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The fate of the Veszprém Jewry from 1938 to 1944 - as reflected in Episcopal documents and the

local Catholic press (research continued)
In accordance with the previous research plan, an image could be presented on how the local
Catholic press (Veszprém News) (VH) interpreted the provisions of the 1st anti-Jewish law at the
beginning of the period under investigation, in 1938; and how it communicated the expectations of
the government policy on the topic to its readers. As a result of revealing new sources and based on
earlier literature, the events at the end of the period investigated in 1944 have been placed in the
context of church history with particular attention to the deportation of the Veszprém Jewry. In the
present phase of the research, I want to focus on revealing and discovering the processes and the
background partly by reviewing the local media of 1919 and partly by researching the archive sources
of the years from 1939 to 1943.

Press documents related to the Jewry in the 1919 issues of Veszprém News
The Veszprém News issued by the Veszprém Episcopal Printing House was published three
times a week in the era of the Hungarian Peoples’ Republic under Mihály Károlyi; the editor-in-chief
was a priest of the diocese Dr József Hoss, professor of theology and its managing editor was Dr
Rezső Rupert, lawyer. A message of the editorial board from that period was addressed to a certain
Sch. M., in which the paper defended the smallholders’ party favoured by Rupert against the
accusation of being anti-Semitic, and at the same time, it says the country Jewry can be won over for
Christian and civic politics:
The smallholders-agrarian workers’ party is not anti-Semitic. The smallholders’ party is the party of
the villages and the towns with a majority of agrarian workers. In those place the Jews live scattered
and peacefully and call forth neither envy nor misled animosity against themselves all the less so as
they are a negligible minority. There is no reason for that, because the Jews of the countryside are
honest, patriotic and good Hungarian people living in agreement and undisturbed friendship with us.
They are more anti-Semitic than Christian Hungarians towards their fellow followers in Pest that
acknowledge no homeland or God that swap their religion and their names out of self-interest. Those
people have no objection to the Christian nature of the country, which is carried by Christianity
anyway whether or not you want it … We have quite many Jewish compatriots, who are Christian
socialists, whose patriotism is stronger than their religious belief and who wish to enforce it by taking
sides with those who he believes are better Hungarians than other socialist factions rejecting religion
and insensitive to the homeland. Yes, the main question today is not religion but the question of who
is a good Hungarian. Otherwise the town Jews can nicely find their place in the civic parties of the
town, where you cannot incite religious antagonism even with violence. We are happy to see that the
civic parties of the countryside are strong Hungarian parties and the Jewry is not radical in the
countryside.1
Following the announcement of the Peoples’ Republic, as of 30 March, the publication of the
Veszprém News was suspended, but immediately after the fall of the Peoples’ Republic, it was relaunched by Hoss and Rupert on 10 August as a ‘political weekly’; and soon it was published three
1

Veszprém News (VH), Vol. XXVII, Issue 13; 11 February, 1919, p. 3.

times a week as a ‘political paper’ in accordance with its header ‘licensed by the commander of the
occupying Royal Romanian Forces’. At the beginning, the line of the paper was close to the
smallholders’ party being organised at the time lead by István Sokorópátkai Szabó (United
Smallholders’ and Agrarian Workers’ Party; it merged with the National Smallholders’ and Agrarian
Workers’ Party led by Nagyatádi Szabó on 29 November) of which the lawyer Rupert was the
Veszprém President; however, his name was removed from the heading of the paper early in
October. The paper also published the announcements of the re-established Christian Socialist Party
(Christian Social Economy Party, which merged on 25 October with the Christian National Party to
establish the Party of Christian National Unity), under the local leadership of Dr Gábor Fassánok, who
had become the managing editor of the Veszprém News from March 1920. As it is well-known, the
Parliamentary elections executed in several phases in 1920-1921 ended with the Party of the
Christian National Unity and the Smallholders’ Party receiving the highest number of votes (38% and
34%, respectively) and joined forces in a coalition; Rezső Rupert had become a Parliament
representative of the Smallholders’ Party; but he became a member of the opposition from 1922.
Jews are first mentioned in the new issues of the Veszprém News in an announcement of the
local organisation of the Christian Socialist Party published on 24 August: No more Communism, no
more subversive actions by the Jews resulting in a detonation! Our eyes are now clear. (National unity
is the remedy). Not this socialism is to be blamed but the other one that has been expropriated out of
foreign racial interests with an intention to kill our nation.2 It should be noted that both here and in
the following sections the term ‘race’ used frequently could simply mean ‘people’ or ‘kind’ (e.g., ‘the
Hungarian kind of people’), but it could also express a feeling of separation from the Jewry
(‘thoroughbred Hungarians’ - ‘foreign race’) and it also had a racist meaning. In the same issue a
report on the reorganisation of the smallholders’ party - arguing with the rival Christian socialists –
mentioned that one or two Christian socialists had also been accepted in the government in
Budapest so that the whole image should not be fully that of a synagogue.3
The next article was published in Veszprém News under the title ‘A Christian worker speaking
to its mates’ (the author being a worker cannot be anything but literary fiction), which takes the
responsibility of the Commune off the shoulders of industrial workers and calls their attention to
Christian socialism (there were important industrial and mining settlements in the county of
Veszprém): We dare to look into the eye of everybody with our heads held high, because that was not
a coup by the workers. It was well-expressed by the speaker of the day of King Stephen; it was a coup
by the bocher Lenins, the coup of those who had come into our holy homeland, the land of the Virgin
Mary conquered by our ancestors with blood in poverty and infested it as leeches. They already had
so much money not obtained in the fairest way that they could buy houses, lands, plains and in the
end they wanted to buy the country. What is more, in their unlimited arrogance, they went so far as
to turn openly against Christians, against those who had obtained this holy land.4
The Christian Socialist Party held its assembly on 31 August with the local president, Gábor
Fassánok delivering an address: He said “he opens the assembly of the Party after four months of
oppression with religious awe in his soul… We are responsible for what has happened because the
flame of love went out in our hearts, we were not of the same belief, we lived in hatred and we failed
2

VH, Vol. XXVII, Issue 36, 24 August, 1919, 1.
VH, Vol. XXVII, Issue 36, 24 August, 1919, 1.
4
VH, Vol. XXVII, issue 40, 2 September, 1919, 1.
3

to realise meanwhile that another race as some kind of vampire cajoled our nation, dazed it to suck
its blood.5
The anti-Jewish atrocities committed partly by the officers’ commandos of the ‘White Terror’
(their headquarters, Siófok used to belong to the county of Veszprém at the time) and partly by local
residents also belong to the chronicle of those weeks around Veszprém. They were not only directed
against the Communists exposed during the Council Republic. Such raids sometimes with fatal
consequences were carried out in August at Balatonfőkajár, Berhida, Lepsény, Várpalota and
Vörösberény near Veszprém as well.6 In the Veszprém News the topic was first mentioned at the
beginning of September in an article entitled ‘Ernő Garami, an honest man’. The author complains
that the social democratic politician helps the global press purchased on Jewish money to howl,
because Garami complained to the Viennese Neue Freie Presse on 31 August about - among others the fact that there had been bloody pogroms in the Trans-Danubian region. In that regard, the author
of the article says that there have been outbreaks of the anger of the people at some places and if
they have hit the innocent, it is unfortunate but understandable.7 The paper failed to report on the
anti-Jewish atrocities around Veszprém but it did report that there had been no pogrom at Devecser:
What is true is that on 31 August, 20-30 young men gathered in a gang went around visiting the
Jewish houses one after the other to - as they said - scare them a little bit. However, the smallholders
and tradesmen of Devecser headed by Sheriff Endre Belák and cabinet maker Béla Baják, the father of
Pista Baják, the young martyr,8 stemmed any major problem and cooled every passion. They
explained that Christian citizens would not fight innocent individuals, they only oppose the Jewish
race that they wish to push out of the field of businesses exceeding their proportion in a peaceful
manner by establishing a fully Christian agriculture, industry, trade and intelligentsia. For that, they
do not need to destroy any individuals. The Jews at Devecser anyway are different - except for two or
three people - from the Jews who had not wanted to acknowledge the rule of the Christian race
before.9
The continuing anti-Jewish atrocities (there was a pogrom on 9 September with nine people
dead at Diszel that belonged to the Veszprém diocese at the time although it was in Zala County),
and especially their international response drove politicians to speak up against people taking the
law into their own hands, which had its effect in the press as well. The Veszprém News, at the
beginning of October, took over an announcement made by Count Gyula Andrássy, the earlier head
of the Anti-Bolshevik Committee (ABC) (and by the way the father-in-law of Mihály Károlyi) from the
paper of the Christian Socialists, the New Generation dealing with the Jewish issue: The Government
regards it as its urgent task to settle the Jewish issue because you cannot avoid that. There is no

