians did not denounce people unless they had something to gain or lose. Neither of them appeared to have sued Kovsznay simply for personal vengeance While that may have played a part in the proceedings, it seems that both Span and Klein sought to gain financially from their disputes with Kovsznay. Yet they were not motivated by sheer gr eediness. For both Span and Klei n the right to live in an apartm ent or the ability to take over a business afforded them the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Knowing this, the stakes were high for the two of them in their cases with Kovsznay. Meanwhile is clear that Kovsznay, who succeeded to a certain extent in c ontinuing her business activities during the war, was not penniless or property less like Span or Klein. However, being suspended from running her business meant that she could lose significant wealth. Since in the context of postwar Hungary the ability to reestablish most likely made postwar life more challenging for her. The property dispute between them also illustrates how Hungarians on the ground level perceived the r etributive process. Span denounced Kovsznay for her connections with the Nazis in order to benefit financially from her suspension (or prison internment, if that had happened). Thus it appears that he did not do it simply out of an altruistic intent


98 to ro Kovsznay so that he could obtain the income to begin rebuilding his life and to satisfy he need for retribution This corroborates with what the vast majority of Hungarians in Bu dapest concentrated on in the immediate postwar years: reconstructing their daily lives and to a certain extent receiving retribution Committee to certify them so that they could work, Span sought to prevent Kovsznay from continuing to work as a way to participate in the fur business and profit from her absence. system, which included the Certification Comm ittee, viewed their role in the p rocess. It is unclear to what extent the Committee was corrupted in order to approve people. Yet the bribes they accepted from some of the major companies illustrates that they too were not fully committed to the effort to rid Hungarian society of those th at collaborated with or benefitted from the wartime regimes. From this perspective, neither the Hungarians in Budapest nor the Committee focused solely on thoroughly rooting the city of ex fascists and beneficiaries of the occupation Since corruption in t he Committee continued from the Provisional Government through the end of the coalition government in 1948, both governments were complicit in these activities. Although the Communist politician Lszl Rajk believed that the masses needed to be informed of the corruption cases, several government officials did not hold the same opinion. 48 Peter Bechtler of corruption, then the entire certification process would be discredited. 49 Despite their 48 Papp, 173. 49 I b id.


99 awareness of the corruption issues within the Committee, both governments chose to continue the retribution process. Rather than amend the Committee and court system and pursue a more genuine process of political justice the Hungarian gover nments from 1945 1948 chose to turn a blind eye in order to continue with their plans to architect urally and social reconstruct Hungary.

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100 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION The Certification Committee fought an uphill battle during the immediate postwar years. Most Hung arians in Budapest did not complete the survey in its entirety, as they sought to conceal information about their questionable wartime activities. Using large written and word of mouth testimonies the Committee attempted to piece together nd grievances in order to determine who did what. If approved, it meant that the Committee partially influenced by Communist ideology, certified a war. fascist activities, and did not pose a social, political, or economic threat to their view of ex fascists or bene fitted from the regime, or whose political or socio economic status went against Communist ideas of a classless society. A s demonstrated by the cases of ery closely. This is further substantiated by the unchecked corruption that characterized the Committee proceedings, particularly in the case of approving big businesses. This was because the Certification Committee and thereby by the Communist Party, had other ambitions to contend with at the time. By focusing their attention on those that posed a threat to their vision of postwar Hungary, the Committee failed to effectively penalize the everyday Hungarians that either collaborated with or significantly b enefited from the Nazis. T he Committee accepted corruptive bribes from big business, and only haphazardly punished those that Mrs. Bl Kovsznay. Yet the Committee was not an

