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The attitude of the Christian churches of Óbuda (Old Buda) to the Jewish

community in the period between the two World Wars
By Attila Jakab

„…can you say ‘we do not hate Jews?
But we do!
And especially Protestant, i.e. Hungarian youth must do so
if they want to get along in this country.”1

The study ‘The relationship of Catholics and Jews in Óbuda from 1938 to 1944’2
summing up the findings of a research carried out in 2012-2013 has revealed that the
persecution of Jews in Hungary took place with the active collaboration of the
authorities and with large-scale passivity of the Christian population. The main
reason for it is to be found in almost two decades of mental tuning of which unfortunately - the ecclesiastical press also played a part.
Continuing our earlier research, this study makes an effort to reveal the practical
appearances, mechanisms and tragic consequences of that mental tuning. The
process can be grasped easily although the available (mainly archive) sources are
limited3; or difficult to access. Nevertheless, the ecclesiastical publications reviewed
and interpreted in a contemporary wider historical and social context, which has
mostly been avoided by historical research, allow comparisons and accentuate the
similarities and idiosyncrasies of behaviour and mentality.
This can be basically explained by two factors.
1) The press publications reflect the mentality and spiritual attitude of the leaders of a
given parish. In an environment divided by classes and positions, which was
authoritarian and feudal in its nature characterising the whole Horthy era including
1

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol VIII, Issue 10, December 1936, p. 7.
In: Jakab Attila – Törzsök Erika (ed.), A történelmi egyházak és a zsidó közösség viszonya Csehszlovákiában és
Magyarországon 1920-tól a Holokausztig, CEC, Budapest, 2013, 41-60. old.
(http://fr.scribd.com/doc/178638080/Kutatasi-eredmenyek-2012-2013). In English: „Catholics and Jews in Óbuda (Old
Buda) in 1938–1944”, in: Attila Jakab – Erika Törzsök (eds.), The relationship between the historical churches and the
Jewish community in Czechoslovakia and Hungary from 1920 until the Holocaust, CEC, Budapest, 2013, pp. 46-68.
(http://fr.scribd.com/doc/179168505/Jelentes-Berlinbe-2012-2013-vegleges-angol-pdf; 2014. júl. 8).
3
With regard to the Christian chorches, in fact, not even the sources have been defined or identified yet. Processing the
minutes of the meetings and assemblies of priests and ministers of dioceses as well as those of the council meetings of
parishes would be important. On the other hand, a comprehensive study of the documents in state archives has not been
done. Not to mention that local histories - if they exist at all - usually avoid the issue of churches or denominations;
studies on the history of local churches are lacking or the existing ones can hardly be used for historical research. See
e.g.,: 250 éves az Óbudai Szent Péter és Pál Főplébániatemplom [250 years of the Óbuda Saint Peter and Paul
Church], Szent Péter és Pál Alapítvány, Budapest, 1999.
2

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local micro-societies, those papers were to some extent guidelines and providing
directions anyway for the local elite.4 Those people were decisive in a social context.
So it can be said we have here a kind of social example to be followed.
2) On the other hand, it should be noted that the papers were a kind of link to a
given parish (they published notices of public interest and reports on different
events). Not to mention that they were or should have been the media to promote the
religious and moral education of Christians.5 In that way, the writings published in
the papers clearly present the Christian world of the Horthy era; what was meant by
Christianity by the contemporary churches and the ecclesiastical and lay people
controlling and defining the national-Christian public life. In other words, their
Christian image and their attitude to it.

The micro world of Óbuda
The micro world of the Óbuda society including Christian denominations is reflected
well in the papers of the local parishes (such as the Catholic Egyházközségi Tudósító
[Parish Bulletin]6 or the Egyházi Élet [Church life]7) of the Reformed Church. It was
4

For personnel overlaps of ecclesiastical and social positions, see e.g., Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin], Vol
III, Issue 11, September 1927, which celebrates 70-year old József Sagmüller, parish priest. Further examples include
the local Credo association (see ‘Hiszek a Jézus Krisztusban!...’ [I believe in Jesus Christ] Egyházközségi Tudósító
[Parish Bulletin], Vol VI, Issue 28, July 1930, pp. 8-9), or the whole assembly of the parish (Vol VI, Issue 29,
September 1930, pp. 7-8). See also description of the 1926 Corpus Christi procession (Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish
Bulletin], Vol II, Issue 4, July 1926, p. 8): ‘The eucharist was carried by parish priest József Sagmüller and then
representing the patron Ferenc Borvendég, metropolitan counsellor, Frigyes Mettelka, parish president, Miklós Szente,
district official; and then the representatives of the police, the river guard, other institutions and authorities, then the
parish council with Ede Cristofoli, vice president, dr. János Botzenhardt, prosecutor, István Stercz, secretary, József
Kronstein, notary, István Fritz, teller, Kálmán Weichardt, auditor, and György Gittinger, caretaker…, followed by the
members of the assembly.’ While simple believers looked on and adored! Similarly in Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish
Bulletin], Vol IX, Issue 47, July 1933, p. 5. See also the retreat of local officials in the Zugliget Jesuit Manresa:
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin], Vol IX, Issue 48, September 1933, p. 7. Nevertheless, similar overlaps can be
seen among the members of the Lutheran presbytery (e.g., in 1928). See Bálintné Varsányi Vilma, Kősziklára volt
alapozva [Founded on a rock], Budapest, 2009, p. 61.
5
We can read in the first issue of Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] (Vol I, Issue 1, December 1925, p. 2.):
‘This booklet intends to be a trumpet through which the leaders of our parish will speak to us several times every year
to inform the army of Catholic believers in Óbuda and to report in writing about everything happening in the life of our
parish. (…) It wants to be a live and permanent link between leaders and members, it will have something to say to
those who attend church service but also to those who are less studious in attendance due to any reason. (…) It will
teach and educate your family, your children; it will teach them briefly, simply, clearly and purposefully about the basic
truths of our faith so that severe neutrality to religion, the neglect of the church and of God which may rule your family,
your adult children will soon lose its foundations: the horrible and unbelievable illiteracy of our people in anything
religious. (…) Secondly, it wants to be the missionary and announcer of the faith to the Catholics of our parish. It will
lead us into the secrets of our religion, our sacred faith and will present to us the duty and dignity of our liturgy, our
holy service repeated every year so that we can also adore and live the ecclesiastical year. And third, it wants to be the
…comfort of all Catholic believers of the district. Particularly to the families and members of families that are unable to
be present at the holy mass every Sunday and holidays.’
6
Expanding the group of readers and collecting the church tax represented a permanent problem. Quite many formally
registered Catholics failed to subscribe or to buy the paper; they did not pay the church tax either or only paid late (see
e.g., Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol VIII, Issue 40, July 1932, p. 12.). In general, an image of the
Catholic middle class of Óbuda can be seen in the paper. They represented the majority of the readers. They were social
and church elite at the same time.
7
Similarly to the Catholics, collecting the church tax or gathering subscribers to the paper represented continuous
difficulty for the followers of the Reformed Church as well. According to an article by minister Aladár Kontra
2

all the more important because not only classes and nationalities but
denominations and confessions played a decisive part in the structure of the
society8 . It was part of the statistical classification and records of the population.
Accordingly, in 1925, in Óbuda there were 30,391 Catholics, 4,371 Protestants,9
1,880 Lutherans10 and 5,621 Jews. The Jews were then the second largest
confession.11
As for the Jewish community in Óbuda, it was mainly Orthodox. Therefore,
separation also resulting in a kind of distribution of labour was also stronger12 . Most
members of the faith were tradesmen and craftsmen but there were among them
entrepreneurs, factory owners and professionals as well. As we can learn from Sándor
Márai, the Christian community did not so much regard the Orthodox Jewry, but
mainly the assimilated Jews adjusting to the Christian society as its competitors.13
This antagonism to and fear and reservation of competition was the origin of antiSemitic feelings.
In the context of Óbuda, which was part of District 3, one of the poorest districts of
the capital between the two World Wars,14 we can have an impression of what
‘Introduction’, ‘the letters of this paper are to spread to you the official news of our parish; they inform you of events
occurring; they provide the worlds with wings to fly, which cannot reach everybody from the pulpit and – as spring
wings the pollen - they spread the words of God to fecundate and bring life.’ The objective of the paper was identified
in ‘it wants to gather and connect all of us who are followers of the same faith. It wants to increase the feeling of
togetherness among those whose fathers had suffered so much for their faith in centuries begone. By speaking about the
obligations of brethrens, it wants to encourage us to help and support each other and to place in the focus of the love of
all of us our joint treasure: our church. Those letters will teach us to respect our faith, so that we should not allow the
faith to be hurt, but they also teach us to respect the faith of others so that we do not hurt them. (…) God wants life here
on Earth and this paper also wants to announce and teach to have on this Earth Hungarian life joined in faith, fraternity,
prayer and love; life according to Christ.’ Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol I, Issue 1, March 1930, p. 1. See also Vol V,
Issue 7, September 1933, p. 5.
8
E.g., in Óbuda ‘in 1850, 53% of the population was German, 13% Hungarian, 2% Slovak, 32% of different
nationalities’. Bálintné Varsányi Vilma, Kősziklára volt alapozva [Founded on rock] Budapest, 2009, p. 11.
9
Those Protestants were mostly of low income. The number of women Protestants who lived in mixed marriages was
significant (910 in 1936). See „Beszélő számok” [Telling figures], Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol VIII, Issue 3, March
1936, pp. 4-5.
10
Lutherans could only establish their congregation in Óbuda following the Patent of Tolerance of 1781. They were
mostly tradesmen, workers or small clerks. They maintained a school and a library. They became an independent parish
only at the beginning of the 20th century (in 1909). They built their church in 1935. Their mass was held in German and
Hungarian. Believers belonged to different leagues and associations. According to the available sources, they were not
engaged in public life. The Jewish community did not appear in their publications (e.g., Húsvéti levél [Eastern letter]
1933-1934; Pünkösdi levél [Pentecost letter] 1939)!
11
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol I, Issue 1, December 1925, p. 10.
12
‘Everybody lived in their own separate environment, but they did have an opinion of the others without having real
knowledge about them. Most people had types in mind and in many cases bad things had become general while good
things were only exceptions.’ Göttlieb/Gulyás Miklós, „Hommage à Kiss Mihály”, in: Óbudai múltidéző [Recalling the
past of Óbuda], Budapest, é. n. [2011], pp. 51-53. old.; itt p. 51.
13
‘We all who lived in the house found the Galician relatives of the Jónap family wearing caftans and flying locks of
hair nicer than the totally civilised owner of the glass factory and his family. We watched the high style bourgeois life
of the Weinréb family with particular jealousy; we were afraid of them we did not know why. In limited social contacts,
the man was polite and neutral to Christians, while he was condescending and haughty with the ‘poor’ Jews of the
ground floor.’ Sándor Márai:, Memoirs of a citizen., Budapest., Európa Kiadó, 2000, p. 16.
14
Child poverty and destitution in general was high. See Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol V, Issue 21,
May 1929; Vol VIII, Issue 41, October 1932, p. 11. The Catholic parish, for instance, tried to ‘mollify’ the workers by
organising retreats together with providing meals. See e.g., Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol IV, Issue 15,
April 1928, pp. 17 and 19; Vol V, Issue 20, March 1929, p. 10. The Szent Zita group served similar purposes. ‘From
this place, housewives are requested to send their employees to this association educating the soul and protecting the
3

feelings the separation had triggered. A correspondent named Figyelő [Monitor]15
wrote in his column ’With open eyes’ in Egyházi Élet [Church Life] of the Reformed
Church: ‘I am walking in the streets. There is a holiday atmosphere, almost all shops
are closed. You can hardly buy anything. I remember I have seen such notices for
days: ‘Closed on Saturday for the holidays.’ So that is why this silence and
suspension of trading. But there is some ingenuity so that profit should not be lost! I
can see Christian employees in front of the gate among the goods spread there in the
continuation of the shop to go on with business for the boss. And I can see them
marching to the Synagogue in groups, in holiday clothes, both the young and the old;
typical faces everywhere. You cannot see one Jew at work because it is their holiday,
it is the day of Jehovah and it is sacred. You, my Christian brother, also have your
holiday, your Sunday. But in your case, respect to God is lower. When is it you do
not go to work on your holiday to serve those who are celebrating here and now? And
if they have a holiday, you have to be without work. But you work on your holidays
because they are at work there. Tell me, my Hungarian brother, cannot you feel the
yoke taken voluntarily and out of mistaken generosity? Not only your corn, your
well-being, your money, your bread, but also your life and religious thinking are at
his mercy. He will say how much you can sell your corn for, how much you have to
pay for bread, how much he will pay for your work, when, where and for how much
you can buy milk for your children. How much he will pay you to descend to the
mines to bring up the coal from there. When you can go to church and how you
should think. When will Hungarians awake and join their brothers to fight in joint
forces against not only the servitude of the body but of the soul as well?!’16

body the benefits of which will not only be felt by the servant but the housewife as well.’ Egyházközségi Tudósító
[Parish Bulletin], Vol IX, Issue 43, January 1933, p. 13. ‘Holidays’ were also regularly arranged, which mainly meant
one-day visits to Budapest (e.g., City Park, circus, Zoo Park, Svábhegy, Hűvösvölgy) for ‘the dearest promise of the
future’, poor ‘Hungarian children’. See Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin], Vol IX, Issue 48, September 1933, p.
8.
15
The author in all probability was minister Aladár Kontra. See Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol VI, Issue 1, January
1934. Column ‘With open eyes’ were he wrote, ‘as in other years, again, this time at the end of the year I visited the
state registry of births and marriages to make comparisons with the registers of the past year.’ (p. 2.)
16
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol IV, Issue 8, November 1932, p. 2.
4

