You are on page 1of 38

The relationship of the Jews and Christians at Cskszereda as reflected in the local

Izabella Pter

Cskszereda, or Miercurea Ciuc at its Romanian name, is a town of 42 thousand, the

administrative centre of Hargita County, where, unfortunately, not a single Jewish resident can
be found today. Although there have never been a great number of Jewish people at the town
because it has been known of its intolerance towards individuals of not Sekler origin1, the Jews
did settle in Cskszereda beginning from the last decades of the 19th century.
There was a long road from the settlement of the first Jew, Mric Hetman until
deportations in the course of which not only the settled Jewry but the population of the town
changed a lot: the interactions of Christians and the Jews covered a wide range from bravado
anti-Jewishness until recognising some Jews as full-right citizens; to the denunciation of Jews at
the time of the deportations and acquisitioning the apartments left unused by them or to
safeguarding their belongings in the case they would ever return.
The objective of this study is to investigate the above interactions relying on the
documents of the Hargita County Archives, the contemporary Cskszereda press, the documents
in the private archives of the Cskszereda Community and in-depth interviews made by Katalin
To start with, let us review briefly the history of the Jewry at Cskszereda.

Some statistical figures on the settlement of the Jewry in Csk County and at

The private archives of the Cskszereda Jewish Community 70/1974 letter by Dr Mikls Adler to Zoltn

Vntsa, Minister of the Reformed Church.

The Jews settled on the territory of Csk County and at Cskszereda relatively late and in
no great numbers. This was partly due to the isolation of the region it was only connected to
other parts of Transylvania quite late, at the end of the 19th century as well as the traditional
Catholic conscience, which had been an important part of the identity of Seklers living in Csk
In accordance with the figures of the 1869 census, the County had 305 residents of the
Israelite confession2, which gradually increased and reached 2357 by 1910. After the big losses
of World War 1, the 1920 census only showed 1861 Jewish nationals, but the number of the
Jewry started to increase slowly reaching the level of 1910 by 1930, when 2345 people reported
to be Jewish. It is, however, important to note that the change can only be regarded an increase in
absolute figures, because the total number of the population increased much faster in the same
period, so the percentage ratio of Jews actually declined compared to the Hungarian population.3
There followed a slow migration out of the place; according to some data, 2067 Jews
lived on the territory of the County when Hungary took over power. 4 The 1941 census registered
70 converted Jews on the territory of the County who were deemed Jewish by the anti-Jewish
The figures were similar at Cskszereda: including the villages of Zsgd, Taploca and
Somly 5 Jews lived at the city in 1869 and 19 in 1880. In 1910, however, 241 Israelites lived at

Regarding census data, I relied on the work Ethnic and denominational statistics of Transylvania by rpd Varga

E. (Hargita megye teleplseinek etnikai (anyanyelvi/nemzetisgi) adatai 1850-2002 valamint Hargita megye
teleplseinek felekezeti adatai

This can probably be explained by the effort of Romanian census officers encouraging the Jews to report

themselves to be Israelites and Jewish. It was part of the official propaganda of the Romanian Government aimed at
reducing the number of Hungarian population by separating the Hungarian Jews from them. Probably, that politics
and the spread of Zionism resulted in a part of Hungarian Jews not reporting themselves to belong to the Hungarian
national minority at that time and at the next census. Cf.: Zoltn Tibori Szab: Csk vrmegye zsidsga a
beteleplstl a megsemmistsig. [The Jewry of Csk County from their settlement until their annihilation.] I-III.

Ferencz S. Alpr: A cskszeredai zsidkrl. [About the Cskszereda Jewry.] In: Szkelyfld [Cskszereda], IV. vf.,

1. sz., 2000. janur, 72. old.



the town and in the villages being an organic part of the town. The population of the Cskszereda
Jewry was reduced as a result of the Great War. The town had 205 Jewish citizens in 1920 and
only reached the level of 1910 with 302 Israelite residents by 1930. The figure only slightly
changed in the next decade; the 1941 Hungarian census found 299 Jews at Cskszereda. Three of
them returned from the deportations. Their numbers were 126 in 1947 including those exempted
from labour service, the surviving victims of forced labour service and Jews settling there from
Compared to the number of the Hungarian population, the above figures are low in
percentage as it is illustrated in the following table:

Total population





































Israelites Ratio







11 996



11 996




30 069




45 769



47 000


Nevertheless, that slight increase of the population triggered intolerance by the locals.
Mzes Vitos6 spoke about the settlement of the Jewry with annoyance in his work Csk County
Booklets. Data to the description and history of Csk County published between 1894 and 1902:
We must take it as a sign of the pure Catholicism of Csk County that there had never
been national minority issues here in the past. Thus, the idea of religious and national unity of
Csk County may not be and must not be imagined separately from each other. (...) Therefore, I
look at the distant future of our Sekler blood with a sense of foreboding due to the current
invasion of the alien Semitic race.7
The hosts
The immigration of people of another religion triggered significant objections in a
community, for which the Csksomly Pilgrimage was part of its national identity, which had
created a myth for itself from keeping its religion. Therefore, the Jews were at a disadvantage
compared to immigrant Armenians, who were similarly merchants but they were Catholic, which
had become the basis of acceptance in the county with a Catholic majority.
Mzes Vitos was lamenting that the ratio of the Jewry in Csk County used to be 0.61%,
but it increased a hundred times within a short period of time. He listed all accusations of
classical anti-Semitism against the Jews: they live on renting village inns, they are money
lenders and cheating a Christian is a virtue for them.8 We can see they have conquered both
heavy and small industry, wholesale and retail trade, the whole press in a country of land owners
(Hungary - Transylvania), they have falsified Hungarian public opinion and conquered the
Hungarian political public life, in other words, they have become the controllers of the situation,
i.e., Hungary has become an Eldorado of the Jewry.9

Mzes Vitos, (1847- 1902) local historian, editor and Roman Catholic priest. Its main work is the Csk County

Booklet. Data to the description and history of Csk County, which was published between 1894 and 1902. The
monography is of 1022 pages; it was published in 34 booklets as a series to make it easily accessible for the people.
Since Mzes Vitos was a correspondent of Cski Papers, its impact on the public opinion of Csk was significant.

Vitos, I. p. 9.
Ibidem, p. 37.
Ibidem, p. 36.

So, the Jews immigrated into that closed community, which was intolerant to foreigners
and backward economically.
You can also read about the economic situation of the County in the work of Mzes
Vitos, who assessed the situation of the County relatively objectively, except for the national
minority issues: its commerce and industry are hardly more than rudimentary10, only the exports
of wood and mineral waters had a major part to play in the economy. The railways, which were
built quite late, did not mean a real step forward, because the sale of the produce could not be
organised: if by any chance, people would work more than is absolutely necessary for the
internal consumption of Csk Land, they would not know what to do with it.11
Balzs Orbn did not speak of Cskszereda flatteringly either: (Csk)Szereda is a weak
little place; many are there in Csk larger and more city-like in appearance. The whole is made
up of two streets meeting at a right angle giving the whole a T shape. There is a castle at the
southern end of the street running from north to south surrounded by prettier officers cottages of
the former border guard company. The only church (not very decorative) of the town is at the
western end of the other street running from east to west, and in between there are small onestorey houses covered with planks, a few mean shops, a few tradesmen and bakers and a number
of inns and pubs marked with a sign of planed board to indicate that we are in a town. As the
present of this country is coarse, we do not know much about its past either.12
The town was still regarded as the most backward of all Sekler towns with respect to
architectural investments in 1900 as well.13 Only 24 out of 541 houses had an upper storey and
only 5 had a bathroom!


Ibidem, p. 6.
Vitos, I. p. 261.
Balzs Orbn: A szkelyfld lersa trtnelmi, rgszeti, termszetrajzi s npismei szempontbl, [A description

of Sekler Land from historical, archaeological, natural history and anthropological perspective] Pest, 1868,

Mikls Frank: Cskszereda vros fejldse ptipari szempontbl in: Az 50 ves ipartestlet 1884-1934, kiad:

Cskszereda s vidke ipartestlete, [Evolution of the town of Cskszereda from the perspective of the construction
industry. ] 1934, 80.

That religious, closed community had already been anti-Semitic before there were any
Jews among them, although many thought it was because the Christian population did not known
them and therefore treated them as something strange, something weird.14 But when several Jews
got settled in Csk, that attitude slowly changed; the Jews were accepted. It was mainly due to
the economic impact triggered by the immigration of the Jews: new jobs were created, there was
a high standard of health care, a sanatorium, and a diversification of the range of consumer goods
Despite the above, we can conclude from different memoirs and newspaper articles that
acceptance had never been complete; however much the Jews tried to integrate, the Catholic
community always regarded them as strangers and made them feel outsiders all the time.
The short history of the Jewry at Cskszereda
The Jews immigrated to Sekler Land from Moldova, Bukovina and Galicia, although
some scattered groups had arrived from other areas of Transylvania as well. Some of them were
migrant peddlers, who got settled there in the end. However, Jews were mostly attracted by
logging, the timber industry and in the trade of cereals. Although there had been efforts for
settlement earlier, migrant peddlers usually left before 1890 because they could not get adjusted
to the population accepting with difficulty anybody of a non-Sekler origin.15
Their immigration was accelerated because Cskszereda became a county seat in 1875
and the so-termed Sekler Line was built16 attracting Jews to Csk mainly from Hromszk. Since
wealthy Jews, the owners mainly of timber plants, created jobs and promoted the life standard of
the population in that way, and because highly qualified Jewish physicians gained respect, the
animosity towards them was slowly mitigated and they were admitted into the society of Csk.
However, their admission did not really mean inclusion. Their status was rather that of the
tolerated one.


