Part 2: Antisemitism in Hungary from 1918 to 1945


The First Jewish Law, submitted on April 8, 1938, limited the percentage of Jews to 20 percent in the free professions, in administrative jobs, and as employees of commercial enterprises. commercial and industrial. Opposition parties strongly attacked the draft; however, it was ratified by both houses of parliament. The Second Jewish Law was promulgated on May 5 1939; This act expanded the definition of a Jew on the basis of race and further restricted the economic activities of those who were considered Jews. The 20% rate set by the first Jewish law was reduced to 6%. 

Official Jewish organizations, especially the Israelite community of Pest, launched extensive social activities to help Jews who have been pushed out of economic life. Those affected by the law have also tried to find a way to solve this problem. As the number of conversions increased (about 5,000 Jews converted after the first Jewish law was passed), the number of “Christian” employees began to increase in “Jewish” companies and some try to circumvent the law by signing phony contracts to “Aryanize” their business. The first (1938) and second (1940) Vienna decisions increased the size of Hungary. 

The third racist Jewish law (Act XV of 1941) forbids sexual relations between Jews and Christians and classifies another 58,320 people who did not claim to be Jewish. In fact, the number of Jewish Christians is much higher than this: in mid-1941, possibly exceeding 85,000.

The Hungarian Jewish community suffered its first loss in July 1941, when 16,000 to 18,000 Jews of doubtful citizenship were deported to Ukraine, then under German rule. Most were murdered near Kam’ianets’-Podil’s’kyi. The second major loss occurred in January 1942, when Hungarian gendarmes and soldiers murdered about 800 Jews in Bacska while pursuing Serbs. In 1940-1941, Jews were excluded from regular military service and had to do forced labor. In November 1942, forced labor became compulsory for all Jewish men between the ages of 24 and 33. After the attack on the Soviet Union, units of forced labor were also sent to the front, their number gradually increased to 50,000. After the great Red Army breakthrough across the Don River (January 1943), between 40,000 and 43,000 in forced labor died or fell into captivity in Russia.

In early 1943, the government introduced a program to remove all Jews from public life and culture, and a policy was implemented to limit the share of Jews in the economy to 6%. Land owned or leased by Jews was almost entirely confiscated, and “racial protection” laws separated Jews from the rest of Hungarian society. When the situation worsened in early 1944 and Hungary began to look to the Allies, Hitler ordered a military occupation of Hungary. The Hungarian Holocaust, the destruction of which much of the so-far unscathed Hungarian Jewish community was the result of the invasion of March 19. Its beginnings are represented by the arrival of the Eichmann Commando in Budapest in March 19. 


“Hungary and the Jews. from Golden Age to Destruction, 1895-1945.” Sciences Po portal, September 21, 2015.

“Hungary.” YIVO.

Tóth, Csaba. “Boross: It’s High Time We Rethink Hungary’s Interwar Regime.” The Budapest Beacon. The Budapest Beacon, December 15, 2014.

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