The Óbuda Synagogue in the 1920s17
On the other hand, it is clear there were some who were clearly aware of the major
problems of the contemporary society and were striving to reveal its causes - and did
not necessarily find them in the Jews! According to Lajos Illés, ‘the society today is
not used to being frank and so it cannot bear criticism, it will take it as personal
injury. Although it would be better if people could look inside and get rid of the dirt
learnt from self-criticism, because the lack of honesty is the reason why features not
worthy to us are becoming typical. Hungarian society is characterised by the fact that
every stratum and every person (with little exception) want to be seen to be more than
it really is.’ This wish has generated a degree of snobbery and longing for ranks and
title you can hardly find anywhere else. Our ingenuity is amazing when we have to
establish ranks and titles, but where is the same ingenuity when we need to work to
build our church and our nation? If you put together a ladder of ecclesiastical and lay
ranks and titles, you would see how much the new Tower of Babel is ready.
Everybody wants to harvest more than he has sown; they boast of their actions to
harvest acknowledgement and applause. (…) Clothing, behaviour, manners all
illustrate we want to seem to be more than others and more than in reality. (…) The
glamour of the wealthy is spread to people of low income and even if they can hardly
17

Source:
www.ilyenisvoltbudapest.hu/cache/com_zoo/images/15_obudai_zsinagoga_1920asevek_38658eea8853aef7f5dfd02041
54f425.jpg (8 July 2014).
5

make ends meet, they will try to keep pace with fashion even if they are starving. I
know many families living in modest circumstances where you can find unbelievable
luxury. (…) The inequalities of the distribution of income have interesting impacts. I
know people who have hoarded riches but they are jealous if the life of another one is
improving. How much arrogance in their words, the arrogance of material well-being.
I often see them in the church but they do not want to know fraternity. Their
donations are occasions to stand out, to show off. Their faith and religious belief are
only as much as it’s comfortable. Their morality is numb. Fraud, forgery,
embezzlement are frequent, almost everyday facts. There are even people who repaid
many good acts in that way. The soul has been corrupt, a liar. People lie to each other
without blinking an eye about well-being, light, love, friendship or everything. A new
generation is growing up following such examples. Do they have to be like that? This
is what they see in front of them, people filling important positions are his examples.
Egotism and individual interests are in the front line. Nepotism and strings drawn
decide about jobs and positions. Where is pure soul and pure life? What kind of
stewards are we of the heritage of Christ and the gift of God?’18
‘Indolence and oriental apathy seem to be in the character of Hungarians. They
peacefully lie back in a soft bed doing nothing when it would be time for action. (…)
But there is one thing we excel in: criticising and quarrelling. We do not see what we
have done but we watch what others do, how they work. We attack the priest for his
sermon, the cantor for his song, the member of the community working in silence
because he calls us to work in all good intention, we are angry if another knows more
than what we do, etc. (…) Titles only are sought. Work is a burden. Setting an
example - not at all.’19
All the above is important because reminiscences are quite contradictory. It looks as
if there was a silent effort to prettify the past that had disappeared and could not be
brought back.20 While the reminiscences and descriptions made efforts to emphasise
harmony and coexistence,21 the idea of racism was clearly present in the publications
of the Óbuda Catholic and especially of the Reformed Church,22 including antiSemitism hand in hand with it. The fact that there was a notice on the shop window
Illés Lajos, „A hazug társadalom” [‘The mendacious society’], Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol V, Issue 6, June
1933, p. 3.
19
Illés Lajos, „Uj élet küszöbén” [‘On the threshold of a new life’]Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol VI, Issue 2, February
1934, p. 3.
20
For instance, according to Gombos Endréné: ‘Óbuda was a really lucky environment, because there was no kind of
anti-Semitism there. There was nothing like that in the house where we lived. We were the only Jews there and my
friends, the other children had a Christmas tree at Christmas. It is a memory for all my life and it was really bad for me
that I did not have it. And when I asked my parents why, they said it was because we were Jews.’ See
www.centropa.org/hu/print/biography/gombos-endrene (8 July 2014). Reisz László remembers in a similar way:
‘Before the war, Jews and Christians lived in peace… Nobody said in the street ’those dirty Jews’, people of different
confessions went to see the matches of the district football team together.’ See Gombocz Eszter (edited), Megkésett
iskolai találkozó. Az Óbudai Izraelita Elemei Iskola története 1920-tól 1944-ig [Delayed school reunion. The history of
the Óbuda Israelite Primary School], DVD-ROM, HDKE, Budapest, 2008; CD-ROM, Budapest, 2011.
21
See e.g., http://oroszlanosudvar.hu/2013/05/01/krudytol-a-pokol-eveiig (8 July 2014).
22
It is reflected, for instance, in an advertisement by the Óbuda Photo Shop Havel: ‘Christian brothers should have their
photos taken by Christian photographers only.” Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin], Vol X, Issue 53, June 1934,
p. 12.
18

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of the confectionary Pöhm in 1939-1940 saying ‘Dogs and Jews will not be served!’23
had its preludes. All the more so because the Pöhm confectionary regularly advertised
in the Óbudai Catholic Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin]; supporting it in
that way!24

The image of the Jew in the eyes of Óbuda Catholics and Protestants
In the advertisements published in the second volume of Egyházközségi Tudósító
[Parish Bulletin] in 1926, you can find no kind of religious or denominational
references or indications (e.g., Christian). On the other hand, in his paper ‘Black toy
soldiers’ R. S. criticises the anti-Catholic press and book publishers without naming
them: ‘This black army devastated the country of the Virgin Mary, he wrote, that
beautiful Hungary of the past, and those many black soldiers crucify Christ today
because a large number of anti-Catholic books and papers contain hidden incitement
in every line of theirs against the sacred ideals of our religion. They bring about
indecent fashions, they excite the senses by immoral novels and sensational news,
they destroy respect and they put invisible chains on human souls so that they cannot
find the eternal source of Road, Verity and Life.’25 The initiated, however, who
understood coded speech26 , knew that it was basically about the liberal, Freemason,27
and social democratic media obviously backed by the Jews.28 The Protestant Illés
23

http://nepszava.hu/cikk/563270-kutyat-es-zsidot-nem-szolgalunk-ki?print=1.
E.g., Vol V, Issue 23, September 1929, p. 10.; Vol VI, Issue 25, January 1930, p. 12.; Vol VI, Issue 28, July 1930, p.
14.; Vol VII, Issue 36, November 1931, p. 2.; Vol VIII, Issue 39, May 1932, p. 13.; Vol VIII, Issue 41, October 1932, p.
16.; Vol IX, Issue 45, April 1933, p. 16.; Vol X, Issue 53, June 1934, p. 12.; Vol XI, Issue 56, January 1935, p. 12.
25
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 1-2, May 1926, p. 9.
26
Contrary to followers of the Reformed Church who were much more open, Catholics preferred coded speech and
enigmatic references. In connection with Russia and Bolshevism, the believers could read the following: ‘we in
Hungary know what the race’ of Bolshevik leaders is. It is a clear reference to the leaders of the Council Republic of
Jewish descent, which was a publicly known fact and discussed in public. And there was the economic dimension: the
primary goal of Bolshevik leaders is to get hold of Russian properties and ‘to skim the incomes of the workers earned
with sweat’. See Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 6, November 1926, p. 13. They wrote about
trade unions in a similar spirit, that they are controlled by ‘red trade union leaders of an alien race wanting to generate
Jewishness’. Such were the shop stewards, ‘short-sighted flatfoot dandies with crooked noses and earlocks’ that is
‘Rothenstein, Büchler and other Móric with red carnations’, who ‘drink champagne and drive fancy cars on the sweaty
wages of the workers, on party taxes taken by force’. Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 7,
December 1926, p. 28. In 1930, Dr. Mészáros János papal prelate and episcopal representative termed the leaders of the
Council Republic ‘an army of rats’ that ‘wanted to plant godlessness into our souls’. G. G. ‘Ten years of the parish.
Prelate’s mass in the parish church. Celebratory meeting in the Cultural House, Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish
Bulletin], Vol VI, Issue 25, January 1930, p. 8.
27
On the relationship of Freemasonry and the Jews see ‘Egy pár szó a szabadkőművesekről” (A few words on
Freemasons’), Egyházi Élet [Church Life], Vol VI, Issue 8, October 1934, pp. 4-5.; Illés Lajos, „Összetartás”
[Solidarity], id.e, Vol VIII, Issue 6, June 1936, pp. 1-2. The author used the terminology ‘Freemason Jewish
Liberalism’. According to the Catholic view point, ‘Liberalism means latitude and together with it, lack of religion and
immorality’; while ‘Democratism appropriated by a race wants to appropriate truth as well announced from the market
places’. Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin], Vol VII, Issue 35, September 1931, p. 6. Obviously, the author
identified democracy with the Jewry!
28
According to the Catholic parish paper, ‘The known enemies of Christianity’ are the following: Freemasons, redsocial democrats, seculars and Jews. Catholic believers do not vote on such candidates. Because they do not support
candidates ‘whose patriotic, unselfish feelings and whose being a true Hungarian can be doubted’. Despite the above, in
Óbuda ‘the party of Social Democrats against God and the homeland’ was strong. In 1926, the Christian party received
4,902 votes and the Social Democrats 4,270 votes. „Tanulságok” [Lessons], Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin]
Vol II, Issue 7, December 1926, pp. 24-25. Maybe that is why Wolff Károly (†1936), an important personality of the
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Lajos supported the same interpretation when he described Egyenlőség [Equality]29
as ‘the combative weekly of the Jewish race in Hungary’.30
A few months later, M. F., in his article ‘Joining forces’ clarified what kind of press
he had in mind. The author complained because the high ideal born after the Council
Republic according to which ‘Christ and his great truth is to be placed in the focus of
the whole life including politics, society, institutions, offices, leagues and
individuals’ seemed to be failing. In his opinion, what started when Miklós Horthy
took power was in fact ‘a renewal launched in Christ’ and not ‘a Christian course’.
However, ‘... everything indicates that the lies and slanders of Freemasonry and
Social Democracy’ will overcome that renewal. He wrote, ‘in Óbuda, where
Christianity is a 90% majority, the small minority that already corrupted Christians in
1918-19 and is now bearing its fangs in Mexico is winning over us.’31 M. F. thought
its main reason was that ‘most people only spoke about Christ but Christ was not in
their souls! Christianity was an outward polish on them without the renewal of the
soul. Taking selfish advantage of circumstances, opportunism, adoration of the
golden calf and atheism have become too strong and they destroyed brave and sincere
life and pure hearts. The new walls of the Hungarian nation were destroyed by the
Jericho noise of the Jewish press,32 many noble and beautiful things disappeared and
many things were lost and forgotten quickly but one everlasting eternal value
remained, one reality that perfectly corresponds to our hopes: the Roman Catholic
parishes and the strongest among them the Óbuda Roman Catholic parish.33 In it,
Christian Community Party said that Óbuda was ‘the district of temptations (…) that needs to be won over again and
again’, Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol V, Issue 22, July 1929, p. 13. See also Vol VII, Issue 32, March
1931, p. 11. With regard to the politician, see Dr. Mészáros János, „Wolff Károly küldetése és hagyatéka” [The mission
and inheritance of Wolff Károly], Budapesti R. K. Egyházközségek Tudósítója 1936/3, pp. 5-7.
29
See http://mek.oszk.hu/04000/04093/html/szocikk/11141.htm (8 July 2014). The weekly was published from 1882 to
1938.
30
Illés Lajos, „Újra támadják Krisztust” [Christ attacked again], Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol VI, Issue 1, January
1934, pp. 3-4.
31
The Óbuda Catholics could read the following about the events in Mexico: ‘the whole educated and civilised Europe
are looking on the rudeness and inhumanity used in Mexico to persecute our Church from a velvet armchair. On the
other hand, if the Jews were persecuted, the liberal media would write about Mexico in a different way; while now we
are only given reports of stock exchanges and commodity exchanges from there. Maybe then the same media would
find it worthwhile to fight for culture as well.’ Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 7, December
1926, p. 17. ‘It is natural that the Jewish, Freemason, liberal and anti-Catholic papers of the whole world either take the
side of or are silent about the terrible acts that had had no precedent in the civilised world before.’ Egyházközségi
Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol III, Issue 9, April 1927, p. 4. ‘It is not in the interest of Liberalism to come to the
assistance of a Catholic country bleeding. Our pain and our bitter inertia was not painful for the world press when the
bayonetted mob of Kun Béla wallowed in our blood. And since we raised again the cross to the top of our country we
have not been their favourites. But they should learn from that lesson. The people, the faith and the ideology that has no
voice, that allows its media to be overtaken by Atheistic, Freemason or Jewish enemies will be lost.’ Egyházközségi
Tudósító [Parish Bulletin], Vol IV, Issue 14, March 1928, p. 9. The events in Mexico mean the civil war at the time of
the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–1928), when Catholic peasants revolted against the government forcefully
spreading laicity and secularisation (Cristiada or Christeros war from 1927 to 1929).
32
The concept of ‘Jewish press’ is interesting because some years later the Protestant Illés Lajos, in his article, ‘The
grave diggers of the nation’ practically identified the Catholic papers Hearth and Hungarian Culture with the Jewish
press because he objected to articles against the Reformed Church in them. Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol V, Issue 2,
February 1933 p. 4.
33
According to parish priest Sagmüller József: ‘Óbuda was the most Catholic district of the capital’. E. Sudi Ottó,
‘Catholic day in Óbuda. A great festival of religion. – ‘The triumph of eucharistia’, Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish
Bulletin], Vol IV, Issue 16, July 1928, p. 9.
8