5

VH, Vol. XXVII, issue 40, 2 September, 1919, 1.
For the list of settlements, cf. Géza Komoróczy: A zsidók története Magyarországon. [The history of Jews in
Hungary.] Pozsony, 2012. II. 381-389. – for the cases mentioned here, cf. Antiszemita atrocitások, gyilkosságok,
pogromok a fehérterror időszakában. [Anti-Semitic atrocities, murders and pogroms at the time of the White
Terror.] By Gábor Kádár - Zoltán Vági, ed. István Dancs.
http://konfliktuskutato.hu/index.php?option=com_content&wiev=article&id=138:antiszemita...
7
VH, Vol. XXVII, issue 41, 4 September, 1919, 2.
8
At Devecser, the news were spread on 5 May that the proletarian dictatorship had fallen and as a result, the
leadership of the village was taken over at the Village Hall. In the evening of 6 May, the Lenin-boys led by László
Szamuely arrived, re-established Communist rule and executed four people including the teacher and reserve
lieutenant István Baják.
9
VH, Vol. XXVII, Issue 41, 4 September 1919, 3.
6

doubt that the majority of the nation have completely turned away from the Jewry since it could see
what power the Jewry provided for anti-national, anarchic forces. It had been loathsome for the
nation particularly because it felt how well it had been dealing with the Jews, how many rights it had
given them... The Government in power today should feel it its main responsibility to guarantee that
the anti-Jewish spirit should not lead to pogroms or the persecution of the innocent.10 In the same
issue of the paper, also referring to the New Generation, statistical figures were published on the
penetration of Jews: the disproportionate increase of the number of Jews (in the two centuries from
1720, the population of the country increased six fold but that of the Jewry to 49 times as much), on
freehold land and land lease in the hands of Jews.
On 11 October, in the main square of Veszprém (Széchenyi square; today: Old city square)
the openly racist ‘Awakening Hungarians’ had their meeting (the League of Awakening Hungarians;
ÉME), where, according to the press report, all strata of the Christian society of the City of Veszprém
took part in great numbers. Their noble behaviour… was a living confutation to a base libel spread in
advance which had been used trying to prevent holding the meeting under the pretext that the
awakening Hungarians would allow two hours of free looting to the mob after the meeting. Dr Jenő
Bárdossy, central officer of the League pointed out that the big disaster hitting the country and
resulting in Communism was the result and was due to the foreign race having immigrated here.
Their goal is to put that right and to make the country Hungarian once again. No need for pogroms to
take the life of innocent people for that. But they will expulse the invading aliens that abused their
hospitality. Lajos Lukácsovich a representative of the party centre explained among others the
subversive actions of the exploiting race against our nation, he reiterated the goals of the League,
then following a few hard words addressed to the Jews he took an oath to express that Saint
Stephen’s country will be a happy one using terrorism if necessary. Sándor Tihanyi-Kiss, local minister
of the Reformed Church emphasised that ÉME was a ‘civil initiative’ that is not controlled by
opportunist politicians in Budapest: We thunder about Christian Hungary, but we are not Christian in
our actions, money-idolising Judaism is the driving force. That is why it is necessary to establish a
Christian and Hungarian organisation free of politics in the social sphere… He also dealt with the
issue of anti-Semitism. If we - he said - are anti-Semitic, then Moses had been anti-Semitic and Christ
as well who had ousted the peddlers from the Temple. We are not anti-Semitic but not one letter can
be published here and not one voice can be sounded if it is not permeated by the flaming love of
Christian Hungary... We do not want to take anybody’s life, but we cannot stand the fetid Babylonian
air of Budapest.11
In preparation for the Parliamentary elections announced, the parties held their meetings in
the main square of Veszprém in the first part of October. The Christian Socialist Party had its meeting
on the 13th, with the participation of Károly Ereky, Minister of Food Control and Károly Huszár,
Minister of Religion and Public Education (Veszprém News estimated the number of the audience at
four thousand people). Károly Ereky first dealt with current political issues (the Government had
been acknowledged by the Entente, the establishment of the army, food control), and then he said:
They would do everything in their power to make the holy cross prevail everywhere and an honest
Christian society could develop honouring the races in this country according to their merits. They do
not want to harm the Jews and he asks the audience to refrain from any individual atrocity, on the
10
11

VH, Vol. XXVII, 56, 12 October, 1919, 1.
VH, Vol. XXVII, 57, 14 October, 1919, 1.

other hand the Jews should give up their arrogant ways, because we cannot stand their power. Then
he went on to speak about the public administration programme of the Government, and continued
as follows: It is very important that the Hungarian people should take commerce in its own hands the
same way as it has been done by the German people… He cited statistics saying that there were not
so many Jews in the whole of Europe as there were in Budapest and Nagyvárad. Particular emphasis
must be made so that the trading of crops and the banks should be in the hands of Christians. He is
looking forward to the happy moment when the first Christian bank is established in Budapest and
then Christian Hungarians and not foreigners will be able to manage their own moneys.
According to Károly Huszár, fifty years of wrong politics had taken the country where it was. It
had prevented every kind of healthy development until there had been too much tension in the
machine and we had had two blasts of the boilers one after the other. Then he looked back at the
beginning of the war and pointed out that Hungarians could only be losers… Its reason was that the
Hungarian Christian spirit had become weak particularly because of the press and therefore, you
could insult the traditions of the nation unpunished and in the end 24 commissars 18 of whom were
not Christians had been appointed to control twenty million Hungarians. (Down with them! Up with
them!) The Jews themselves were fretting over this the most because that faithless company had not
respected the religion of the Jews, either. We have to return to our foundations of a thousand years
to preserve our nation. It is not anti-Semitism, it is not hatred, but Christians can be just as sensitive
as the Jews are. And when speaks about Christians, he means Hungarians. Some people - he
continued - think of violent actions. But Christians can only act in such a way that will allow them to
account for before God with a clear conscience. Those who demand violence are not the true sons of
the country. We welcome every fair-dealing Jew as our brother and compatriot (A voice from the
crowd: But there are none of those! High merriment), but we do not allow them to get the upper
hand. They should fit into the national spirit, and they should work, nobody will harm them. He
outlined then what destruction had been made by the Jewish leaders of proletarians in the church and
other national institutions... So we must be distrustful of the Jewry. We would not disturb them in
their civil life but cannot give them the leading part.12
The Smallholders’ meeting was held on 19 October where the Smallholders’ and Agrarian
Workers’ Party of the county was established. There the competition of different smallholder
factions was the main topic (differences between Sokorópátkai and Nagyatádi), and the issues of
improving country Hungary because according to the local party head, the corrupt capital cannot be
the leader of the country any longer. Dénes Patacsi, an Under-secretary of State of the Ministry of
Agriculture said that new people were needed in Parliament from among the smallholders and small
tradesmen and that they would strive to reach an accord of the classes on the basis of Christian
morals, and then he added: We do not want pogroms, we only want the triumph of Christian morals
to live and die here united in the love of our beautiful land. But it is not for those who only want to
live here as long as they may ‘gescheft’. Gábor Köllő, the central secretary of the Party explained we
have armed our enemies ourselves, because the Hungarian people have put their money into Jewish
banks; if it needed a loan, it had taken it from a Jewish bank and while they had become richer we
had become poorer. You can only put the issue right if the countryside stopped providing any more
food stuffs to the people who had moved in here with a single bundle but who had become rich here;

