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Catholics and the Jewish Community at Kosice (Kassa) from 1938 to 1944

(as reflected in archive documents, memoirs and the contemporary media)
By Tímea Veres, Aranka Sápos and Attila Jakab

The Jewish issue in Czechoslovakia in 1918-1939
The first Czechoslovak Republic, which came into being after the collapse of the
(Austro-Hungarian) Monarchy, opted for democracy after its establishment and
in the first period of its history (between the two World Wars). The Provisional
National Assembly adopted the constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic as
Act No 1920/121 on 29 February, 1920. The authors of the constitution were
first of all inspired by the constitutions of the third French Republic and the
United States of America.
The newly established state offered its Jewish residents new perspectives –
mainly in political life – and allowed national politics. The government
supported the recognition of a Jewish national minority1 as a concept of national
identity, which was accepted by the majority of Jews. As a result, the majority
of Jews reporting themselves Hungarians earlier had ceased to be present
statistically reducing in that way the ratio of Hungarian national minorities. The
Israelite population of Kosice also used the opportunity and „almost two-third
[!] reported they belonged to the Jewish national minority” in the course of the
first official census of Czechoslovakia in 1921.”2 The majority of the population
retained their Jewish identity but the first signs of assimilation into the majority
Slovak nation had already appeared among the younger Jewish residents at the
beginning of the 1930s.

According to Éva Kovács: „The political efforts behind the introduction of the status of Jewish national
minority were mainly directed to reducing the ratio of the Hungarian national minority in that way, but liberal
intentions and the impact of a reviving Jewish renaissance cannot be neglected, either. Also, a significant number
of Orthodox, unassimilated Jewish population with characteristic ethnic features had lived on the territory of
Kárpátalja (Transcarpatia) (Podkarpatska Rus) assigned to Czechoslovakia. The concept of a Jewish national
minority included both a distancing from the Hungarian ethnic minorities and a possibility for a Jewish national
revival.” Éva Kovács: Felemás asszimiláció, [nitty-gritty assimilation], Dunaszerdahely: Lilium Aurum, 2004,
198.
2
According to the 1921 and 1930 Czechoslovak census, 2.39% or 2.01.% of the population of Slovakia reported
to belong to the Jewish national minority and 4.53%, or. 4.11% to the Israelite denomination. According to the
1930 census, the number of Jews in Slovakia was 136,737 (4.11%). Of that, 44,019 (32.19%) reported to belong
to the Czech or Slovak nationality (a new nation, the Czechoslovak had been crated on the census sheets), 9,945
(7.27%) said they were German and 65,385 (47.81%) said to belong to the Jewish national minority. Naučný
slovník aktualit 1939, Praha: Nakladateľ L. Mazáč, 1939, 616. According to the 1930 census at Kosice, 51.2%
of the Jews, i.e. 5,733 people reported to belong to the Jewish national minority, the rest said they were
Czechoslovak or Hungarian. Encyklopédia židovských náboženských obcí, Bratislava: SNM – Múzeum židovskej
kultúry, 2009, 207.
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The Jewish Party formed in 1918 had local organisations in every town with a
significant number of Jewish residents.3 The policy of the Jewish Party was
loyal to the governing regime; it strived for the observation and expansion of the
rights of national minorities and often acted in coalition with the Hungarian
parties. It could mainly rely on the mostly Orthodox communities of the Eastern
territories.4 Although the Czech politicians considered the Jewish Party the
representative of the Jewish national minority, the Jews themselves failed to
share that view (particularly in Slovakia and in the Transcarpatia). In addition to
the Jewish Party, the Jewish National Council and the Czechoslovak Zionist
Organisation were important Jewish organisations. The Jewish national
movement was striving to cover Jews that belonged to several denominational
branches.
Zionism started to gain momentum in the 1930s when anti-Semitism and the
idea of an independent Slovak state came into focus. Zionist organisations could
be located on the left side of the political palette next to Social Democrats and
Communists. It was a Prague-oriented modern movement that was mostly
attractive for the younger generation.5
Thanks to the spread of the liberal and democratic values of Masaryk, you
cannot speak of political anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia before the mid-1930s.
Stand-alone cases, however, did occur. For instance, there were anti-Semitic
indications in the rhetoric of the Slovak Popular Party, one of the strongest
parties in Slovakia.
In his article „Keeping Jewish holidays in Jewish and non-Jewish schools”
published in 1938 in the paper Katholikus Lelkipásztor [Catholic Priest],
Kálmán Nádai quoted Masaryk, the former President of the Republic „Catholics
will have as much right as they can obtain for themselves”; and then he
continued expressing his opinion: „It is a fact we are pushed back in that regard,
we are to stand against the wall and we can hardly gain anything. Although, as it
is correct that the educational authorities take into account the Jewish holidays
and schoolchildren of the Jewish faith, it should act in the same way regarding
the spiritual needs of Catholic children. In Jewish schools there are 36 days, in
other schools 13 days of holidays for Jewish children in addition to the normal
holidays! We, Catholics are much interested how they were exempted from
attending classes. And in addition they enjoy our state-recognised holidays, e.g.

3

The Jewish Party established in Pöstyén (Piestany) in 1918 had been unable to be nationally accepted by
Slovak Jews, it only played a minor or major part in local public administration.
4
Éva Kovács : „Disszimiláció, zsidó azonosságtudat, regionális identitás Szlovákiában (1920–1938)”,
[dissimilation, Jews identity and regional identity in Slovakia] Regio. Kisebbségtudományi Szemle 2, 1991/2, pp.
1-5.
5
Op.cit., p. 3.

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the Lord’s Day on 8 December, Christmas, etc. Look, an infinitesimal religious
minority has how many privileges and favours! And what about us?”6
A mass of anti-Jewish articles were published in different papers beginning from
the second half of the 1930s, the open appearance of political anti-Semitism.7
The part played by Jews in business life, their national and religious difference
and their connections with Germans and Hungarians were used to incite antiSemitism. The Jews were also accused of Magyarization and irredentism. They
were attacked for using the Hungarian language, their loyalty was questioned,
and Jews were envisioned in the background of Magyarization efforts saying
they had been intriguing maliciously against Slovak political efforts.
Articles on the relationship between Jews and Catholics had also taken on an
anti-Semitic character. News saying the Jews were striving for global power was
frequently published. The anti-Semitism of regional papers did not differ from
that of national papers in its content.
Since the Czechoslovak Republic secured the rights of Jews in its Constitution
and had been peaceful and tolerant in its politics regarding Jews for over two
decades, the country had become a target of Jewish immigrants. Large numbers
of Jews had arrived from Poland and Soviet-Russia. The mainly Orthodox
Jewish immigrants usually spoke Yiddish and some Polish, Ruthenian or
German and increased the numbers of the Jewish national minority. After 1933
the papers depicted the Jewish immigrants as dangerous, unwanted elements and
parasites.
The Jews reporting to belong to the German or Hungarian communities were
also accused for (German and Hungarian) irredentist efforts that gained
momentum in the 1930s. Next to the Hungarian-speaking Jewish minority, the
German-speaking Jewish community had also become the target of attacks.
Election results were fruitful topics for the media at any time. The parties used
their media for mudslinging and Jews were also given a part to play in party
competitions and mutual accusations.
Anti-Jewishness had reached full swing from the second half of the 1930s. The
media brandishing a growing number of anti-Semitic articles was a true
reflection of the contemporary political atmosphere.

The forms of anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia
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Katholikus Lelkipásztor, [catholic priest], 1 January, 1938
Monika Stavorová surveyed anti-Semitic articles published in the media of the Eastern Slovak region:
Stavarová, Monika: „Prejavy antisemitizmu a v regionálnej tlačí na Východnom Slovensku v 30. rokoch 20.
storočia” (www.pulib.sk/elpub2/FF/Chovanec1/pdf_doc/46.pdf).
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Anti-Semitism in Slovak society took the following forms:
1. With respect to business life, the majority nation was jealous of Jews, because
they filled major positions in industry, wholesale trade and agriculture as well as
in retail trade and handicrafts. Most licences were also held by Jews; 21% of
artisans’ licences, almost 50% of cooperative distilleries and 100% of licences
for commercial distilleries belonged to them. In addition, they operated 38% of
sawmills, 78% of the timber trade and 80% of timber exports.8 They had a
decisive presence in services and the liberal professions. In addition, many of
them were civil servants.9
At Kosice 60% of the Jewry were traders in the period between the two World
Wars. They owned most textile and cloth shops, a large part of timber
processing plants and companies selling building materials. They worked as
artisans, sales agents, business travellers and private clerks. They were
employees of tax offices, railway directorates, courts, and financial centres,
postal and other facilities. Fodor & Lustig owned a timber processing plant;
Székely & Company produced paints, varnishes and mineral oil. Adolf
Friedman had a soap factory. Fleischer & Company produced machines and
turbines. Glass & Friedman had a concrete plant and a furniture manufacturing
plant; they also dealt with distillation of spirits, leather processing and
agricultural plant processing. There were 50 Jewish attorneys, 30 physicians,
and 16 engineers, 7 pharmacists in the town as well as a number of writers,
artists and journalists.
2. As regards politics, the participation of Jews in left-side political parties was
significant. As a result, they were accused of being responsible for the spread of
Bolshevism. Both the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party, which
belonged to the strongest parties of the time, had many Jewish members.
The paper Národné noviny wrote in 1933: „Socialist-Communist politics had
found their largest supporters among the Jewry. We can see armies of Jews
engaged in activities dangerous for Slovaks, which disorganises and damages
the Slovak nation”.10

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Data of 1939.
According to 1930 statistical figures, 50% of lawyers were Jews, 34% of medical and healthcare services were
provided by Jews and over 30 thousand Jews worked in public administration. Hegedűs, Roman: „Protižidovská
politika v období slovenskej autonómie” (www.pravespektrum.sk/article.php?); Letz, Robert: „Pomoc
prenasledovaným Židom na Slovensku v rokoch 1939–1945”, Viera a život 9, 1999/3, 181.
10
Quoted from Jurašek, Dalibor: Židovský kódex (Bakalárska práca, Bratislava, 2009)
(http://diplomovka.sme.sk/praca/3564/zakaz-popierania-holokaustu-v-slovenskej-republike-a-jehodosledky-naakademicku-slobodu.php).
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The originators of anti-Jewish measures did not at all hide they had adopted
them to prevent the spread of Bolshevism as a top priority. On the day autonomy
was announced, on 6 October 1938, the politicians of the Popular Party (the
ľudáks) stated in their publication titled The Manifesto of the Slovak nation: „we
shall take sides with the nations that fight against Marxist-Jewish subversive and
violent ideology”.11
The following can be read in a report of the Topolcsány (Topolcany) District
Office (8 November, 1938) on the expulsion and relocation of 93 Jews: „Since
the Jewry, particularly the younger generation, had been engaged in Communist
political activities already under the Czechoslovak government, the measures
introduced were very good to attenuate the Communist atmosphere.”12
3. In a national context, the Jews were considered an instrument of anti-Slovak
(Magyarizing) efforts in the hands of the Hungarian government. Even after the
collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Slovak population held the
view that the Jews had been the force behind the deprivation of the poor and the
Magyarization of Slovaks. Karel Kálal, a contemporary Czech author combined
the Magyarization of Slovaks with the Jewish issue: „The Jews were the capital
and spirit of Magyarization. (…) The Jews served Magyarization in return for a
big price: for unlimited freedom, in addition, they enriched themselves unfairly
depriving families and whole villages.”13
The paper Národné noviny wrote the following in 1933: „Before the change of
the regime, the Jews had been the most devoted and most effective means of
Magyarization and after the change of the regime we can see them as the
enemies of the nation. Even at present, Jews are supporters of the Hungarian
spirit; Jews are the most committed subscribers to Hungarian papers. (…) It is a
historical fact that our towns had become Magyarized so quickly, because
Hungarians had found in the Jews a social instrument that had promoted
Magyarization linguistically, economically and culturally with tenacious and
silent efforts – and not in our interests.”14
In October 1938, after the Munich Resolution, the head of the Bratislava Jewish
community handed over the Hungarian consul a petition signed by 15,000
Bratislava Jews to re-annex Bratislava to the Hungarian Kingdom.15 The
Žilinská dohoda. Druhá svetová vojna: občasník o moderných dejinách Slovenska, 1. októbra 2006
(www.druhasvetova.sk/view.php?cisloclanku=2006090006).
12
Hlásenie Okresného úradu v Topoľčanoch Prezídiu krajinského úradu v Bratislave z 8. 11. 1938 o priebehu
deportácií. Cited by Nižňanský, Eduard. (ed.): Holokaust na Slovensku 1 (Dokumenty), Bratislava, 2001, 307.
13
Kálal, Karel: Karla Kálala spisy slovákofilské, Zväzok V. 1928. Cited by Jurašek, op. cit., 14.
14
Štefánek, A.: Základy sociografie Slovenska. 1944, 94. Idézi Jurašek, op. cit., 14.
15
Ďurica, M. S.: Dejiny Slovenska a Slovákov v časovej následnosti faktov dvoch tisícročí, Bratislava: LÚČ,
2003, 375.
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American diplomat George F. Kennan made a note of the event as follows: „the
Slovaks were immediately informed about the petition and considered it a proof
inciting hatred that supported their view that Jews were not loyal with
Slovaks.”16
4. Christian anti-Semitism, in fact, originated from classical anti-Judaism and
was built on it.