leaders and followers work joining forces for God’s country, where masters and poor
are brothers and God is the only Lord.’34
In some passages of the column ‘Church chronicles’ the Catholic readers of Óbuda
were fed to a generalised and homogenised concept of ‘the Jew’, who persecuted
Christ and the first disciples, the Apostles. Naturally, those statements have nothing
to do with history and unambiguously reflect the ‘knowledge’ of Middle Ages’
hagiography (the life of the saints) in the first quarter of the 20th century. They were,
in fact, important, because they were clear reflections of the practice according to
which Jews were only mentioned in an abstract way as types; they almost never
appeared in concrete, personal/personalised forms. They mostly carried the
characteristic features of a race. In that way, one can assume the followers reading
the ecclesiastical publications in Óbuda, in fact, projected a construed image of Jews
to actual concrete Óbuda Jews, with whom they lived together or at least next to each
other every day!
1 May. Philip (†81) and James (†62) – ‘Apostle James was a relative to the Virgin
Mother and became the bishop of Jerusalem. His life was very strict. He did not eat
meat all through the year only the Easter Lamb. The Jews threw him off the roof of
the Temple.’35
‘22 July. Penitent Magdalene. †66. She was from an aristocratic family and she was
rich, but she lived immorally. She converted and improved herself. After the death of
Jesus on the cross, she fled to France to escape from the persecution of the Jews,
where she lived in a cave near Marseille in strict self-renunciation for 30 years.’36
‘25 July. Apostle Saint James’. (†44). His mother was relative to the Virgin Mary and
brother to Evangelist Saint John. Called by the Lord, he left his trade as a fisherman
and followed Jesus. After the death of Jesus, he proclaimed the Gospel in Spain. He
returned to Jerusalem, the Jews condemned him to death and he was beheaded.’37
’21 September. Matthew. (†67). The Lord Jesus called him from the desk of a tax
collector to do the work of an Apostle. (…) after the ascension of Jesus he worked for
the conversion of the Jews. He wrote his Gospel mainly for the Jews, proving that
Jesus was the promised Messiah!’38

34

Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 5, September 1926, p. 4. In 1935, Dr. Kray István baron
complained in his article ‘Catholic media apostles’ that in Hungary there are many among the leaders of parishes and
members of different religious associations who subscribe to neutral or straight anti-Catholic dailies. There were many
among them who earned their living in the Catholic Church (Budapesti R. K. Egyházközségek Tudósítója [Budapest
Roman Catholic Parish Bulleting] 1935/4., pp. 9-10).
35
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol III, Issue 9, April 1927, p. 7.
36
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 4, July 1926, p. 6.
37
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 4, July 1926, p. 6.; Vol VI, Issue 28, July 1930, p. 6.; Vol
VIII, Issue 40, July 1932, p. 4.
38
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol II, Issue 5, September 1926, p. 5.; Vol VII, Issue 35, September 1931,
p. 5.
9

In the above brief passages the ‘circle of Jesus’ already deemed Christian and ‘the
Jews’ are clearly separated. Not even the idea appears for one minute that both
Jesus and his first followers listed there were all Jews without exception! Just
the contrary. A person that dared deem Jesus a Jew,39 had to face immediate
indignation. But that was worded by the followers of the Reformed Church!
‘Jews cry all over the whole world about their imagined sufferings to raise
compassion for themselves and to strengthen the solidarity of the race. They wonder
why everybody hates them and at the same time trigger the animosity of Christians
and Hungarians because they attack what is the most sacred for us. They attack our
faith; they damage and hurt our religious feelings. (…)… the author mentions the Son
of God, Jesus as a common Jewish child. Here, the Jewish spirit does not spare the
holiest of Christianity, the Saviour. With their profane, unholy hands, they want to
use Christ for their lowly political purposes: to hit the great German statesman,
Hitler.’40
An article from 1930 reflects very well how the Jewry represented a kind of clear
point of reference in certain parts of the Hungarian society between the two World
Wars. While the author was writing about educating children to Christianity, he
contrasted the examples of Christian and Jewish parents. ‘You will often hear from
Jewish parents speaking to their children in such a way: you are clever, you are
beautiful, and you are good! And what can we see: Jewish children become selfconceited and self-esteem overdevelops in them. On the other hand, Christian
parents often chide their children using such terms: you idiot, you useless, you ass,
you will come to nothing! As a result, Christian children will be timid, not trusting
themselves and self-esteem is killed in them. I will not say Jewish parents act
correctly, the author wrote, the truth is in the middle. You should give your children
small tasks to do and if they do it well, you should praise them and point out what
they can achieve if they are properly diligent and careful. That is how we can educate
them to proper self-esteem.’41

Racially pure Hungarian Protestantism
We can find excellent proofs of the fact how much specific persons influenced and
defined anti-Semitic public thinking and the image of Jews in Hungary in the period
between the two World Wars in the micro-world of Óbuda. In the context of the
Reformed Church, we witness a radical shift of attitude. Teacher Vass Árpád, who
resigned due to his deteriorating health, was replaced as editor-in-chief by the young
E.g., Szabolcsi, „Mindenféle” [Every kind of things], Egyenlőség [Equality] 11 November 1933.
Illés Lajos, „Újra támadják Krisztust” [Christ attacked again], Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol VI, Issue 1, January
1934, p. 3.
41
„A Credotag a családban, társadalomban, a közéletben. [Credo members in the family, in society and in public life.]
Elmondotta az ‘óbudai Credo’ nov. 11-i gyűlésén Szörényi Rezső, iskolaigazgató, a Credo világi elnöke.[an address at
the 11 November meeting of the Óbuda Credo by headmaster Szörényi Rezső, the lay chairman of Credo]”,
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol VI, Issue 31, September 1930, p. 13.
39
40

10

presbyter Deák Endre in autumn 1932.42 With him a completely new style appeared
in the paper.43 Earlier, spiritual issues, disseminating knowledge, social issues,
literature and the news of church life were predominant. The paper lacked either
Jewish references,44 or indications to conflicts between the denominations. As Deák
Endre appeared, the paper immediately (repeatedly) published an article to be
considered the direction of the future, actually a part of the editorial of Pesterzsébeti
Református Egyházi Értesítő [Pesterzsébet Reformed Church Bulletin] in June 1932
entitled ‘Hungarian religion’.
The article can be regarded as a kind of self-determination of the Hungarian
Protestants in 1932.45 At that time we were still far from the anti-Jewish laws and the
Holocaust. But as the Second World War was getting closer, the tone was getting
more vehement and open.46
Minister Kontra Aladár, „Az uj Egyházi Élet” [The new Church Life], Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol IV, Issue 7,
October 1932, pp. 1-2.
43
Beginning from 1933, the paper regularly and always in agreement reported on some government measures in
Germany. See Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol V, Issue 4, April 1933, p. 8. (Banning jazz music in German radios); Vol
VI, Issue 6, June 1934, p. 8. (Refugee German Jewish professors founded a university in New York); Vol VII, Issue 10,
December 1935, p. 7. (Baptism of Communists and Socialists) Vol VIII, Issue 3, March 1936, pp. 7-8. Nuremberg laws:
‘We can envy the German people that can pass such laws. They would be most welcome with us as well. Actually they
would be more welcome here than there because Jews only make up 0.9% of the population there, while it is 6.1% with
us! What is more, it goes up to 23% in Budapest!’); Vol VIII, Issue 4, April 1936, p. 7. (As opposed to Germany, in
Hungary ‘even a non-converted Jew is honest if he is willing to eat bacon! And what about those who convert, they are
actually excellent people. They can become ministers, curators or presbyters of the church! And naturally they can
become statesmen!’); Vol VIII, Issue 9, November 1936, p. 7.; Vol X, Issue 8, October 1938, p. 8.
44
They became regular. See Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol V, Issue 5, May 1933, p. 9. (‘A Catholic monk was hit on
the face by a Jewish agent on the Vác railway.’); Vol V, Issue 6, June 1933, p. 2. (‘When do the Jews go out on the
‘long day’ [at Yom Kippur], on the Sabbath or Sukkot?’); id.e. p. 8. (Electing a beauty queen is an enterprise ‘that is
searching for newer and newer sources of making money using the excellent sense of smell of large crooked noses
lacking honesty or moral judgement’.); Vol V, Issue 10, December 1933, p. 7. (‘What a pity that according to a court
sentence the Jewry is not a race but simply a denomination in this country!’); Vol VII, Issue 2, February 1935, p. 8.
(‘Jewish rule’ in Hungary in finances and the business life; they are overrepresented in crime: slander, blackmail,
embezzlement, fraud and usury); Vol VII, Issue 3, March 1935, p. 8. (‘Jewish rule’ in the chamber of attorneys); Vol
VII, Issue 5, May 1935, p. 8. (‘80% of the population of Finland are Lutherans. There are only 1,700 Jews in the whole
happy country’); Vol VII, Issue 9, November 1935, p. 4. (‘Most of the times, Jews regard not only the work force but
also the body of Hungary women and girls serving them in some form to be free spoil. The number of illegitimate births
among the Jews is allegedly low. But the figures are false because new-borns are listed with the religion of their
mothers, although at least 60-70% of illegitimate children born in the capital have Jewish fathers. (…) … it is horrifying
how much our race is corrupted.’); Vol VIII, Issue 1, January 1936, pp. 3-4. (‘Telling figures’; the Jewry taking control
in society and the economy); Vol VIII, Issue 2, February 1936, pp. 3-4. (‘Telling figures’; Jews almost ‘conquer’ the
fields of education); Vol VIII, Issue 10, December 1936, p. 7. (‘The conquest of the Jews of Galicia in Hungary’).
45
The attitude and behaviour of the Protestants in Óbuda, naturally, cannot be generalised. The attitude could cause
conflicts even within the community (’Many people criticised that our voice towards the Jewry is sharply honest. We
only defend ourselves and never attack. It is our duty to warn our followers of all dangers and to protect our Hungarian
spirit. In this field only us, Christians are the ones that may complain.’ Illés Lajos, ’A felekezeti békesség utján’ (’On
the path to peace among denominations)’, Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol. VII, Issue 2, February 1935, p.2.).
Nevertheless, it remained the decisive voice and the other attitude having reservations or even criticising anti-Semitism
became marginal. The situation was similar in the context of the Hungarian Reformed Church (see e.g., Egyházi Élet
[Church Life] Vol. VI, Issue 6, June 1934, p.8.; id. e. Vol. VII, Issue 10, December 1935, pp. 3-4.: ‘We are antiSemitic’). Different views, attitudes and directions existed together or side-by-side. And that is what makes a
comprehensive in-depth research indispensable! All the more so, since when the paper ceased to exist (because the
Budapest Protestant Diocese launched a single weekly with the title Protestant Life in the capital from 1940), editor
Deák Endre wrote proudly: ‘We acknowledge, we have had some criticism because of our adamant Hungarian attitude,
but we have to add the critics were never true Hungarians. And the caravan is moving on...’ Egyházi Élet [Church Life]
Vol. XI, Issue 10, December 1939, p.4.
46
In 1937 an appeal was published in the paper: ‘Buy from Hungarian merchants only! Order from Hungarian
tradesmen only! If you are sick, turn to Hungarian doctors! Take your court cases to Hungarian lawyers! Do not
42