12

VH, Vol. XXVII, 57, 14 October, 1919, 1-2.

instead, food stuffs should be sold via the Ants Cooperatives that have it as their goal. In that way,
Christian commerce may be developed.13

Articles in the Veszprém News in 1939
Preparations for the 2nd anti-Jewish law
As Act No. XV of 1938, better known as the 1st anti-Jewish law was discussed in Parliament
and after it was passed on 29 May 1938, the Government announced that the so-termed Jewish issue
can be settled satisfactorily when the Act is executed. The same was suggested by an address given
by Prime Minister Béla Imrédy in Kaposvár on 4 September: ‘in that way, the legislation launched by
the draft law mentioned earlier has been completed; its goal is to confine the exorbitant influence
exerted by the Jews in domestic business and spiritual life, which cannot be regarded as healthy, to a
measure that seems to be desirable and absolutely necessary from the perspective of national
interests and social peace’. However, in his memorandum of 13 November and also at an assembly
of the Government Party held two days later (Party of National Unity, NEP) the Prime Minister
expressed the necessity of a ‘more perfect settlement’ of the Jewish issue considering the new
situation that arose after the 1st Vienna Award (2 November), due to the large number of orthodox
Jews on the territories returned to Hungary. In that light, the Government decided to narrow the
20%-quota introduced by the 1st anti-Jewish law related to certain trades as well as that of the
exceptions in the law and submitted a draft of the new law to the Parliament on 23 December,
where the Committee discussion of the draft was commenced on 23 January, 1939.14
The editorial of the 26 February, 1939 issue of Veszprém News discussed the 2nd anti-Jewish
law (On the Jewish proposal).15 Given its content, it can be assumed that the author marked with his
initials (Dr S. A.) might have had qualifications in theology. The article is quite interesting because it
combines the usual anti-Semitic stereotypes with discussions on church history and ethics. The
article is linked to a booklet published in defence of the Hungarian Jewry (Church and Society on the
racial theory and the Draft to the 2nd Anti-Jewish law. Periscope publication), which according to the
author of Veszprém News, is highly suitable to deceive Christian Hungarians. However, the author
believes the draft law intends to be an ethical proposal for the protection of the nation: it wants to
protect the values of Saint Stephen, of Christianity and of the nation against the Jewry fatally
attacking the ethical, social and economic foundations of private life, the life of the nation and of
society. You must judge the draft from that perspective only. We are not attacking! We are only
defending ourselves. Please, understand, people cannot endure the chains of their exploitation and
humiliation any longer. They feel strong enough to take up arms against those idolisers of gold that
have humiliated everything.
Undoubtedly, the Jewish proposal forecasts extremely strong measures. Well-meaning people
feel an understandable empathy hearing that the law will hit the innocent as well… Still, the draft
had to be compiled, because compassion cannot be blind, it must see the bleeding heart of the
13

VH, Vol. XXVII, 60, 21 October, 1919, 1.
Claudia K. Farkas: Jogok nélkül. A zsidó lét Magyarországon. [Deprived of rights. Jewish existence in Hungary]
1920-1944. (Politikatörténeti füzetek XXXII) Budapest: Napvilág Kiadó, 2010. 160-168.
15
VH, Vol. XLVII, 9, 26 February, 1939, 1-2.
14

millions standing on the other side whose fate was not followed with tears in the eyes of the Jews,
rather with contemptuous insensibility and high-handed richness. If you want to judge the whole
complex issue covered by the draft correctly and justly, you have to see the individual events in the
context of the whole. It has been like that in history all the time. A swing in one direction was
followed by a swing in the opposite direction; the period of injustice, corruption and lechery was
followed by bitter general punishment… Man that is immortal will only see the total balance in the
other world; mortal people, however, have to bear the consequence of their actions already here on
Earth. In addition, we also know the so-termed collective responsibility according to which the
individual is bound to the actions of the community and must take responsibility together with the
others somehow, as a result of which the fate of the community will be the fate of the individual; it is
linked to its community both regarding its past and its future; quite often, the grandsons and greatgrandsons have to pay for the debts and misgivings of the fathers. Next, the author listed the
injustices the Hungarian people suffered at the end of the 1st World War and in the period of the
revolutions by the hands of - in his opinion - the Jews.
If you want to learn the correct Christian opinion relating to the Jewish issue, you do not have
to read the yellow booklet of Periscope but you have to look into the mirror of history. You will soon
realise that the opinion of the church on the Jewish issue is not at all identical to the liberal humanism
of the last century when the emancipation of the Jews was implemented. The church tradition
relating to the Jewish issue is identified by the religious ideas of the Church. On the one hand, the
Church acknowledges the natural human rights of the Jews and has taken them into protection
against illegal violence and tyranny, but on the other hand, it draws a line of separation between
Jews and Christians and has been protecting the approach to life of Christians against the Jewish
spirit with diverse results when the kings allowed the Jewry to have greater influence in social life in
return for material advantages. Next, there is a list of provisions by the Synod and the Pope aiming to
separate Christians from Jews.
The protectionist measures of the Church had felt their influence as long as the Church had a
major impact on the life of the State. But as that impact slowly came to an end, particularly from the
period of the Enlightenment, others took the management of the fate of European peoples in their
hands and since then the part played by Jews in public life has increased considerably. As a result of
Jewish emancipation, the Christian spirit has been expulsed and perverted. Economic and cultural
centres have been taken over by Jews… If you want to assess the Jewish issue in Central-Europe
correctly, you must not close your eyes to obvious facts, i.e., the Jewish minority drove business life,
commerce and industry into the harness of capitalism built on merciless money, whose goal has not
been the liberation of peoples and the promotion of their well-being but just the contrary, and the
accumulation of money unmeasured in the hands of the Jews... Long series of blatant crimes have
made the Jewish issue opportune, which cannot be hushed by any power of money. We perceive the
fate of the innocent with sorrow and compassion and we protest against brutalities, but we do
demand an earnest solution of the Jewish issue and the promotion of the Christian spirit to gain
power in all aspects of our national, social and private life.
The appeal of the United Christian Party to the party organisations
The Christian Party had been part of the party structure of the Horthy regime right from the
beginning – although it had survived dissolutions and mergers and had changed its official name