Tivai: The public at large had no idea about Jews with us. Op. id. p. 55.
The railway BrassSepsiszentgyrgyCskszeredaGyergyszentmiklsDdaMarosvsrhely inaugurated in

1897 but only completed by 1909.

However, that was a step forward compared to the situation of the first Jews setting at
Cskszereda. Mric Hetman might have moved into Cskszereda with his family sometime in the
second half the 1860s. According to the records available, although the people of the town
allowed the vinegar seller to live among them, but they bored holes in his casks out of sport,
they damaged his porch with their wagons or they broke his windows because he was a Jew,
which was the greatest fault!17 Although they had never seen a Jew before Hetman, all the
people of Csk had been anti-Semitic to a man.18 He had no chance for legal remedy, the town
management did not help. In his book Memories of the old Csk Imre Tivai Nagy explained that
by saying it was a great shame for the residents of the town that a living Jew dared to lurk
behind its walls and everybody blamed him and made his life difficult, what is more, bravado
with the Jew was deemed a kind of obligation!19 The town management played its part in it,
because it ordered the door and windows of his ramshackle wooden hut to be removed in the
coldest winter. Mric Hetman only lost his patience once and in his misery wrote a letter to
Vienna: Euer Majistt, hier ist ribillion... but he received no answer.
Immigration however continued although not at a large scale and slowly by slowly the
people of Csk learned to coexist with the Jews. The advertisements of the Jews could find their
place in the papers, such as Cski News and Cski Papers, and articles on Jewish topics could
also be published. In the meantime, the community continued to develop, a Chevra Kadisha was
established, then a prayer house was built and a shochet were contracted. A Jewish school was
established in the first decade of the 20th century, land was purchased for the cemetery and a
Jewish temple was built.
Several Jewish families lived in the small street where the temple was that is why it was
called Zsid (Jewish) street: the Ngler family, Dr Mikls Adler, Bla Mandel shoe merchant,
the Berkovics and the Popper families. In addition, other Jewish families lived scattered in other
parts of town: Jakab Friedman, owner of a caf, the Adler family, Samu Berkovics, tinsmith,


Imre Tivai Nagy: Emlkezs rgi cskiakrl. [Memories of the old Csk.] Cskszereda, 2009, p. 55.
Tivai, 56.

Hermann Hauzer, watchmaker and jeweller, Hug Hirsch, physician, Ignc Ackermann, retail
trader, Smuel Klein, owner of a sawmill and Emil Friedlander, timber merchant.20
A step made by Dr Gbor Pl, the director of the Csksomly Grammar School made
integration complete because he admitted Mikls Adler, the son of Jzsef Adler, a Hromszk
tradesman to the students of the Catholic Grammar School as the first student of the Israelite
confession opening in that way the road to the sons of the Jews to study.21
In 1913, a rabbi was elected in the person of Jakab Glasner. The small community
belonging earlier to the Tlgyes Israelite Community became independent: the Cskszereda
Orthodox Israelite Community was established.
The selection of the rabbi divided not only the Israelite but also the Christian residents of
the town, and it was also followed with interest both at Cskszereda and in other cities of
Transylvania. The two dailies of the town, the Cski Papers and the Cski News reported on the
campaign contradictorily subject to their party stance, but their reports did not lack some antiSemitism either. Since Gusztv Klmn, an Under-Secretary of State for commerce also took
part in the election of the rabbi, the election had become a nationwide scandal. Cski Papers
assessed the events as follows in the first issue of its Volume XXV 25, in 1913:
In that honest Sekler town (...) the Israelite citizens were preparing for the election of
their chief rabbi. Needless to say political aspects were also involved in the election by those
hoping to benefit from it, who tried to reach their goals by using the traditional means of
elections: violence, terrorism or promising licences to open tobacco shops or pubs. As a true
follower, Guszti Klmn also had a finger in the pie and that is why he - taking the side of a
certain rabbi called Jakab Glasner - tried to convince all voters using the assistance of the
relevant authorities to find their redemption in Glasner.
() We have heard about pressure by the High Sheriff in the neighbourhood but all
noises were calmed soon () In fact, our Israelite compatriots say and all the other papers


Ferencz S. 20.
Dr Adler 70/1974.

confirmed the election ended peacefully with an overwhelming majority for Jakab Glasner
without pressure or promises of tobacco shops.22
After the election, the inauguration of the rabbi was peaceful on 19 January, 1913: all
the decorated carriages of the town made a presence to receive the rabbi and the honourable
procession marched into the town carrying bunches of flowers and banners in front.23 Indicating
the importance of the event, the correspondents of Cski News said: Cskszereda was in a real
fervour due to the event24
After the inauguration, there was a banquet where funds were raised for the orphans and
poorhouse of Csk County, to which the Jewry contributed significantly.25
Imre Tivai Nagy put pen to paper to express his views on the Cski Jewry on the occasion
of the inauguration. Giving a brief account of the obstinate endurance of the Jews, which meant
that in less than forty years beginning from the first Jew settled, the town had its own
community, temple and cemetery, he predicted a great future for the Jewish community: The
generation living fifty years from now should not wonder if the Jewish temple should be built in
the best part of the city at Cskszereda and the rabbi should be the most important governing man
in city life. The Jewish temple will not be hidden in a corner of the former pigs market for long,
it will be moved to the best part of the market, because serious religious belief and solidarity
prevail over the hardest obstacles, while faithless internationalism will cower and turn up to kiss


Cski Papers, 1 January, 1913, issue 1, p. 2.

Tivai, 53.
Cski News, Vol 3, 25 January, 1913, issue 4, p. 3.
On the occasion of the inauguration of rabbi-registrar Jakab Glasner (...) the following provided donations to the

orphans and poorgouse of Csk County: Adolf Zimmermann, Dr Le Harmat, chief doctor at the public hospital 2020 Crowns, Boskovitz of Klaus, Mr Habzelman of Klaus 3-3 Crowns, Lzs Lazs railway supervisor of Klaus,
dn Aczl 2-2 Crowns, Adolf Niszel Adolf, jun. Lzr Berkovits, Gza Gottlieb 1-1 Crown, Hermann Magyar 5
Crowns, Ignc Mtrai 4 Crowns. We express our grateful thanks to the noble donors. The managing assembly of the
orphans and poorhouse of Csk County. Cskszereda 31 March, 1913. Jzsef Birtha, Chairman. Cski Papers, Vol
25, 9 April, 1913, issue 15, p. 3.

the Golden Calf hoarded with tenacious perseverance.26 That tone, which is scorning even if it is
praising, accompanied even the most positive expressions about the Jews in the life of the town.
The Jews of Cskszereda had become more and more integrated into the community by
the end of World War 1; a number of Jewish names appeared among the servicemen of the
Sekler infantry No. 82. The War, however, did not spare the town; a part of the houses were
destroyed in a fire, the population was reduced and the remnants of the destruction could also be
seen in 1922. The Jewish community also suffered major losses both in materials and human life.
The heroic dead of the War included Herman Magyar, Frigyes Fischer, Hoffman D. Josheph,
Dezs Grnwald, Flp Breier, but dr Mikls Adler, Herman Magyar, Frigyes Fischer, Dezs
Grnwald and Ignc Ackermann returned from the front. In the meantime, the ritual bath and
some houses had been plundered and the temple had been damaged. Fortunately, the Romanian
Jewish servicemen of the Regat Army passing through took the Torah scrolls of the Temple and
they found refuge in a community in Romania. They put a note on the door of the Torah cabinet,
to say where it could be found after the War, and it was actually returned later on. 27
Losing the war and the Trianon Treaty forced all citizens of Cskszereda into a basically
new situation. The change of power was not such a shock for the Jews, who had been a minority
earlier, as it was for the Hungarians; actually it brought about a slight improvement from the
perspective of national minority issues. The Romanian authorities tried to strengthen Jewish
nationalism against the Hungarians and Jews were encouraged to talk Yiddish and to confess to
be Jewish and not Hungarian at the time of the census.28
As a result, a high degree of assimilation was replaced by post-assimilation or postemancipation trends, and local Jews were oriented to Zionism.29 The goal of the National
Federation of Transylvanian Jews founded on 20 November, 1918 was to get the Jews be


Tivai, 54.
Alpr Salamon Ferencz: A Holokauszt helytrtnetnek oktatsa V-VIII. osztlyban. A cskszeredai zsidsg

trtnete. [Teaching the local history of the Holocaust in grades 5-8. The history of the Cskszereda Jewry.]
Unpublished, p. 29.

Randolph L. Braham: The Hungarian Holocaust, Gondolat, Budapest, 1988, I. 141.