11

‘What makes our religion so much Hungarian and so hard to overestimate from the
national point of view? It is not only because our religion and its constitution is
identical to the character of our nation, not only its language, according to which its
church service, its sermons and singing are fully Hungarian, but mainly the
circumstance that the mass of its followers is almost hundred percent racially
pure Hungarians. That is, it is a body, an organisation, an institution that is
Hungarian in every detail. What it means in our age of internationalism endangering
our existence it cannot be overemphasised. (…) Whatever may happen to this country
and to this nation, the Reformed Church of pure Hungarians will never serve alien
powers and alien interests either in its language or in its heart. The Hungarian
national idea, the national feeling and language have no other racially pure and
strong organisation as the Reformed Church. (…) You cannot find an institution
better suited for the expression of the national idea and consciousness. (…) Our
church can never be anything but Hungarian because it is independent and
national.’47
The same racial idea was expressed in an article by Monitor (alias minister Kontra
Aladár48) dated November 1933. In his opinion ‘the Roman Empire collapsed
because an alien race killed the faith of its ancestors from its soul, trained them to
neglect work and to revolt, and they only demanded bread and entertainment and they
could be made to do anything for that purpose while none of them wanted to make a
sacrifice for their faith or their country!’49

support foreigners with Hungarian money!’ (Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol. IX, Issue 1, January 1937, p.4.). And in
1939 it became unambiguous who were meant by ‘foreigners’ in coded speech. The last sentence was transformed as
follows: ‘Do not support Jews with Hungarian money!’ (Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol. XI, Issue 3, March 1939,
p.8.). Already in 1930 Dr. Mészáros János papal prelate, episcopal representative said that Budapest is ‘sinful’ (as
Horthy described the capital in 1919), but those are the culprits, ‘who imported sin into the soul of the city, those who
did not want to understand the traditions of the nation, those who had come from alien lands [i.e.: from Galicia] and
remained aliens, those who had brought alien habits and fashions into the heart of the nation’. G. G. ‘Ten years of the
parish. Mass celebrated by the high priest in the parish church. Ceremonial meeting in the Cultural House’,
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Vol. VI, Issue 25, January 1930, p.8.
47
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Vol. IV, Issue 7, October 1932, p.6.
48
The anti-Semitism of Kontra Aladár is obvious from his other statements as well. He said the following at the January
assembly of MOVE (see Dósa Rudolfné, A MOVE, 1918–1944. Egy jellegzetes magyar fasiszta szervezet, [MOVE, a
typical Hungarian fascist organisation] Akadémiai Kiadó – Zrínyi Kiadó, Budapest, 1972) in January 1925
(www.huszadikszazad.hu/1925-januar/politika/zadravetz-es-gombos-a-move-vasarnapi-kozgyulesen; 8 July 2014):
‘When commanded by Abdul Hamid the Kurds killed Christian Armenians, the big powers arranged a fleet
demonstration along the Bosporus, — but now, when in Russia the Izro-Kurds are killing Christian Russians, the
warships of the big powers do not appear'. According to a report by the Transylvanian journal Our Age ‘the papers
published detailed reports on the assembly, but … for instance the wittiness of the Protestant minister was missing from
the reports. There were about eight journalists present. But mentioning the Izro-Kurd was missing from the Izro-Kurd
papers as well. When they speak about actions against the proletariat, there is no conflict among the denominations
even if the Protestant minister makes a slip.’ (‘In the name of love’, Korunk [Our Age], June 1930;
http://epa.oszk.hu/00400/00458/00255/1930_06_5216.html; 8 July 2014).
49
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume V, Issue 9, November 1933, p.2. (column ‘With open eyes’). On the other hand,
there were still reports in a Catholic parish paper that the author visited Catholic churches in Berlin together with Jewish
travellers. Dr. Fábián Gáspár, ‘With a Catholic eye … Round trip in Europe’, Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin]
Volume X, Issue 54, September 1934, pp. 4-6.
12

One can say the racial idea and attitude50 deeply permeated the Hungarian society of
the Horthy regime. It also appeared markedly in the Catholic parish paper. Dr. Tarlós
Béla, a member of the parish council argued in his article ‘Why we established
Catholic autonomy’ that ‘we intend to serve our country and race with our autonomy,
because the love of your race and the protection of your race is a great idea which
hopefully will never be dimmed in the future and we embraced it’.51 According to
Count Hunyady Ferenc, the ‘Christian idea’ is that connects in Hungary ‘all people of
the Hungarian race and destroys the walls of hatred some want to raise between
Hungarian and Hungarian using slogans of different denominations’52
However, Catholics never worded their ideas so openly and vehemently – you
could say so much mistakenly from a theological perspective by narrowing
Christian universalism to the particularity of a race/nation – as Protestants did.
According to Szomolnoky, e.g., ‘Hungarism’53 is ‘in which the Christian religion can
be given an outstanding position’. Because ‘the racial and blood characteristics of
Hungarians could be placed in the focus of religious and national interests on the
basis of Hungarism as it develops morally and spiritually. Those characteristics were
the foundations for Hungarians to play a leading part in the Danube valley for
thousand years. Hungarians never lost those characteristics despite many intrigues,
the bitter yoke on their necks, the unheard of exploitation of Hungarian chivalry, the
Reformation, the persecution of the religion, etc. It is quite certain that Hungarians
will be able to ensure a leading position for Great Hungary in the Danube valley and
to have the Christian (Reformed) religion acknowledged as the true Hungarian
religion in the next thousand years, if the importance of 'Hungarism' is acknowledged
and promoted. (…) The German people speak of Hitler, the new Apostle of the
German religion, as a new Christian source. (…)The soul of every nation is
permeated by its own faith and strength, so our Hungarian homeland will also
be permeated by the vital force of the Hungarian reformed religion, which
collects all factors of Christianity in Hungarism. This Hungarism is the vital
force that grants our people faith and perseverance to make its fate, its future bright
by raising hope although it is still but dimly lit’54
Antagonism to the Jewish community had become more radical beginning from
1937.55 A feeling was made manifest and disclosed that Hungarians had been pushed
50

This attitude had already found its rootes at the time of Dualism. However, at that time the Hungarian-Romanian
conflict was in the centre of ‘racial’ struggle! See Beksics Gusztáv, A román kérdés és a fajok harcza Európában és
Magyarországon [The Romanian issue and the war of the races in Europe and in Hungary], Athenaeum, Budapest,
1895; Éber Ernő, Fajok harca: adatok az erdélyi nemzetiségi kérdéshez [The war of races: data to the issue of the
Transylvanian national minorities], Kilián, Budapest, 1905.
51
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume II, Issue 7, December 1926, p. 5.
52
Hunyady Ferenc, „Ünnepi gondolatok a Karácsony magyar békéjében” (‘Holy thoughts in the Hungarian peace of
Christmas’), Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume V, Issue 19, January 1929, p. 5., p. 3.
53
See Paksa Rudolf, Szálasi Ferenc és a hungarizmus [Szálasi Ferenc and Hungarism], Jaffa, Budapest, 2013.
54
Szomolnoky, 'Hungarizmus” (‘Hungarism’), Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume V, Issue 6, June 1933, pp. 1-2.
55
See e.g., Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 5, May 1938, p. 7. The author criticised the Szatmár Egyházi
Értesítő because it was writing about the persecution of Jews in Central Europe. According to Géza Komoróczy, ‘1938
was a borderline in the history of the Western world: and as part of it in Jewish history as well. The national socialist
Germany started its aggressive conquest by annexing Austria, the Anschuß. Évian revealed that the countries
13

into the background economically and socially in their own country. Protestant
readers could read the following brief ‘factual information’56 in bold letters and
framed in black calling their attention and targeting their emotions:
’49.2% of all lawyers are Jews! 54.4% of private physicians are Jews!’57
‘Our four largest banks (Angol-Magyar, Magyar Általános Hitelbank, Leszámitoló
and Kereskedelmi Bank) control 222 companies. 80, 79, 74 and 77% of the
management of those banks are Jewish.’58
‘The Jewry of 5 percent usurped 28.26 percent of the national income of Hungary.’59
‘There are 235 Jews among the 336 members of the board of directors and
supervisory boards of the 20 largest industrial companies of Hungary. It is exactly 70
percent!’60
’92.5 percent of the staff of Estlapok, 85 percent of Népszava and 83 percent of 8
Órai Ujság are Jews.’61
’77 percent of the staff of Esti Kurir, 75 percent of Friss Ujság, 82 percent of Magyar
Hírlap and 89 percent of Pester Lloyd are Jews.’62
‘Some people call it Marxism, but I call it Jewry. Stephen S. Wise, Chief Rabbi of
New-York.’63

theoretically opposing Hitler, although recognised the threat, do not make any steps against him for the time being, nor
will they help the Jews who are evidently threatened now; in Munich, Britain and France made fatal allowances to the
snarling beast. The persecution of Jews taking place previously within the framework of laws, whatever they had been,
the racial laws of 1935 in Germany, the Kristallnacht turned it into straight vandalism. In Hungary, the works of
Darányi Kálmán, Imrédy Béla, Count Teleki Pál, Act XV of 1938. It was only the beginning, although the years before
had not been quiet at all, the incited crowd wanted stricter measures, political leaders conceded to pressure step by step,
then they stood in the frontline of the crowd, the objections of conscience remained empty words, so that in the end the
trains should depart to Auschwitz, and the country should be ruined.’ Komoróczy Géza A zsidók története
Magyarországon II: 1849-től a jelenkorig (The history of Jews in Hungary II: from 1849 to the present), Kalligram,
Pozsony, 2012, p. 509. Márai Sándor also wrote about the Hungarian implications of the 1938 borderline in Hungary in
his work Hallgatni akartam (I wanted to remain silent) (Helikon, Budapest, 2013): ‘on that day many things that had
remained from the old Europe collapsed’ (p. 7.).
56
Such texts, however, did not remain unnoticed. Argus was forced to devote a column to detailing the articles of
Magyarország and Esti Kurir, which criticised the framed texts. It also indicates the social impact of the paper of the
Reformed Church in Óbuda had been much larger than the community! The attitude of the author is clear: ‘We are not
ashamed to announce and we do announce bravely – because we do not live in Jew-land but in Hungary – that all our
efforts are directed to preventing the advent and conquest of Jews. Only Hungarian people have a right in this country
to have power and riches. All others must be vanished from there!’ Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 4,
April 1937, p. 4.
57
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 2, February 1937, p. 7.
58
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 3, March 1937, p. 2.
59
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 3, March 1937, p. 3.
60
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 9, November 1937, p. 7.
61
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 3, March 1937, p. 5.
62
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 4, April 1937, p. 2.
63
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 5, May 1937, p. 4.
14

‘Educate your children to become physicians and pharmacists, so that they could take
the lives of Christians. (A Jewish leader in Constantinople in 1489).’64
‘The number of Jewish-Hungarian mixed marriages is more than 1000 every year!
The percentage of Jewish servants is 08%.’65
‘Approximately 32,000 Jewish-Hungarian mixed marriages had been entered into
since 1896!’66
‘The national society must excommunicate all who have married Jews neglecting the
existential interests of their race!’67
‘The non-Jewish society – in self-defence – must face both Jews of the Moses faith
and Christian faith.’68
‘Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy in total have as many Jews as Budapest
has.’69
‘Sweden, Norway and Finland together support 8500 Jews, which is 0.07% of their
total population (it is 21% in Budapest!).’70
Radical opposition clearly led not only to an open acceptance of anti-Semitism, but
also to the identification of anti-Semitism with Protestantism or the Reformed
Church: ‘…Protestants are fully Hungarians to the core; therefore they are
clearly and unambiguously anti-Semitic. No other true Hungarians can be
imagined!’71
The same was explained in detail by Szintai István [theology student in year 472], in
his ‘important’ paper ‘Anti-Semitism of the Reformed Church’:
‘The question whether anti-Semitism is correct or incorrect lives in people’s souls
today when there is a turning point of great times. Many people take a ‘lukewarm’
view, while others only make the remark ‘they are humans, too’. I think a Christian
follower of the Reformed Church cannot take such a view in such an important
question impacting his whole life.
He cannot do so because the majority of the friends of Jews today only follow their
mean individual interests betraying in that way an issue of much higher purpose.
They get the price of their treachery – like Judas did.
64

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 5, May 1937, p. 6.
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 2, February 1937, p. 3.
66
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 2, February 1937, p. 3.
67
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 3, March 1937, p. 6.
68
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 2, February 1937, p. 8.
69
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 3, March 1937, p. 7.
70
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 5, May 1937, p. 3.
71
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 5, May 1937, p. 7.
72
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 9, November 1938, p. 5.
65