The attitude of Kosice Catholics to the Jewry
As a first approach to be supplemented later by in-depth research in (mainly
ecclesiastic) archives, the attitude of the Catholic church and society to the
Jewry at Kosice may be revealed using two important source papers. One is the
Kassai Katolikus Tudósító, [kosice catholic reporter] and the other is Felvidéki
Ujság [upland news] also published at Kosice.17
It must be noted first of all that at the time – i.e. in the period 1938 to 1944 –
Kosice was a royal free city with municipal rights, where patronage was
exercised via the mayor. In the city’s context it meant an organic intertwining of
church and politics.18 For instance, the police had been continuously fighting
immorality that had been considered a remnant of the Czech rule.19 In that way
we have the right to assume that everything happening had been at least tacitly
approved by ecclesiastic leaders; on the other hand, city administrators and the
important citizens clearly demonstrated their Catholic/Christian attitude. The
Kosice city élite (important citizens and ecclesiastic men) favoured the term „the
Catholic society of the city” for self-identification.20 Politicians and ecclesiastic
Ďurica, M. S.: Jozef Tiso 1887 – 1947, Bratislava: LÚČ, 2006, 366. Idézi Dalibor, op. cit. 15.
The attitude of the Greek Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran churches to the Jewry at Kosice is a completely
blank spot.
18
Cf: „The lay leaders of the Kosice Catholic parish take their oaths ceremonially on Sunday”, Felvidéki Ujság
26 October, 1940, p. 3. Who became parish leaders? E.g. Dr Géza Radványi presiding judge of the Hungarian
Royal High Court of Appeal (chairman), Dr József Dányi ministerial councillor, Béla Gazdy Royal Chief
Prosecutor, József Iványi Royal school inspector, Pál Szent-Imrey vice-governor, Dr Sándor Pohl city mayor,
patron’s representative.
19
„A night trip round the brothels of Kosice”, Felvidéki Ujság 26 February, 1939, p. 4. „Police arrests Jánosné
Hajász, the most dangerous abortionist of Kosice”, Felvidéki Ujság 7 March, 1939, p. 5. „Police had the most
notorious venue of rendezvous at Kosice, the Róth Bath in Mária Street closed down”, Felvidéki Ujság 28 April,
1939, p. 5. „Kosice midwife arrested for illegal abortion”, Felvidéki Ujság 30 April, 1941,p. 6. „Kosice Court
sentenced abortionist midwives”, Felvidéki Ujság 5 September, 1942, p. 11. „Over 150 arrested at a raid by
Kosice Police to control prostitutes and Gypsies”, Felvidéki Ujság 14 May, 1943, p. 8. „Incorrigible abortionist
woman sentenced to workhouse”, Felvidéki Ujság 1 June, 1944, p. 10.
20
Cf: „Thanksgiving services for the Governor of Hungary”, Felvidéki Ujsag 1 March, 1940, p. 3:
„Thanksgiving services were held in every church of Kosice on Friday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of
the Governor’s reign. The Catholic society of the city prayed for the leader of the Hungarian nation at a Holy
Mass held in the Basilica at 9.00 a.m. The military, ecclesiastical and civil society of the city were represented in
full at the Holy Mass.”; „The Catholic society of Kosice celebrated 40 years’ of service of Barna Tost parish
priest”, Felvidéki Ujság 15 July, 1940, p. 3. „Changing of the guard should not be merely a change of people but
16
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leaders regularly published in both media;21 and they took part at each other’s
events.22 The concord is fairly supported by the fact that Felvidéki Ujság
published hardly any news about the third anti-Jewish law not voted for by the
ecclesiastical leaders in the Upper House (Act No XV of 1941 „on the addition
to and amendment of Act No XXXI of 1894”), since that racist act clearly
contradicted Christian matrimonial law.23 At the same time, it introduced the
criminal act of „miscegenation”.24 After the law was adopted, however, „Dr
Sándor Pohl city mayor ordered the Jewish Sabbath rope surrounding Kosice to
be removed immediately”.25
This „shop-window” Christianity voiced all the time, however, had much more
formality than actual and deep faith. That is supported by an angry address to
the „Catholic society” of Kosice by bishop Madarász when he had a shock to
face an empty church. „The Basilica is almost deserted during a mass. There
were no more than a hundred believers at the mass held on the anniversary of
the Pope’s coronation, which is one of the major holy events both from a
Catholic and a Hungarian point of view. And but for our noble soldiers, some
office heads and high school youth, the ceremony would have been celebrated
among almost empty walls. On Easter Sunday, the greatest holiday of the
church, the Catholic intelligentsia was totally absent, the reserved seats were
empty, and only the good religious people of Kosice saved the honour of the
church! Where was the parish whose strict and holy duty it is to appear in the
church in a great mass on such occasions? Where were the Catholic societies,
the Credo, the Emericana, the Boy Scouts, the Congregations, the members of
the Catholic Action, etc.? This is not Catholic or Hungarian self-esteem! It is the
holy duty of the Catholic Hungarian society of Kosice to confess their Catholic
faith and patriotic spirit on such occasions (…) I am deeply saddened and
a change of spirit as well! Address by József Közi-Horváth MP at the Kosice ceremonial assembly of Catholic
workers”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 April, 1942, p. 3.
21
Cf.e.g. Dr Sándor Pohl, mayor of Kosice, „Katolikus önérzet” [Catholic self-esteem], Vol. XXII, Issue 11,
November 1942, pp. 1-3. Address to the 30th National Catholic Congress. Jenő Sinyei Merse minister of culture,
„Let religion be the foundation of public education in Hungary and let public education built on faith and moral
strengthen the religious spirit of Hungarians”, op.cit. p.4. Dr István Madarász, bishop of the Kosice diocese,
„Who is led to the infant Jesus by true love…”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 December, 1941, p. 1. „Parents are
responsible for their children. Pastoral letter by István Madarász Dr, bishop of the Kosice dicese on parents’
sacred and responsible duties”, Felvidéki Ujság 21 February, 1942, p. 5. Dr István Madarász, „The example of
the Bethlehem Holy Family”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 December, 1942, p. 1. Dr István Madarász bishop of Kosice, „
The Lord of Peace”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 December, 1943, p. 1.
22
„The Jewish issue on the agenda of the Board of the local organisation of the United Party”, Felvidéki Ujság
31 December, 1938, p. 3. The meeting was opened by no other than Barna Tost prelate-parish priest.
23
„Settling the Jewish issue. Who is considered a Jew. Marriage between Christians and Jews banned”, Felvidéki
Ujság, 9 June, 1941, p. 2; „The execution order of the race protection act published”, Felvidéki Ujság 4 October,
1941, p. 3.
24
Cf e.g. Felvidéki Ujság 24 January, p. 3; 14 February, p. 6; 28 April, p. 4; 7 September, p. 5;2 October, p. 6;
28 October, 1942, p. 4; 12 February, 1943, p. 4.
25
Felvidéki Ujság 26 July, 1941, p. 8: „According to Jewish law, the Sabbath rope borders the area within which
devout Israelites may leave their apartments on Saturday without committing an act of violance to their religious
laws.”

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depressed by this lukewarm, disinterested behaviour. I request the Catholic
intelligentsia of Kosice with love to change that wrong and unworthy behaviour
and to take part at ceremonial masses to be held on major holy days. Do not wait
for special invitations, because invitations to state holidays mean that the
authorities must be present at the official mass without any difference of
denomination. But the Catholic leaders of the authorities should appear at major
Catholic holidays if only to set a good example.”26
Two events illustrate best the intertwining of the Catholic church and politics.
One was the approval of the city administration of Kosice granted to István
Madarász, the bishop of the diocese, who had been a politician before becoming
a bishop in 1939 since he had been a ministry councillor in Budapest from 1929
to 1938, allowing him in 1940 to divide the parish Saint Erzsébet into two and to
establish a new parish named after the Queen of Peace in the southern part of the
city assigned to the Franciscans. Another, much more important event was a
decision by the city legislative committee (Resolution No 6774//39 1941, dated
26 February, 1941), according to which he ceremonially offered the city of
Kosice to the Holy Heart of Jesus on 22 June, 1941.27 That was not a church
initiative but a political decision by the city administration that had to be
implemented by the church, i.e. to organise and perform the ceremony. It is,
however, a different question that – due to the outbreak of the German-Soviet
war at dawn on 22 June – the large scale procession in the afternoon was called
off, but the offering itself did take place.
The Kassai Katolikus Tudósító [kosice catholic reporter] was, in fact, the
bulletin of parishes and associations. Barna Tost prelate-parish priest (brother of
MP László Tost) published it monthly (quarterly in 1944) with the bishop’s
approval. Its editor-in-chief was first István Pálffy, then Ferenc Bogdányi (from
January 1943). It mainly published articles on spiritual and moral issues. Its
column „film review” is worth mentioning, as it categorised films into good,
neutral and bad categories according to a religious scale of values. It turns out
from its issues that Catholics at Kosice, in fact, had problems with the other
Christian denominations (mixed marriages) and not so much with Jews.
Therefore, the latter did not play an important part in the paper.
The position of Felvidéki Ujság was quite different. It was a true local reflection
of the contemporary political and social atmosphere, its changes and its
permanent components. The latter basically meant a continuous stigmatisation
of Jews and incitement. The basis for that was that Jews were basically accused
26