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101 isolated entity in the postwar anti fascist pro ceedings. Governmental leaders and officials knew about the corruptive practices, and still they did not attempt to amend the methods in their proceedings either. This demon strates that not only the Certification Committee, but the postwar judicial system in Hungary as a whole did not attempt to thoroughly pursue the retribution process between 1945 1948. This further re than an excuse. It is true that the postwar moment was the first in which retributive justice was attempted on such a large scale. But the corruptive practices and the focus on those that posed a threat to r criminals, particularly at the ground level of society. T he Hungarians in Budapest cannot be left out of the narrative. They too did not contribute to an altruistic retributive process. This is not to say that they had nothing to lose by contributing mor e wholeheartedly. On the contrary, the fear of Communist punishments for their own wartime activities loomed large in their minds. While they cannot be entirely faulted for their refusal to actively denounce others and admit to their own wrongdoings, neith er can they be exculpated from blame entirely. occurred in other European countries. Rather, the evidence has shown that the case of Hungary corroborates what historians l ike Judt, Dek, and Farmer have said about the similarities of the retributive processes across the continent. Although the contextual of national renewal and social cohesio n matched what other countries sought to do at

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102 criminalization of upper level ex Nazis and the major war crimes trials, this study offers other insights. My focus on how Hungarians in Budapest reacted to the attempts at retributive justice illustrates how everyday citizens were impacted by the process, and attempted to hide their past activities when the new political conditions clearly required them to perform a socio cultural abou t face, and begin life anew.

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103 LIST OF REFERENCES Berend, Ivan and Tamas Csorta. Evolution of the Hungarian Economy: 1948 1998, Vol. 1: One and Half Centuries of Semi Successful Modernization Translated by Brian McLean. New York: Columbia University Pres s, 2001. Borhi, Lszl Hungary in the Cold War, 1945 1956: Between the United States and Soviet Union Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press. 2004. Braham, Randolph The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary. Vol.1 New York, NY: C olumbia University Press. 1981. (BFL). Igazlo Bizottsg iratai. 138/a, 138/b. Budapest, Hungary. Holocaus t and Genocide Studies 23 No. 1. Spring 2009. 54 75. Journal of Historical Geography 22. 1. 1995. 300 316. Cole, Tim. Holocaust City: The Making of a Jewish Ghetto New York NY: Routledge Press. 2003. Holocaust Studies Vol. 11. Summer 2005. No. 1. 55 74. Faces of Death: Visualizing Histo ry Edited by Andrea Pet and Klaartje Schrujvers. Pisa, Edizioni Plus: Pisa University Press, 2009. Frommer, Ben. National Cleansing: Retribution Against Nazi Collaborators in Postwar Czechoslovakia New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Genocide an d Rescue: The Holocaust in Hungary, 1944 Edited by David Cesarani. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers. 1997. Andrs. Modern Hungarian Society in the Making: An Unfinished Experience Budapest, Hungary: Central European Press. 1995. Gyni, Gbor. Parlor and Kitchen: Housing and Domestic Culture in Budapest: 1870 1940 Budapest, Hungary: Central European Univ ersity Press. 2002. Kenez, Peter. Hungary from the Nazis to the Soviets: the Establishment of the Communist Regime in Hungary: 1944 1948 Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. 2006.

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104 Mrai, Sndor Memoir of Hungary: 1944 1948 T ranslated by Albert Tez la Budapest Hungary: Corvina and Central European Press. 1972. gazol eljarsok s a hbors bnk megtorlsa 1945 tan Magyarorszgon (The Certification Processes and the Punishment of War Crimes After 1945 in Hungary). AETAS 24. vf. 2009. 2. Szm. 162 179. Contemporary European History Vol. 13. No. 4. Theme Issue: Political Legitimacy in Mid Twentieth Century Europe. Nov., 2004. 453 475. The Politi cs of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath Edited by Istvn Dek Jan Gross, Tony Judt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2003. Social History of Hungary: From the Reform Period to the End of the Twentieth Century Edited by Gbo r Gyani, Gyrgy Kvr, and Tibor Valuch. Translated by Mario Fenyo. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. 2004. Vogt, Timothy. Denazification in Soviet occupied Germany: Brandenburg, 1945 1948 Cambridge: Ha rvard University Press, 2000.

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105 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Johanna Mellis received her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Charleston in University of Florida in May of 2012. She is continuing with her studies in Hungarian histo ry as a doctoral student at the University of Florida beginning in the fall of 2012.