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A true follower of the Reformed Church cannot place his own mean interests above
the highest common interest of us all, the issue of God. We can state clearly that the
interests of Jews are opposed to the interest of God.
A true follower of the Reformed Church cannot be a friend of those who crucified
Jesus and – not giving up on their principles – would want to crucify him today.
Because we should not forget that after the Resurrection a great fight was started
under the slogan ‘Crucify Jesus again’, so that our monstrosities should not be seen
by the light of His sermon. Jewish Pharisees started the fight in the way customary
with them. They used money to bribe the soldiers to say Jesus had not been
resurrected, but had been stolen by the disciples.
But Jesus continued and still continues his fight because the True One must prevail
over falsity. And we who call ourselves Christians, the followers of Christ must fight
with Jesus against the spirit of the descendants of the Pharisees who want to infect
and contaminate everything, whose every step is directed to overcome the Truth and
Goodness.
Look what the Jewish spirit does today in that service! To give a brief answer to the
question, it tempts to sin. Just look at pornographic literature, theatre or immoral
movies permeated by the Jewish spirit! Look at bribery in offices! Their only purpose
is to contaminate the Christian society in its solid Christian foundations so that it
could cry out submissively towards Truth: ‘crucify Him’. All their acts are directed to
hide Jesus, to hide Truth and to mollify our conscience objecting to sin.
These efforts are clearly seen in the Minutes of the Wise of Zion in which we can see
the principles and efforts of the Jews unmasked towards the ‘Goy’ so much despised
by them. (…)
A Christian follower of the Reformed Church - seeing the Jewish spirit is against
his church and the truth of God – cannot be but anti-Semitic. The defence of
Truth is our obligation. Not the extremities but the facts can make a person antiSemitic. The Jews themselves. Read the Old Testament to the end and you will see
their own prophets had been the greatest anti-Semites.
We should never forget that great tasks are waiting for us, Hungarian followers of the
Reformed Church and will be waiting in the future as well. We need to see clearly
and to have strength. In the big moments of history it was almost always us who had
to stand up and we stood our place with the help of God. But we had to emphasise with the help of God! And now, when we have to stand up again, we can only stand
our place with the help of God. Therefore, we cannot accept any community with
those who work against God’s things and truths. Because, if that spirit poisons us, we
shall lose our firm belief in God and will be unable to fight for Truth.
A sinful spirit working cunningly wants to rob us of our God, our Jesus, our faith and
our country. Think my Brothers! Can we be anything but anti-Semitic?’73
In light of the above, the change of paradigm is easy to understand: ‘There is no
Jewish issue; there is only a Hungarian issue! Because you do not have to oppress the
Jews but you have to help Hungarians who have been oppressed in the fields of
73

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 5, May 1938, pp. 1-2.
16

finance and spiritual culture to a shameful extent to take the places due to them
legally. And if it is only possible by terminating the advantageous position of the
Jewry enjoyed unjustified, it is no reason to speak about a Jewish issue all the time.
We are Hungarians and we are only interested in the fate of Hungarians. Taking care
of the fate of Jews is not the duty of the national Hungary.’74
The Protestant author believed the reason of the ‘oppression’75 of Hungarians was
morals, because in his opinion ‘we Hungarians are just as clever, skilful and quick to
learn as the Jews’. On the other hand, the morals of Hungarians and the morals of
Jews are different.76 That is why we have always been overcome. Because weeds
overwhelm wheat, although wheat is more precious than cockle.”77
Argus wrote in the period when the first anti-Jewish law was adopted78: ‘there is not
and there cannot be any place and field for Hungarian life, whether it is easy or
difficult, where a Jew should have more rights, a better life, a larger loaf of bread
and more happiness than a Hungarian! (…) As long as there is just one Hungarian
person in this country who does not have the same loaf of bread, the same living he
deserves by his honest work, it is a mortal sin to let those who are alien to us by their
race and blood, by their whole bodily and spiritual composition: the Jews exploit the
riches and well-being of the nation!’79
It is easy to understand that the paper of the Óbuda Reformed Church immediately
demanded the application of the anti-Jewish law when the ‘Felvidék’ (‘Uplands’, a
part of Slovakia today) was re-annexed (November 1938). Because the ‘Hungarian
truth’ will prevail and the extended Hungary will become happy.’80
In March 1939 editor Deák Endre clearly explained what anti-Semitism meant! ‘AntiSemitism has a rather, how-to-say raw taste in our society. Many people believe it
does not fit in either with the generous thinking of Hungarian nobility or with the
commands of Christ. Although those who believe anti-Semitism is not Hungarian and
not Christian in its views are much mistaken. Actually, they are superficial or rather
egotistic and are striving for their interests only. Anti-Semitism as a hatred of Jews is
really a negative idea and as such should be discarded [sic], but an honest and true
74

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 4, April 1938, p. 8.
With respect to the 1939 elections, the paper of the Reformed Church published the following: ‘on this land, there is
just one nation that has the right to decide its route: the Hungarian. The captivity of Hungarians and the rule of Jews
must be ended!’ Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 5, May 1939, pp. 7-8.
76
Monitor illustrated this in his column ‘With open eyes’ with the dramatic life story of a Hungarian Christian wife
who had been denied by his rich Jewish husband and even by his children and who in her old age and loneliness found
her way back to the Reformed Church. A lesson for boys and girls: ‘Do not waste bodily and mental goods to a person
of an alien race because they were given to you by the Lord to serve the better future and improvement of your own
race!’ See Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 6, June 1939, pp. 3-4.
77
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 7, September 1938, p. 8.
78
The Parliament debate and adoption of the first anti-Jewish law (Act XV of 1938) occurred from 18-24 May; it took
effect on 29 May. See Rákos Imre – Szita Szabolcs – Verő Gábor (ed), Tell us what happened!, Ex Libris, Budapest,
2004, p. 23.
79
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 5, May 1938, pp. 3- 4.
80
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 9, November 1938, p. 8.
75

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Christian Hungarian person does not interpret anti-Semitism as hatred for Jews but
philo-Hungarism, a love of Hungarians. We have all hope to believe that antiSemitism correctly interpreted will take its place in all fields where it is still excluded
today. It is a sorrowful fact that our Protestant schools are so slow to understand the
first obligation of the existential interests of Hungarians: the nine and half million
Hungarians must come first and half a million Jews after that until we have to change
that as well! No Hungarian person can have another correct view without despising
himself, his own nation, race and blood!’81
Christian Jews!?82
The anti-Semitic convictions of a part of racially pure Hungarian Protestants clearly
led to the condemnation of mixed marriages83; as well as to reservations regarding the
conversion of Jews.84 All that, in fact, reflected an irrational fear of ‘mixing the
blood’ and ‘diluting the blood’ as well as the mistaken obsession of preserving
‘purity’.85 The first signs of this already appeared in the paper of the Óbuda
Reformed Church in January 1934.
‘We should note the sad statistics that show the increase of Christian-Jewish
marriages. 265 such marriages were entered into in this country in 1895, which was
0.2% of the total number of marriages. The number increased to 1012 in 1932, which
is 14% of all marriages. That is, this harmful form of starting a family increased by

81

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 3, March 1939, p. 5.
The ecclesiastical and social history of Jews converting in the period between the two World Wars is an area hardly
studied. See e.g., Karády Viktor, Zsidóság, polgárosodás, asszimiláció (Jewry, embourgeoisement and assimilation).
Tanulmányok (Studies), Cserépfalvi, Budapest, 1997.
83
According to Monitor, a Hungarian girl who leaves her Protestant Church to marry a 'Galician Jew' lives in 'terrible
mistake'. ‘First she leaves her faith, the faith her fathers and ancestors suffered and bled so much for, for a man of an
alien race and morals, who is the greatest enemy of Christianity and Hungarians, who only has one purpose: to satisfy
his egotistic lust in any way. Secondly, she sins against her own race and the future generation that will be mixed with
Jewish blood and contaminates her own race terribly in this way working for the destruction of Hungarians.
Unfortunately, a nation whose daughters are not permeated with the idea of being Hungarians and Christians will come
to such a fate!’ Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 4, April 1934, p. 2. See also Egyházi Élet [Church Life]
Volume X, Issue 5, May 1938, p. 7. The unknown author deems the children born from 'unfortunate Jewish-Hungarian
marriages’, ‘whether or not the Jewish party has been converted’ simply ‘misbegotten’. He practically demanded a ban
on mixed marriages in January 1939 (Volume XI, Issue 1, January 1939, p. 8.).
84
For instance, dissociating themselves from the Scottish Mission working to convert Jews. See Egyházi Élet [Church
Life] Volume VIII, Issue 9, November 1936, p. 6.; Volume XI, Issue 7, September 1939, p. 3. With regard to the
Mission, see Kovács Ábrahám, „A skót presbiterianizmus hatása Budapesten. A Skót Misszió rövid története” (‘The
impact of Scottish Presbyterianism in Budapest. A short history of the Scottish Mission), in: Kósa László (ed),
Reformátusok Budapesten. Tanulmányok a magyar főváros reformátusságáról, Argumentum – ELTE BTK
Művelődéstörténeti Tanszék, Budapest, Volume 2, pp. 895-914.
85
See Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VII, Issue 8, October 1935, p. 8.: ‘…although admission to the Protestant
College of Theology had become extremely strict and therefore many honest Hungarian Protestant youth had to find a
position elsewhere despite their intentions, it still happened – in this academic year – that a child of Jewish parents had
been found suitable to become a Protestant minister! If the Hungarian race will continue making such and similar
suicide efforts for another one or two decades, the attempt will surely be successful. It is terrible how little we value our
dear pure Hungarian race! One or two similar measures and we should not be surprised if our Protestant life is distorted
into internationalism!’
82

18

7000% in 37 years, which means there are seventy times more Hungarian-Jewish
mixed marriages today than 37 years ago.’86
A month later Argus advised in his column ‘With open eyes’: ‘Is there no other
purpose of the Reformed Church in Hungary than converting Jews?’ He is trying to
find an answer to the question ‘why do we want to embrace those who do not want it?
They do not want it because they cannot want it; their blood will not allow it! The
Lord has sealed their fate when he repudiated them because they had become
unworthy of the love wasted on them in vain. So, we should not want to change the
will of the Lord. Why should we convert, why should we pray for them if they do not
want it and it is not good for us, either.’87
The attitude of the paper of the Reformed Church, in fact, represented an open
denial of Christian universalism for its faithful followers. The statements clearly
illustrate an unambiguous rejection of the original Christian ideal and attitude. That
attitude was worded by the Apostle Paul himself; and that is why Christianity (a faith
confessing and acknowledging the Jewish Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and the
Son of God88) could become a universal religion: “For as many of you as were
baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is
neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”
(Gal. 3.27-28).
All that becomes easier to understand if we consider the theological absurdity
allowed to be published in the paper of a Protestant diocese by a minister, whose
heart’s desire was to revive the religious life of his community, what is more, he
probably wrote it. According to him: ‘Christ is the same that our fathers respected as
our Warlord in ancient times and who is the only strong and true and eternal God
taking care of His People at all times keeping us for thousand years, making a
thousand miracles for us and for our perseverance and governing our world’89
The Óbuda Protestant paper even went against the dean of the Church to reiterate its
opinion that it makes no sense to accept Jews into Christian communities: ‘9/10 part
of the Jewry converted into the Reformed Church do not attend the Church and do
not take Communion. … such a semi-membership of the Church is not honest. The
Church may be damaged if the Word is despised, the sacraments are despised and the
community is not sought.’ That is what Dean Szabó Imre wrote to a converted Jewish
family. They are bitter words, but the consequence drawn from the facts is mistaken,
because ‘he calls them to the Church loud’. Mr. Dean, we should not undermine the

86

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 1, January 1934, p. 8.
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 2, February 1934, p. 3.
88
See Larry W. Hurtado, Hogyan lett Jézus Istenné a földön? A Jézus-tisztelet történeti gyökerei. [How on Earth did
Jesus become a God? Historical questions about earliest devotion to Jesus.] (Napjaink teológiája, 9), Bencés Kiadó,
Budapest, 2008.
89
(K. A.), „Egy uj ‘vallásról”, [On a new religion] Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 7, September 1934, p.
2.
87

19

solid walls of our Reformed Church of strong faith because it will collapse!
Apage90… apage!...’91
The rejecting behaviour of the paper is unambiguous and consequent: ‘We can read
that 919 Jews were baptised in Hungary in 1933, 636 in 1932 and 688 in 1931.
Statistics show that 2/3 part of the baptised joined the Roman Catholic Church. The
rest probably delights us [Protestants]. It would have been best if the total 3/3 had
remained where they still belong despite their being baptised!’92
All the more so because according to the opinion of the Reformed Church in Óbuda,
Jews only converted out of interest! ‘In 1936, 1,074 Jews were baptised in Budapest.
The reasons for conversion included position, promotion, appointment, etc. In two or
three cases, love or marriage was the reason. But there was not one in the records
who referred to his religious conviction.’93
So the paper of the diocese suggested converted Jews should join the Jewish
Followers of Christ and ‘leave Christian denominations’.94 According to Argus, ‘Jews
who want to believe in Christ can satisfy that intention of theirs and can become Jews
following Christ out of a spiritual need. However, they should not be admitted into
any legal and accepted Christian community. The issue should be regulated
institutionally with church and state laws so that we should not have Protestant Jews
and Catholic Jews but simply Jews following Christ, which would be more fit to
reality. They will feel better among each other, and believe me, we would also find it
easier if such an order could eliminate certain sensitive and painful conflicts arising
in our lines.’ In accordance with the racist national idea, ‘Jews are not only a
religion but also a race’ therefore, if ‘Jews retain their race as followers of Christ’,
how could they become Hungarians, whatever baptismal water had fallen on their
heads. We suspect that ‘pure water’ is the reason why the majority of the Jews in
Hungary make allowance to the totally mistaken and superfluous campaigns of
conversion advocated by (the Protestant) Christian communities rather than their own
kind. In that way, our eyes are blindfolded but theirs remain open. Put aside the
conversion of Jews! Those already baptised should be allowed to join the camp of
Jewish followers of Christ and then the new and true world dawning upon us will
not be so painful and burdensome for them, either. Because that new world will
come! May be not so long from now!”95

