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Holocaust documents trove unearthed in

Budapest apartment
More than 6,000 historically valuable documents, long thought destroyed during the
war, found hidden in wall cavity by couple renovating apartment

A document dating from 1944 that is part of around 6,300 census forms of
Budapests then Jewish population. Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty
Images
A vast and historically valuable trove of Holocaust-era documents, long
thought destroyed during the second world war, has been found hidden in a
wall cavity by a couple renovating their Budapest apartment.
The haul of 6,300 documents are from a 1944 census that was a precursor to
the intended liquidation of the Hungarian capitals 200,000 Jews in Nazi
death camps.
Brigitte Berdefy, co-owner of the apartment overlooking Hungarys
parliament, said in August a worker detected paper after jamming a
screwdriver through a crack in the wall.

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We thought wed ruined the neighbours wallpaper, Berdefy said.
But then her husband Gabor peered through the crack and saw what looked
like handwriting.
Carefully removing each brick, the couple eased out around 61 kilogrammes
(135 pounds) of dusty papers, many with bits of plaster caked on, but all more
or less intact.
With the ink still readable thanks to a lack of air in the cavity and nicotine
from the heavy-smoking former owner the yellowed papers were given to
the Budapest city archives.
Istvan Kenyeres, head of the archives, was amazed.
Most wartime papers are more faded or rotten than medieval documents, on
bad quality paper due to the rationing, Kenyeres said.

The content and scale of the finding is unprecedented, he said. It helps to


fill a huge gap in the history of the Holocaust in Budapest.
Since September restorers at the archives have been ironing the papers to
study them, pausing occasionally when they spot someone famous among the
scrawled names.

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The May 1944 Budapest census was to identify houses to serve as holding
locations for Jews before moving them to a planned walled ghetto in the citys
seventh district.
Two months earlier Nazi Germany had occupied Hungary and deportations in
the countryside to the gas chambers of Auschwitz began almost immediately.
The forms found in the Budapest apartment contain names of each buildings
inhabitants, and whether they are Jewish or not, with total numbers of
Christians and Jews marked in the corners.

Jewish people filled in the forms honestly, they refused to believe where this
might end up, said Kenyeres.
Shortly after the census, around 200,000 Jews were moved into 2,000
selected buildings, Yellow Star Houses with the Star-of-David Jewish symbol
painted on the doors.
Thanks to the Berdefys, we know that if a lot of Jews lived in a building then
it likely became a Yellow Star House, Kenyeres said.
In late 1944, they were crammed into the ghetto, where some died of
starvation or were shot next to the river a poignant memorial of abandoned
iron shoes today marks the spot.
The arrival of the Russian army in January 1945 saved the rest though, and
unlike the Jews from outside the city, most of Budapests Jewish population
survived.
An estimated total of 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust,
most in Auschwitz.
Kenyeres said an estimated 23,000 more documents may still be out there
which would give further valuable insight into what happened in 1944 and
would also be digitised and made available to the public if they turned up.
People should look behind their walls, you never know in Budapest what
could be there.