Hungary - an Asylum for the Refugees of Europe
Hungary provided a refuge for Jews from 1938 until March 1944, when massive deportations commenced. The Hehalutz underground movement was actively involved in rescue operations during those years. The Hungarian Jews, fearing severe punishment at the hands of the Germans, were relatively indifferent to the fate of the 10,000 Slovakian refugees. However, the Hungarian government repeatedly refused Eichmann’s request to hand over all the Jews on its soil to the Germans. In the second half of 1942, Hungarian Jewry set up the Relief and Rescue Committee headed by Komoly, Kastner, Springman, Brand, and representatives of the Slovakian Hehalutz Youth Movement. Many Slovak and Polish Jews were smuggled across the Slovak border into Hungary. In Budapest they were supplied with forged documents and several groups numbering more than 6,000 persons reached Palestine. The German occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944, induced reverse movement from Hungary to Slovakia and thence to Romania and Yugoslavia. Some refugees, assisted by local Jews, survived in Budapest by going into hiding until the city was liberated. It may be concluded that political considerations were decisive factors in providing asylum for refugees. Liberal circles in parliament voiced strong opposition to Nazi policy and created an image of another, positive Hungary. Jewish resistance rose up splendidly to the challenge.