The meaning of the Greek word is: ‘Leave! Get away!” It is also reference to the words of Jesus addressed to Apostle
Peter (Mt. 16:23). However, in the original Greek text the word is not ‘apage’, but ‘hypage’, with the meaning ‘behind
my back’, ‘back to the line’!
91
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 8, October 1934, p. 8.
92
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VII, Issue 3, March 1935, p. 8.
93
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 3, March 1937, pp. 7-8. See also id.e Vol XI, Issue 6, June 1937, pp. 78.
94
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IX, Issue 5, May 1937, p. 8.
95
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 4, April 1938, p. 4.
90

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In autumn 1938, the unknown author seemed to foretell that ‘new world’:
‘Hungarian life can only rise on and from Hungarian soil. Alien weeds must be
collected and burnt.’96
It is understandable that there were Jews in an atmosphere of institutionalised and
legalised deprivation of rights and expulsion who hoped to find a way out in
conversion.97 That was fearsome for the author of the paper of the Óbuda Reformed
Church, and he expressed his fears. ‘The Jews of Moses faith have stormed the
Christian communities recently so that having been baptised they could become
followers of Christ at least on paper. They queue in front of the relevant offices by
the thousands and the Christian communities cannot take a common stand against
them. Most of them explain that they must obey the command of the Bible and allow
conversion. Still, it would be quite easy to act uniformly. There is already a sect, the
so-termed ‘Jewish Followers of Christ’, which although baptised does not try to shed
off his Jewish nature because he is unable to. So the solution is given: Jews striving
to become Christians could only and exclusively be the members of that community
of ‘Jewish Followers of Christ’, and in that way both the Christian command is
fulfilled and the Christian communities including the purity of the Hungarian nation
are protected. That is how the Jews of the Moses faith could become Jewish followers
of Christ.’98
Fear shortly turned into complete irrationality:
‘No more Jews in the Reformed Church! Jews who want to become Christians
should be collected in the community of Jewish Followers of Christ. We,
Hungarian Protestants object to the spread of the Jewish spirit within the fences
of our faith.’99
‘The new draft anti-Jewish law100 limits the opportunities of Jews and half-Jews and
even, thank God, of baptised co-religionists of the Jewish race to find jobs in every
field. Still, a measure of huge importance has been omitted. The jobs for priests and
ministers of the different Christian communities are still open to baptised Jews! What
will happen to our churches if they are overwhelmed by Jews? Why no bars are set
there as well? Or the spiritual care of Hungarians is not as important as a necessity to
protect the economy?’101
‘We are reading with horror that the approximately 1,600 followers of the Budapest
Unitarian Church include about 400 converted Jews!’102
96
97

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 7, September 1938, p. 7.
About 20 thousand in the last weeks of 1938. See Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 2, February 1939, p.

7.
98

Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume X, Issue 10, December 1938, p. 8.
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 1 January 1939, p. 8.
100
It became the second anti-Jewish law “on limitation of Jewish expansion in public life and the economy” (Act IV of
1939)
101
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 1, January 1939, p. 8.
102
Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume XI, Issue 2, February 1939, p. 7.
99

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Extermination
By the time in 1938 the deprivation of Jews of their rights had become quicker and
stronger, and the social exclusion of Jews had become actually felt, a decade of
mental preparation – by the churches too (!) – had already had its impact: the
society had been conditioned to the image of Jews as enemies and had become
immune to the suffering of the Jews. The ‘new world’ had really arrived. The
Holocaust!
As for the year 1944, the population of Óbuda had to know or at least suspect what
was going to happen to the Jews. Partly because the yellow star houses set up parallel
to the deportation of Jews from the countryside (about 116)103 were vacated under the
rule of the Arrow-Cross Party followers, and partly because ‘persecuted Jews were
driven in endless lines from the brickyards in Bécsi Road from morning till sundown,
from the end of October and mainly from mid-November. Their march westward led
along Bécsi Road to work camps or to death. Those were the so-called death
marches. Anyone who tried to escape or step out of the transport was shot.’104 But the
Bulletin of the Budapest Roman Catholic Churches failed to respond to those events.
The Salesians were able to take part in rescue efforts because their chapel (at 175177 Bécsi Road) opened unto Bécsi Road while its courtyard was joined to the
courtyard of the Saint Alois House (79 Kiscelli Road), which ‘was the centre of
Salesian spirit and life in Óbuda’. Thanks to that and ‘that is why you can understand
how persecuted Jews escaping from Bécsi Road to the chapel could be accompanied
after dark to the Saint Alois House in Kiscelli Road. From there some of them could
escape during the day (they had been out of sight of the Arrow-Cross Party
followers), while others lacking friends or places to go to remained there. Many of
them hid in the attic, but one or another of the neighbours noticed their presence, their
movements there and 'leaked the information' to the Arrow-Cross Party followers’.105
Nothing could have been easier because the ‘house of the Arrow-Cross Party’ was
practically next door (at 171 Bécsi Road). A cell was operated in apartment No. 3 on
its first floor, where prior Kis Mihály (†1946) was interrogated because he saved or
hid several dozen Jews.106
However, the most horrible event took place in the last phase of the rule of the
Arrow-Cross Party in Budapest – you can say in the last days before the end. A
See: www.csillagoshazak.hu/#overlay=hazak/III (8 July, 2014). On the issue, see also Benoschofsky Ilona – Karsai
Elek (ed.): Vádirat a nácizmus ellen. Dokumentumok a magyarországi zsidóüldözés történetéhez. 2: 1944 május 15 –
1944 június 30. A budapesti zsidóság összeköltöztetése, [indictment against Nazism. Documents to the history of the
persecution of Jews in Hungary, 2: 15 May 1944 to 30 June 1944. Budapest Jews moved together] A Magyar Izraeliták
Országos Képviselete Kiadása, Budapest, 1960, pp. 304-306.
104
Dr. Pintér Endre, „Bevezetés P. Kiss Mihály SDB szalézi szerzetes naplójához” (‘Introduction to the diary of P. Kiss
Mihály SDB Salesian prior’), in: Óbudai múltidéző, i. m., pp. 5-10.; p. 6.
105
Id. p. 9.
106
See Dr. Bán Tamás, „Visszaemlékezés” (‘Memories’), in: Óbudai múltidéző, pp. 63-70.
103

22

detailed description of it can be read in the diary of Kiss Mihály, dated 26 December
1944:
The Salesian prior wrote: ‘There is a big chaos at our institute among the soldiers
billeted and left here without officers. (…) Continuous comings and goings, banging
of doors, loud speech, etc. put our nerves on trial. Both prefects and pupils went to
bed late yesterday. (…) It might have been one o’clock when the Arrow-Cross Party
followers, about eight of them, came over from the neighbouring house and referring to a command from their superiors - woke up the caretaker, and went into
the dormitory of the children together with him to wake up those of Jewish descent
and allegedly to take them to Pest, to Pannónia Street, because Arrow-Cross Party
‘brothers’ will be placed in their places. I learnt all about it in the morning only. Poor
children were woken up from their first sleep, they had to dress quickly. From here
they were taken to the Arrow-Cross Party house. There they had a short rest. From
there along Bécsi Road and Nagyszombati Street they were led to the banks of the
Danube. On the corner of the last house they were divided into groups of three and
the command was given to turn around. On the road this small group of children and
their guards only met soldiers but they met with three civilians on the corner and the
accompanying Arrow-Cross Party followers immediately commanded them to show
their papers. Their documents proved to be unsatisfactory so they had to join the
group of our children. From the group, first those three adults were taken to the bank
of the Danube in front of the boathouse located there, and shot in the nape. Ours
followed afterwards in groups of three. Our pupil, called Szőke (Weinberger) János,
when he reached the place of execution with his friends, understood what was about
to happen, and as they were ordered to take off their coats and put them on the
ground, he jumped into the Danube among the blocks of ice and started to swim. The
Arrow-Cross Party followers noticed his attempt to escape, they lit searchlights and
started shooting at him from machine-guns but with no success. The Lord preserved
him so that there should be a living witness of the sad fate of his poor friends. The
little victims were shot dead on the bank of the Danube and the bodies were thrown
into the river. Some people later said they could see those little executed ones on the
surface of the river the following day as the water had thrown them up. Otherwise,
we could not get any news of them from then on. The next day, or even the same day,
the caretaker and Mr. Matesz Károly searched for them in Pannónia Street despite the
siege but they could find no trace of them in the ghetto. Every evidence points to their
being executed. We did not want to leave the children by themselves at all. Both the
caretaker and other brothers wanted to follow them on their last route, but the
accompanying Arrow-Cross Party followers clearly prevented this and said openly
they could only try it by risking their life. They had to yield to force. Our pupil that
escaped started to shout loudly as soon as he felt the water of the river around himself
but he noticed he could not hope for help in that way, and – even worse - he would
give himself away to his persecutors, so he remained silent. This allowed others to
believe he had been swallowed by the waves or had been drowned under a sheet of
ice. They stopped looking for him with searchlights and did not shoot with machineguns either. He drifted along the river hit by the sheets of ice sometimes in his side,
23

sometimes on his head. When he felt his strength would leave him and could not
swim, he could not feel his limbs any longer, he swam towards the bank. He was
careful not to bump into a guard there. He emerged from the water with great
difficulty and knocked on the gate of a palace, but the caretaker did not let him in. He
managed to reach a flat in a small house where he was let in, his frozen clothes were
taken off him, he was made to lie down in a warm bed, given something to drink and
covered. He could hardly warm up although there was such strong fire in the fireplace
that it was fully red. From there with the help of a good policeman he was taken to
Rókus Hospital. Jancsi tried to contact me over the phone after 7 p.m. on 27
December under a false name with the help of the priest of the hospital. I answered
the phone. He wanted to ask me to visit him but already communication with Pest
had been impossible. I forwarded the message to the uncle of the boy who took it into
his hands and managed it with much love. He was the only one who remained alive
out of twelve pupils driven from here; he was the witness of the sad fate of his small
friends. The Lord should have mercy on those poor little new small saints, he should
take them into his benevolent Sacred Heart, and the parents in mourning should be
given the mercy of resignation to his holy will. Who participated, who took part in
the name of the Arrow-Cross Party in capturing, driving away and executing the
children? They were the following either as commanders or those executing the
commands:
a.) Ducz Bálint, as Deputy of the Arrow-Cross Party leader in District 3, at the
beginning of Vörösvári Road – Ducz Confectionary next to the Gittinger grocery.
b.) Majláth N., 78-79 Vörösvári Road, District 3, in the Steiner-house.
c.) Mazán János, 171 Bécsi Road, District 3, he moved in the last days from there to
Viador Street, District 3.
d.) Müller Tibor, artillery cadet, who graduated from the Árpád high school here. He
enjoyed the benefits of the institution several times and in the past he was an acolyte
at the institute. He lived in the District but his exact address is missing for the time
being.
e.) Nagyiványi N., the head of the party of this District. His address was 171 Bécsi
Road, as he moved to the Party house from a small apartment in Bécsi Road.
f.) Imre József, a corporal with a bad stammer. He was arrested by police in April.
First he denied everything but later he partly admitted his crime that he took part at
the execution of the children and actually he killed some of them. His case is in the
Court of the People. He was confronted with our pupils and the prefects here who
recognised in him the corporal with the stammer who had turned up at the institute
several times. The GPU107 also investigated in the case for a long time but with no
success. I had to give evidence twice or three times. But, I believe it was not a matter
of importance for them, because they let it slip. The caretaker woman of 171 Bécsi
Road could reveal many things, because this persecution ending in a tragedy took
place in front of her eyes. Because she was good friends to the party people. I believe
the authorities failed to take the case seriously, they only investigated reluctantly,
because the only one caught by police was the stammering Imre J., who first served
107