Ferencz S. 32.


declared as a national minority. The Jewish Party was established in 1930. Nevertheless, the
efforts of Romanian politics to divide Jews and Hungarians and get Jews confess to belong to the
Jewish national minority reducing the number of the Hungarians failed in most cases. The local
Jews including those of Cskszereda regarded themselves to be Hungarians of the Israelite
That might have be the reason why Romanian politics were characterised by growing
anti-Semitism between the two World Wars while there had been no anti-Jewish movements
although the people of Csk, in fact, did not love the Jews.
After the war, in 1920-21, the community re-built its temple, the number of followers
increased and the Jews took part in the life of the town unimpeded. In 1928, a new president of
the community was elected in the person of Mtys Grnberg who operated a steam machine at
Madfalva, and as Jakab Glasner was elected chief rabbi at Kolozsvr, his place was taken by
Romeo Krausz.
The political background, however, was the spread and strengthening of Romanian antiSemitism: In 1930, the ill-famed Vasgrda (Iron Guard) was established from the legion of Saint
Michael Archangel founded by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, then more and more anti-Semitic
decrees were published from 1937. Under the Goga-Cuza Government, more and more antiJewish laws were passed in Romania to curb the invasion of the Jewry and to protect the
Romanian national interests. The Cskszereda media regularly informed its readers about those
measures, since the Jewish community belonged among the citizens of the town.
The situation, however, changed after the Second Vienna Award, when the anti-Jewish
laws of Hungary were also introduced in Cskszereda, the Jewish papers were banned
everywhere in Transylvania and the citizenship of the Jews was withdrawn. Nevertheless, in an
interesting way, the Cski Papers only carried anti-Jewish articles infrequently, while the
Gyergy Papers and the Sekler Word of Sepsiszentgyrgy openly took sides with anti-Semitism.
A city commander, Elemr der appointed to Csk from the mother-country is said to
have been behind the abuse of Jews. He could only recruit a low number of followers mostly
from among individuals of a doubtful existence: In general, the evil, bad and impatient spirit
imported by the conquering second-rate class of administrators was only received with the

sympathy of a minority of the population, those who had been hot-blooded, wanted positions or
an easy life, while the more serious part distanced itself and we felt their willingness to help and
their empathy towards our humiliation. There were some who took part in plundering the assets
of the Greek Orthodox Church committed by the infamous colonel der... on the other hand, our
gratitude and acknowledgement goes to Dr. Kroly Kovcs, Dr. Gbor Pl, Dr Andrs Nagy.
Jun. Dr. Jzsef Gl, Pl Kovcs and many other compatriots at Cskszereda, who rose above the
lowly atmosphere of the times, and did not allow to be dirtied by mud.30
The behaviour of the representatives of the Christian churches - Catholic parish priest
Ferenc Br and Minister of the Reformed Church Pl Kovcs - gained importance at that time.
Mainly because Ferenc Br had a great influence on the members of town management. Mikls
Adler said of him he had been a main manipulator of all political city issues. 31 While Pl
Kovcs often tried to intervene to mitigate anti-Jewish measures, Ferenc Br openly expressed
his disapproval if somebody tried to involve him in similar interventions.
Actually, the active intervention of the top management of the town would have been
necessary when general Elemr der - quite illegally - ordered the Jewry of the city to pay a
blood money of 80,000 Pengo and threatened those delaying or unable to pay to be evicted.
der divided the Jews into three categories: those who had to be evicted from the
country, that meant about 20% of the Jews; those who only had to be relocated to other parts of
the country - about 60%, and the remaining 20% was considered to be reliable enough to be
allowed to stay in the town.32 He actually implemented his idea later on: 81 people of 24 families,
who were unable to pay the required 100-150 Pengo of repayment of public work, were
transported to Gyimesfelslok and he tried repeatedly to get them over the Romanian border in
November, 1940. It failed due to the resistance of the Romanian Border Guards, so they were
returned to the city jail, and then they were deported to Krsmez on 16 November. Margit
Slachta, the mother superior of the Social Sisters intervened in the interest of those deported, as a
result of which the deportations were stopped but 21 out of 36 people moved across the

Adler, 70/1974.
Bodea, 63.


Ukrainian border disappeared. Gbor Pl, a well-known figure of public life at Csk intervened in
their interest as well. However, the Catholic priest Ferenc Br demanded indignantly that Margit
Slachta who had turned to him should leave him out of such things because its got nothing to
me, I am not interested33Only Ben Shultz and his wife survived the deportations.
In 1942, at the next deportations, 19 and then another 22 families were ordered to be
deported in accordance with Act 8130/1939. The reason referred to was that their presence had
been threatening the interests of national security. Although a social worker at Cskszereda, Judit
Veres tried to turn to Imre Sndor episcopal representative at Kolozsvr (Cluj) for help, her
efforts failed. Slachta received a rudely rejecting letter from Ferenc Br, when she tried to reach
the termination of further deportations: I apologise, if you have such power available to you
there, please, do not involve me anymore, because I cannot undertake such clerical part.34
The intervention by Emma Strbl with police captain Pl Farkas proved more efficient,
because she was promised the same day no more deportations would take place until appeals are
Despite of that, several families were moved across the border to Ruthenia in 1942.
In the meantime the position of the Jews remaining in the city deteriorated: they were
under police control, they had to report to National Central Authority Controlling Foreigners
(KEOKH) because their citizenship had been withdrawn. Jewish youth were at the beginning still
conscripted for military service, but they were banned from wearing their awards. At the
beginning, graduates from high schools served as volunteers with armbands, but they were
gradually deprived of the armband, the bayonet and then the uniform. An example for that is a
request by Andor Lempert, requesting recognition of his eligibility for the armband, which was


Adler, 70/1974.
Tams Majsai, Egy epizd az szak-Erdlyi zsidsg msodik vilghbor alatti trtnetbl. Margit Slachta

fellpse a Cskszeredrl kiutastott zsidk rdekben. [En episode from the history of the Jewry in Northern
Transylvania during World War 2. The intervention of Margit Slachta in the interest of Jews expulsed from
Cskszereda.] In: MEDVETNC, 1988/4, 1989/1, p. 15.


rejected under the title he was deemed a Jew in accordance with his own statement.35 Similarly,
Lipt Trk and his son were also conscripted and he was banned from wearing his awards
gained in World War I.
The Defence Act (1939:II) taking effect in March, 1939 laid the foundations for forced
labour service: unreliable elements, such as Jews, communists and other national minorities
were conscripted into unarmed units of labour service. At the beginning, they mainly built roads
or airfields, or drained swamps, later they were placed under the control of the second Hungarian
Several companies of forced labourers operated at Sekler Land. Two workers companies
were commanded to Gyimeskzplok and Uzvlgye from Bihar County in summer 1942. Most
Jews of Csk and Hromszk were conscripted into the labour company No. 110/40, whose main
task was to dig the foundations of a hotel at Cskszereda. Later, they were commanded to the
Ukraine, from where several of them managed to return home in the course of a disordered
retreat. In spite of that, many died as a result of different diseases, under-nourishment, the cold
and - last but not least - the cruelty of their own superiors.36 In memoirs, Zoltn Szab of Taploca
is mentioned, who had harnessed the Jewish forced labourers to torment them. The conductor
Elek Sarkadi, who died of typhoid fever somewhere in the Ukraine was one of the famous
victims of the forced labour service.
Getting baptised might have been an escape route for the Jews in forced labour service.
Christian forced labourers were given a white armband and they were treated differently from the
Jews. A request of Gyula Reiszmann an Israelite from Budapest to be baptised can be found in
the archives of the Gyulafehrvr Catholic Diocese, which was submitted to the Kolozsvr
Municipality. Gyula Reiszmann served in the labour company No. 101/72 at Cskcsics working
at the rebuilding of the Szereda railway line. His wife and daughter had already been converted,
but he had not been able to take part in preparatory sessions due to his illness. The parish priest
at Csics, Imre Buzs, taught him every Sunday and he recommended Gyula Reiszmann to be


Cskszereda Vros Polgrmesteri Hivatalnak iratai [Documents of the Mayors Office of the Town of

Cskszereda] 1859-1968, 239/ 29 cs. pp. 215, 216., 3 October, 1941.


Ferencz S. p. 44.


baptised. The governor, however, referred to the Decree No. 1939/376 by ron Mrton37 to say
that Reiszmann could be baptised six month later at the earliest after he had fully interiorised
religious knowledge.38
The case of Franciska Rosenthal of Cskszereda is not unique. The arch deacon of
Szereda, Ferenc Br, only submitted her application when the preparations provided in the
decree had been completed a year after she had applied. The arch deacon stated it is an
internal turn of consciousness and any lay motive can be fully excluded39. A reply was soon
received: she may be baptised provided her marriage is settled or can be settled.
On the whole, the population did not sympathise with the racist elements, it was rather
the imported officers of administration that were considered anti-Semitic in the town. When
following the German occupation of Hungary, the obligation of wearing the yellow star was
introduced in Csk as well, many residents looked at the wearers of the star with emphatic
respect. Dr. Andrs Nagy wrote: The yellow star has been introduced for the Jews; we regarded
it as mean cruelty and greeted those wearing it with almost emphatic respect, after all, the Star
of David is an honourable sign, similar to what the cross is for the followers of Christ.40
Confining people to a ghetto and deportations, however, started on 3 May, 1944. The
Jewry of Csk County was interned in two ghettos: the Jews of Csk and Kszonszk to
Sepsiszentgyrgy and those of Gyergy-szk to Szszrgen. Police captain Farkas, who had been
so generous in 1942, celebrated now the de-Jewishness of the town with flying colours:


ron Mrton issued his instructions regarding the baptism of Jews in his first Episcopal circular in 1939

numbered 1939/376. Accordingly, the sacraments of Christianity can only be provided if the sincerity of the
intention has been proved. As a result, he required a year of preparation in principle and practice. The preparation
meant minimum an hour a week of academic education and introduction to the liturgy. In addition, other conditions
had to be met: e.g., the provisions of valid civil laws had to be observed, and Jews from other Dioceses could not be
given permission to be baptised. People whose previous marriage could not be settled in accordance with church law
were also excluded from getting permissions

Gyulafehrvri rseki Levltr, Helytartsgi Iratok [Arch Bishops Archives of Gyulafehrvr, Municipality

Documents], 25. 2604/ 15 August, 1943.