several times - representing Catholic politics in its diminishing Parliamentary fraction. There occurred
a major turn in the political line of the formation bearing the name United Christian Party since 1937
at the end of 1938 and beginning of 1939: the party having represented moderately oppositional
politics until then supported the Government beginning from November 1938; its associate
organisation operating in the capital, the Christian City Party merged with the government party at
local level in February 1939. An appeal by party leadership published in the paper of the Diocese
partly intended to explain the above turn, and partly – in preparation for the elections - it responded
to the fact that ‘dissidents’ from the government party established the Christian National
Independence Party with a name that could confuse the voters. In the end, it had to justify the
further presence of the Christian Party all the more so because control in those months was taken
over by those sympathising with right-wing radicalism (pushing into the background the
conservatives and Christian democrats) within that heterogeneous political formation.16
In the Veszprém News, an ‘appeal of the United Christian Party to the party organisations’
was published on 26 March, 1939.17 The party regarding itself the successor of the Catholic Popular
Party established in 1895 used the paper of the Diocese to communicate its memoranda to the
public in Veszprém. Regarding the ‘Jewish issue’, the political statement remonstrated its identity
with the government policy on the one hand, and on the other hand, it emphasised the party had
been fighting for the implementation of that programme ever since its foundation. Although the
Christian Party had already lost its political influence by then and its MPs did not take a uniform view
on the ‘Jewish issue’ and racism, the readers of the paper of the Diocese could see the following
statement in the spring of 1939 under the title ‘Christian politics’.
Our party supports the Government of Count Pál Teleky (sic!), because we believe he seriously intends
to implement the modern social reforms protecting the nation, among others the Jewish issue and the
issue of the land reform, that have been in the focus of our party consistently for four decades ever
since its establishment.
As a result of collaboration established with the Government party in Budapest, the Party will
be in the forefront of protecting the nation with unified forces in the capital where such a Christian
union is greatly necessary now when we are preparing to finally get things squared with the
abundance of Jewish liberal elements. Our Party struggles for eternal ideas, for divine and human
justice. This Party was established when the Jewish liberal era was raging in its excessive power, when
the Christian and often the national ideas were jeered at. This Party has often been left alone but it
has always been in the front line of the fight for Christian national ideas against the liberal Jewry. In
this Titanic fight, it has always been the target of its powerful adversary, so - although diminished but
never defeated - here is this Party standing above the falling power or liberal Jewry, its eternal foe.

Documents related to Jews from the time Gyula Czapik was the Bishop of Veszprém (1939-1943)
Priests of Jewish origin, candidates to the Seminary

16

Levente Püski: A Horthy-rendszer. (Modern magyar politikai rendszerek) [The Horthy Regime. Modern
Hungarian political systems] Budapest: Pannonica Kiadó, 86-89.
17
VH, Vol. XLVII, 14, 26 March, 1939, 1-2.

The memoirs of Dr György Kis diocesan priest of Veszprém of Jewish origin is a valuable
source to learn about anti-Jewish prejudice among clericals.18 In the period reviewed, the archives of
the diocese have preserved traces of the following cases linked to priests of Jewish origin or
candidates submitting applications to seminaries:
Lajos Sándor, a priest born in Eger had been consecrated to the service of the Burgenland
Apostolic Administration in Austria. After the Anschluss, he returned to Hungary due to his Jewish
origin and was temporary employed in the Veszprém Diocese (September 1938 to June 1939, Hévíz).
Since he had lost his Hungarian citizenship, the National Office for the Control of Foreigners (KEOH)
expelled him from the country as a stateless person in September 1939. Since he only had two weeks
to settle his affairs, he turned for help to Gyula Czapik, the Bishop of Veszprém who had just taken
over his office (29 September, 1939). The Bishop interceded with the authorities to postpone the
deadline or to issue a residence permit. It seems the citizenship of Lajos Sándor got settled, but not
his church status because he applied for admittance to the Diocese both in 1942 and 1945 (he was
rejected).19
Chaplain Dr István Lukács addressed a letter to the Bishop from Lengyeltóti on 3 December,
1942, explaining he had been appointed as reserve army chaplain to the garrison hospital No. 4 of
the Hungarian Royal Army at Pécs, where he was ordered to present certification of his origins
(because I am to be regarded a Jew in accordance with valid law). Bishop Czapik sent a letter on the
issue to army Bishop István Hász (30 December, 1942), in which he inquired about a potential decree
of the Ministry, which, however, cannot be opposed to the law which says that the priests of
Christian churches are not to be regarded Jews even if they would have to be regarded Jews because
of their origin. Later he informed his priest about the expected order of exemption. 20
József Kausz, the parish priest at Hévizgyörk sent a letter to Bishop Czapik dated 15 July,
1940, in which he recommended his pupil Tibor Smelkó to be admitted to the Veszprém Seminary.
The young man had passed maturity exams two years earlier at Aszód, his mother had been a Jew
who converted in January 1940, the parents had settled their marriage. Smelkó sat an entrance exam
to Vác (Hévizgyörk belonged to the Vác Diocese), but a member of the committee objected to his
admittance. The priest had been his teacher of religious studies for eight years and had been trying
to recommend the young man at two places already but had been rejected. The opinion of Dr István
Beőthy, the rector of the Veszprém Seminary (19 July): Due to his descent, the boy should not be
admitted to the clergy. There was a young man of the same origin among the competitors this year
but he was not admitted. Accordingly, the Bishop replied to the priest (22 July): The admittance of
Seminary students has already been finalised in my Diocese and the numbers are full. Therefore, I
cannot discuss the admittance of Smelkó.21
Jewish teachers at Catholic schools

18

György Kis: Megjelölve Krisztus keresztjével és Dávid csillagával. [Marked with the cross of Christ and the star
of David.] Budapest, 1987. particularly pp. 52-108. – Sándor Szenes: Befejezetlen múlt. Keresztények és zsidók,
sorsok. [Unfinished past. Christians and Jews, fates.] Budapest, 1986. pp. 261-310.
19
Veszprém Archives of the Diocese and Prebend, Acta Dioecesana (VÉL AD) 5360/1939, 5762/1942.
20
VÉL AD 5656/1942, 129/1943.
21
VÉL AD 3974/1940.

Article 5 Act No. IV of 1939 (better known as the 2nd anti-Jewish law), provided that Jewish
high school and primary school teachers had to be sent to retirement or dismissed with severance
payment until 1 January 1943 (with the exemption of teachers at Israelite schools). The provision
affected several teachers at the girls’ schools operating on the territory of the Veszprém Diocese.22
Sometimes there were doubts as regards the application of the law.23 The case of the Israelite
teachers of the Roman Catholic middle school in Pápa is especially interesting. As the Israelite middle
school was closed down there in 1929 the Catholic school took over the students and three teachers
(one of them soon retired) with government mediation on the basis of an agreement concluded
between the two congregations (17 July, 1929). On 30 November, 1939, László Veszely, the
headmaster of the middle school submitted an appeal to the Diocese attaching a proposal compiled
regarding the forced retirement of two Jewish teachers, Artúr Bihari and Lajos Pál requesting it to be
forwarded to the Ministry of Religion and Public Education. The headmaster referred to an earlier
agreement as a result of which the two teachers had been employed at the school and in which the
State had promised to appoint three teachers and also to cover half of the salaries of the Jewish
teachers. Nevertheless, there was only one teacher appointed by the Government at the time the
letter was written and the government subsidy to the salaries was reduced to 35 %. As a result, he
proposed that the Jewish teachers should be removed from the school as soon as possible:
Disregarding the material loss incurred by our Parish in that way, the continued operation of Jewish
teachers is not desirable either from a moral or national perspective… All our efforts are broken on
the appalling moral laxity of the two Jewish teachers who are very far from us in ethical and patriotic
respects. The group of teachers are split by an immeasurable gap; they are two worlds that can never
meet, because on the one side there is our Strength, Christ and on the other side, there is Jewish
liberalism with all its destruction that is foreign to us. – We want to educate a strong Catholic youth
which is permeated by the greatness and beauty of its mission, which is active and not compliant,
which is strong and not weakened. – We are aware that our school has a mission at Pápa, which is a
pocket of fire for the Reformed Church and we would like to fulfil that mission to achieve the
satisfaction of our Church and our Honourable Chief Pastor. The presence of the two Jewish teachers
is the main obstacle to fulfilling our tasks. We have been trying to bear that sorrowful and humiliating
burden on our school with Christian patience and self-discipline; the teachers have been willing to
undertake the extra work required, but we do feel that no really productive collaboration and fresh
momentum can be established without removing the Jewish teachers.24