The Russian abbreviation of the State Political Directorate (Soviet Political Police).
24

the German police together with his mother, then joined the Arrow-Cross Party, and
lately he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Russians and some Russian major
backed him or more exactly backed his mother.’108
Reading the names of participants in the murder it is quite clear this terrible act
was committed by people who had grown up in the poisoned social atmosphere
of the 1930s in Óbuda!109 The big question is where humanity disappeared in
1944 in that environment identifying itself as Christian’? It seems the mandatory
school education of religion and morals in the Horthy era did something really
wrong!110
In her memoirs of 1947, Mrs. Herke Józsefné seems to give a partial answer to the
question. In an environment of Baroque Catholicism with a lot of emphasis on
formalities and racist national Protestantism there were no or hardly any trustworthy
church personalities or outstanding examples of humanity!
‘Who was Kiss Mihály? He was the embodiment of Christian love, the true CatholicChristian spirit. At the time of inhuman persecution he had been the patron of all
persecuted, he risked his own life to fight for what he felt to be the truth in an orgy of
injustice. If everybody had been thinking and acting the same way as he had, the
bridges of Budapest would still be standing and there would be much-much less
mourning in the hearts, in this city and in this country …’111

Summary
Óbudai múltidéző [Memories of the past of Óbuda], pp. 29-31. „Kiss Mihály naplója után ítélve a vészkorszak
borzalmait szubjektíven és keresztény paphoz ‘nem illően’, meg nem bocsátva ítéli el a gyilkosokat. (…) Nem védem
őt, csak az olvasóval akarom megértetni, hogy vannak korszakok, amikor nehéz tárgyilagosnak lenni.” (‘Judged from
the diary of Kiss Mihály, he condemned the murderers subjectively and not fitting a Christian priest never forgiving
them. (…) I do not want to defend him but I want to make the reader understand there are ages where it is difficult to be
objective’) Göttlieb/Gulyás Miklós, „Hommage à Kiss Mihály”, in: Óbudai múltidéző [Memories of the past of Óbuda],
p. 53.
109
For instance Catholic believers witnessed at the service on Good Friday that ‘the priest speaks pleading prayers for
the Church, for the Pope, for the clergy, for the followers, for the king, for those believing falsely, for the Jews and
pagans, in one word for everybody because Christ had died for everybody. The priests bent his knees at the beginning
of each prayer except for the prayer for the Jews because on that day the Jews bent their knees to the Lord Jesus
mockingly.” Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume III, Issue 1, March 1927, p.6. Believers could also read
an interesting association of ideas and interpretation of the Holy Bible on the day of the Virgin Mary. According to that,
‘excluding women in the post-natal period from the church and social life for a certain time makes the elected people
think of expulsion from Heaven!’ Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume VI, Issue 31, December 1930, p. 6.
Otherwise, message of the editor in 1931 reflects very well the methodology and knowledge content of the
interpretation of the Bible by church leaders in Óbuda. ‘Researcher. You are mistaken because you have risen high in
contemporary knowledge. Geology proves from point to point that the shaping of the Universe and the development of
the present form of Earth happened in the sequence as it was written by Moses. Human science is only now able to find
the events in the strata of the Earth that had been written on the first pages of the Book of Moses for thousands of years.
In other words, either Moses had been a geologist at the level of contemporary science thousands of years before, which
is impossible, or he had been writing inspired by God.’ Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume VII, Issue 36,
November 1931, p. 14.
110
The fact the local churches undertook no part and appeared nowhere at events organised for the Holocaust memorial
year in Óbuda reveals quite a lot about relationship to the past and to memories! See http://holokausztemlekev.obuda.hu (8 July 2014).
111
Óbudai múltidéző [Memories of the past of Óbuda], p. 71.
108108

25

The quotations from press publications presented in the paper support markedly and
also prove the theoretical and interpretation framework presented by Ervin Staub
psychologist, professor emeritus of the Massachusetts University at a conference
organised by the Department of Philosophy and History of the Hungarian Academy
of Sciences with the title ‘Historical memory and the science of history’112 113.
According to the statements of the American professor, ‘genocides do not only take
place on order from above but out of exclusion and hatred permeating the whole
society meet with the political decisions. One of the prerequisites of such
processes is that a given minority should be seen as the obstacle to realise a
positive image of the future living in society'.
In fact, that kind of conviction was reflected in Hungary in the legislation in 1938
when a process of exclusion of Hungarian citizens deemed racially Jews both from
the economy and society was started to be legalised and presented in laws.114 In the
context of Óbuda, it is quite clear that the monthly journal of the local followers of
the Reformed Church (Egyházi Élet – Church Life) played a much more important
part than the Catholic Egyházközségi Tudósító (Parish Bulletin). It is all the more true
because as a result of a wider range of social functions and personal connections the
local elite of the Reformed Church did not only play a defining part in the microworld of Óbuda but also had an impact in the capital and even in the whole country.
Finally, the lesson to be taken is that local and national levels had a complicated
inter-relationship and mutually influenced each other. Carrying out as high a number
as possible of comprehensive historical micro-sociographic research is unavoidable
for a better and more accurate research and understanding of the events particularly
the behaviour of the society. Lacking them, the large quantity of local source material
is wasted unprocessed, while big monographs continue to repeat platitudes often
improperly supported.
Alain Touraine, French sociologist clearly pointed out that society is made up of
people, i.e., society in fact consists of persons and as the persons are as the society
itself is.115 Therefore the Holocaust is not exclusively the tragedy of the Jewish
community but that of contemporary national societies, including the Christian
Churches. It is a mirror reflecting well the attitude of contemporary Christians on
man and society as well as the set of ideas identifying both them and their age.
According to Michael McGarry (Catholic priest, the rector of the Jerusalem Tantur
Ecumenical Institute), it is a big mistake to diabolise everybody who took part in the
Holocaust. Because the Shoa ‘was not a work of extra-terrestrial aliens but of men.
112

http://mta.hu/mta_hirei/tortenelmi-emlekezet-es-tortenettudomany-134234 (8 July 2014).
‘The Holocaust in Hungary, roots, and effects of non-acknowledgment’
(http://mta.hu/data/cikk/13/40/61/cikk_134061/Meghivo_2014_majus_13.pdf; 2014. júl. 8).
114
Kádár Gábor – Vági Zoltán, Hullarablás. A magyar zsidók gazdasági megsemmisítése [looting the dead. The
economic extermination of Hungarian Jews], Jaffa Kiadó – Hannah Arendt Egyesület, Budapest, 2005.
115
Alain Touraine, La fin des sociétés. (La couleur des idées), Seuil, Paris, 2013.
113

26

What is more, we have to acknowledge it was the work of basically Christians, men
born into the noble tradition of Protestantism and Catholicism who - led by their
effort to exterminate all Jews - denied the teachings of Jesus or oppressed every true
Christian feeling in themselves.’116 As opposed to public belief, the Hungarian
society of the Horthy era was not Christian.117 Christianity was a mere formality, a
kind of ideological coating. Its target audience was mainly the middle classes (it
spoke to it and about it), and it had hardly any moral or spiritual content! Its ethics
was practically confined to regulating sexuality and promoting respect for power and
authority. It is not so surprising by itself, because the churches were institutional
structures serving political power, relying on its mercy and mainly on its material
support. One can say then that the Christianity of the Horthy era in Hungary was
in fact Christianity without God! Its ethos constituted in respecting the existing
social structure. All had to know their place in society and had to behave
accordingly. It encouraged the wealthy for charity and the poor for being humble and
grateful. Probably that is why racial anti-Semitism could be embedded into the selfdetermination of Christians and could ‘Christianity’ become a racial category. The
most evident explanation of the ‘success’ of the Holocaust in Hungary in 1944 may
be explained by that!
On the other hand, an in-depth research of the relationship of the Christian Churches
of Óbuda and the Jewish community directs our attention to the fact that although the
Catholic Church seemed to define and influence public life spectacularly in the
Michael McGarry, „Egy keresztény hívő a Yad Vashem emlékhelyen” (‘A Christian believer at the Yad Vashem
memorial’), in: Carol Rittner – Stephen D. Smith – Irena Steinfeldt (ed.), A Holokauszt és a keresztény világ.
Szembenézés a múlttal és a jövő kihívásaival, [the Holocaust and the Christian world. Facing the past and the
challenges of the future] Egyházfórum, Pécs – Balassi, Budapest, 2009, pp. 29-30.
117
For instance, the paper of the parish in Óbuda wrote about 'thousands of souls registered as Catholics but roaming
about Christless’. Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume III, Issue 1, March 1927, p. 4. ‘we have heard from
the mouth of not one Jew that they do not think much of their religion. They only remain Jews because of their parents.
But they will sit in the Temple and keep the fast at Yom Kippur. On the other hand, many Catholics proclaim: I am a
good Catholic. But he will not make his confession at Easter, he will not go to mass on Sunday; and he will surely eat
meat on Friday even if he did not have any meat all through the week.’ Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin]
Volume III, Issue 1, March 1927, p. 13. ‘Indifference to faith is spreading as the Spanish flu – said the Cardinal
recently. (…) It is a greater threat to the Catholic Church than open opposition to God. Because we can take up fight
against an open enemy, but it is more difficult if we have to face a sly, hidden enemy. Indifference to faith presents
itself in carelessness to the laws of the religion and morality.’ Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume VII,
Issue 37, December 1931, p. 15. ‘Sunday Catholics are growing in number, although we would really need everyday
Catholics who show their true Catholic nature not by listening to the mass once a week, but out of inner conviction and
with their actions. Instead of superficial and opportunistic Catholicism, we would need brave self-conscious
Catholicism, which - side-by-side with a pure heart - would strive for pure hands in every context of the social and
national life. Conscience should be standing side-by-side with the force of law in public life and true Catholicism,
healthy life according to Christ provides you with a clear conscience …” Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin]
Volume VIII, issue 38, March 1932, p. 8. Similarly, id. pp. 12-13. P. Badalik Bertalan, Dominican prior talks about
‘paper-Catholics’. P. Badalik Bertalan, „ Szentségi és szerződéses házasság” ˙(‘Holy and contractual marriage'),
Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume X, Issue 55, November 1934, pp. 4-6. Similar problems could be
found in the Lutheran community in Óbuda. For instance, in 1936 almost 180 to 230 people out of 2600 registered
followers (i.e., less than 10%) visited the service. See Bálintné Varsányi Vilma, Kősziklára volt alapozva (It was
founded on rock), Budapest, 2009, p. 68. And the Monitor wrote the following in September 1933: you ‘go to church
today because you can expect to be given something, you confirm because you expect some clothes. …Christian life is
a business today. There are over six thousand Protestants in Óbuda and thirty-five confirmed on the last occasion where
there should have been at least a hundred and fifty to two hundred’. Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume V, Issue 7,
September 1933, p. 3.
116

27

period between the two World Wars,118 in fact the politicians and public personalities
linked to the Reformed Church and having a church background – filling some
positions from time to time – were the decision-makers and had a decisive
influence.119 The press written and/or controlled by them was likely reflecting their
attitude, their mentality. An undoubted proof of that is Egyházi Élet [Church Life],
the paper of the Protestant minister in Óbuda and also PM120, Kontra Aladár.121
The historical micro-sociographic study of Óbuda suggests that – contrary to public
belief and due to the fact that no research has been going on investigating the church
and social history of the Horthy era in a close context122 – the Hungarian political and
social life between the two World Wars was not so much defined by Catholicism but
by the Protestantism of the Reformed Church deemed ‘racially pure Hungarian’.
Anti-Semitism was one of its important components of self-determination;
thinking in the context of the racial antagonism of Hungarians against Jews. On
118