Ibidem, 433/ 22 January, 1944.

Dr Andrs Nagy: Lt visszanz [Lot looking back], Cskszereda, 2001, p. 216.


After this four-year period of struggles, the dawn of 4 May, 1944 came41, when teams of
detectives and policemen appeared at the door of each house where Jews had been living. They
roused those sleeping there and hurriedly drove them to police cells - all members of the
community with their modest bundles, those employed there had a last chance to pillage them
and the elderly and the children spent the night, the last one for most of them, lying on the floor.
Police captain Farkas managing the process did not go to church that afternoon contrary to his
habit but as a general of a winning battle was sitting astride his chair in the courtyard watching
the subdued enemy with pleasure.42
312 Jewish residents of the town and its neighbourhood were transported to the
Sepsiszentgyrgy collection camp on trucks. The families of chief engineer Mihly Sznt as
well as the Fried and Ackermann families could remain in the town. Although Pl Farkas offered
exemption to the Adler family, they did not make use of it and left together with the deported
After the deportation of the Jews, the police searched the houses of families that had been
known as friends of Jews trying to find valuables left behind. Although few people dared to
take sides openly with the Jews, everybody was afraid, because those employing the services of
Jewish physicians were harassed even before the deportations there were still some who agreed
to keep the valuables of the Jews.43
The Cskszereda Jews were transported to Szszrgen from the ghetto at Szentgyrgy and
then deported to Auschwitz. Of them, Klra Trk, Dr Ferdinnd Kiszelnik and Doctor Adler
managed to return home. The Jews ordered to provide labour service had a better chance for
survival: Zoltn Popper, Samu Bermann and his brother, Arnold Berkovics and one of his
brothers also returned home from the Ukraine where the 110/40 company was commanded,
although many of their Christian mates had wanted to get rid of them at any price.


Doctor Adlers memory is mistaken here, deportations started at Cskszereda also on 3 May.
Dr. Nagy, p. 216.
Bla Bcs, Katalin Szab, Voltak. Emlkezs a cskszeredai zsid kzssgre [They were. Memories of the

Cskszereda Jewish Community], Cskszereda, 1999, Memories of Klra Lszl, p. 17.


Those returning home had to face the same problems as the returning Jews in other cities
of Hungary: their goods had disappeared, Christians had moved into their houses or businesses. 44
An interesting momentum of the situation is that while the requisitioning of Jewish properties in
other parts of Hungary only started in 1944, according to the documents of the Mayors Office of
the Town of Cskszereda, the properties the owners of which have been away for at least a year,
their place of residence is unknown and they are hindered in returning home and managing their
belongings were already placed under control in 1943.45
The residents of Cskszereda did make use of the opportunity. The documents of the
Mayors Office of the Town of Cskszereda include section No. 72 named the administration of
Jewish properties, in which widow Ferencn Dvid requested already on 5 October, 1943 to allot
her a vacant room in the courtyard of 66, Kossuth Lajos Street owned by widow Sndorn
Dazbek. A similar request was rejected saying such flats could only be allotted to reliable
individuals loyal to the nation, and anyway the town management was still waiting with the
Not only the individual damage was huge; the community itself suffered losses of such
size it could never recover from completely: The insides of the Synagogue was broken
completely, the Hebrew books were damaged as well as the buildings. The facilities of the ritual
bath were completely destroyed, the flat of the shochet was damaged, the fence of the cemetery
was removed and the graves were damaged during the war.47 So, the immigration of the Jews of
Cskszereda to Israel started in the 1960s. The number of the population of 129 in 1947 was
diminishing continuously with only 5 remaining by 1992. Today not one Jew is living in Csk.


Terz Nagy remembers that after the deportation of her Jewish tenants she found her house empty when she

returned home: By the time I got back, the house had been sealed. There had been a big cauldron there for
rainwater, but even that had been taken off. I found a completely empty flat. Ibidem, p. 25.

The flats of the victims of the 1941 and 1942 deportations also belong there. The documents of the Mayors

Office of the Town of Cskszereda, 1859-1968, 239/ 28. p. 53., 12 May, 1943

Documents of Mayors Office of the Town of Cskszereda 1859-1968, 239/72, p. 178.

Alpr Ferencz S.: A Holocaust trtnetnek tantsa V-VIII osztlyban. A cskszeredai zsidsg trtnete.

[Teaching the local history of the Holocaust in grades 5-8. The history of the Cskszereda Jewry.]


The relationship of Jews and Christians as reflected in the local press

Several printed papers were published at Cskszereda in the period researched. Cski
Papers had an outstanding importance. The economic and social weekly had been published
from 1888 till 1944, first by the printing house of Mrton Gyrgyjakab and then after Lajos
Vkr had taken over the Book and Stationery Shop of Jzsef Szvoboda, in his edition. The
managing editors of the weekly included Mzes Vitos, Catholic priest; Gyula lthes and Dr.
Lajos Csipak, canon, then Viktor Rszegh had been the editor-in-chief from 1926 till 1944.
In the period under Romanian control, the title of the paper had to be written in
Romanian as well, so it was published under the title Ziarul Ciucului, then in the 1930s, the
names of the editor-in-chief and the owner of the weekly were also printed in Romanian. Initially
a social paper, it also monitored the events of Romanian and Hungarian politics and reported on
major political events influencing the life of the town.
Two other short lived weeklies were also published at the town in the same time, the
Cski News as a weekly in 1911 as a competitor of Cski Papers. The founders, Gbor Pl and
Jzsef Gl formulated independence, public service and justice as the main goals of the weekly.
The Csk Peoples Weekly had been published from 1931 to 1944 at Cskszereda as a
political, social and economic weekly. At the beginning its editor-in-chief was Pl Pter
Domokos then Ferenc Pter, owner of the printing house from 1933. The weekly provided space
for the literary attempts of neighbouring authors, and represented the democratic spirit of public
life at Csk as opposed to the imported spirit of decorousness of the 1940s.
Although the weeklies reported on the events from opposing perspectives at a given point
of time, their analysis reflects the relationship between the Jewry at Cskszereda and the
indigenous population of Hungarian nationality. The concept is used consciously, because despite a high degree of immigration - all foreigners are considered strangers in the villages
becoming parts of Cskszereda, such as Zsgd, Csksomly or Taploca although not in the city


The history of Jews at Cskszereda comprises three different periods. They are
characterised by the county or the town belonging to different state-forms in different times. The
laws of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy had applied to the Jews until the end of World War I
or the Trianon Treaty, Cskszereda had become part of Romania after 1919, and it was returned
to Hungary in 1940 by the Second Vienna Award. The laws of the three state powers involved
had different attitudes to the Jewry. At the same time, the behaviour of the local population was
also different regarding the application of the laws subject to how much they felt the given
political formation to be their own. The laws identified the rights of the Jewry or their constraints
at Cskszereda.
The Olmtz Constitution proclaimed on 30 December, 1849 was an important point of
emancipation for the Jews living on the territory of the Monarchy. It included the religious
equality of all residents of the state as well as the independence of civil and political rights of
religious denominations. Although the Constitution was repelled in 1851, the equality of citizens
before the law remained in effect. The issue of emancipation, however, was taken off the agenda
at the time of neo-absolutism and a re-negotiation of the topic was only brought along by the
1867 Reconciliation. Equality, in the end, was implemented, when the Parliament adopted a draft
law by Prime Minister Gyula Andrssy, in which Article 1867/XVII said the Israelite population
of the country was given equal rights with Christian residents with respect to all civil and
political rights. The last step of emancipation was the declaration of the Jewish religion as an
accepted religion on 2 November, 1895 in Article 1895/ XLII. In the same year, the law on
civil marriage was published legalising marriages between Jews and Christians that had been
deemed proselytism earlier.48 In that way, the road was open to mixed marriages (which was
objected to by the Catholic Church49), promoting and accelerating the assimilation of the Jews in
that way.


Lszl Gymnt: Evrei din Transilvania n epoca emanciprii (1790-1967), Editura Enciclopedic, Bukarest,

2000, p. 211.

