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The book is a comparative presentation of case studies on the implementation and impact of Hungary's antisemitic state policies in two towns in southern Hungary. The author stresses that, even though ghettoization and mass deportations did not take place in Hungary until after the German occupation of the country in the spring of 1944, Hungary’s anti-Jewish policies were not introduced as a result of Nazi pressure. Rather, Hungary’s own antisemitic laws and decrees that came into effect from 1938 envisaged a social and economic “changing of the guard” - the transference to non-Jews of property and positions held by Jews, as an attempt by the Hungarian government to treat the perceived symptoms of economic and social problems instead of introducing real solutions. Although, in part, ordered from above, implementation of the antisemitic measures was strongly influenced by local conditions. The case studies examine the realization of Hungary's antisemitic program in two towns, which are just a few kilometers apart but were separated during the interwar years by an international border - Hódmezővásárhely in Trianon Hungary and Szabadka (Subotica) in the so-called historical Southern Province, re-annexed by Hungary from Yugoslavia in 1941. Even though the economic profile and social structure of the two towns were similar, their military-political conditions and ethic relations differed significantly. The booklet shows local characteristics of the authorities' discriminatory objectives and strategies; it also focuses on the involvement of non-Jews in the implementation of the antisemitic laws, and on how these affected the lives of the towns' Jewish communities.
Randolph L. Braham