Felvidéki Ujság 26 March, 1940, p. 1.
Cf. Kassai Katolikus Tudósító Volume XXI, Issue 6-7, June 1941, pp. 3-5. As well as Felvidéki Ujság. 18
June, p. 4; 19 June 19, p. 3; 20 June, p. 3; 21 June, p. 1; 23 June, 1941, p. 3. The offering was repeated every
year. Cf. Felvidéki Ujság. 6 June, p. 3; 11 June, p. 3; 13 June, p. 3; 15 June, 1942, p.3; and 7 June, 1943.
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of betraying the „Hungarian cause” under the Czechoslovak regime,28 that was
described as „captivity” and „occupation”.29 Also, Jews were considered in
relation to liberalism and Bolshevism in general – i.e. the greatest enemies of
Catholicism – and, of course, blamed for everything.
The Felvidéki Ujság was clearly a political daily; its first issue was published on
Sunday, 25 December, 1938. At the beginning Dr János Bárczay MP was the
editor-in-chief and Dr Miklós Pajor MP then the vice president of the Catholic
Action was its chief correspondent. Jenő Puskás became managing editor from
17 August, 1940 (Volume III, issue 187). His post was taken over by Zoltán
Kassai from 1 March, 1943 (Volume VI, issue 48). At the same time Géza
Forgách became chief correspondent. In 1943 the daily was owned by Kosice
Hungarian Life Publishers. According to its own self-identification: „it fought
for the prevalence of Christian masses and Christian ethics in every of its
lines”.30 The same was reiterated by Zoltán Nyisztor31 describing the Felvidéki
Ujság as „its every line is permeated by the spirit of true Christianity”.32
Implicitly it also meant that obvious anti-Jewishness was an organic part of „true
Christianity”.
The start of the paper was welcomed by prelate Barna Tost, a decisive figure of
Catholicism at Kosice: „Felvidéki Ujság will again be the new daily of liberated
Kosice. I welcome it with pleasure. I wish God’s blessing on its path and I wish
from my heart it should trumpet the Hungarian truth and stand on the
foundations of Christian moral incessantly.”33 It was mainly national and
Christian in its drive, which was perfectly suitable for the contemporary
Catholic clerics of Kosice. You could say the two had been completely
interwoven in a „national-Christian” ideology. Already in its first issue the paper
reported on both the 1938 anti-Jewish law extended to cover the Upland, which
was assessed as a „new chapter of saving the nation”,34 and the „order of
Christmas holy masses and church services”.35
To interpret and understand the sources it must be noted that between the two
World Wars the Jewry of Kosice was one of the largest and most important
Aladár R.. Vozáry, „Frankly and openly on the Jewish issue”, Felvidéki Ujság 5 January,1939, p. 5. Cf. Also:
Felvidéki Ujság 1 March, 1939, pp. 1-2; 10 March, 1939, p. 1; 23 March, 1939, p. 5; „The ’Magyar’ nature of
the Jewry of the Upland”, Felvidéki Ujság 6 June, 1942, p. 3.
29
„Address by prelate Barna Tost parish priest at the Kecskemét Lycée. Barna Tost spoke about the history of
twenty years of Czech occupation of Kosice. The Hungarians of Kecskemét gave the prelate-priest of Kosice a
thunderous applause”, Felvidéki Ujság 13 January, 1939, p. 4.
30
„Why is the opinion of Felvidéki Ujság unusual for Hungarians?”, Felvidéki Ujság 30 April, 1940, p. 3.
31
An important figure of Catholic journalism between the two World Wars (cf.
http://lexikon.katolikus.hu/N/Nyisztor.html).
32
„Zoltán Nyisztor: Our enemy – the pseudo-Christian press”, Felvidéki Ujság 26 January, 1942, p. 3.
33
Felvidéki Ujság 25 December, 1938, p. 2.
34
Felvidéki Ujság 25 December, 1938, p. 2.
35
Felvidéki Ujság 25 December, 1938, p. 5.
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Jewish communities in Southern-Slovakia. The Jews of Kosice were actively
involved in city life, they were members and leaders of important societies 36,
Jewish lawyers and doctors were members of the city assembly and many of
them also worked in public administration. The Jewish community boasted of
well-known artists, authors, architects, journalists and athletes. The Jewish
community had become an organic part of the historical development of the city.
It was the period when the Kosice Jewry flourished. To support this statement
with figures, let us say that every fifth person at Kosice was Jewish at the end of
the 1930s (out of 58,09037), and the Israelite denomination was the second most
populous in the town after the Roman Catholic (36,192 or 62.3% at the end of
1938). Five synagogues were in the city, and several factions of Jewry were
present (Orthodox, Neologue, Hassid, status quo ante). At the end of 1938
11,420 (19.7%) Jewish residents lived at Kosice and over 10,000 of them is
supposed to have perished in the Holocaust.38
However, an inflow of settlers in the city39 led to the shortage of apartments. A
journalist of Felvidéki Ujság wrote angrily in October 1942: „Christian
Hungarian families moving to Kosice are forced to live in rented rooms as there
are no apartments. The city housing office is responsible to put an end to the
unhealthy situation of today.” In his opinion, the reason for those unfortunate
conditions is that „the best residential parts of the city are still occupied by Jews.
2-3 persons live in six- or seven-room luxury apartments, and there are a high
number of four- five-room Jewish apartments where nobody is living in most
parts of the year, as the owner has fled abroad, is in prison or is doing
supplementary labour service.”40
All that can be really understood if we are aware that the deprivation of Kosice
Jews started in the same way as in the mother country when Kosice, as a result
of the first Vienna Resolution, was returned to Hungary. Lajos Szabó Protestant
pastor wrote the following about the immediate pre-war period and the first
years of the war: „...the education, Baptism and acceptance of converts of
Jewish origin into the Christian church after their confirmation has become a
new branch of our spiritual service. There were many Jews at Kosice and under
Documents on the dissolution of Jewish societies. Archív mesta Košice, hereinafter AMK, Košice muncip.
mesto 1939–1945, rok 1944, 23 901 – 24 020 inv. č. 125, krab. 182. (See Annex 1).
37
Over 10% of them were deemed poor. Cf. „A thousand able poor are registered in the records of the Kosice
charity office”, Felvidéki Ujság 26 November, 1940, p.7: „According to the latest records, the charity office has
registered 1076 families or 4241 persons as able poor, 766 families or 2069 persons as disabled or female
breadwinner poor, altogether 1842 families or 6310 persons.” Of them, at Christmas 1940 „a hundred Kosice
poor were given presents by Dr István Madarász bishop”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 December, 1940 p. 2. The situation
had changed by 1941 as follows: „The charity office registered 5041 able poor, 1862 female breadwinners and
disabled residents at the end of July”, Felvidéki Ujság 14 August, 1941, p. 4.
38
Since no exact figures are available, we can only rely on assumptions. Cf: „The residents of Kosice by
religious denominations”, Felvidéki Ujság 23 June, 1939, p. 4.
39
In 1941 the population of Kosice grew to 66,647. Cf: Felvidéki Ujság 31 March, 1941, p. 5.
40
Felvidéki Ujság 13 October, 1942,p. 2.
36

10

the Czech era most of them stood by the Hungarians in the years of hardship
when remaining a Hungarian meant the adoption of the bitter fate of a national
minority. But they took it upon themselves and therefore old Kosice-dwellers
honoured and loved them. But not so the majority of those from the mother
country, particularly Arrow Cross Party supporters that were many at Kosice,
the birthplace of their leader Szálasi. Before he took power, Szálasi had visited
Kosice several times and the Arrow Cross Party supporters of Kosice considered
it their main objective to clear the birthplace of their leader from Jews
completely. Thus, fierce agitation was started against the Jews who had nowhere
to flee in 1943. There remained one option to find refuge: to convert to the
religion of Christians. Although the more rational knew it was no real refuge,
Fascism would find, segregate and kill them anyway. But there were many who
hoped the church of Christ would spread its caring wings above them and they
can at least save their lives if no more. Those people asked to be accepted into
the Christian church not out of conviction but because they feared annihilation.
Many Jewish converts applied to be accepted in all Christian churches. In our
church of Kosice there were many who had become followers of the Protestant
faith before Fascism, out of conviction. Most of them had become good
Christians, devout and generous members of the Church...”41
The above memories of the parson are, however, significantly modified by the
image provided in the contemporary press. It was probably due to the high
number and social weight of the Jews at Kosice that all news items relating to or
impacting the Jewry (domestic and foreign but mostly local) were among the
unavoidable topics (e.g. different front reports or local crimes) of Felvidéki
Ujság.42 In that way, the daily favourably assessed and positively reported for its
readers the 2nd anti-Jewish law debated in 1939.43 In January, it reported at

Lajos Szabó, Last straw, Budapest: Magyar Egyháztörténeti Enciklopédia Munkaközösség – Kazinczy Ferenc
Társaság, 2000, 125. Szabó became the pastor of the Kosice Protestant church in August 1942. Cf: Felvidéki
Ujság 17 August, 1942, p. 5.
42
For instance: „The Italian state expropriates Jewish property”, Felvidéki Ujság 16 February, 1939, p. 4;
„Traitor Jews are executed in masses in towns along the Pruth”, Felvidéki Ujság 5 July, 1941, p. 4; „The
business life of the [Czech] Protectorate is completely free of Jews. How the economic power of Jews was
broken on the territory of the Protectorate?”, Felvidéki Ujság 2 September, 1941, p. 4. „The Slovak Jewish
code”, Felvidéki Ujság 19 September, 1941, p. 3. „Visit in a Jewish quarter [i.e. in the Warsaw ghetto] where
citizens of the future Jewish state are learning to work”, Felvidéki Ujság 19 January, 1942, p. 4. János Darvas,
„A walk in Kiev where there are no Jews living”. Felvidéki Ujság 24 January, 1942, p. 7; „The houses of Jews
are marked with a star in Slovakia”, Felvidéki Ujság 17 March, 1942, p. 7. „No more Jews will be on the
territory of Slovakia in a few months’ time. The Slovak minister of the interior on the Jewish issue”, Felvidéki
Ujság 30 March, 1942, p. 6. „Expropriation of Jewish properties completed in Slovakia”, Felvidéki Ujság 28
May, 1942, p. 4. „How do the European Jews live in their newly settled areas in the East?”, Felvidéki Ujság 11
November, 1942, p. 6. „Italian Jews placed in collection camps”, Felvidéki Ujság 1 December, 1943, p. 5.
43
„The whole Hungarian nation uniformly wishes a quick settlement of the Jewish issue. New sections included
in the proposal?”, Felvidéki Ujság 22 January, 1939, pp. 1-2. The article was placed immediately before
reporting on the Sunday schedule of church service. Vitéz Jenő Rácz, „Settling the Jewish issue is for our
existence”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 January, 1939, p. 2. It is quite clear for the retired minister of defence that Jews
are a (separate) race, and „it is not helped by their adopting the sanctity of Baptism, as Baptism cannot change
41

11

length about an address made by Prime Minister Béla Imrédy in Pécs with its
main message of the necessity of the fight against the „Jewish spirit” combining
it with the land policy with its future goal of the expropriation of Jewish
property.44 At Kosice the Christian social strata, particularly the élite or middle
classes expected the new law to facilitate their rise, the significant improvement
of their positions, although they were clearly aware that they were ungrateful to
the local Jewish community without which the leaders of Kosice could not have
preserved the Magyar nature of the city.45 They hoped to achieve the economic
and social restructuring in favour of the so termed „original Christians” by law,
the redistribution of trade licences. It was not by accident that the applications
had to include „the surname and given name, age, religion, nationality and
address of the person wishing to engage in the trade” and in attachment „their
birth certificate (certificate of Baptism), their parents’ birth certificates
(certificates of Baptism) or marriage certificate, finally their potential spouse’s
birth certificate (certificate of Baptism)”.46 It is quite clear that religion was one
of the major criteria of evaluation. The centrally organised „change of the
guard”47 was implemented by the Kosice group of the national Baross Society,
which strived to organise the local Christian society and to protect the business
interests of Christians.48 Christians could regard it as a natural process, since
prince primate Jusztinián Serédi had clearly stated in the debate of the antiJewish law in the Upper House that „pushing back the expansion of the Jewry is

the race”. In his opinion: „We Magyars only can be the masters in the Carpathian Basin”, Felvidéki Ujság 31
January, 1939, pp. 1-2.
44
Felvidéki Ujság 17 January, 1939, pp. 1-2.
45
„Kosice and the Jewish assimilation. Data of József Szent-Ivány on the behaviour of the Upland Jews”,
Felvidéki Ujság 4 February, 1939, p. 5.
46
„Trade licences in the Upland lose effect as of 1 July. New applications must be submitted by 15 March”,
Felvidéki Ujság 8 February, 1939, p. 3
47
Cf. Ferenc Huba, „Economic change of the guard in Kosice trade. Interesting statistics on the trade revision
implemented”, Felvidéki Ujság 23 March, 1940, p. 6. „Attempt to prevent illegally the implementation of the
economic change of the guard in the Kosice District”, Felvidéki Ujság 13 April, 1940, p. 5. „Certified Christian
timber merchants only can participate in the distribution of firewood”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 August, 1940, p. 4.
„The Kosice shoe trade in Christian hands”, Felvidéki Ujság 4 September, 1941, p. 3. „Textiles worth 800,000
Pengő blocked in the Kosice chamber district”, Felvidéki Ujság 17 September, 1941, p. 3. „Jewish merchants
may not sell radios from 1st October”, Felvidéki Ujság 20 September, 1941, p. 7. „The first arms shop of Kosice
in Christian hands opens”, Felvidéki Ujság 16 October, 1941, p. 4. „Christian merchants urge allocation of the
ready-to-wear trade in the hands of Jews”, Felvidéki Ujság 15 November, 1941, p. 6. „Christians only may apply
for wholesale trade licences”, Felvidéki Ujság 21 November, 1941, p. 7. „Christian-owned plants and Christian
merchants only will be provided with goods”, Felvidéki Ujság 19 February, 1942, p. 7. „Wholesale trade
licences for alcoholic drinks to be reviewed. After the review, Jews may not engage in the wholesale trade of
spirits, wine or beer”, Felvidéki Ujság 18 March, 1942, p. 4. „The stocks of Jewish iron merchants not provided
with goods to be taken over by Christian merchants. Iron merchants able to certify their origin will be provided
with goods only”, Felvidéki Ujság 9 May, 1942, p. 5. „The sale of salt must be taken out of the hands of Jews.
Salt constituting a state monopoly is still mainly distributed to consumers via Jewish hands”, Felvidéki Ujság 20
October, 1942, p. 7.
48
„The Kosice group of the Baross Society launched a big fight to protect the interests of Christian merchants
and tradesmen. Over 3000 merchants and tradesmen arrive to the Baross congress in May – the Kosice group
already has 250 members”, Felvidéki Ujság 16 February, 1939, p. 3. „Shop with the members of the Baross
Society”, Felvidéki Ujság 11 June, 1939, p. 11.