Although the Catholic Church objected to the introduction of civil marriage as one impairing its rights, the same

was used for reference to reject the third anti-Jewish law. Esztergom Archbishop Jusztinin Serdi spoke at the 18
July, 1941 session of the Upper House as follows: The law 1894: XXXI was a grave mistake, when it referred
marriage to within the scope of the state: the present draft supporting it is consistent in the same mistake as it


The above laws meant safety for the Jews although they could not protect them from
local acts of bravado as we could see in the case of Mric Hetman of Cskszereda. Despite that,
the Jews were considered having equal rights with Christians at court and they represented an
integral part of Cskszereda. It can also be followed in the articles of local papers; their
advertisements were published in the papers, notifications of the Jews marriage or death were
also customary, while they took every opportunity to donate for public causes.
The following advertisements can be read in the Cski Papers:
Clothes for men, ladies, boys and children in the shop of Jzsef Mzes in the new
Grnwald house in Kossuth Lajos street.
Main warehouse of the Niszel brothers distributors of Drher beer at Cskszereda.50
Phonographs with waking device sold by Igncz Ackermann.
An advertisement for tinsmith Berkovics and Kka appeared in almost every issue in
Marriage notices were also frequent: Emil Friedlander, timber merchant at Cskszereda
celebrates his marriage to Ms. Ella Schuller in Pacani (Romania) on 11 August this year.
Applications for changing somebodys name were also published in the papers expressing the
intention for assimilation: Smuel Kesztenbaum a resident of Cskszereda applied to the
Hungarian Royal Ministry of the Interior to change his name and that of his dependent children
to Kertsz.52
The paper also regularly published the list of donors in different situations. Jews could
often be found among them: ...the following persons gave donations to the purchase of
instruments for the orchestra of the Cskszereda Voluntary Firemen: The timber plant of Smuel
establishes new obstacles to marriage. On the other hand, the esteemed Bishops Bench together with the Catholic
followers is consistent with truth when relying on Gods laws it objects to the new obstacles to marriage in the same
way as it objected to the idea of civil marriage earlier. A pspki kar tancskozsai. Az 1939. vi jnius h 10-re
sszehvott orszggyls felshznak naplja [Meetings of the Bishops Bench. The Minutes of the upper house of
the Parliament convened on 10 June, 1939] (1939-1944). Vol. II. Az Athenaeum Irodalmi s Nyomdai
Rszvnytrsulat nyomsa, Bp., 1942.II.k.) p. 283.

Cski Papers, 20 December, 1911, issue 51, 6.

Cski Papers, 6 January, 1921, issue 2, 3.
Cski Papers, 2 July, 1913, issue 27, p. 2, apud: Alpr Ferencz S,


Klein, Emil Friedlander (50 Crowns), Samu Fried, Herman Magyar (20 Crowns), Adolf
Zimmermann, Gyula Lacher, Dr Man Zakaris, Adolf Friedman, Jakab Niszel and Lzr
Lebovits (10 Crowns), Adolf Niszel and Albert Grnwald (6 Crowns).53
On selecting their topics of public and social life, the managing editors of the papers took
into account that many of their subscribers were Jewish, so you can see frequent articles dealing
with issues affecting the Jewry in the period. Such returning topic is the position of the Jewry in
Romania. The Cski Papers often published articles comparing the position of Jews in Hungary
and in the Regat assessing the position of the local Jews to be advantageous and condemning at
the same time the barbarism of Romania: The position hitting the Jewry in Romania is really
insupportable. Every modern state shares the benefits of legal equality with the Jewry. There are
only a few backward eastern countries that still allow the social stigma separating the Jewry from
Christian people. Romania, however, had got to the gate of civilised states. There is no reason to
repel the Jewry on this land.54
While the Cski Papers was more of a philo-Semitic attitude, the Cski News had an
opposing view. An article was published in the News a few months later reporting on the
struggle of Jews for their rights: the Romanian Jews recently want to achieve equal political and
civil rights. The Jews in Romania do not have the same free playing field as elsewhere including
our country. The attitude still prevails that the Jews are not citizens (...) and they should only be
there as tolerated foreigners. (...) The attitude of Romania is that of self-protection, because they
are aware that Jews, particularly the immigrants, may cause more damage than benefit to the
Nevertheless, none of the papers uses the style applied by Mzes Vitos in Csk County
booklets. On the contrary, Cski News tries to mitigate the negative attitude of the article stating
at the end: Explaining the above, we bow to our Jewish compatriots, who assimilated under the
Hungarian aegis share our good or bad fate.56
The orientation did not seem to change emphatically after the Trianon Treaty. Since both
nations were in the minority, you can discover an attitude of supporting each other in the articles.

Cski Papers, 15 March, 1911, issue 11,

Cski News, 1 February, 1913, issue 5, p. 4. Jews requesting their rights again. apud: Alpr Ferencz S,
Cski News, 12 July, 1913, issue 28,
Cski News, 12 July, 1913, issue 28,


The editorial of issue 12 in 1921 was published under the title Building a new Babel. In it, Ignc
goston emphasised: Loving our race and loyalty to our religion does not exclude the altruist
love of our fellow men and respecting the religious beliefs of others.57
Although there are some short news indicating hidden anti-Semitism, they are not
outstanding among the many articles on public life. For instance, you can find some aphorisms
like that: The money-lender is like a vampire with the difference that a vampire will leave its
victim when it has had enough, while a money-lender can never have enough and will continue
to suck. (San-Toy)58 Although the aphorism is not about the Jews, the concepts of moneylenders and Jews had been linked so much in the public mind that everybody understood the
Unfortunately, no issues of the Cski Papers of 1921 to 1936 have remained. The
advertisements by the Jews, however, were continued in that period. Several advertisements can
be found by Jews from the music events of the Hutter Caf to the wine seller of widow Mrn
Grishaber wholesale wine merchant at the Daradics-house.60
The period between the two world wars, however, was more and more characterised by
escalating anti-Semitism in Romania. The Goga-Cuza Government, which came into power on
29 December, 1937, raised anti-Semitism to the rank of state politics and started to expel the
Jews from public life: Jewish papers were banned, licences of pubs were withdrawn, Jews were
excluded from public transport, they were forbidden to have Christian household help and, what
was the worst, a review of the citizenship of the Jews was ordered. The activities of the Vasgrda
(Iron Guard) also contributed to the Jewry feeling threatened in the country.
It had led to a gradual disappearance of articles on Jewish topics in the papers of Csk,
although Jewish advertisements were still published:


Ignc goston: j Bbelt ptnk , Cski Papers, 1921, issue 12, p. 1.

Cski Papers, 6 January, 1921, issue 1, p. 3.
The implication became quite interesting during World War II, when the police took action against profiteers. In

those cases, the profiteers were not the Jews as it appeared from the lists, but the social response of the articles led to
the condemnation of the Jews.

Cski Papers 1291. issue 12, p. 3 and issue 18, p. 6.


Dr. Mikls Adler physician returned from military service and opened his surgery. Dr.
Mano Fejr (Emanuel) physician for internal medicine, genecology, paediatrics, skin and
venereal patients.61
On the other hand, it was reported in the 28 July issue that 8 Jewish physicians were
placed into availability service in Csk County: Dr. Edvard Jzsef of Gyergyditr, Dr Mric
Weisz of Kszonaltz, Dr Kahan Jen Pokenaru of Szentdomokos, Dr. Samu Gerson of
Gyergytlgyes, Jzsef Berkovics of Cskszereda, Marcel Harnisch of zvlgy, Dr Emil Siegler
of Ditr-hodos and Jzsef Herskovits of Gyimeskzplok were dismissed from service.62
The Paper also reported in the month preceding the Second Vienna Award that the State
Monopoly Treasury closes down all tobacco shops owned by Jews with a 30-day notice.63
The 36th issue of the Paper, however, was published after the Second Vienna Award; and
a crack in Christian-Jewish relationship can be felt in its tone. Although a significant number of
anti-Jewish articles had not been published earlier, the Paper took over the official government
politics from then on and a covered anti-Jewish attach could already be found in the first issue
after the political takeover:
The author said only a few days have passed since the Vienna Award, but those few
days have triggered a stream of price increases in the commerce of the town. Therefore, it urged
quick and strict measures noting it is a first rate racial obligation today to be understood both by
traders and consumers.64
In spite of the above, the tricolour flagpoles by Salamon Alter were still advertised in the
same issue.65 The return of Northern Transylvania resulted in satisfaction in the majority of the
Transylvanian Jewry, who hoped they would be freed from increasing humiliations by
Romania.66 Since, however, they had no information on the situation in Hungary, their happiness
proved to be premature: the Jews in Northern Transylvania had actually got into a worse


Cski Papers, 14 July, 1940, issue 27, p. 3.

Cski Papers, 11 August, 1940, issue 32, p. 4.
Cski Papers, 18 August, 1940, issue 33, p. 4.
Cski Papers, 8 September, 1940, issue 36, p. 3.
Ibidem, p. 4.
Braham, I. p. 144.


situation after the return than their fellow citizens remaining on the territory of Romania.67 At
the time of the Second Vienna Award, on 30 August, 1940, the first two anti-Jewish laws68 had
already been in effect in Hungary, which were immediately applied to the Jews of Northern
Transylvania after the military occupation of the region. Jewish illusions on the improvement of
their status as a result of the change of power quickly vanished. Jewish papers, leagues or
federations were banned. The anti-Jewish measures of military authorities were even
supplemented by the civil authorities.
The Hungarian press of Transylvania was reorganised, which resulted in newspapers
becoming the trumpets of the right wing. Although the Transylvanian Papers had used antiSemitic attitudes ever since its foundations in 1932, the papers published in smaller towns have
not published any open anti-Jewish attacks until the political change. Then together with larger
papers (such as for instance, the Hitel [Credit], Psztortz [Shepherd's Fire] or the Katolikus
Szemle [Catholic Review]) journalists at small towns took over a tone of humiliation of the Jews
under the aegis of racial protection. Such papers included Szamosvlgye of Ds, Szkely Sz of
Sepsiszentgyrgy or Gyergyi Lapok of Gyergyszentmikls.