Such demands were expressed already on the first issue of Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] (Volume I,
Issue 1, December 1925, p. 9.): Hungary has found its strongest support in Catholicism for thousand years. We have a
right to demand that the Catholic spirit should permeate not only public life but official Hungary as well.’ In 1929 the
Catholic author of Óbuda ‘complained’ as follows: ‘Those who have been the leaders of the state are starting to think
independently from the point of view of Catholicism. Recently, a non-Catholic person was placed into a position filled
previously by a Catholic person who took his subordinates every year to perform their Easter confession. We do not
wish the state to be transformed into a power organ of Catholicism but we wish out of the right of our truth and for the
benefit of the state that the Catholic spirit should be taken into account in the whole life of the state.’ Egyházközségi
Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume V, Issue 23, September 1929, p. 13. And when in 1934 ‘the Cardinal wished in an
address that Catholics should be given positions in proportion to their numbers’ the church paper in Óbuda reported
with an educational statistics proving that the places of Catholics were not taken by Calvinists but by Jews! Egyházi
Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 5, May 1934, pp. 7-8.
119
For instance, Dr. Csilléry András MP(†1964) was the chief curator of the Reformed Church in Óbuda. In January
1938 Darányi Kálmán Prime Minister (12 October 1936 to 14 May 1938) became the chief curator of the Reformed
Church in Budapest-Józsefváros. It can be said in general that Protestant politicians and high ranking government
servant were regularly fulfilling church positions as well. As a result, they learnt a lot about what was happening to the
Jewish community at the time of the Second World War
(http://index.hu/tudomany/tortenelem/2014/06/29/mit_tudott_a_magyar_hatalmi_elit_a_nepirtasrol; 8 July 2014).
120
Kontra Aladár was active in the Christian Community Party. See Gergely Jenő, A Keresztény Községi (Wolff) Párt
(The Christian Community (Wolff) Party) (1920–1939). (Pártok és Politika), Gondolat Kiadó – MTA–ELTE Pártok,
pártrendszerek, parlamentarizmus kutatócsoport, Budapest, 2010.
121
See Szabó Imre, „A magyar pap. Kontra Aladár 30 éves jubileumára” (‘The Hungarian Minister. The 30-year jubilee
of Kontra Aladár’), Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume IV, Issue 9, December 1932, p. 1.; Dr. Csilléry András,
„Kontra Aladár”, Id. pp. 3-4. According to the author, the jubilee minister ‘is an ardent Hungarian and lover of his race
proven by the fact that even before the war he took part in a silent and intensive work in the company of many already
deceased and many still living of our great people, that those Great Ones joined in the Hungarian Cultural League
launched against internationality and Freemasonry that caused the destruction of our country later. At that time many of
his articles were published in that spirit while in 1913 the Hungarian Cultural League published a pamphlet in several
thousand copies dealing with Jewry, Freemasonry and minority incitement.’ Kontra Aladár was the contributor to
different associations of ‘national purposes’. He delivered speeches and propaganda addresses all over the country. His
obvious anti-Semitism was coupled with a kind of social sensitivity. He regarded the mitigation of social misery to be
the matter of his heart (but only for religious followers of the Reformed Church! See Egyházi Élet [Church Life]
Volume V, Issue 9, November 1933, p. 2.), and he found its causes not in the contemporary structure of Hungarian
society but in Jewry. (see Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 8, October 1934; According to Monitor, the
Jewish race keeps Hungarians in slavery). Obviously, it can be related to the fact that Kontra Aladár welcomed the
events in Germany in April 1933 when Hitler took power and wrote that Christ and Satan were fighting each other
there; and ‘the spirit of the Saviour flew over the German land’. Kontra Aladár minister, ‘A nagy harc’ (‘The great
fight’), Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume V, Issue 4, April 1933, pp. 1-2.
122
An excellent example of that is by Ungváry Krisztián, A Horthy-korszak mérlege. Diszkrimináció, szociálpolitika és
antiszemitizmus Magyarországon, 1919–1944 (The balance of the Horthy era. Discrimination, social politics ad antiSemitism in Hungary, 1949-1944), Jelenkor, Pécs – OSZK, Budapest, 2012; 2nd edition 2013.
28

the other hand, there was an existential,123 almost apocalyptic fear of becoming
unimportant and being destroyed124 due to a continued fight with Catholicism to
gain followers.125
Trying to reveal the causes for the higher rate of child mortality, an unknown author
in Egyházi Élet [Church Life] emphasised social differences. However, instead of
discussing the structural problems of society, he discussed the issue as that of
races and outlined morbid statistical comparisons. To the question why child
mortality was low with Jews his answer was ‘its cause is the better financial position,
riches, that allows for better nutrition and medical treatment. Their lifestyle and
housing are better. You will not find Jews in cave dwellings or miserable cottages.
That is the explanation for the fact that although the number of Jews is almost twice
as much as that of Protestants in Budapest, 74 Calvinists and only 92 Jewish infants
died before the age of one.’ In other words, the author believed the number of dead
Jewish infants was not enough! On the other hand, the author pointed out that the
number of Jews is low among workers performing hard manual work. They are rather
traders of spirits, watchmakers, hat makers, and producers of liquors or owners of
houses. After reporting on the facts, reasoning follows: ‘Are you asking my brother
why we are writing all that? Because we want you to wake to the truth, to the
destruction of our race and to the expansion of the Jewry getting rich out of us! Wake
to the way they conquer our country and capital! Do not support him, do not purchase
from him, support your race-brothers, order your race-brothers to work so that bread,
life and earnings should go to them, not to the Jews. We do not harm the Jew but we
‘On the margins of the one-child family. The number of the Jewish community increased from 3,280,000 to
7,660,000 from 1825 to 1880 and to 15,800,000 by 1930. It increases by 180,000 people today while the annual
increase was only 80,000 from 1825 to 1880, i.e., 100,000 people less. On the other hand, in our case the number of
births is decreasing due to economic misery.’ Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VII, Issue 2, February 1935, p. 8. See
also id. Volume VII, Issue 9, November 1935, p. 8. ‘We are decaying! (…) Decay and illness only hits the Hungarians.
Because of the followers of the Reformed Church are pure Hungarians, our churches decay as well. It is only one race
that does not feel the threat. It is increased with newcomers, it is getting richer and richer; the properties, land and house
of destitute Hungarians wander to his hands. He is spreading his power over everything and now he is the lord over life.
Money and power are in his hands. He is not threatened by any disaster. He is protected by the power of money and
better life makes him a ruler over illness. As a result of his riches obtained from us, Jews are not sufferers of fate; they
do not know any misery. This is also our crime. They constitute a separate class, fortunately they are separated
voluntarily. That happy state is thanks to the property taken from our blood and due to our carelessness. And then, there
are some who complain if we protect our race on the pages of our paper.’
124
See Illés Lajos, „Temetés?... Nem!” (‘Burial?... No!’), Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VI, Issue 6, June 1934,
pp. 1-2. The author reports on the extinction of the Protestant community at the village of Hidas in Baranya County:
‘You cannot find even one Hungarian in the village, Germans live in every house. At Hidas the cemetery only is
Hungarian and it will turn into a potato field soon. Hungarian death provides fertility for an alien race, the Hungarian
dead turned to dust provide rich fertiliser for the land of a foreign owner.’
125
See Illés Lajos, „Fight for the reversal”, (reversal – a written promise by a Catholic man marrying a Protestant
woman that the children born from the marriage will be Catholics – translator’s note) Egyházi Élet [Church Life]
Volume VI, Issue 7, September 1934, p. 4.; Id „A felekezeti békesség utján” (‘On the road to peace of denominations),
id. Volume VII, Issue 2, February 1935, pp. 1-2. On the side of Catholics, see dr. Sipos István, professor of church law,
„Protestáns sérelmek” (‘Protestant complaints’), Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish Bulletin] Volume VI, Issue 30,
November 1930, pp. 7-9. Reversals were also objected to by Lutherans of Óbuda. Priest Mohr Henrik wrote in 1924:
‘… the loveless attitude of the Roman Catholic high clergy resulted in unfortunate struggles among the denominations
in this country. Fishing for souls will not spare the families, either. A Catholic is punished with inhuman and loveless
means if he dares to get married in another church – he is denied every kind of church service, he is almost disowned.
This is how they intend to force the marriageable couples into the Catholic Church if it is a mixed marriage and to win
the children to be born for the Roman Catholic Church. The guidelines of the Lutheran Church, the Word for bids us to
use similar means.’ See Bálintné Varsányi Vilma, Kősziklára volt alapozva (Founded on a rock), Budapest, 2009, p. 59.
123

29

want to protect our race. This is the last time for us to stop the deterioration and
prevent the destruction of the Hungarian race. It is up to you whether or not you
honour your obligation! Jews act like that, so learn to join forces from their example!
God’s help will be with us if your conscience is awakened.’126
To sum up, the Hungarian society and its psychology between the two World
Wars cannot be understood without a proper knowledge of the contemporary
church history and conflicts between the communities. Anti-Semitism and the
Holocaust are imbedded in the same context. They go beyond the Jewish community
even if that is in the focus. Its main cause is that Hungarian society - self-absolving
and not willing to face anything127 - made the Jewish community responsible for
anything; they were the culprits! This is, in fact the most important lesson for the
future drawn from the study of Óbuda.

Conclusions
1) The responsibility of the churches for the Holocaust is that - much beyond
theological anti-Judaism – they allowed both in word and writing some segments of
theirs (that cannot be exactly identified at the moment lacking comprehensive and indepth research) to adopt racial anti-Semitism, they maintained and propagated it.
Even if it generated internal tensions and conflicts, the churches, as institutions, did
not act effectively and with proper pressure against the phenomenon. In that way they
actively contributed to the mental preparation of the Hungarian society, for tuning it
to accept the legal deprivation, exclusion and deportation of the Jews. Not to mention
that the majority of the society used it as an opportunity. It had been legitimised
and given moral justification years earlier by the churches.
2) At the time of the deportations the Christian ‘masses’, even if they did not take an
active part in the events, were passive onlookers – because the churches as
institutions did the same. There were very few who still saw Man in the Jew. The
life story of them has been hardly processed. Many of them (such as Kiss Mihály,
Salesian prior or Kálló Ferenc, Catholic chaplain killed by the Arrow-Cross Party
followers) are almost unknown to the large public, because their example could
only be understood and presented in a context of the contemporary history and
society. However, the Hungarian Christian Churches do not want to face that
context.

„Beszélő számok” (‘Telling figures’), Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VII, Issue 10, December 1935, p. 3.
‘We were good to everybody, we believed in honour and we paid for it. Our race had become victim to liberal lies
and many leaders of our church had been responsible for that. The new ideology produced today’s big power status of
the liberated Jewry – you could say broken loose, in which we had become beggars. The land of Hungarians hallowed
by much blood and sacrifice became the price of treason, the target of obtaining assets by Jews, but the Hungarian
peasants did not get any. The liberal idiocy kept it for the Vlach, Check, Serbs and they set an example of how our dear
Hungarian land should have been preserved and together our blood, our true Hungarian race.’ Illés Lajos, „Összetartás”
(‘Solidarity’, Egyházi Élet [Church Life] Volume VIII, Issue 6, June 1936, p. 1.
126
127

30

3) A lack of self-reflection clearly results from the denial to face the past,
including a compulsion to find self-justification. All that, naturally, results in a
permanently frustrated mind-set, a situation to put up continuous defence. Due to the
syndrome of a fortress under siege, the Hungarian churches live in a permanent
sense of animosity to the church and Christianity and are practically unable to
continue any rational dialogue.
4) The prejudices worded in the past at the time of the mental preparation, to be
put on ice in the decades of state-socialism then thawed still live and haunt
Hungarian society, maybe because the use and reception of church publications
from the period between the two World Wars was not suspended in the period of state
socialism. They continued to have an impact in the depth and poisoned social
conscience. One can say they still poison it because lacking the courage to face the
past it cannot be processed and distanced. You can say there is a straight road from
Kontra Aladár of the Reformed Church at Óbuda and PM to Hegedűs Lóránt junior
of the Reformed Church.
The circle is complete; present and past have overlapped!
Sources and literature used
Contemporary press:
Egyházközségi tudósító. Kiadta az Óbudai Szent Péter és Pál Egyházközség,
Budapest, 1925/1. sz. – 1935/57. sz. Editor: Sagmüller József. Felelős szerkesztő:
Leiner Mihály és R. Réw [Reischl-Réw] Sándor.128 Felelős kiadó: Mettelka Frigyes
[kir. tanácsos, ny. Máv. főfelügyelő]. Megjelent havonta.(Parish Bulletin. Published
by the Óbuda St Peter and St Paul Parish, Budapest, from Issue 1 1925 to issue 57
1935. Published monthly)
Egyházi Élet. Az óbudai református egyház hivatalos lapja („gyülekezeti lap” 129).
Kiadta az Óbudai Református Egyház Tanácsa, Budapest, 1930–1939. (Church Life.
The official paper of the Óbuda Council of the Reformed Church, 1930-1939. Editorin-chief: Aladár Kontra, published monthly). Főszerkesztő: Kontra Aladár, óbudai
ref. lelkész. Felelős szerkesztő: Vass Árpád, tanár (1930 márc. – 1932 jún.); majd
Deák Endre (1932 okt. – 1939). Megjelent havonta.

Literature:
Bálintné Varsányi Vilma, Kősziklára volt alapozva. Az Óbudai Evangélikus
Egyházközség szerveződése és élete, 1844–1948, [Founded on a rock. The
128

Iskolaigazgató, az irredentizmus híve. [headmaster, follower of irredentism.] See: Egyházközségi Tudósító [Parish
Bulletin] Vol. VIII, Issue 39, May 1932, p. 16.
Vol. VI, Issue 1, January 1934, p. 6, Self-definition is included in the invitation for subscription.
31

organisation and life of the Óbuda Parish] Óbudai Evangélikus Egyházközség,
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Websites:
http://budapest.zsidomult.hu
http://obudaizsinagoga.zsido.com
www.bphm.hu
www.centropa.hu
www.csillagoshazak.hu
www.degob.hu
www.emlekezem.hu
www.holokausztmagyarorszagon.hu
www.tm-it.co.il/avodat-kfiya/show_item.asp?levelId=65051 (Memorial museum of
Jews originating from the Hungarian linguistic area)

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