12

the just self-defence of the nation”,49 which, in fact, exempted them from having
any pangs of conscience. Not to mention that neighbouring Catholic Slovakia
had implemented similar anti-Jewish laws.50
The anti-Jewish laws in Hungary drove a minute minority of Kosice Jews to get
Baptised. It had immediately triggered disquiet in the Christian society of the
town as it turned out from a March 1939 issue of Felvidéki Ujság. „The topical
issues of our times are the pure race and the Aryan issue – the author wrote –
and they represent a lot of extra work for both clerical and civil authorities. We
talked to the administrative head of the Kosice Roman Catholic parish office and
he advised that over 200 Jews had converted to the Catholic denomination at
Kosice since 1 January, 1939. They had become Catholics following sound and
clean intentions. The converts do not only include bank managers, doctors,
lawyer and clerks but also simple workmen and domestic helps who cannot be
suspected of simulation since settling their religion has not been of importance
for them. In the present situation the Roman Catholic Church received those
candidates with natural and justified reserve. Each and every case is investigated
with more than standard care, they are submitted to the bishop’s office and an
opinion is given about each candidate’s awareness of the faith, the soundness
and cleanliness of his or her intention. To establish the above with due care,
István Cselényi the Pope’s chamberlain and teachers of religious studies Dr Béla
Suhaj, Béla Bartók and Jenő Listyák deal with the spiritual life of individuals
wishing to convert, with their introduction into the precepts of the Roman
Catholic religion, and to establish the soundness and cleanliness of their
intentions – dividing them into smaller homogeneous groups considering their
high numbers. The best result of their work has been the favourable opinions
that have led to an increase of the Catholic congregation at Kosice by 200
followers.”51
Following the adoption of the second anti-Jewish law (3 May, 1939), Felvidéki
Ujság regularly informed its readers on how the Jews were trying to stretch the
law.52 Another topic returning repeatedly was the issue of Christian dupes
helping Jews.53 The Catholic Új Élet, katolikus szociális és világnézeti havi
49

Felvidéki Ujság 16 April, 1939, p. 2.
Felvidéki Ujság 21 April, 1939, p. 6.
51
„Over two hundred Jews have been converted to the Catholic faith since 1 January”, Felvidéki Ujság 10
March, 1939.
52
For instance: Felvidéki Ujság July 5, p.2; 27 April, p. 3; 10 May, p. 4; 31 August, p. 9; 9 November, p. 5; 18
December, 1940, p. 6; 8 March, p. 6; 31 July, p. 3; 25 September, p.5 ; 21 October, p. 7; 27 October, 1941 p. 6;
16 January, p. 6; 23 January, 1942, p.6. „Katalin Karády and Mária sentenced for evading the anti-Jewish law”,
Felvidéki Ujság 15 April, 1942, p. 7. Also: Felvidéki Ujság 19 December, 1942, p. 6.
53
For instance: Felvidéki Ujság 9 July, 1939; 14 September, 1940, p. 9; 21 September, 1940, p.9; 25 October,
1940, p. 7; 12 November, 1940, p. 6; 26 February, 1941, p. 7; 9 May, 1941, p. 6; 19 November, 1941, p. 4; 7
May, 1942; 16 June, 1942, p. 4; 18 June, 1942, p. 4. „Merciless campaign aginst dupes. The executive order of
the ’dupe –law’ has been published.”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 September, 1942, p. 3. „The Jewish issue can only be
settled using the means of race protection. Dupes, the parasites of business life must be eradicated”, Felvidéki
50

13

szemle [new life, Catholic social and ideological monthly review] also edited at
Kosice wrote about it the following: „Thanks to the anti-Jewish law, a new caste
is being born: the caste of screens. The resourceful people of Israel, in fact, are
not much hit by the anti-Jewish laws: using exquisite sense, they always find
their rescuers in certain groups of sporting citizens with the right strings who
rarely refuse being their screen in return for the proper price. Life goes on
undisturbed, Jewish capital still has power, workers are still exploited as in the
past and simple people suffer in the same way – only the caste of screens is
better off. (…) Incapable Magyars feel giddy in the storm of that ’miraculous
transformation’ …, they understand that while the anti-Jewish laws have already
fattened the class of people acting as screens, a simple entrepreneur must suffer
humiliation to obtain a trading licence unless his humour and ambition is
crushed at the beginning between the grindstones of Hungarian bureaucracy.
(…) Hungarian leaders should accept as their greatest duty to give back the
disillusioned, lethargic masses their faith and confidence.”54
Despite all efforts by the authorities, the system of dupes/screens could not be
eradicated till the end. In fact, it was only solved by the deportations in 1944.
That has two explanations. One is that the interests of the Jewry pushed to the
peripheries both socially and existentially55 and the strata of poorer people that
were only bound to the church formally or sociologically had met.56 The other
one is that part of Christians had remained loyal to their Jewish employers to a
certain extent.
Although Catholic clerical leaders never commented on the Jewish issue in the
columns of Felvidéki Ujság, the feelings of bishop Madarász – fully in harmony
with those of the city leaders – are well reflected in an address entitled
„Christian culture and Hungarians” given at the Kazinczy Society at Kosice in
mid-March 1940. According to the bishop: the „Patrona Hungariae” was the
ideal for the Hungarian nation and the example of Hungarian family life. The
beneficial impact of the example can be seen as „an erotic spirit was never
dominant in Hungarian fiction or plays; adultery, divorce or artificially caused
childlessness never occurred in Hungarian families in the old times or occurred
only as an exception”. According to the bishop: „If in that regard we can find
Ujság 25 June, 1943, p. 2. Also: Felvidéki Ujság 14 April, 1944, p.3: „Domestic help sentenced for covering up
for Jews”. „Jewish house and garden properties transferred to dupes’ names to be confiscated”, Felvidéki Ujság
22 May, 1944, p. 4; 8 July, 1944, p. 3.
54
Új Élet [new life], 1940/2 (issue 84, p. 52.
55
E.g. Government Decree No 4800/1939 „on the review and termination of the mandates of Jewish members of
legislative committees and city municipalities”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 August, 1939, p. 4. Cf also the struggle of
Christian merchants united in the extreme right-wing ’Turul Society’ to push the Jews out of the Kosice
Merchants’ Body: Felvidéki Ujság 18 March, 1940, p.3; 1 April, p. 3; 8 April, p. 3; 10 April, p. 4; 10 May, p. 4;
1 June, p. 5; 17 June p. 4; 27 July, 1941 p. 7.
56
„A poor market-stall holder collaborated with a Jew; using his trading licence his associate lacking a licence
purchased waggonloads of apples”, Felvidéki Ujság 27 November, 1940, p. 7.

14

unfortunate perversion, what is more, catastrophic decline in our days, it can be
traced back to the poisoning effect of non-Aryan press, plays and cabarets,
which are totally alien to the Hungarian spirit, to the loose morals of the public
arising as a result and to the decline of the cult of Mary.”57 At that time, nonAryan was obviously Jewish, that had been the cause of the moral decline of
Hungarians. The bishop, of course, failed to notice that the followers of the
Reformed Church had also been objecting to the cult of Mary for several
hundred years.
In the circumstances of the war in Europe goods were restricted in Hungary as
well. For the Felvidéki Ujság it offered another pretext to attack Jews. The daily
continuously informed readers about Jews sentenced for black marketing,
profiteering or stockpiling.58 In September 1942 it published an open letter by
public servants addressed to the mayor: „We request radical measures on the
front of milk! You must prevent Jews from stockpiling milk at double price to
the detriment of Christian families”.59
All that was aggravated by the issue of rumour mongering after the war broke
out between Germany and the Soviet Union (22 June, 1941). „Do not believe the
actors of whispering propaganda – the daily wrote – the traitor Jewish
immigrants having escaped with all their riches and fed on British tits or their
brothers in race, who want to paint horrors for us with fulsome news items
written abroad or by falsifying internal events wilfully. They serve the enemy
and they become the enemy in that way.”60
Declaring Jews to be (the internal) enemy logically led to the demand of
expropriating their property, particularly land. All the more so, since the state –
if it did not want to touch the latifundia – could only use the lands, vineyards
and orchards owned by Jews to mitigate the hunger for land,61 to motivate the

‘It is a Hungarian honour to act bravely and to suffer bravely’’ Address by Dr István Madarász bishop of the
diocese at the Kazinczy Society”, Felvidéki Ujság 18 March, 1940, p. 3.
58
For instance, Felvidéki Ujság 17 May, 1941, p. 5; 28 October, 1941, p. 4; 24 December, 1941, p. 5; 28
February, 1942, p. 8; 13 March, 1942, p. 4; 25 April, 1942, p. 9; 1 July, 1942, p. 6; 15 July, 1942, p. 4; 23 July,
1942, p. 4; 4 September, 1942, p. 6; 18 September, 1942, p. 6; 29 October, 1942, p. 7; 5 May, 1943; 5 June,
1943, p. 9; 19 June, 1943, p. 11.
59
Felvidéki Ujság 25 September, 1942, p. 4.
60
„Rumour mongering - treason!”, Felvidéki Ujság 3 July, 1941, p. 2. Also in Felvidéki Ujság 13 August, 1942,
p. 6; 21 October, 1942, p. 3; 6 November, 1942, p. 4.
61
„Title to 893 major properties owned by Jews have been ordered to be transferred so far”, Felvidéki Ujság 18
December, 1941, p.2. „The expropriation of Jewish-owned vineyards started in Tokaj-Hegyalja”, Felvidéki
Ujság 2 March, 1942, p.6. „Properties owned by Jews blocked. Sequestration refers to vineyards and orchards of
more than 5 acres, and agricultural properties of more than 500 acres”, Felvidéki Ujság 20 March, 1942, p. 3.
„Jews have not always acquired land in the way it is allowed by Christian morals. Address by Dr János Bárczay
secretary of state at Sátoraljaujhely”, Felvidéki Ujság 30 March, 1942, p. 5. „The fate of one-and-one-quarter
million acres of Hungarian land, Felvidéki Ujság 26 May, 1942, p.2. „In Abauj-Torna County 11,000 cadaster
acres to be transferred from Jews to Hungarians”, Felvidéki Ujság 18 July, p. 4 and 20 July, p.7. „New decree by
57

15

destitute to serve on the front! Later on, however, it turned out that most of that
had been just empty talk.62 The members of the Order of Vitez [valiant], mainly
the officers had been the actual beneficiaries.63 It is clearly seen from the
following: 20,000 acres had been set aside for „war veteran farmers with many
children” (they were granted areas of less than 5 acres) while the Seat of the
Vitez received 130,000 acres to award homesteads of 5-100 acres to officers and
soldiers of the Vitez.64
Following the deprivation of rights and property as well as expulsion from social
life,65 the conflict was transformed into a kind of existential struggle of „selfdefence” for an internal „lebensraum”. It was expressed by Péter Schell, sheriff
of Abaúj-Torna County66: „When we want to push the Jews out of economic life
– he said at a meeting of the Party of Hungarian Life – it does not mean hate or
anti-Semitism. It means self-defence we have to take to protect our own
interests. If we do not want to be destroyed, we must adopt this fight and finish
it completely. (…) We, Christians have major responsibilities regarding the
Jewish issue so that we can fill the place of Jews in the positions of the
economy. It, however, does not mean that getting ahead should be easier for us
or we should get more profit with less work; it means we must work, go without
[goods] and learn so that we could get on life and succeed in places where the
Jews could get on. The anti-Jewish laws cannot be options for Christians to
make money without work. We must educate our youth to respect and love the
occupation of merchants and artisans.”67

the minister of agriculture grants over 700,000 cadaster acres of Jewish-owned land to the simple men”,
Felvidéki Ujság 16 September, 1942, p. 5.
62
„Fifteen major homesteads in Abaúj owned by Jews to be let by lease to Christian farmers. Candidates with
proper qualifications and having capital should submit bids to the economy supervisor of the county”, Felvidéki
Ujság 30 January, 1943, p. 3. „Another 13,000 acres of Jewish properties to be granted to families with many
children”, Felvidéki Ujság 21 April, 1943, p. 3. „All Jewish properties to be used urgently. Decree published on
grants of land to war heroes and their male descendants”, Felvidéki Ujság 2 September, 1943, p. 3. „Handing
over Jewish properties of less than 5 acres started in Abauj-Torna County. The County Cooperative for Public
Good granted land to 48 families in 26 settlements”, Felvidéki Ujság 1 December, 1943, p. 7.
63
„Jewish properties larger than five cadastral acres but less than 100 acres and vineyards of less than 20 acres to
be granted to Hungarian Vitez”, Felvidéki Ujság 26 September, 1942, p. 2. Also, Felvidéki Ujság 10 October,
1942, p. 2; 27 November, p. 2. „The Vitez plots created from Jewish properties in Abauj-Torna County are
waiting for the new vitez [valiants] of World War II”, Felvidéki Ujság 23 December, 1943, p. 6.
64
„The distribution of expropriated Jewish properties”, Felvidéki Ujság 28 June, 1943, p. 1.
65
Early in November 1942 an unknown correspondent was indignant „why is it that there are still 75% Jews
among the telephone subscribers at Kosice, when the new Christian companies cannot get a telephone?”,
Felvidéki Ujság 6 November, 1942, p. 4. See also „The Jewish dental technicians of Kosice are banned as of
today”, Felvidéki Ujság 29 September, 1942, p. 5.
66
„The Führer awarded the cross of merit of the Order of the German Eagle to vitez baron Péter Schell sheriff”,
Felvidéki Ujság 17 September, 1943, p. 2.
67
„Sheriff Péter Schell spoke about topical Hungarian issues at the party meeting held at Szikszó”, Felvidéki
Ujság 17 March, 1942, p.3.See also „Hungarians are not led by hate in the Jewish issue but by self-defence
Address by István Boda college professor on the scientific and practical implications of the Jewish issue”,
Felvidéki Ujság 20 April, 1942, p. 4.