22

VÉL AD 4276/1940. The Ministry of Religion and Public Education (VKM) sent Magdolna Steuer substitute
teacher at the Nagyatád Roman Catholic girls’ school into regular retirement as of 1 February, 1940; she had
not been entitled to severance payment because she had been in temporary employment since 3 February,
1938, so she failed to reach entitlement to pension or severance payment. The resolution was sent to Sr. Zenke
Tóth M. appointed headmistress (16 January, 1940) by the chief school inspector of the Diocese for
acknowledgement and taking the appropriate measures with the following remark: ‘it seems the order of the
Minister is linked to the Jewish law’. VÉL AD 7553/1942. Nagykanizsa Notre Dame, retirement of Ilona Havas,
teacher at the girls’ grammar school from 1 February, 1942 .
23
VÉL AD 5499/1940. Nagykanizsa Notre Dame, teacher Ilse Edit Radó is required to present certificates again.
VÉL AD 8107/1942, 8605/1942. At Aka, the issue was raised how to regard the candidate Magdolna Kolonits
who had applied for the position of primary school teacher. She was born an illegitimate child but her natural
father had been known to be a Jew.
24
VÉL AD 7330/1939. One of the teachers involved, Artúr Bihari had been the secretary of the Football Section
of the Pápa Sports and Cultural Federation and also the administrator of the Pápa Chess Club from 1926.

Bishop Czapik submitted the request of the Pápa parish to the Ministry of Religion and Public
Education (11 December) requesting that regular teachers Artúr Bihari and Lajos Pál should be sent
into retirement from the end of the school year 1939/40 in accordance with section 2. Article 5 Act IV
of 1939. The Bishop took over - partly verbatim - the arguments of the headmaster and also the
reasoning: Honourable Sir! The further operation of Jewish teachers at a Roman Catholic school is not
desirable either from a Catholic or national perspective. The teachers’ panel of a Catholic school
cannot use 100 % of their resources for the service of Catholic and patriotic education due to its two
Jewish members.25
The Ministry of Religion and Public Education informed the Bishop on 10 February 1940: The
employment of Lajos Pál will be terminated with final retirement, while measures regarding Artúr
Bihari are expected later.26 The reasons for the latter can be learnt from a letter by canon Ferenc
Engelhardt chief school inspector of the Diocese dated 4 April addressed to the relevant councillor of
the Ministry. According to it, Bihari requested him to intervene asking to be sent in retirement later
because he would enter a higher salary class on 1 July. However, the canon rejected it: Taking into
account the strict measures of the anti-Jewish law and the poor qualification of the teacher in
question, I believe I may not submit a request for him.27
Jewish students at Catholic schools
Another group of school issues is related to students of the Israelite confession attending
Catholic schools. Canon Ferenc Engelhardt, the chief school inspector of the Diocese informed the
appointed headmistress of the Fonyód school of the Poor School Sisters named after Our Lady, sister
Evangelist Mária Dusa on 15 November, 1939 that he had received the following denunciation: ‘The
students of the Israelite confession of the Roman Catholic girls’ school at Fonyód led by the nuns
named after Our Lady had been exempted from attending school on Saturdays for the whole school
year according to the permission of the management of the school. Since exemption can only be given
for performing manual labour, we request the relevant authority to investigate the issue.’ I request a
report and explanation on the issue.
The headmistress sister while acknowledging the fact of the exemption requested generous
treatment for the student (18 November, 1939): The school has 1 regular and 2 private Israelite
student. Private students are not obliged to attend school every day. - Piroska Kohn, a student of
grade 2 had been silently excused for her absence on Saturdays because their religion forbids
travelling on trains or on other vehicles on that day. She is a very hard working student who had
made up for her absences successfully; anyway there are two arts classes on that day when she would
not draw anyway so she had only lost two classes because she would make up the drawings
afterwards at classes when the others have religious education. I sent a notice to her mother to send
the child to school also on that day if possible. If she cannot do so, I request very much to find a way
to excuse her. Please, allow this, because as I have said she is an excellent good child. We are not
going to accept any Israelite students next year.

25

VÉL AD 7330/1939.
VÉL AD 4835/1940.
27
VÉL AD 5197/1940.
26

In his answer, the chief inspector ordered the sister to observe the decrees strictly and also
advised her that (boy) private students are only deemed private because there is no separate boys’
school at Fonyód (25 November, 1939): In accordance with Article 108 of the State School
Regulations, students of the Israelite confession may not be exempted from attending school on
Saturdays. If Piroska Kohn of the Israelite confession is a regular student of grade 2, she must attend
school also on Saturdays. When it is the question of the School Regulations, it does not matter
whether or not she is a hardworking and good child. The student should become a private student. I
cannot tell the Israelite private students they can stay at home on Saturdays just because they are
private students. At Fonyód, private students of the Israelite confession attend school just as well as if
they were regular students. The public can see them going to school every day, so they are treated as
regular students. And as soon as the permit arrives from the Ministry of Religion and Public Education
to open a boys’ section, private students will become regular students.28
The headmistress of the Veszprém girls’ school of the Sisters of Mercy, sister Gizella Kerbler
asked the chief school inspector (17 November, 1941) whether an unemployed Jewish teacher might
prepare four private students of the school at Nagyvázsony for their exams? In his reply (23
November) canon Engelhardt advised strictness in the case beyond the effective law: The anti-Jewish
laws currently include no prohibition regarding whether Jewish teachers may or may not prepare
private students for their exams. However, it is not desirable that Jewish teachers should collect
private students. I will not permit a Jewish teacher to teach more than three private students. Were I
to learn that a Jewish teacher prepares more than three private students for their exams without a
permission, I would immediately ban him/her from teaching private students. Anyway, there are
qualified Roman Catholic teachers at Nagyvázsony… It would be advisable to call the attention of the
parents of private students to Catholic teachers.29
The disciplinary case of teachers at Gyulafirátót is related to Article 9 Act XV of 1941 (3rd
anti-Jewish law), which banned the marriage of Jews and non-Jews on a racial basis. It can be learnt
from the documents that László Czeczey, a teacher at Gyulafirátót had been divorced at a civil court.
His status that was problematic by ecclesiastical law was disregarded by both the parish priest and
the Diocese Administration ‘out of extraordinary benevolence’ until he could find another
employment. Czeczey had had an affair with teacher Anna Czirfusz, which was not known to the
priest. Since the man was ‘half-blood’ (his mother was Jewish), and he wanted to marry the primary
school teacher, they concluded a civil marriage before the Act took effect (8 august, 1941) at 10
o’clock in the evening at the end of June because they thought they could prevent the effect of the
anti-Jewish law in that way. The case had come out, and because the marriage had not been
reported to the Diocese Authority, an investigation was started, which, however, was not taken to
the end because the parties resigned from their jobs on 10 September with a notice of resignation.30
Patron’s obligations and settlers on Jewish property
Article 15-16 of Act IV of 1939 (2nd anti-Jewish law) provided about the possession of Jews’
agricultural and forestry land stipulating among others that ‘disregarding any other existing
restrictions, Jews may be obligated to transfer all their agricultural property for the purpose of
28