Ibidem, p. 143.
Act No. 1938/XV, or First anti-Jewish Law A trsadalmi s gazdasgi let egyenslynak hatlyosabb

biztostsrl [On the more effective provision of the balance of social and economic life] took effect on 29 May,
1938. The law provided the ratio of Jews could not exceed 20% in the liberal professions or at companies employing
more than 10 people.
Act No. 1939:IV a zsidk kzleti s gazdasgi trfoglalsnak korltozsrl [On restricting the penetration of
Jews in public and economic life], or the Second Anti-Jewish Law was published a year later, on 5 May. The law
provided Jews could not obtain Hungarian citizenship either by naturalisation or by marriage, it banned them from
civil service, it provided judges and prosecutors of Jewish descent had to be placed in retirement and teachers at
high schools, elementary schools and public notaries had to be dismissed. The ratio of Jews was maximised in 6% in
the liberal professions, but Jews could not be directors or managers either in film production or at theatres or at the
The law identified in detail who was to be regarded Jewish. A person was deemed Jewish if he/she, at least one of
his/her parents or at least two of his/her grandparents were the members of the Israelite confession when the law
took effect or before that. (Cf. Braham, pp. 106 and 130)


It is interesting to note that Cskszereda papers were more reserved in that regard.
Although articles disapproving the behaviour of the Jews were published from 1940 to 1944 and
the Cski Papers took over the imported spirit of decorousness emphasising the protection of
Sekler blood, you can hardly find any openly abusive or inciting articles in the whole of five
Two interesting facts can be observed in the period: at first, immediately after the
political takeover, the racial consciousness is strongly emphasised and celebratory addresses
with loyalty to the nation as their main motive are often quoted in full. At the same time, articles
on Jewish topics disappeared from the papers, as if the Jews were not members of the society of
the town any longer. Quite few advertisements are published by Jews compared to previous
years, because you can find only four advertisements in the period from 30 August, 1940 to 1944
while there had been several advertisements in almost every issue in the 1920s. In them Jewish
physicians - Dr Jzsef Berkovits and Dr Man Jnos Fejr informed their patients they had
returned from military service and opened their practice. In the first issue of the 1941 volume
restaurateur Jen Neumann wished its customers a Happy New Year. Previously the papers
reported on the position of Romanian Jews as well, then however, the decrees of the town
commandeer relating to Jews were not published.
Let us review how the first issues after the return related to the new situation. For
instance, in issue No. 41 of 13 October, 1940 the welcoming address to Mikls Horthy by
Archdeacon Ferenc Br known of his anti-Semitic attacks was published on the first page.
Although the address was not anti-Jewish, it reiterated the usual right-wing slogans:
A nation can only honour the great values of human life, freedom, esteem of its race and
the love it involves if that nation has been in possession of those values for hundreds of years.
(...) We preserved and saved our love of freedom at the time of oppression at that time the
awareness of our race has been clarified even more.69
That initial period was characterised by inauguration of national flags and great
celebratory addresses most of them including anti-Jewish attacks. However, the articles and
addresses did not so much strive to attack the Jews but to glorify the own nation, the own blood:
now, on the occasion of the return, we have to emphasise the objective of the paper is to keep

Cski Papers, 13 October, 1940, issue 41, p. 1.


awake the Seklers racial consciousness.70 Nevertheless, the article identified the political
orientation of the paper too: the Sekler nation must have its place in a strong right wing in
national politics.71
Different celebratory addresses provided opportunities for the locals to express their
animosity towards the Jewry, and the papers also cited some of those in the beginning. In the
articles the nobility of the Hungarian national spirit, the glory and struggles of the Sekler nation
were emphasised, but obeisance to the racist ideal can also be found in the addresses either
hidden or more openly.
A statement by the Romanian press according to which the Sekler Land was crying to
return under Romanian rule resulted in huge protest: over 10 thousand people took an oath to the
Hungarian flag when a national flag was inaugurated at Cskszereda on 12 January, 1941. The
address by Ferenc Br at the event and its reception reflects to a certain extent the ideas of the
representatives of the church and their impact on the public at Cskszereda. According to the
journalist, The huge crowd broke into applause after each of his words.72
He said ...every nation should safeguard its spirit to keep it clear and strong. (...) the
twelfth hour of the revolution struck: liberalism and free masonry proliferating under its pretext
have finished their work destroying religion and nation: they deserve a dishonourable grave.73
As you can see, Br voiced the slogans of classical anti-Semitism identifying the Jews with
liberalism and free masonry and although the paper did not publish the other parts of his address,
it was obvious he was able to take control of its audience, i.e., the ideas voiced by him were
favourably received.
On the other hand, it should be noted that no right-wing statements affirmative of racism
can be found in any addresses by canon Dr. Lajos Csipak.
A visit by army chaplain Istvn Zadravecz74 at Cskszereda and his pilgrimage at
Csksomly are similarly interesting. So many people took part at the mass held on the occasion

Cski Papers, 27 October, 1940, issue 43, p. 1.

Cski Papers, 9 January, 1941, issue 3, p. 3.
Istvn Jnos Uzdczy Zadravecz (1884-1965) a Franciscan monk, one of the founders of the Anti-Bolshevik

Committee and the Etelkz Federation, the Roman Catholic army chaplain of the Prnay Commando and the


of his visit that the majority of the followers could not fit into the church.75 Therefore, there were
some villages, where he delivered 3-4 addresses in the course of his pilgrimage.
The papers only published articles openly attacking the Jews infrequently. They rather
practised a method of hints, in which they did not speak of Jews but of liberals, free masons,
Bolsheviks or money-lenders or profiteers. That is why the following quotation delivered by
lieutenant-colonel Ferenc Virg when recruits took their oath after deliberation can be deemed an
unusual example: That impostor, swindler race did not hesitate to wring the arms from the hands
of noble Seklers from behind to promote its own material advantage when we were shedding our
blood on the battlefield and fought for our beautiful country.
Such articles were, however, infrequent and you could see them immediately after the
change of power and then later in the course of 1944. They, however, express the political
opinion of the paper. The same, however, did not prevent the editor-in-chief of the paper to
remember in issue 45 a famous physician of the city, Hug Hirsch, a converted Jew who moved
to Kolozsvr with his wife.
The surgeon Hug Hirsch settled at Cskszereda during World War 1, and gained
acknowledgement among the people with his innovative procedures and with his generosity.
Hug Hirsch represented the assimilated Jews at the city, he had been baptised and had a close
connection with the Catholic Church and was an honorary member of the Franciscan Order.
Although he was regarded a Jew all the time and it was often told him in no uncertain terms76
the people of Csk trusted and respected him.
He set up a surgical ward of the hospital in 1912 at Cskszereda, he introduced X-ray and
laboratory tests, and then he set up his own institution doubling the number of hospital beds in
the city in that way. Named Hirsch Sanatorium, the institution had become known all over
Transylvania. Since he treated the poor at low rates or even free of charge, and because he was
kind to children, many loved him in the town. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his operation
Hungarian Royal Army, the member of the Upper House of the Parliament, church speaker and author and popular
priest was known of his Anti-Bolshevist views.

Even the big churches at Ditr and Csksomly taking 8,000 people proved to be too small. 2 March, 1941, issue

9, p. 3.

Dr Andrs Nagy, Vroskp s ami hozz tartozik [The city and what belongs to it], Pallas-Akadmia, Cskszereda,

1995, p. 57.


as a doctor, a ceremony involving everybody close and far was organised for him, which
cascaded as an avalanche lasting for weeks and during which about 5,000 people came to greet
him placing a multitude of gifts to his feet. After the greetings, a public dinner of 300 people was
held in the cinema hall of Vigad with speeches until the night77
It illustrates how people evaluated him as he influenced the spiritual and social life of
the town. Sometimes from the background but more often in a visible and tangible way
distributing generously both material and intellectual assets but also expecting acknowledgement
or even homage for it78
When he left the town, the Cski Papers remembered his activity in the following article:
Dr. Hug Hirsch has served our people for almost 3 decades. He has grown with his
heart and soul to the land of Csk, he loved and understood so much. Now he has left for
Kolozsvr to spend the remaining time of his retired life there and left all the memories of his
activities behind. We are moved to say goodbye to him on behalf of all who loved and respected
him not only as an erudite physician but a person of Hungarian build in all his culture and
undertaking the fate of Hungarians, who stood by our people together with his wife offering so
much to our people at the time of its greatest trials.79
When the chief physician died, an editorial of one and a half pages was dedicated to his
memory in the 15 June, 1941 issue, in which his loyalty to the Hungarian nation was again
emphasised: And we could see that he stood in his place, he shared the guard with us in a
Christian and Hungarian spirit, in times good and in times when the world collapsed and the
night seemed to bury Hungarians. He dreamt together with us about a Hungarian resurrection.80
The Provincial of the Franciscan Order delivered an address at his funeral and his body was
consecrated by Ferenc Br.


Dr Nagy, p. 57.

Cski Papers, 10 November, 1940, issue 45, p. 5.
Cski Papers, 15 June, 1941, issue 24, p. 1.