16

As the persecution of Jews strengthened in Slovakia, the issue of Slovak Jews
fleeing was given more and more attention in Felvidéki Ujság. It represented an
increased workload for the Kosice police in addition to a series of crimes and the
strict control of the local Jewry.68 With respect to the deportation of Slovakian
Jews, the daily later wrote „Jews will be taken to concentration camps where
they will mainly be employed as joiners and tailors as they are most suited to
those two occupations.”69
In this context, the opinion of Slovak clericals is really telling. It was initially
published in Katolické Noviny and later in Felvidéki Ujság. It can be assumed
that it indirectly also expressed the opinion of the leaders of Catholic (and other
Christian) denominations at Kosice.70
„Regarding anti-Jewish measures, the stance of Catholic ecclesiastical leaders
has been frequently discussed recently. Clericals have been criticised for
allowing masses of Jews to be Baptised and for lobbying on their behalf at the
government. From the other side it was said clericals had adopted the
government’s measures regarding the issue of removing Jews from public life
and the implementation of the immigration of Jews from Slovakia – voices were
heard saying how our bishops and priests could tolerate such inhuman acts.
Those rumours contradicting each other have driven responsible ecclesiastical
leaders to publish the following:
1. Catholic priests did not at all Baptise Jews in masses, although the church
may not reject anybody requesting Baptism sincerely, as the Lord Christ has
established his church for all nations and all people. It is also true a person may
only be Baptised if he/she wants it sincerely from an inner conviction. To be
assured in that regard, the church requires a length of preparatory period for
everybody who wants to be Baptised that must be from three to ten months long
subject to the knowledge and religiousness of the candidates. Even after that
period a person may only be Baptised with the licence of the Bishop’s Office.
We have to emphasise the church alone has the right to assess who can be
Baptised and who must be rejected from embracing Christianity. The church

68

Cf Felvidéki Ujság 1942, 21 March, p.5; 17 April, p.2 and p.6; 18 April , p.5; 23 april, p.3; 24 June, p.2 and
p.6;17 September, p.3; 22 September, p.4; 23 September, p.5; 24 September, p.3; 3 October, p.4; 20 October,
p.7;30 October, p.11; 24 December, p.6; 1943, 12 January, p.5; 10 March, p.6; 11 March, p.4; 16 March, p.6; 24
April, p.4 and p. 9; 25 May, p.3; 7 June, p.6; 16 July, p.5; 17 July, p.6; 3 August, p.5; 14 August, p.3; 14
September p.7; 15 September, p.5; 1 October, p.4; 3 November, p.6; 25 November, p.6; 26 November, p.6; 30
November, p.4; 11 December, p.11; 30 December, p.7; 1944, 12 January, p.3; 11 February, p.7; 15 February,
p.6; 17 February, p.6.
69
„The deportation of Slovakian Jews”, Felvidéki Ujság 21 May, 1942, p.7; „60,000 Jews have been deported
from Slovakia so far. The evolution and settlement of the Jewish issue in Slovakia. Statement by Dr Antal Vašek
senior councillor to foreign correspondents”, Felvidéki Ujság 4 November, 1942, p.6.
70
This is supported by the fact that during the deportations, in line with legal provisions, the Universal Reformed
Convent ordered the literary works by Jewish authors to be scrapped. Felvidéki Ujság 1 June, 1944, p.5.

17

defended that exceptional right in the past in the most difficult circumstances
and it would not be limited in that regard in the future, either.
2. The same defines the stance of the Catholic church regarding the conversion
of Jews. Some Jews had been Baptised at a time when it had offered no
advantages for them, on the contrary, the Jews and sometimes even state
administration had persecuted them for it. We regard those Jews to be our
followers just like the others and we are obliged to accept responsibility for
them. We do mediate in the interest of such converted Jews that fulfil their
religious responsibilities.
3. As regarding other Jews and the relevant measures taken, our opinion is the
following:
The tragedy of the Jewish nation is that it did not acknowledge the Saviour; on
the contrary, it crucified Him. The Saviour himself shed tears for the obstinacy
of the Jewish people and prophesied their punishment and dispersal all over the
world.
That did occur after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews have been living
in smaller and larger groups among the sons of other nations all over the world
for over two thousand years. During that long time, they have not become
assimilated into the other nations. They have never changed their antagonistic
approach to Christianity; on the contrary, Jews took part in the bloody
persecution of Christians in Russia and Spain. That is the reason why the nations
sometimes give rise to their bitterness against the Jewry using extreme rigor and
cruelty that is contrary to Christian morals. The influence of Jews has been
harmful in our case, too. Within a short time, they have acquired almost all our
businesses and finances to the detriment of our nation. They have had a
damaging impact on our nation not only economically but also culturally and
morally.
The church, therefore, cannot make any objections against the legal measures of
the state aiming to terminate the damaging impact of the Jews.
On the other hand, it must not be forgotten regarding the settlement of the
Jewish issue that Jews are also humans and they must be treated in a humane
way. Special care must be taken not to offend the prevailing law and not to
violate the laws of nature and God. Every man has a natural right to acquire
private property with honest work and to enjoy it in accordance with the
principles of Christian ethics. It is every man’s natural right to establish a
family. And if he has decided in favour of a family life, he does not only have to
fulfil the obligations of family life but he can also enjoy its rights in accordance
with Christianity. We considered it necessary to declare the above (…), so that
the Catholic community should also learn the opinion of responsible
ecclesiastical groups.”71
„An interesting opinion of Slovak Catholic ecclesiastical groups on the Jewish issue, ‘The church may not
have any objections against the legal measures taken by the state”, Felvidéki Ujság 1 May, 1942, p.4.
71

18

In line with the above, an initiative of the mayor in March 1942 (7958/1942) has
shed interesting light on the Christian spirit of city administration implementing
or taking a series of anti-Jewish measures72. Funnily, it was not reported in
Felvidéki Ujság but in Katolikus Tudósító [catholic reporter] proving, in effect,
that political and ecclesiastical areas at Kosice were mixed and overlapping at
that time.
„An appeal to the citizens of Kosice!
Let us stop in the turmoil of flying life for a short meditation on Good Friday,
the day when the Saviour of the world died on the cross, the 3rd of April of this
year at 3 o’clock p.m. – every kind of manual or spiritual work should stop in
the offices, workshops, shops, factories and plants as well as at home in the
households. – With a short, one-minute repentance, with our hearts raised, let us
remember and meditate on the Greatest, the Holiest, the Saviour of the world
who sacrificed his life and shed his blood for us; in whose hands we are for all
times; who is the origin of all good, happiness, power and glory. – Let us make
this elevating sacrifice and let us place it under the cross to the Holiest Sacrifice!
Kassa, 10 March, 1942
Dr Sándor Pohl, mayor in his own hands”73
The spirit of the times is also illustrated by the „New Year greetings” of 1943 by
prelate-parish priest Barna Tost: „Love your home country and in the New Year
be the advocates of a uniform internal front without complaints. Our superiors in
the church and the lay world urge this on every occasion! I cannot forget the
charming example of a ten-year old German boy who had come to Pest for
vacations and when he was first offered coffee, cake, butter, fruit and biscuits
for breakfast, he said thank you modestly but he only wanted a glass of milk
with bread because ’the Leader also has that for breakfast’. That discipline, that
endurance of the war situation without complaint, that we must be satisfied with
what we have for the sake of our country and not to complain for every trifle,
that is the real love of your country. Start the New Year in the holy name of
Jesus”74

For instance, „The mandate of Jewish members of the municipality was terminated at Kosice too”, Felvidéki
Ujság 15 January, p.2. The measure personally affected Dr Béla Halmi and Dr Ármin Wirkmann. Dr Sándor
Brükk, László Rónai and Pál Vende were called upon to verify within 60 days they are not Jews. „The mandate
of Jewish members of Kosice municipality was finally terminated. The Public Administration Court rejected the
complaints submitted against the decision of the certification committee”, Felvidéki Ujság 2 May, 1942, p.10.
There is something surrealistic in what care was taken to make everything according to law and the rules while
anti-Jewish measures followed each other. It can be assumed that was exactly what had left the law abiding and
law respecting Jewry totally unprotected and at the mercy of the processes.
73
Kassai Katolikus Tudósító [kosice catholic rporter], Volume XXII, issue 3, 7 March, 1942. március, 7.
74
Kassai Katolikus Tudósító Volume XXIII, issue 1, 2 January, 1943.
72

19

Looking back many decades later and in the knowledge of the events of those
times it is really telling that a leading personality of the church of a ripe age75 set
a German boy idolising and following chancellor Adolf Hitler in everything as
an example for his Catholic readers/followers!
An article entitled „In the drift of ideologies” by István Madarász the bishop of
Kosice, in which he warned about the danger of atheism, was in all probability
related to the tragedy of the 2nd Hungarian army at the Don River that had
become practically impossible to conceal by that time.76 His circular for Lent, in
which he discussed patriotism and faith, is also telling: „Real patriotism means
you are willing to make a sacrifice”.77 Those articles indicate the uncertainty and
anguish78 that had started to take control of Kosice society.79 The issue of the
necessity of an „internal front” had been in focus. All the more so, as bad news
arrived from the different fronts: the Axis Powers had lost North Africa,80 the
Allied Forces landed in Sicily in July, Mussolini resigned and then Italy
capitulated (September, 1943) and declared war on Germany (October). Not to
mention that following the lost tank battle at Kursk (July 1943) the Soviet troops
were pushing back the Germans to the West incessantly. 81 In such circumstances
Kosice inaugurated the Altar of Patriotism and Sacrifice, where donations were
collected weekly. It was both a church and political event with the bishop of the
diocese and the sheriff present under the signs of the cross and the tin hat.82 At
the same time, Hungary had to face the news that the tri-lateral conference in
Moscow had decided to continue the war until unconditional capitulation so that
Fascism should be annihilated.83 To which Germany, naturally, responded by
perseverance till the end.84 Hungary did not really perceive that its playing field
had ceased to exist. It is proved by a remark by Prime Minister Miklós Kállay
75

He celebrated 25th anniversary of being the parish priest at the time. Cf, Kassai Katolikus Tudósító Volume
XXIII, issue 2, 2-7 February, 1943.
76
Felvidéki Ujság 20 February, 1943, p.3.
77
Felvidéki Ujság 10 March, 1943, p.3.
78
All that could be felt nation-wide as well. Cf, „Jusztinián Serédi: Promulgate the historical merits and truth of
the Hungarian nation everywhere! The sermon of the Cardinal Prince Primate at the Esztergom Basilica on
Assumption Day”, Felvidéki Ujság 16 August, 1943, p.3; „László Ravasz Reformed bishop preached on Sunday
about war, peace and the threat against Budapest. ‘Christ’s Chuch raises its voice for peace and conciliation”,
op.cit, p.4. „The Prince Primate called on foreign Catholics not to be indifferent to the fate of Hungary”,
Felvidéki Ujság 13 December, 1943, p.3.
79
„Hungarians will defend the stronghold of Kosice with all their strength also in the future”, Felvidéki Ujság
20 September, 1943, p.3. „Kosice has been and will be Magyar”, said Prime Minister Kállay; Felvidéki Ujság 11
November, 1943, p.1. Kenő Ghyczy, „European peace may not be built on the ruins of the small nations”,
Felvidéki Ujság 27 November, 1943, p.3.
80
„In Berlin, the Tunis campaign executed to gain strategic time is considered to be finished”, Felvidéki Ujság 8
May, 1943.
81
Felvidéki Ujság termed continuous retreat as „seceding manoeuvres”
82
Felvidéki Ujság 13 June, 1943,p. 3.
83
Felvidéki Ujság 2 November, 1943, p.1.
84
„No matter how long the war takes, Germany will not capitulate. The address of Chancellor Hitler in Munich
to the German nation”, Felvidéki Ujság 9 November, 1943, p.1. „Hitler: this war forced on us can only be ended
in victory”, Felvidéki Ujság 30 November, 1943, p.1.

20

foreshadowing the catastrophe to come, according to which in the Carpathian
Basin „the Magyar state alone has been able to provide lasting peace and
security”.85
Pastor Lajos Szabó quoted earlier wrote the following in 1943 relating to the
converts (by the way, they were not mentioned either in Katolikus Tudósító or
Felvidéki Ujság): „In 1943 many Jewish candidates for Baptism applied to us.
For the time being, we treated them as required by the superior authority, i.e.
they were accepted into the church after six months of preparation. Later on,
when rough anti-Jewish decrees came one after the other, we shortened that
preparatory period from six months to six weeks, or sometimes, to a few days,
since it was obvious the only goal there was not the education of the faith but
saving souls from the Fascist Antichrist. (…) They were all intelligent people,
most of them merchants or clerks and also people forced into retirement. They
listened carefully; they never debated over the truths of faith as they knew all
too well that conversion to a new faith is the last straw. You have to take that,
maybe, maybe. … There was one pastor of Jewish origin among us, Lajos
Egressy, teacher of religious studies. (…) But in that year he was pestered, too,
different comradely societies and many of his former students harassed him. Not
one teenage student at the commercial college refused attendance at religious
classes saying that a Jew should not teach them the Christian faith. We used all
our authority and power to stand by him against the Turul-follower youth and
the confused church members. Egressy remained a member of the body of
Protestant pastors of Kosice until the Arrow Cross Party supporters took
control.”86
At the beginning of 1944, fear could be easily perceived in the Hungarian
society looking for reasons and explanations for the events getting worse and
worse for them. In his address at Lent, Kosice bishop Madarász was trying to
explain to the Catholic followers „we are suffering because we have banished
Christ from all walks of our life”87; which sounds fairly anachronistic in a city
identifying itself as „Christian” having been offered to the Heart of Jesus, where
churches enjoyed all kinds of privileges. The bishop, of course, did not say a
word about the Jewry. It looks from the sources as if the Catholic church at
Kosice had lived in a totally different society from the one toiling on the final
solution of the „Jewish issue”.