VÉL AD 6530/1939, 6833/1939.
VÉL AD 9009/1941.
30
VÉL AD 8334/1941 (VIII. 4.), 8517/1941 (VIII. 25.), 8750/1941 (10 September)
29

possession or small leasehold’. As a result, Act IV of 1940 (the Land Act of 1940), which provided
about the promotion of small leaseholds and provision of smallholders with land, without including
the term ‘Jew’, practically meant the distribution of land expropriated from the Jews. The process
was completed by Act No. XV of 1942 (so-termed 4th anti-Jewish law), which banned Jews from the
possession of land.31
As a result of the Act on small leaseholds, the church bodies started to contemplate how the
expected land distribution and settlements would influence the denominational division of villages
and towns. The parish priest of Görgeteg in Somogy County informed the Diocese about the
settlement plans relating to the lands of Sándor Mándy large land owner at Simongát ‘decreed to be
Jewish property and allocated for settlement’, and requested the Bishop to intervene so that - as far
as possible - Catholic settlers should be settled on the territory of the parish (21 March, 1942). In his
reply, Bishop Czapik (15 April) advised he had personally taken steps at the Ministry of Agriculture,
where he was informed that settlement plans were not timely for the time being due to ‘the
turbulent times’ and would be postponed until after the war.32 The priest of Szápár in Veszprém
County advocated the division of the Spitzer Jewish property for his followers to prevent the
followers of the Reformed Church in neighbouring Csetény to receive lands belonging to Szápár (22
December, 1942). He reported to the Diocese that the Jewish property was first obliged to be
transferred to small leaseholders, then it was to be expropriated by the state, and he had learnt it
was intended to be allocated to the people of Csetény (‘Arrow-Cross Party followers of the Reformed
Church). He also indicated that patrons’ obligations were linked to the land; in addition, a mansion
next to the church would be an excellent parish house in his opinion.33
In his letter, the priest of Balatonalmádi requested the Bishop’s support to obtain one of the
vineyards expropriated for increasing the properties of the parish (6 February, 1942): The Jewish
owned vineyards on the territory of Balatonalmádi are being claimed fast. I thought it would be gross
carelessness to miss this never-to-return favourable occasion even if we have to face grave
difficulties. The 2800-square yard vineyard of Lenke Neuhauser is one of the best with a two-room
cottage used for a press-house in the middle … In his reply, Bishop Czapik indicated the parish might
not claim a vineyard in the course of the distribution of land, but he had no objection to buying the
given vineyard at a reduced price using a bank loan from the Funds Office operating as a savings bank
for the Diocese.34
Related to the distribution of land, the problem arose that patron’s obligations on properties
had to be borne by several holders from then on, which made the life of parish priests and parishes
more difficult. In the case of Igal and Juta in Somogy County, the compensation of patron’s
obligations regarding Igalpuszta was mentioned because after the death of József Berger the land as
Jewish property was claimed to be distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture (the minutes of the
assembly of the Igal parish, 5 September, 1941). Following agreement with co-patrons, the parish

31

See in detail: László Csősz: Földreform és fajvédelem: a negyedik zsidótörvény végrehajtása. [Land reform
and racism: the implementation of the fourth anti-Jewish law.] in A holokauszt Magyarországon európai
perspektívában. Ed by Judit Molnár. Budapest, 2005. pp. 176-192.
32
VÉL AD 1750/1942.
33
VÉL AD 5498/1942, 821/1943, 1706/1943, 1870/1943
34
VÉL AD 645/1942.

received 20 acres of arable land in compensation for patron’s obligation; however, the deal required
approval by the Diocese Authority and the Ministry.35
The documents of the Igal case prove that agreements regarding patrons’ obligations were
regarded as a private law contracts between the leaseholders and the parish. In view of the
possibility of similar difficulties in similar cases, Bishop Czapik proposed a mandatory compensation
for patrons’ obligations in the course of the preparation of Act No. XV of 1942 (the so-termed 4th
anti-Jewish law) (letter by Bishop Czapik addressed to Dr László Radocsay, Minister of Justice dated 3
April 1942):
As far as I know, a draft is being made regarding the termination of Jewish properties. Please, allow
me to call your esteemed attention to a rather important perspective in that regard. The better part
of large holdings obtained by Jews used to be the property of Hungarian high aristocracy and nobility.
Such lands were subject to patrons’ obligations and other tangible burdens. Due to their public law
nature, patrons’ and other (for instance, school) burdens were transferred to the new Jewish land
owners… In theory, the legal status will not change as the property is divided into pieces. The patrons’
obligations and other tangible burdens of a public law nature will remain encumbered on the old
estate without any provision in the land register with the only difference that the obligations will not
be borne by one but by many owners. In theory, there is no difficulty. In practice, however, the
situation arising is quite perverse. It has never been easy to enforce the rights of the church or that of
the school vis-à-vis one person or family. Vis-à-vis a group of many members, who - on top of it - are
uneducated and prone to incitement, it is almost impossible to enforce the obligations in practice.
Therefore, looking at it from both a church and state perspective, I think it advisable if the new law
stipulated a mandatory compensation for patrons’ and other tangible burdens of a public law
nature… The church or the parish should be given as much land as is necessary to ensure fulfilment of
the previous obligations…36
The order of implementation of the law (Decree No. 3600/1943. M. E.) - in accordance with
the Bishop’s expectations - stipulated the mandatory compensation for patrons’ obligations if former
Jewish properties ‘were expropriated on the basis of an obligation to transfer’. The Diocese Authority
informed the priests about the above ordering them to report immediately wherever the Royal
Treasury has been transferred Jewish property or if Jewish property has been obligated to be
transferred, advising what patrons’ or other services, obligations or dues are there on the property
based on documents of church visits or on custom… They should calculate how many acres would be
required to compensate for patrons’ obligations and where such properties should be selected if
compensation were to take place in land knowing the fecundity, position and quality of the property
in question.37
Pre-dating of Baptism
The background of the case at Mezőkomárom to be described below is related to the
provisions of the 1st and 2nd anti-Jewish laws that considered it important from the perspective of a
person being qualified as a Jew whether the person in question had been baptised before or after 1

35

VÉL AD 4645/1941, 5603/1941, 5755/1941, 2367/1942, 5511/1942
VÉL AD 1592/1942.
37
Litterae Circulares 1943/50.
36