It is interesting he had not been deemed a Hungarian in his life, but when he left the town
and people had to remember him, his national spirit was truly acknowledged.
Another outstanding Jewish personality of the town, Elek Sarkadi, was also given nice
praising articles in the Cski Papers. Elek Sarkadi who was called Lek by his friends, was the
teacher of music at the grammar school in the 1930s as well as the conductor of the citys Song
and Music League. Similarly to Hug Hirsch, he had also been baptised because he had married
a Christian woman. Under his leadership, the amateur string orchestra consisting of only a few
people had improved into a forty-member symphonic orchestra within a few years time. Dr.
Andrs Nagy remembered him as a jovial person easy to like who danced to the accented
rhythm of the operetta Mgns Miska on the podium.81
On the ceremonial reception for the military marching into Cskszereda after the Second
Vienna Award, Sarkadi conducted the Hungarian Anthem. He proved several times that the
music life of a small town may be outstanding. He was awarded the first prize at several national
musical competitions conducting Mtrai kpek [Images of the Mtra], Szkely keserves [Sekler
lament], Jzus s a kufrok [Jesus and the peddlers] (choir compositions by Zoltn Kodly translators note). The Cski Papers reported on his activities: The Cskszereda Song and Music
League that has been performing such honourable deeds led by conductor Elek Sarkadi is
travelling to Budapest82 . When Transylvania returned, the National Hungarian Song
Federation arranged a festive concert inviting only 4 choirs from Transylvania. The Cski choir
led by Elek Sarkadi was among them and according to a report in issue 50, it was extremely
successful. Of course, the Hungarian character of the choir was not forgotten: the success was
not only due to the Sekler character of the choir but also to the renewed spirit of Hungarian
choirs in which the Cskszereda Song and Music League led by Elek Sarkadi was a pioneer in
the life of Hungarian music. 83
The excellent conductor, however, was not saved from being a Jew by his Hungarian
activity: although he had been exempted from forced labour service until 1944 with reference to
his merits, he had to join the army in the end and died of typhoid fever in the Ukraine.

Dr. Nagy, 49.

Cski Papers, 24 November, 1940, issue 47, p. 5.
Cski Papers, 15 December, 1940, issue 50, p. 3.


A similar short article remembered the merchant Rezs Michna on his death: He
belonged to our city he had been loyal to not only in the good times of peace but also when we
were hit hard by fate. His noble figure could be seen at all Hungarian appearances of the past 22
Jen Neumann an hotelier and restaurateur respected by all also deserved a few lines of
commemoration on his death.
As it could be seen, only a smaller part of articles referred directly to the Jews. They
rather spoke about Seklers as a superior race implying in that way contempt or sometimes
defamation of the Jews. Reviewing the article of five volumes, such articles constitute the
majority of writing on the Jews. The available publications can be roughly divided into four

The first and probably most important group of articles mentioned the Jews in

relation to logging and timber trade. It is known that the majority of the Jews immigrating into
Sekler Land were engaged in logging. The issue was also vitally important for the Seklers. The
articles published on the topic all spoke about expelling the Jews from the timber trade; that was
demanded louder and louder. Already on 20 October, 1940, at the inauguration of a national flag
at Cskmenasg, ron Antal advised Jewish peddlers must be removed from logging so that the
woods that have remained from the plunder of the Wlach should be real help for our people in its
Similarly, the editorial of issue 43 published Seklers in the new situation discussing the
same topic: the timber trade is the most profitable branch of the business life of Seklers. It must
be taken out of the hand of the Jews. (...) Those unreliable and aggressive elements who have
been the traitors of the Hungarian cause under Wlach rule should disappear!86
The implementation of the principle of taking the whole of the timber trade in
Transylvania into the hands of Seklers was not so simple. Problems already arose in December,
1940: At its latest session, the Transylvanian Business Council dealt with the position of the
timber industry in Sekler Land and found that the majority of that ancient industry was not in the

Michna Rezs, mint a Magyar trtnelmi esemnyek szmontartja. [rezs michna, as a chronicler of Hungarian

historic events],Cski Papers, 11 May, 1941, issue 19, p. 3.


Cski Papers, 20 October, 1940, issue 42, p. 1.

Cski Papers, 27 October, 1940, issue 4.3, p. 1.


hands of Christians any longer. Existing Christian companies are unable to employ the sufficient
number of Christians. In accordance with the provisions of the anti-Jewish law, Christian
workers must be found and new jobs must be created.87 Therefore, the issue of transfer of the
timber trade was raised again in January with a rather pessimistic conclusion: all those measures
are insufficient to solve the problem of the timber trade in Csk County; the only possible
solution would be to establish cooperatives.88 Accordingly, the topic was raised again and again,
and in 1942, audits by Balassa - instructed by the Minister of Culture - sued logging merchants
Simon Haim, Sulem Haim and Sulem Segal in the value of several hundred thousand Crowns.89

A separate category of the articles touched upon the Jewish issue while

introducing the programme and activities of the Transylvanian Party. They are interesting
because by introducing the programme of the party to which Dr. Gbor Pl of Cskszereda also
belonged an interesting and paradoxical image is presented on the Christian-Jewish relationship
at Cskszereda. We know that Gbor Pl was the director of the grammar school, who first
admitted Jewish students to the Csksomly Grammar School promoting in that way the
integration of the Jews into the community of the small town. However, the same tolerance
remembered by doctor Adler or Andrs Nagy are not reflected in his speeches at Parliament as
the leader of Transylvanian MPs. In an address delivered in Parliament on 2 December, 1940, he
addressed the Jewish issue separately: after the switch of power the Jewry parted with the
Hungarian people, they established a political party opposed to us. The immigrant Jews from
Budapest assisted in this controversy and separation, but he also acknowledges there have been
some Jews who have taken side with the interest of Hungarians.90
The Transylvanian Party emphasised on every possible occasion we regard the land and
capital our national assets, national perspectives must be enforced in the distribution and use of
both. Count Bla Teleki speaking at the Nagyvrad meeting of the Party emphasised: more has

Cski Papers, 22 December, 1940, issue 51, p. 6.

Dr. Ferenc Karda: A cskmegyei erdgazdlkods tlltsa [Transfer of the timber trade in Csk County], Cski

Papers, 19 January, 1941, issue 3, p. 2. It will not solve the national task of excluding finally and for good the
persons and organisations from the timber trade in Csk, which have caused the moral and material decline of our
race by exploiting the timber trade.

Cski Papers, 8 March, 1942, issue 10, p. 3.

Cski Papers, 8 December, 1940, issue 43, p. 8.


been spoken of the Jewish issue than what has been done. Since the Jews are not issued trade
licences, they work in the black economy and are to the detriment of the Hungarian homeland by
not paying taxes. He believes the situation can be solved by evicting those without Hungarian
citizenship without delay.91
The same idea appeared in the transcript of an address by Mikls Kllay delivered at the
great assembly of the Transylvanian Party on 6 June: the possibly full-scale eviction of the Jewry
is the final solution. He also believed the lack of flats caused by the war could be solved by
taking flats from those who lived in big flats unjustified.92 Later on, an article reported on how
the principle was applied in practice: the property of the heirs of Lipt Rosenfeld of Ditr was
expropriated for the purposes of a girls middle school.
Jzsef Blint, Transylvanian MP advised on 17 December, 1943 regarding the Jewish
issue the Jewish issue has been with us for 2,000 years. It was born when condemning the Son
of God the Jews pronounced their own sentence. He said the right of existence of the Jewish
religion ceased when the Christian churches were established.93 It was also him who exclaimed
when the anti-Jewish law was submitted to Parliament: debuisset fridem! i.e., why not earlier?

Articles reporting on the anti-Jewish laws and their application.

The reference to the anti-Jewish laws in the above article is interesting because - as it has
been shown above - surprisingly little information was provided by Cskszereda papers about the
Jews and the anti-Jewish laws. Not one line was written about the fact that the law of numerus
clausus took effect immediately after the takeover, and as a result, no Jewish students were
admitted to the grammar school of the town in the academic year 1940-41. Similarly, nothing
was reported about the effective two anti-Jewish laws.
The Cski Papers reported on 30 April, 1942 that in accordance with a government
decree, the Jewish-owned shops had been closed down with immediate effect, and it published
on 15 November that the Government had introduced property tax for the Jews. Only a footnote
advises that tenders for the supply of stationery and printed forms are only open for people who
can certify the Law 1939/IV does not apply to them; or else that only Hungarian citizens not
deemed Jewish can be admitted to training courses for insurance agents. However, not one report

Cski Papers, 4 April, 1943, issue 14, p. 1.

Cski Papers, 6 June, 1943, issue 23, p. 2.
Cski Papers, 23 April, 1944, issue 17, p. 1.


or interpretation of the anti-Jewish laws themselves can be found. In 1944, three short articles
reported on the conscription of Jews of drafting age, listing the data of Jewish telephone
subscribers or the fact that all Jewish schools ceased to operate in the country with effect from 30
June. That is all to be found about the anti-Jewish laws in five volumes of the Cski Papers. In
addition, the paper quoted a few excerpts from speeches by Hitler or Gbbels presenting the
Jews as enemies: the eternal Jew forced us into a merciless war94 and there is no delay in
preparation, we must clash that devastating race before the Jews trigger revolutions in the whole

In addition, a few articles dealt with price increases referring to Jews as the

culprits, however, it turned out from the actual list of arrests that most of them had been
Hungarians. The terms used, on the other hand, unambiguously refer to the Jews: This our
nation has already been corrupted by speculators and profiteers, so it is a national duty to
support the fight against price increase. An article mentions there has been a nationwide
movement to sentence everybody to execution by hanging who are deemed the enemy of the
nation by their actions threatening public supply. According to the author, such a motion would
be voted for unanimously by Csk County.96
There are a few more attacks on Aladars, which help to ruin or avoid the laws
established in the interest of the life and survival of the nation of course in return for a rich
Those attacks were not numerous - only 13 articles were found in the five volumes
openly referring to the Jews and including negative evaluation or incitement. On the other hand,
it must be also taken into account that none could be found offering protection for the Jews
except for some articles commemorating Jewish deaths. There were just a few faint remarks
according to which it is not timely today to tune peoples soul towards political rancour.98


Address by Hitler, Cski Papers, 28 March, 1943, issue 13, p. 2.