The fate of the Kosice Jewry after the German occupation of Hungary
85

Felvidéki Ujság 8 November, 1943, p.3.
Lajos Szabó, op. cit., 126. The memoirs of the pastor would be worth comparing to contemporary archive
sources!
87
Felvidéki Ujság 3 February, 1944.
86

21

After the German occupation on 19 March, 1944 Felvidéki Ujság almost had no
issues without reports on the stringency measures affecting the Jewry. As if a
dam had been broken over. News items relating to Jews had overwritten
everything else for the daily; they almost fill some issues.88 On the other hand, it
is also clear that there was complete understanding between the German military
and the Hungarian authorities: „…the Germans collected a million Pengős of
bail from Kosice Jews, …the stocks of some Kosice shops were appropriated,
…Jewish persons were arrested and …the apartments of those persons were
emptied and appropriated. (…) the measures by the German authorities of public
security were applied at all times in agreement with the Hungarian government
authorities and are to be considered as security measures to protect public
security. (…) All citizens of the state … should keep in mind all the time that
they must take full responsibility for what they say. (…) The German army
staying in Hungary and the German organisation of public security serves
Hungarian interests as well and they fight for the Hungarian future in the same
way as our soldiers fighting on the front …”89
Exemptions were stopped,90 and the public of Kosice supported „devotedly in
the implementation of its goals”,91 and the municipality of the city „assured the
Sztójay government of its enthusiastic confidence”.92 The radical solution of the
Jewish issue was expected of it.93 It is telling that in the period of April-June
1944 – while a number of reports were published on Jews – not a word was said
about the deportations and transports, nor was there any mention of the
circumstances the Kosice Jews found themselves in in the ghetto established in
the brick factory. The silence of the representatives of the Catholic church about
the facts and keeping silence in general is most striking. The daily only
published an address full of pathos by Kosice bishop István Madarász on the
birthday of the Governor.94 Although more and more decrees were published of
which the church could not only have an opportunity to object but it should have
felt obliged to do so.

88

Felvidéki Ujság 1944, 27 March, p.2; 29 March, p.1; 30 March; 31 March; 3 April; 11 April; 17 April.
„Rumours and responsibility”, Felvidéki Ujság 8 April, 1944, p.3.
90
„The dependents of Jewish ’lost’ are obliged to wear the yellow star”, Felvidéki Ujság 13 April, 1944, p.2.
„The terms ’war widow’ and ’war orphan’ only apply to the war dead recognised in the register. Certificates of
’exemption’ by themselves will not exempt Jews from the obligation to wear the yellow star”, Felvidéki Ujság
20 April, 1944, p.2.
91
Felvidéki Ujság 14 April, 1944, p.3.
92
Felvidéki Ujság 18 April, 1944, p.1.
93
„György Oláh’s Kosice report on the political situation. The real great work of reforms will only start now
after the Jewish issue has been liquidated”, Felvidéki Ujság 22 April, 1944, p.3. „Vitez Andor Jaross’ satement:
The government will terminate the parasite role of the Jewry once and for all”, Felvidéki Ujság 25 April, 1944.,
p.1; László Baky secretary of state: All Jews will be deported from this country”, Felvidéki Ujság 17 May,
1944, pp. 1-3.
94
Felvidéki Ujság 19 June, 1944, p. 3.
89

22

In the April issue of Kassai Katolikus Tudósító Mátyás P. Fehér, librarian to the
bishop expresses his opinion unambiguously in his paper „Triumphant life”:
„The liberals of the past century nailed the holiest ideals onto a wall of shame.
They made a mockery of God’s tomb; Christianity became but a tolerated
servant in its own home and had to endure to be shut into a tomb in the name of
enlightenment and progress as the enemy of all progress and culture. The
Christian spirit was suffering in parliaments and university departments as
Cinderella, because it was not even allowed to remember its old glory for
consolation. And now, a century later, when the ashes of the henchmen of the
past are gone with the wind in all directions, it looks as dawn was near. The
present life of this generation is really the dawn of Easter. In effect, a long
period of torpor has been replaced by self-conscious will to be brave. The
Christian spirit has risen, or rather it has woken up, because ’the girl is not dead,
it is simply asleep’. As some giant that has shaken off the chains of small
unscrupulous climbers and is stretching himself after a deep slumber it starts for
life. Now we can see the astonishment of the gravediggers of Christianity. We
have a chance to watch the bewilderment of those having crucified Life. Faith
that has been thought to be dead and done with for ever appears among us. It is
here now and it demands its right and it can stamp its feet if it finds unbelieving
faces.”95 The text is quite surrealistic. It seems as if Christianity were to achieve
its well-deserved freedom after a long period of suffering. As if the whole
Horthy era had not been permeated with the idea of nationalism and
Christianity!
In April 1944 the Kosice captain’s office of the Hungarian Royal Police
published more and more decrees affecting and limiting the free movement of
Jews at Kosice. They called attention on 17 April that all Jews should wear the
sign of segregation on a place easily seen and not only in public spaces but
always and everywhere if they leave their apartments. Those violating the
decrees were strictly punished. „...the Police Captain will use the measure of
internment on those that collaborate in hiding any belongings of Jewish origin
whether they are Christians or individuals of the Jewish race. (…) Jewish
women are particularly clever in covering the yellow star: with books, music
notes but especially with ’modern’ huge handbags …”96 The following day,
Felvidéki Ujság reported several Kosice residents were fined for not wearing the
yellow star.97 The fine was 300 or 400 Pengős, or if it was not paid, a
confinement of 20-30 days. Later not wearing the yellow start resulted in even
harder consequences; violators were interned by the police.

95

Kassai Katolikus Tudósító Volume XXIV, issue 2, 1-2 April, 1944.
Felvidéki Ujság 17 April, 1944, p.3.
97
Felvidéki Ujság 18 April, 1944, p.5.
96

23

In accordance with a decree published on 21 April, 1944, Jews were banned
from being in the streets of the city from 7 p.m. till 6 a.m. Everybody that
violated the decree was interned except for those that were involved in
supplementary service to the civil defence.98 Jews were obliged to stay at home
all day and wait for the committee assigned to evict them. Those that were not
found at home were deemed deserters and a warrant was issued against them.
Evicted Jews were obliged to report to the acceptance committee operating on
the territory of the brick factory within two hours.99 Otherwise they were also
deemed deserters and were interned. The only exceptions were Jews evicted
after 7 p.m. They had to report next morning. „As of today, Jews may not stay or
walk in the streets. The only exemption is if they have a verified vitally urgent
business.”100
Less than a week later, from 27 April, 1944, in accordance with a decree of the
minister of the interior, Jewish residents were banned from staying in the city.
„As of 27 April of this year, Jewish persons may not stay on the territory of the
city of Kosice except for the brick factory. (…) The authorities will immediately
arrest and intern Jews found on the territory of the city after the above date.
Exceptions are persons that have been left in their apartments and recorded in a
special register by the relevant police or gendarme patrol. All other Jews are
obliged to report to the acceptance committee of the brick factory on the same
day from 17 to 19 hours. Jews found on the territory of the city after that time
will be immediately arrested and interned by the authorities.”101 No exemption
was granted to the Jewish war widows and war orphans of World War I or Jews
exempted for defence. They were also obliged to report in the brick factory with
50 kgs of luggage allowed and food sufficient for 15 days.102 Exempted were
those possessing certificates signed by the head of police or the three-member
committee; in addition, the members of the Jewish Council, their relatives and
those left in certain institutions by register.
The „isolation” was welcomed and assessed very positively by Felvidéki Ujság
of the „Christian spirit”: „We can certainly say that the Jews had been the cause
of everything being so expensive. As soon as they had been placed under arrest,
the prices imediately started to move down. (…) Even dairy products ceased to
be in shortage. On the contrary, supply seems larger than demand. (…) The
poisonous impact of the Jews on our economic life will cease to exist almost
from one day to the next. The role of Jews in driving prices upwards had a
98

Felvidéki Ujság 21 April, 1944, p.5.
CF, Annex 3.
100
Felvidéki Ujság 24 April, 1944,p. 3.
101
Felvidéki Ujság 27 April, 1944, p.2.
102
Felvidéki Ujság 28 April, 1944, p.3.
99

24

double goal: to deprive the Christian masses of the basic foodstuffs and prime
necessities to demoralise in that way the people of the state, to incite
dissatisfaction among the Christian masses and the damage the buying value of
the Pengő. The Jews could exert their harmful influence by means of their
disproportionately better economic positions. That had to be terminated to make
them impossible.”103
The „isolation”, of course, led to new problems, that were continuously reported
in the following weeks: partly, hidden Jewish property,104 and partly the deserted
Jewish apartments. Those were regularly looted;105 on the other hand, the city
administration seemed to be unable to solve their allocation.106
At the same time the following questions were raised, what will happen to those
married into Jewish families?”107 „who of a mixed race is deemed Jewish and
who is not Jewish?”.108 It shows what dramatic situations had arisen in reality
for the families to face.
Desertions, of course, became more numerous as ghettoization started. The Jews
having arrived from the territory of Slovakia earlier – in the course of 1942-43 –
tried to return after Hungary had been occupied by the Germans. Felvidéki
Ujság reported almost daily about arresting Jews on the Slovak-Hungarian
border that wanted to flee to Slovakia without any passports but with ’twohundred-Pengő worth’ certificates of Baptism – according to the daily.109 The
Jews caught were handed over to the police. There were some that – according
to the daily – „had found Christians with guts”, who had pretended to hide them
but had informed the police secretly.
The „Csatáry file” and ghettoization110
„Jews have been isolated, prices are dropping.”, Felvidéki Ujság 27 April, 1944, p.2. See also „Südost Echo
on the settlement of the Jewish issue in Hungary”, Felvidéki Ujság 5 May, 1944, p.2. According to Otto Braun,
the chairman of the Hungarian Committee of the Imperial Wholesale and Foreign Trade Economic Team,
„Hungary is now going to create its really European economic life”
104
Felvidéki Ujság 1944, 27 April, p.6; 28 April,, pp.3-4; 29 April,, p.3; 1 May, p.3 and p.8; 3 May, p.5; 4 May,
p.5; 5 May, p.4; 20 May, p.2 and p.9; 24 May,, p.2; 25 May, pp.3-4; 30 May, p.3; 13 June, p.5; 24 June, p.7; 6
July, p.6; 7 July, p.6; 20 July, p.7; 27 July, p.6; 17 August, p.7; 30 August, p.4.
105
Felvidéki Ujság 1944, 29 April, p.9; 20 June, p.6; 28 June, p.5; 3 July, pp.5-6; 5 August, p.6; 8 August, p.4.
106
Felvidéki Ujság 1944, 29 April, p.6; 1 May, p.3; 4 May, p.3 and p.5; 10 May, p.4; 13 May, p.4; 10 June, p.7;
22 June, p.3; 28 June, p.3.
107
Felvidéki Ujság 1 May,1944, p.5.
108
Felvidéki Ujság 4 May,1944, p.2.
109
Felvidéki Ujság 1944, 26 April, p.5; 29 April, p.4; 5 May, p.6; 11 May, p.4; 12 May, p.6. A Polish woman
fled from Poland to Slovakia and from there to Hungary, but wanted to return to Slovakia after Hungary had
been occupied by the Germans. See also, Felvidéki Ujság 26 May, 1944, p.4; 13 July, 1944, p.4.
110
Cf, Zoltán Balassa, „László Csatáry – a cold-hearted Kosice police officer
(www.felvidek.ma/nezopont/publicisztika/33980-egy-koszivu-kassai-rendortiszt); Ádám Gellért, „The 1944
Kosice deportations”, Élet és Irodalom [life and literature] Volume 66, issue 33, 17 August, 2012.
103

25

László Csatáry as ghetto commander and assistant police clerk published an
announcement on 1 May, 1944111 listing the streets constituting the Kosice
ghetto. In addition, he called on residents „of the Christian race” living on the
territory of the ghetto to move out without delay, because the command of the
ghetto will not guarantee their personal safety and assets. He ordered, „persons
of the Christian race living on the territory of the ghetto may not mix with
individuals of the Jewish race”, the shops, tradesmen and plants may not serve
Jews, nobody is allowed to accept Jews in their apartments nor can they be
given foodstuffs; Jews may not stay in the streets of the ghetto and may only
open the windows of their apartments opening onto the courtyard. Christians
may directly turn to the ghetto command with requests, but Jews may only do so
via the Jewish Council.
The announcement was published on posters in the streets and also in the press.
It was Csatáry who also organised the relocation of the residents of the ghetto to
the brick factory.
In addition to deserters, Jews reporting at the brick factory late were also
interned. Those reporting late were escorted back to the police where they were
arrested.
The Christians living on the territory of the ghetto had to report at the public
administration department of the City Hall, where they were given free-ofcharge application forms to requisition apartments. The relevant authorities
warned the residents remaining in the ghetto they would be treated in the same
way as the Jews living there.112 Probably not without any reason, rumours
started that the members of the committee taking inventories in the closed
Jewish apartments „stole goods”, because people saw the clerks taking away
things in their briefcases, although those were „only taken to the City Hall”. The
author of the article fiercely attacked the originators of such fabrications:
„hiding in the crowd, they arouse suspicion and criticise cowardly using the
most dishonourable means. Those who are capable of that are not Magyar
people. They would deserve receiving the same treatment as the Jews.”113
Inventory taking was performed by a clerk of the housing department, an
assistant clerk and a teacher appointed to inventory taking. The inventory
committee first had a look round the apartment, and then usually settled in the
middle room. As if they had known where to look for them, they took out the
111

Felvidéki Ujság 3 May, 1944, p.2. László Csatáry is named at the bottom of the announcement as responsible
editor, assistant clerk to the police and ghetto commander.
112
Felvidéki Ujság 29 April, 1944, p.6.
113
Felvidéki Ujság 17 May, 1944, p.5.

