Deep-Rooted yet Alien: Some Aspects of the History of the Jews in Subcarpathian Ruthenia
In 1930 some 110,000 Jews were living in Subcarpathian Ruthenia. The Jews formed fifteen per cent of the multi-ethnic population of that region, and had lived there continuously for around 200 years. Relatively little research has been carried out relating to their history. One third lived in the towns and was culturally and socially similar to Hungarian Jewry. The remainder — mostly farmers, woodmen, or the unemployed — lived in the rural areas in extreme poverty. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, with Hungary controlling the region, antisemitism was rampant and the Jews (Kazars) were blamed for the poverty in Ruthenia. After the World War I, the Jews of the area were granted Czechoslovakian citizenship and some associated themselves with the Zionist movement in that country. In the 1930s fascists supported annexation by Ukraine and antisemitism increased but the annexation plan was cancelled. At the end of 1938 and beginning of 1939, Hungary annexed the region and 100,000 Eastern Jews were added to the “old” population — those domiciled in Hungary prior to 1850. Thus, many Eastern Ruthenian Jews found themselves stateless, jobless, and with little possibility of finding refuge in either Hungary or Ruthenia. In March 1944 Hungary occupied Subcarpathian Ruthenia and its Jews were included in the first transports to Auschwitz from Hungary.