August, 1919. The reference to Parliamentary elections relates to Article 4 of Act No. IV of 1939 (the
2nd anti-Jewish law), which restricted the suffrage of Jews.
On 7 October, 1939, the Criminal Unit of the Budapest Captain’s Office of the Hungarian
Royal Police forwarded the Veszprém Diocese a report dated on 4 July, according to which they had
received a complaint to say that Károly Schlakker, priest of Mezőkomárom registered pre-dated
records of baptism in the month of May of the year. He issued certificates of baptism on the basis of
forged records, which was probably used by the Jews at the Parliamentary elections circumventing
the effective provisions in bad faith. Dr János Takács, priest of Kelenföld or Kelenvölgy also took part
in the forgery because he has relatives in the village and he had been visiting in the month indicated.
According to the unknown accuser, the priests accepted significant sums and several similar cases
might have happened. The records cited related to three residents of Budapest: according to the
Register, Béla Schiff, tradesman was baptised in 1900, Dr Károly Szegő /Schlésinger/, lawyer in 1917
and Dr Hugó Preisich in Mezőkomárom in 1918. A police report dated 26 July found in the archive
papers of the Address Register that Béla Schiff had been an Israelite in 1911, Szegő had been a
Catholic in 1919 but an Israelite on his previous registration card and Preisich had been an Israelite in
1918 but a Catholic in 1929.
Bishop Czapik commissioned chaplain Lajos Tóth on 10 October to carry out confidential
investigation the results of which were reported by the chaplain in a letter to the Diocese Authority
dated 19 October: Several Jews were baptised in the previous year, most of them were from Pest
and the parish priest of Kelenföld had taken them there on the assumption it was easier in the
countryside to be given permission from the Diocese to baptise adults. The permits referred to can
be found in the archives of the parish; however, he failed to find them in the cases indicated. Those
were the last records in the Register of Baptisms of the year, but at that time the registers were not
closed down at the end of each year. The chaplain could not say what kind of remuneration the
priests received and whether or not Takács had anything to do with it because he had not been at
Mezőkomárom at the time. Bishop Czapik wrote the parish priest a letter on 27 October instructing
him to provide a report of certification within three days, because the copies of the Register held at
the Diocese did not have the records referred to; accordingly they must have been made
subsequently, which seems to constitute the criminal act of forgery of public documents. In his report
of certification parish priest Schlakker defended himself on 31 October by saying that when he had
become a priest (1889), there had been church registers only and when civil registers were
introduced, I had been convinced church registers served the purposes of the church only and had no
civil importance. He acknowledged he had sometimes been negligent regarding the records in the
register, but he denied the forgery.
On 22 November, the Bishop informed the chaplain he ordered the records to be deleted
from the Register of Baptism because the fact of subsequent recording had been proved. The parish
priest was undergoing medical treatment at the time, and the Bishop said church proceedings would
be carried out against him as soon as he recovered. The Royal Prosecutor’s Office at Veszprém
informed the Diocese on 14 April 1940 about the termination of the investigation. According to the
document, of those involved, Schiff had died, Szegő resided in Bratislava and could not be
summoned while Preisich had presented his birth certificate issued on 9 January, 1920, according to
which he had been a Catholic at the time. Parish priest Schlakker was undergoing treatment at the
Asylum at Lipótmező at the time and parish priest Takács said he did not know about anything.

Earlier, the chairman of the Prosecutor’s Office carried out an on-site inspection at the parish and
found that the register involved included inaccurate records in several places which had not been
objected to earlier; the colour and drying of the ink did not show any differences in the cases
inspected. Therefore - says the reasoning of the resolution – the suspicion that we are facing
irregularities cannot be denied; no criminal action may be launched, however, the opposite cannot be
excluded either, but there is no evidence of it only suspicions. In the end, the parish priest retired in
1942 due to his old age.38
Warning due to support provided to Jewish merchants
The High Sheriff of Zala County, Count Béla Teleki addressed a letter to Bishop Gyula Czapik
dated 28 August, 1941, according to which his attention had been called - in strict confidentiality - by
the Ministry of the Interior that the nun heading the poorhouse of the Order of St. Vince in
Nagykanizsa purchased from Jewish companies only and the Franciscans had also ‘supported Jews’ in
several cases. The High Sheriff asked the Bishop to exert his influence so that religious and social
institutions at Nagykanizsa should primarily support Christian merchants and tradesmen. On 3
September, the Bishop wrote a letter to Gellért Gulyás Franciscan assistant priest, in which he
advised current times require us to exert particular care at our institutions in that direction, he also
instructed him to warn the above mentioned orally about the incorrect ways of their actions.39
Denunciations because of ‘friendship with Jews’
At that time, the scale of denunciations of priests - in addition to the usual accusations - was
extended by mentioning excessive Jewish influence or making friends with Jews. One of the returning
topics of a smear campaign against the parish priest of Karád, Dr Elek Kákosy Á going on for many
years (in the opinion of the parish priest it was driven by his housekeeper he had dismissed) that the
parish priest had been under the influence of József Weisz, Jewish cattle trader. An anonymous
denunciation dated 20 October, 1940 included the ‘usual’ accusations, but the Bishop asked the
parish priest to submit a certification report after it. Next, József Horváth, resident of Karád
complained about the parish priest on 22 November advising that he had been such great friends
with József Weisz, Jewish merchant that it could be said the Jew had had control over the parish. The
rest of the letter is a stock of anti-Semitic stereotypes, the accuser turned to the Bishop to save
Hungarian interests at Karád. On 5 December, Kákosy submitted a certification report to the Bishop
from the Manresa, where he had been on a religious retreat. He explained that the former
housekeeper he had dismissed was in the background of the denunciations and then he went on to
say: József Weisz, as a good merchant and an honest poor little Jew had been purchasing cattle for
me, and the reason for that is that he is a specialist of cattle, while Christian peasants are not so wellacquainted with the purchasing of cattle and they do not undertake the job at any time either… I am
a priest and pastor and I cannot deal with such things. He indicated in the letter that Weisz provided
services to other landowners and parish priests in the neighbourhood including among others to the
tenants of the Bishop’s estate. He added: As far as I know, the deceased predecessor of your
Excellency, Bishop Nándor Rott also had one or another household Jew; so I could not have thought it
was anything compromising, all the more so as our benevolent peasants would not object to it.

38
39

5590/1939, 6347/1939, 6708/1939, 1890/1940
VÉL AD 4298/1941.

The issue was continued in the following year, and as a result of further denunciations, the
Bishop ordered an investigation by the dean. Closing it he ordered the parish priest on 5 January,
1942 to stop ‘allowing the Jew József Weisz to play a part at his farm’: Due to prudentia pastoralis,
you must understand the situation cannot be maintained in the current circumstances. Kákosy
reported on 10 January that he had dismissed Weisz; however, it did not mean peace in the case
because the dean forwarded another denunciation from the Diocese Authority. This time it was a
complaint by Mrs. László Zbinyovszky, teacher at Karád who among others had heard from others the
following (!): when soldiers were confessing, the parish priest instructed them to pray for the victory
of the British as penitence. In the meantime, accusations due to Weisz had been renewed as well. An
investigation by the high dean put an end to the issue: the high dean heard some acknowledged
residents of the village and took their statements under oath regarding the behaviour of the parish
priest (28 October, 1942). A statement supporting the parish priest included that of István Párkányi,
district chief notary, who defended Kákosy as follows: There can be no mention of making close
friends with Jews to the effect that serious people could have been offended by it. What is more, I
know of an address in the church that had been made against the Jewry. Kákosy retired in 1945.40
Already the Karád issue had a momentum that might have led to more serious consequences
in the circumstances of the war (the parish priest allegedly asking people to pray for the victory of
the British). It actually occurred in Tapolca in 1941: somebody reported to the German Embassy that
the chaplain of Tapolca delivered anti-German and pro-English addresses and the parish priest did
nothing to stop him. On 20 October 1941, the councillor of the Ministry of Religion and Public
Education forwarded two documents to Bishop Czapik: one was a transcript by the Minister of
Foreign Affairs to the head of the Ministry of Religion and Public Education with reference to the
accusation made at the German Embassy. The letter says such activity by clerical people is not
permissible from the perspective of foreign policy and the complaint obviously has serious grounds
although certain local disagreements may overstate its importance. Therefore, he requested the
Minister to warn and admonish those involved via the relevant clerical authority and threaten them
with more serious measures in the event of repetition. The other forwarded document is the finding
of an investigation made by the 8th Sub-Unit of Investigation of the 3rd District of Gendarmes in
Szombathely. We learn from that that ‘vitéz’ [valiant] Gyula Szalay, retired captain, pharmacist,
captain of the ‘vitéz’ in the district of Tapolca reported in writing to his captain in Zalaegerszeg an
anti-German address by chaplain Sándor Nyék given in May 1940 at a celebration of the Heroes.
After that, Dr Árpád Erdélyi, station commander at Tapolca, ‘vitéz’ Dr Péczely, the chief physician and
the rector of the public hospital and István Szalay Kiss turned to the Dean of whom they remarked
that he was a friend of Jews, because he had had good relations with Dr Károly Fehér, chief notary of
allegedly Jewish descent. Although the parish priest forbade the chaplain to speak at patriotic events,
he continued to deliver anti-German and pro-English addresses at the filia. The detectives collected
information about those, their sources being mainly the choir-master teachers of neighbouring
villages. As they were assessing the information, they remarked that one of those teachers had been
under a disciplinary procedure because he had said the Bishop was a liar and the priests were villains.
It is also mentioned that chaplain Nyék had good relations with the Jewish Jenő László (Lőwy), owner
of a printer house; the parish regularly purchased printed matter from him and not from a Christian
tradesman; in addition, the other chaplain had also displayed pro-English behaviour.