26

keys to boxes and chests of drawers from a small wall-cabinet, opened them and
took inventory of everything.114 Clothes, porcelain, Persian rugs, cutlery; the
pictures were taken off the walls and they selected those they wanted to take to
the City Hall.115
As the Jewish merchants of Kosice were collected in the brick factory, about
300 shops remained unmanaged.116 Many of them were food stores where
perishable goods were stored. The trade authority of Kosice and the public
supplies office made efforts to allocate perishable goods to Christian merchants,
and a few days later the collection of perishable goods from Jewish shops was
started. „Christian merchants that wish to obtain such goods may take over
foodstuffs stockpiled in Jewish shops against cash payment”, the daily wrote.117
270 minor or major plants were closed down in the city. „Since their Jewish
owners had left, work in those plants had come to a halt for the time being. As a
result, many Christian workers had been temporarily left without work. The
trade authority of the city of Kosice is now making efforts to allot Christians
both the closed down shops and the Jewish plants”, Felvidéki Ujság 118wrote.
Over six thousand people from Kosice and its neighbourhood had applied to
take over the Jewish industrial plants and shops at Kosice by the end of April
1944.119 The trade authority realised the number of applications was so high that
only a few of them could be settled favourably, therefore it suspended the
evaluation of the applications. It was also supported by a decree of the minister
ordering inventories to be taken in the shops confiscated from Jews. „They may
not be transferred or allocated to Christians.”120 In the same way, you could not
apply for a trading licence and for a closed down Jewish shop at the same time.
A commentary published in Felvidéki Ujság is a good illustration of the
situation: The title is „Everybody feels a merchant at Kosice”. The author called
attention that people lacking expertise and proper capital should not apply for
the closed down Jewish plants, since all and sundry are submitting claims for
shops and plants confiscated from the Jews. „However, it is not enough if you
114

Report on the hand-over of the moveables of Jewish apartments. Inventory: remaining for the Germans.
AMK, Košice muncip. mesto 1939-1945, rok 1944, inv. č. 125, krab. 177. (Cf, Annex 2).
115
„Inventory taking in a Kosice Jewish apartment”, Felvidéki Ujság 17 May, 1944, p. 5.
116
Felvidéki Ujság 29 April, 1944, p.8. Tenders announced for the pharmacies owned by Jews at Kosice. Three
such pharmacies were operating: Megváltó [saviour], Páduai Szent Antal [saint antal of padova] and Rákóczi.
Cf. Felvidéki Ujság 19 July, 1944, p.3.
117
Felvidéki Ujság 5 May, 1944, p.3.
118
Felvidéki Ujság 29 April, 1944, p.8.
119
Felvidéki Ujság 29 April, 1944, p.8.
120
Felvidéki Ujság 3 May, 1944, p.6. See also, „According to official information, no Jewish businesses, stocks
or shops may be applied for for the time being. Business managers will not be appointed, either, for some time.”,
Felvidéki Ujság 13 May, 1944, p.2. „Jewish shops with furniture and stocks may not be claimed. War veterans
are to be granted the stocks of Jewish businesses”, Felvidéki Ujság 1 June, 1944, p.2; „Information by the
Merchants’ Association regarding claims for Jewish shops”, Felvidéki Ujság 28 June, 1944, p.5.

27

’spoke of the stinking Jews’ in the past; you need much more than that: expertise
and money. (…) Because lacking those two criteria the allotment to Christians
without expertise and capital would become a wasted gift to the nation. We must
not breed new drones because we may trigger an economic crisis by such a rush
step that could only be survived and corrected with grave difficulties.” The
author of the article (Gyula Vértes) remarked many people submitting
applications „have never been seen working in earnest”, people that „belong to
the social class that turns up where one can obtain something easily, possibly
without work”.121
„Kosice became sadly famous for organising the first ghetto in Hungary there”,
wrote Lajos Szabó.122 Ten thousand Jews from Kosice and the neighbourhood
were crowded together in the old brick factory of the town under terrible
conditions. Most of them were either very old or very young as men had been
selected previously and taken to the front for labour service. There was not
enough water at the factory and even the most basic facilities were missing.
At the time the organisation of the Hungarian National Socialist Party in AbaújTorna County and Kosice found it necessary to turn to the Hungarian society of
the city of Kosice with the following appeal: „Brothers! The first step has been
taken! Jews, our greatest enemies are in the ghetto! We want social justice, a
new spirit free of Judaism! We have expressed our no-confidence with the
representatives of the old regime and we maintain our no-confidence
unchanged! National Socialist leaders to the foreground! Line up under the flag
of the Hungarian National Socialist Party! Perseverance!” The time for double
dealing is over; the time is over „for some to look backwards in new masks.
Everybody must understand that the first very important step will have to be
followed by determined and firm steps to create a true Hungarian National
Socialist work-state. Those who are in the way will disappear from Hungarian
life.”123
In the brick factory „Christian Jews were given a separate barrack, number six.
The difference was that a priest visited them every day, they could confess and
receive the Holy Communion”, wrote Márta Kálmán who had been confined to
the ghetto in the brick factory in April 1944, in her autobiographical novel
Örökség [heritage].124 There are documents for that also in the Kosice State
Archives proving that Paszkál Hamay, a Franciscan father responsible for the
southern parish of Kosice requested „to be allowed to deliver religious service

121

Felvidéki Ujság 6 May, 1944, p.5.
Lajos Szabó, op. cit., p.130.
123
Felvidéki Ujság 6 May, 1944, p.4.
124
Márta Kámlán: Örökség, [heritage], Budapest: Magvető Könyvkiadó, 1982, p.263.
122

28

for the Christians staying in the Jewish camp”.125 István Madarász, bishop of the
Kosice diocese forwarded the request to the police captain.
Everybody knew that „the Hungarian Jewry is collected in the first Jewish
ghetto in Hungary for death. But who are brave enough to speak up? What is
more, there were many that gloated over such inhuman acts. There was but one
man in the whole big city of Kosice who dared to speak and to act: grand
provost Miklós Pfeiffer.”126 He organised an ecumenical delegation of Christian
priests that wanted to mediate in the issue of the spiritual care of Christian
Jews.127 Initially, bishop István Madarász should have led the delegation but he
declined. He thought he was too hot tempered and in the course of the expected
debate he believed would have been harmful for the cause. So the delegation
was led by Miklós Pfeiffer. On behalf of all Christians at Kosice he requested to
be allowed to perform their Christian mission among the Christian Jews. The
number of Christian Jews in the ghetto had to be established and the roomy head
office of the Catholic Maidens’ Society was offered to them. Pfeiffer did not
only speak for Jewish-Christians but for all residents of the ghetto.
On 9 May, 1944 the Kosice Jewish Council submitted a request to the Mayor’s
Office „to be allowed to take part of the Torahs and Hebrew books to the camp
and the ghetto and to place those we do not need either in the library of the
Kosice Roman Catholic chapter or at another place appointed for the purpose by
the honourable Mayor’s Office.128
Some people (mostly women) tried to smuggle food for the Jews isolated in the
brick factory that was why the police launched criminal proceedings against
several Kosice residents. „It is to be condemned to feel pity for the ancient
enemies of Christian Hungarians and to provide help to them despite the strict
order and ban by the authorities. If Christians want to make use of their
inclination for charity, they should exercise that noble act for the Christian
destitute.”129 A woman disguised as a doctor wanted to get into the brick factory
to take food, but she was caught and placed under police surveillance. Márta
Kálmán also recalled a few helpers: „The Pfiszter family helped everybody as
much as they could. They took for preservation Daddy’s double-lid gold watch
and a gold amulet with five tiny diamonds in it... Gyula Pfiszter somehow found
his way to the ghetto and asked the acquaintances one after the other what he
could help, what they needed.”130

125

State Archives, Kosice, Royal Hungarian Police Command 1938–1944, file no. 4747/1944.
Lajos Szabó, op. cit., p.131.
127
Op.cit, p.132.
128
AMK, Košice muncip. mesto 1939-1945, rok 1944, 19711-20700, inv. č. 125, krab. 177. (Cf, Annex 4).
129
Felvidéki Ujság 9 May, 1944,p. 6.
130
Márta Kálmán, op. cit., p.261.
126

29

After the announcement of the isolation order, several Jewish residents of
Kosice fled or went into hiding, but most of them were found and caught in May
or June.131 Some cases still occurred in July and August as well.132
A Christian woman provided meals for a company of seven at the time of
ghettoization, but she was also arrested when they were found.133 Seven Kosice
Jews were found hiding in the locked civil defence cellar of the soap plant in
Pataky Tibor street. They had gone into the cellar before the isolation and locked
the entrance.134 The police became suspicious as two men went into a baker’s
every day and purchased bread for food coupons. They started to watch them.
One of those caught was a soap-worker that is why he had the keys to the plant.
He and his mate used the emergency exit to go into the city and buy food. There
were some who escaped from the brick factory and tried to hide.135 And finally
there were some that sneaked not out of but into the brick factory, namely, to its
clothes warehouse, to steal furs. The three 17-18-year old youngsters, however,
could not leave because of the supervising officer, so they went to sleep among
the fur coats. When the officer found the snoring boys, each was wearing three
fur coats.136
Felvidéki Ujság published in May 1944 a report by László Endre, secretary of
state in charge of Jewish matters, on the experience of his tour. He had visited
34 cities including Kosice. In his opinion, „the neglect of several decades” must
be corrected at „the speed of a fast train”.137 According to Endre, it is done using
humane means and „isolation can only make the Jewry nervous temporarily …,
no harm will come to them”. „We are protecting the life of the nation by
removing the Jewish poison – he said –, we take measures of self-defence, but
…always using humane means and keeping in mind the moral factors that oblige
a civilised state even if such measures have to be taken.” With respect to his
tour, the most profound experience of the secretary of state was how the
population received the measures related to the removal of Jews with sincere
happiness in every town and village. In most places, vehicles of transport were
provided for them free of charge to get rid of them as soon as possible. The
secretary of state criticised some Jews for burning or tearing up their cash.
Cf for instance Felvidéki Ujság 24 May, 1944, p.4. „Rich Kosice Jews having escaped the isolation were
caught in Budapest”, Felvidéki Ujság 1944: 7 June, p.5; 16 June, p.3; 20 June, p.2; 21 June; p.4; 22 June, p.6;
27 June, p.6 and p.8; 28 June, p.5.
132
Felvidéki Ujság 1944: 12 July, pp.7-8; 19 August, p.10; 24 August, p.3: „Hiding place of the richest Kosice
millionaire Jews revealed. The Róth family lived well in their voluntary house arrest”; 2 September, p.3:
„Secrets of the Kosice Róth palace revealed. Underground hiding place. Five Christian residents of the house
were arrested”.
133
Felvidéki Ujság 20 May, 1944, p.4.
134
Felvidéki Ujság 20 June, 1944, p.7.
135
Felvidéki Ujság 24 May, 1944. A baker’s assitant escaped from the ghetto and hid in one of the houses of the
Gypsy camp, but he was caught.
136
Felvidéki Ujság 27 May, 1944, p.9.
137
Felvidéki Ujság 20 May, 1944, p.5.
131