Address by Gbbels, Cski Papers, 28 February, 1943, issue 9, p. 2.
Cski Papers, 11 January, 1942, issue 2, p. 3.
Cski Papers, 10 January, 1943, issue 2, p. 3 and 3 January, issue 1, p. 4.
The meeting of the Party of National Renewal at Cskszereda. Cski Papers, 10 January, 1943, issue 2, p. 2.


People who did not allow being drenched in mud99 and took no part in incitements at
Cskszereda must have been very low in number. The papers did not promote anti-Jewish
incitement, which is surprising since we know the town commander Elemr der and the police
captain Pl Farkas were openly anti-Semitic. The deputy mayor Dr brahm was also one who
received with applause any anti-Jewish movement.
The market atmosphere of the times must have been general in the town. Two examples
can be shown. One of them is the memoirs of Andrs Grnberg in the booklet They were by
Katalin Szab and Bla Bcs. According to it when we were children at school, our classmates
tried to remind us of our being Jewish every time and not in a very nice form. We had to be
careful how we behaved, how we responded so as not to be given mocking words.100
As it could be seen, even people doctor Adler remembered with appreciation did make
anti-Jewish statements in other situations. It is also interesting that the Jews are missing from the
Cski Pantheon by Imre Tivai Nagy; only a few of them had been given a place in the book by Dr
Andrs Nagy. Although they voiced their philo-Semitism later on, it often turns out they only
belonged to the more moderate. Ilona Szab, Aunt Pici said there was nothing of Jewish or
Romanian and what else at the time, but a few sentences earlier she said when Zoltn Popper
tripped me I told him leave me alone you fucking Jew, I will rip your guts out. It was however,
a simple banter among friends... at least according to the memories of Aunt Pici.101
The 14 May, 1944 issue of Cski Papers reported on a telling case. It will make our image
established on the relationship between Jews and Christians a bit more nuanced. In the column of
apologies, an indignant article was published that an architect who was undoubtedly an original
Christian was said to be Jew. The author of the article complained about city gossip as follows:
the news was planted in that excellent soil. Do not bewail. It grew roots and started to grow with
unimaginable speed. The city started to whisper and commenced to eat up that dessert. Mouths
frothed and fangs snapped. The small town had a good time. In line with ancient habits it
enjoyed to do something nasty, to defile somebody, to fretting and killing somebody. 102 It only
turns out on the 4th page of the paper that the person is Dezs Szab, who says he will sue

See Adler, 70/1974.


Voltak. [They were], p. 29.

Nobody would have thought he was a Jew... Interview with Ilona Szab, in: They were, p. 21
Cski Papers, 14 May, 1944, issue 20, p. 1.


everybody spreading the gossip. The inhumanity of the whole thing was it happened at the time
when the Jews of Cskszereda were deported103, so the persons life could have been endangered
by deeming him Jewish.
Reviewing the history of the Jewry at Cskszereda as it turns out from archive documents,
memories and newspaper articles, a paradoxical image is revealed: the Jews settling in a closed
Catholic small town had to face rejection and exclusion right from the beginning. Although the
passing of time apparently improved their situation, they had to prove again and again their
loyalty to their hosts and despite that, they suffered the most among the Jewry of Transylvania
after the Hungarian takeover following the Second Vienna Award.
Reviewing the articles of Cski Papers can be misleading. Compared to other towns
where papers were openly anti-Jewish and propagated anti-Jewish incitement, the two
deportations to Krsmez and to Auschwitz on 3 May took place in silence at Cskszereda
without any trace of them in the contemporary press. Although there was not much incitement,
there was no outcry against inhumanities or in defence of the Jews among the numerous political
social articles. In those times, the Jews could not hope for any understanding or support by the
town management or the Catholic Church. If they received any help, it was individual and
offered in rare cases only.


It turns out from the article that Dezs Szab had sent it to the paper on 11 May, but the Jews of Csk had been

deported on 3 May.



1. A pspki kar tancskozsai. Az 1939. vi jnius h 10-re sszehvott orszggyls

felshznak naplja [Meetings of the Bishops Bench. The Minutes of the Upper House
of the Parliament convened on 10 June, 1939] (1939-1944). Vol. II. Az Athenaeum
Irodalmi s Nyomdai Rszvnytrsulat nyomsa, Bp., 1942
2. BODEA, Gheorghe I.: Tragedia evreilor din nordul Transilvaniei, Cluj-Napoca, 2001.
3. Dr Andrs Nagy: Lt visszanz [Lot looking back], Cskszereda, 2001
4. Dr Andrs NAGY: Vroskp s ami hozz tartozik. [the city and what belongs to it]
Cskszereda, 1995
5. Alpr Salamon FERENCZ: A cskszeredai zsidkrl. [About the Cskszereda Jewry.] In:
Sekler Land [Cskszereda], Vol. IV, Issue 1, January, 2000
6. Alpr Salamon FERENCZ: A Holokauszt helytrtnetnek oktatsa V-VIII. osztlyban.
A cskszeredai zsidsg trtnete. [Teaching the local history of the Holocaust in grades
5-8. The history of the Cskszereda Jewry.] Unpublished Randolph L. Braham: The
Hungarian Holocaust, Gondolat, Budapest, 1988
7. Mikls FRANK: Cskszereda vros fejldse ptipari szempontbl in: Az 50 ves
ipartestlet 1884-1934, kiad: Cskszereda s vidke ipartestlete, [Evolution of the town
of Cskszereda from the perspective of the construction industry. ] 1934
8. Lszl GYMNT: Evrei din Transilvania n epoca emanciprii (1790-1967), Editura
Enciclopedic, Bukarest, 2000
9. KATZ, Jakob, Kifel a gettbl. A zsid emancipci vszzada 17701870. [out of the
ghetto. The century of Jewish emancipation] MTA Judaisztikai Kutatcsoport,
Budapesta, 1995.
10. Keresztny egyhzfk beszdei a zsidkrdsben.[addresses by Christian church leaders
on the Jewish issue], Editor: Fisch Henrik, Budapesta, 1947
11. Ilona MONA: Margit Slachta, Bp., 1997. At:
12. Victor NEUMANN: Istoria evreilor din Romnia., Timisoara, 1996.
13. Balzs ORBN: A szkelyfld lersa trtnelmi, rgszeti, termszetrajzi s npismei
szempontbl, [A description of Sekler Land from historical, archaeological, natural






14. PATAI, Raphael, The Jews of Hungary. History, Culture, Psychology, Detroit, Wayne
State University Press, 1996
15. Zoltn TIBORI SZAB: Csk vrmegye zsidsga a beteleplstl a megsemmistsig.
[The Jewry of Csk County from their settlement until their annihilation.] I-III.
16. Imre TIVAI NAGY: Emlkezs rgi cskiakrl. [Memories of the old Csk.] Cskszereda,
17. VARGA E. rpd, Erdly etnikai s felekezeti statisztikja [the ethnic and religious
statistics of Transylvania],
18. Mzes Vitos Cskmegyei fzetek. Adatok Cskmegye lershoz s trtnethez [Data to
the description and history of Csk County]
19. Gyrgy VOFKORI: Cskszereda s Csksomly kpes trtnete, [the picture history of
Cskszereda and Csksomly], Bkscsaba, 2007.
20. VOLTAK. Emlkezs a cskszeredai zsid kzssgre [THEY WERE. Memories of the
Cskszereda Jewish Community], Cskszereda, 1999 (Jnos Bla Bcs, Katalin Szab ed.)

Archive sources
The private archives of the Cskszereda Jewish community 16/1971 Statement by Dr Mikls
Adler to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Bucuresti on the war losses of the Jewish
communities at Cskszereda, Gyergyszentmikls, Szkelyudvarhely and Maroshviz.
The private archives of the Cskszereda Jewish Community 70/1974 letter by Dr Mikls
Adler to Zoltn Vntsa, Minister of the Reformed Church.

Documents of the Archives of Hargita County


Documents of Mayors Office of the Town of Cskszereda 1859-1968: 237, 339, 340
Relevant documents: 239 groups:

o 13. Persoanele urmrite de autoritile maghiare 1940-1944

o 18. Recensmntul populaiei, 1941
o Decizii i hotrri
o Cereri i adeverine pentru obinerea ceteniei
o Lucrri privind administrarea bunurilor evreilor 1941
In-depth interviews by Katalin Szab with Klra Lszl, Pter Leitmann, Ilona Szab, Terz
Nagy and Gbor Szentes
Press publications:

Cski Papers, Vol. 1913, 1921, 1936, 1939-1944.

Cski News, Vol. III, 1913.