Hungarian Jewish Council , March 20-July 7, 1944
Yad Vashem Studies, Volume XXX
The Foundation and Activities of the Hungarian Jewish Council
The article discusses how the Central Jewish Council in Hungary was founded at the behest of the German authorities after the German occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944, how the local Jewish councils were organized in the provinces, and how these councils got in touch with the Hungarian authorities. Besides using the memoirs of Jewish Council members written immediately after World War II, the article relies mostly on heretofore unresearched contemporary documents. The author disagrees with Ernő Munkácsi, Jenő Lévai, and Randolph L. Braham, who hold the leaders of the Hungarian Jews, apart from the Nazis and their Hungarian accomplices, responsible for the death of over half a million Hungarian Jews. The author agrees with Asher Cohen, Robert Rozett, and Yehuda Bauer that information was coming into Hungary from the neighboring countries, but most of those who heard of the horrors on the radio, or from refugees, or from Zionist young people would not believe the unbelievable. It is a fact that the Jewish Council chose to cooperate with the authorities. This, however, does not mean that they wanted to help only their own relatives and friends only. The essay attempts to contribute to a more balanced picture of the Hungarian Jewish Council.