40

VÉL AD 9550/1940, 10566/1940, 104/1942, 203/1942, 1577/1942, 2086/1942, 1622/1943.

Bishop Czapik only sent a formal letter to parish priest István Kiss six months later on 14
March, 1942. He says in the letter the transcripts from the above Ministries oblige him to warn the
priest: according to one of them he had made friends with Dr Fehér, a Jew, and a friend of the British,
whose friends including dean parish priest Kiss... display a pro-English behaviour. Going on, the
Bishop warns his priest: There is no need to say that all Catholic people are followers of our Mother
Church, therefore, the work and care of the pastor is somewhat expanded. This, however, will not
exclude that we must adapt to the spirit of the times to an acceptable limit, otherwise our work as
pastors would be paralysed. Your Reverend has failed to keep those limits… Regarding the future, I
have to warn you to be careful in social contacts and to make efforts to stop this public opinion by
proper behaviour. The Bishop also wrote to chaplain Sándor Nyék (in Csurgó) in a similar spirit and he
informed Bálint Hóman, Minister of the Ministry of Religion and Public Education about the warning
letters. A report of self-justification by the parish priest is dated 19 March; he advises that the ‘public
opinion’ referred to is not more than the opinion of a few ‘gentlemen’ and he also makes reference
to the division of ideas among the elite of the small town. The Bishop wrote on top of the letter in his
own hands: I have written a private letter: Stay quiet. We have avoided a major discomfort in that
way. The above remark partly indicates that you cannot learn all details of the case from the
Episcopal Archives, on the other hand, it is quite interesting whether the warning by the Bishop and
its tone reflected the conviction of the Bishop, or else it had been a way of avoiding ‘major
discomfort’ by trying to close down the issue with a warning within the church. Anyway, the story
was continued because parish priest Kis later believed he could identify the person having reported
him at the German Embassy. He believed it was no other than the legal counsel of the parish and
local manager of the Christian Party, attorney Dr Pál Csányi. We learn this because the attorney
wanted to sue the parish priest for libel and only refrained from it as a result of the mediation of the
Diocese Authority.41
The case of Zalaszentmihály
Bernát Sterntal landowner at Zalaszentmihály turned to the Veszprém Bishop with his
complaint on February, 1942 due to the inimical behaviour of parish priest József Varga regarding
him. Sterntal had been a landowner at Zalaszentmihály for 32 years, he had been converted 24 years
earlier, his children had been educated at a cloister and he had had friendly relations with the
previous parish priest. The essence of his complaint was that Varga incited his servants against him
calling them ‘Jewish zulagers’ and he believed Varga ordered an article to be written against him in a
paper of the Arrow-Cross Party, or else he provided the information; in addition, he incited against
Jews in his preaching. The letter says: I cannot be blamed for being born a Jew. There had been times,
when my deceased father had been invited to the table of very high nobilities; at that time it had not
been a disgrace that we had been Jews. I cannot be blamed for the opinion of the world having
changed and that the laws dictate something else nowadays.
Bishop Czapik first tried to settle the issue with a fatherly warning. He wrote to the parish
priest on 27 February as follows: I do not want to chide you; I only want to warn you with love and
the benevolence of a father… A priest is responsible for leading everybody to Christ with love. We will
not give up any of our principles, we will speak up if the orders of Christ are violated, but we must not

41

VÉL AD 1285/1942, 1417/1942, 1485/1942, 5608/1943.

be carried away by popular humour. So we should communicate in the same spirit with those who are
in the centre of animosity today because of their origins.
On 5 March, a report by the Benedictine district dean, Dr Adorján Kál arrived at the Diocese
according to which the anti-Semitism, rudeness and drunkenness of Varga caused public scandal and
the lay authorities also wanted to take steps against him. He attached a transcript by the High Sheriff
of the Pacsa district to another report dated 25 March: As far as I know, he had assaulted two people
in the street and he had spat into the eye of another one and last time he encouraged ‘levente’ youth
[young boys in training to be soldiers] to throw stones at a Jewish youth of the ‘levente’ age named
Reich who suffered minor injuries... He acted particularly aggressively against the Jewish residents of
Zalaszentmihály who actually live in fear of him. At first the High Sheriff refrained from taking any
action but now the parish priest was reported for slight bodily harm and insult. He makes efforts to
collaborate with the clergy but I cannot tolerate such behaviour because I have to provide order. I
also cannot suffer that somebody should abuse the Jewish residents contrary to the provisions of the
law or that an atmosphere of threat to Jews should be established among the citizens.
In the meantime, Varga had been repositioned and relocated from the village to Háromfa in
Somogy County, where he soon had other ‘affairs’ (there he had got into conflict with the High
Sheriff because he called him a ‘Romanian Gypsy’ publicly on several occasions). In the end, the
criminal proceedings against him were closed down by the district court at Zalaegerszeg on 20
March, because the Jewish resident attacked, named Berger, did not wish priest Varga to be
punished in the end.42
Letters requesting the intervention of the Bishop
The prebend-priest at Kaposvár, Dr György Jenő Kis turned to Bishop Czapik on 28 November,
1941 because converted and ‘half-blood’ students had been taken to the events of the Jewish
‘levente’, which had been complained about by the parents. The priest turned to the local
commander with the request that a separate group should be organised for such boys but the
commander did not dare to decide on his own. In his response (1 December) the Bishop says
although he understands the request, but no national measures can be urged to eliminate such
problems in the current circumstances, therefore, a decent solution should be found together with
local factors: That is why it is so important that the clergy, particularly the leaders, should have a live
relationship with the players of the civil and military life in all ranks and orders, because we may not
turn to them lacking personal relations. Priest Kis soon reported (12 December) that he tried to take
some steps, among others, he had turned informally to the army corps command at Pécs but the
relevant officers just postponed the case because they were waiting for a ‘decision in principle’ by
the Ministry of Defence.43 The relatives of Christians ordered to do labour service complained their
relatives had been assigned to companies consisting of Israelites; others requested the Bishop to
intervene to get them demobilized.44
Finally, a strange request was received by Bishop Gyula Czapik in October 1942: Salamon
Wider the rabbi of Pápa asked him for a recommendation so that his son Arnold Wider should be

42

VÉL AD 648/1942, 1100/1942, 1587/1942, 2206/1942, 4407/1942, 4631/1942, 673/1943, 849/1943.
VÉL AD 5725/1941.
44
VÉL AD 5730/1941, 3946/1942.
43

accepted among the rabbis recognised by the state. The Bishop fulfilled the request after József
Cavallier the manager of the Saint Cross Federation protecting converted Jews encouraged him to do
so in a friendly letter: How it is strange and moving that in our times Israel turns to the successor of
the Apostles as a final asylum in the light of Christ.45

Máté Gárdonyi

45

VÉL AD 4767/1942.