30

Internment proceedings were launched against those. In the end, Endre
emphasised „we perform our duties strictly with a strong hand but without hate,
with a Christian soul”.138
Jewish residents deprived of all their rights and confined to the city ghetto, many
of whom were members of the Jewish Council, tried to catch the last straw of
escape and arranged a workshop producing forged documents, but they were
soon found and arrested.139
Married couples or whole families remaining in the ghetto and dreading their
fate poisoned themselves; they mostly used sedatives or morphine.140 Such cases
were commonplace.
The deportation of the Kosice and rural Jews lasted from 15 May to 2 June,
1944.141 The authorities executing the deportation were led by a three-member
committee including a SS captain as well as the local commanders of the police
and gendarmerie. The committee was the lord of life and death at Kosice. Its
commands were mediated by Csatáry to the actual executioners. It was Csatáry
who organised the relocation of the residents of the ghetto to the brick factory
and at the time when people were driven to the waggons, he was standing on the
ramp to decide who should get into the waggons when and at what rate.
In the meantime, architect Sándor Herbai was awarded the papal order „Pro
Ecclesia et Pontifice” (i.e. for the Pope and the Church) at a ceremonial session
of the church council; and town chief notary József Herditzky, the new elected
chief warden of the parish was inaugurated.142 It seems life for them at Kosice
was going on in the most natural way.
Felvidéki Ujság was a proof that the „final” solution of the Jewish issue was
taken really seriously at Kosice. An appeal was published on 22 May, 1944:
„All exempted Jews must report at the police”. It related to those who had been
138

Felvidéki Ujság 20 May, 1944, p.5.
Felvidéki Ujság 23 May, 1944, p.3. Those arrested were the following: Sándor Glück pharmacist, Sándor
Strausz private clerk, Dr Ármin Kabos lawyer, Ignác Spira merchant, Henrik Kreisz wholesale trader, Albin
Müller bank manager, Hermann Róth wine wholesaler, Dr Vidor Pollacsek crops merchant, Ignác Zipszer textile
wholesaler, Emil Fuchs timber producer, Lipót Róth shoes trader, Dr Gyula Guthlon lawyer, Jenő Ungár
merchant, Sándor Goldberger secretary to the congregation, Vilmos Schlesinger timber producer, Anna Fried
typist, Erzsébet Lefkovics housewife, Edit Kaufman typist.
140
Felvidéki Ujság 1944: 22 May; 23 May; 1 June; 5 June. Cf also Felvidéki Ujság 29 July, 1944, p.2: „Two
corpses found in a sealed Jewish house at Kosice”.
141
Cf, http://www.rovart.com/hu/kassai-zsidok-_1180. ON the day following the start of the two trains deporting
about 7684 Kosice Jews (16 May) Felvidéki Ujsag practically only wrote about the Jews: hiding of property,
miscegenation, looting of apartments, escape, suicide. And an article, according to which „the Jews themselves
established the first ghetto in Hungary. The system of ghettos was established in this country five hundred years
ago”, p.7.
142
Felvidéki Ujság. 17 May, 1944, p.5.
139

31

exempted from wearing the yellow start so far.143 A few days later a warning
was published: „Exempted individuals of the Jewish race who had failed to
report would be arrested”.144 At the same time, the daily informed its readers
„Fifty-seven Jewish lawyers had been excluded from the Kosice Chamber”.145
Some days after the last train deporting the Jews of Kosice and the neighbouring
villages had left the city (3 June), the Kosice Police Captain published an appeal
in mid-June 1944 to report any Jews hiding in the houses. „The Kosice Captain
of the Hungarian Royal Police has learnt that Jews having escaped the isolation
or having evaded it are hiding and are also hiding goods in houses, civil defence
cellars, attics and other places on the territory of the city. The Police Captain
therefore is calling on house owners, janitors or house custodians to examine the
houses, the attics and civil defence cellars belonging to them without delay but
not later than in two days’ time and report to the police if they find there Jewish
properties or Jewish persons.”146 If they fail to do so, they will be taken
responsible.
Although the Jewry of Kosice and the neighbourhood had been deported,
Felvidéki Ujság still felt obliged to publish Jews-related news items (mostly in
the context of Budapest).147 It published an appeal in mid-June that at Kosice
„the historic houses liberated from Jewish ownership should be taken into public
ownership!”148 The daily also informed readers that the city, already fully „freed
from Jews” would again be offered to the Heart of Jesus in a ceremony on 25
June following the practice of earlier years.149 The following day, however, the
Roman Catholic parish informed readers that the offering procession already
organised would be cancelled.150 It can be assumed that somebody within the
church felt that went beyond all limits! In the end, offering Kosice „to the Holy
Heart of Jesus” did take place on 18 June: „on the birthday of the Governor,
Sunday, when the 9 o’clock ceremonial mass is attended in the Basilica by the
whole representation of the city, the military, the heads of all authorities and
offices, the offering of Kosice and of our country to the Holy Heart of Jesus will
be repeated at the end of the Mass in front of the Holy Sacrament. That offering
is to replace the offering planned to take place at the great procession that may
not be held this year due to the permanent danger of air raids. The leaders of the

143

Felvidéki Ujság. 22 May, 1944, p.2.
Felvidéki Ujság 27 May, 1944, p.8.
145
Felvidéki Ujság 27 May, 1944, p.5.
146
Felvidéki Ujság 16 June, 1944, p.5.
147
„Jews are moved together into houses marked with yellow stars. The apartments freed are allocated to
Christians”, Felvidéki Ujság 12 June, 1944, p.2. Cf also Felvidéki Ujság 1944: 13 June, p.2; 15 June, p.2; 16
June, p.7; 4 July, p.2.
148
Felvidéki Ujság 15 June, 1944, p.3.
149
Felvidéki Ujság 15 June, 1944, p.5.
150
Felvidéki Ujság 16 June, 1944, p.2.
144

32

parish call on all members of the church council and the assembly as well as
Catholic societies to appear at the Holy Mass carrying their flags.”151
Although Felvidéki Ujság failed to report that Governor Horthy had had the
deportations stopped at the beginning of July, it considered it important to report
that „Jews are Baptised after three months of religious education”,152 and that
„Jews of a Christian religion receive special interest representation”.153 It did not
forget to inform its readers both about the official German statement regarding
the treatment of Jews,154 and the stance of the Hungarian authorities. According
to the latter, in Hungary „the solution of the Jewish issue will be executed in the
spirit of humanity and in a way that corresponds to the gravity and importance
of the problem.”155 Except for Budapest, the „solution” of the problem had taken
place all over the country weeks earlier!
It is bewildering and rather telling that in October 1944, after the deportation of
the Kosice Jews, an article was published in Kassai Katolikus Tudósító denying
that thousands of Jews would be Baptised. Obviously, it was about Jews in
Budapest; but the editors of the Catholic paper thought it was important to call
attention to it at Kosice as well so as to remove scruples. Although there were no
more Jews at Kosice at the time.
„Crowds of Jews populated the streets of Pest in front of parish churches … that
is how most of our dailies – watching the events through coloured glasses - were
scandalised for weeks. They felt obliged to call on the conscience of our
bishops, guard our dogmas and watch over the honour of our sacraments. By
unscrupulous mud-slinging, spreading slander and lacking the basic knowledge
of theology, they had succeeded in undermining the trust of people in their
ecclesiastical leaders or even their faith in some cases. Although… although… It
is not true that the Church Baptises thousands of Jews these days! The
competent guards of the Sacraments who administer them know very well that a
high number of the Jews applying to be Baptised only want Baptism for political
advantages. Just because of that, the Church has set very hard criteria and has
been looking into the eligibility of the candidates very strictly. First of all, those
who failed to learn how to behave in the church with piety and respect and be
disciplined have been excluded. It has also excluded those who only wanted to
participate in religious education formally, and came late or only attended every
second or third class. Finally, it has excluded those who – after six months’ of
151

Felvidéki Ujság 17 June, 1944, p.5.
Felvidéki Ujság 13 July, 1944, p.2. Cf also 26 July, p. 2: „Those wishing to be Baptised must wait at least for
three months. Another notice by the Budapest Archbishop’s Vicarage”; 29 July, p.2: „Priests should only Baptise
Jews that are seeking not a certificate of Baptism but the mercy of Christ to renew their souls”.
153
Felvidéki Ujság 14 July, 1944, p.4.
154
Felvidéki Ujság 20 July, 1944, p.2.
155
Felvidéki Ujság 28 July, 1944, p.2.
152

33

education – did not show sufficient knowledge of the religion, or if they showed
their knowledge, they treated the dogmas of the faith disrespectfully or offhanded. On the contrary, it is true that at a parish church only one person out of
group of 160 was allowed by the priest to be Baptised. At another parish church
five out of 200 and so on. And if there was thoughtlessness, lenience or
favourism in the selection by one or another undiscriminating or partial priest,
the ecclesiastical leaders acted and punished them without mercy. That was the
practice of the Church regarding the Baptism of Jews.”156
Finally, the autobiographical novel by Márta Kálmán shows us that there was no
Church stance. There were people who helped and people who did not; whether
or not they were priests, nuns or Christians. The young woman from the brick
factory was taken to the Kosice hospital with suspicion of suicide. „In the
evening a priest wearing a brown cassock and glasses I had seen with aunt
Fényes several times came into ward. He stopped by my bed and asked if he
could help me. Yes, I said, please Baptise me. He left and then returned with a
nun with a horrified face and a bowl. In nomine patri et spiritui sancti, amen,
and I was a Christian. In periculo vitae157, nothing else was required. (…) The
ward sister was an old nun with glasses. I could not make her out. I asked the
father. Be careful with her, he said. And do not flee before I tell you to.”158 The
young woman succeeds to reach Budapest but she must again ask for the help of
the Kosice father, Jusztinián Katona. „The following day at noon there were two
short knocks and the father was standing in the room. As if nothing had been
more natural, as if he had just come from Kosice in answer to my request, as a
fairy in a fairy tale.”159

Summary
The historical example of Kosice is a clear illustration of how the press read by
and published for the local élite in a significant city of Hungary shaped and
mediated the picture of the Jewry, which was negative in its totality. Looking
back from a historical distance it seems the „Jewish issue” was the most
important problem to be solved for the Hungarian society of the time.160 A
156

Kassai Katolikus Tudósító Volume XXIV, issue, 4. szám, October, 1944, pp.2-4.
IN THREAT OF LIFE.
158
Márta Kálmán, op. cit., p. 284.
159
Márta Kálmán, op. cit., p.293.
160
Ferenc Sinkó, „The bases of the Jewish issue”, Új Élet. Az ifjú katolicizmus szociális és világnézeti folyóirata
[new life. The social and ideological journal of young Catholicism], Volume 8, 1939/2 (issue 72), pp. 83-86. The
author considers the essence of the issue in „the unsaved Jewish spirit” has been fighting God and Christianity
for two thousand years. The problem, in fact, is meant by being different, „life according to different rules”. He
thinks „the Jewish issue will be finally solved if that people learns to live in the same way as Christ lived”. The
Holocaust of Baptised Jews, however, shows that the Hungarian Christian society lacked a real willingness for
inclusion.. „Kállay: The ethics of the nation must play a part in the solution of the Jewish issue”, Felvidéki Ujság
157

34

continuous adverse publicity campaign and expulsion from all areas of social
life161 combined with an existential anxiety and fear, in effect, immunised the
society identifying itself as Catholic/Christian against the sufferings and ordeal
of the Jews. They took physical isolation (ghettoization162 then deportation) for
granted; all the more so as they hoped to reap its material benefits. But it can be
assumed that another factor of social psychology also played a part. It was
obvious in the spring of 1944 that the war had been lost as the German army had
been continuously retreating since summer 1943. At the time (in May 1944) the
front line was in the anteroom of the Carpathian mountains and got closer and
closer to the borders of the country. Even if the population at large (the lower
strata of society) were not aware, the leading controlling strata (the so termed
„Christian middle class of gentlemen”163), which was the actual beneficiary of
the anti-Jewish laws, might have and should have realised they would have to
account for the years of the past (since 1938). Instead of facing the problem and
taking responsibility, they opted for the only solution that seemed rational for
them: the physical annihilation of the Jews deprived of their rights and
properties. The German occupation offered the scope for the political will (since
there had been a demand164), and provided coordination for the operation.
The initial analysis of the sources, which needs to be continued in-depth, also
illustrates that getting Baptised in Hungary in the period from 1938 to 1944 did
30 April, 1942, p.2. Since „‘Hungarians have a strong love of people of a different race, of a different religion or
wearing different clothes.’ Great address by Prime Minister Mikló Kállay in Ungvár on Saint Steven’s thoughts”,
Felvidéki Ujság 19 October, 1942, p.3; „Béla Lukács: The Jewish issue is on the path to solution both in its
moral and economic implications”, Felvidéki Ujság 25 January, 1943, p.2.
161
For instance, „Jews may not be members of Hungarian sports clubs”, Felvidéki Ujság 3 February, 1942, p.7.
162
The demand had already been there in 1942: „The city of Kosice received a memorandum of the municipality
of Bihar County on the institutional deportation of the Jews. The Low Assembly is to deal with the memorandum
on 15 May”, Felvidéki Ujság 8 May, 1942, p.4; „The municipality of Ungvár proposes blocking all Jewish
properties, relocation to closed residential areas and total isolation of the Jewry. The General Assembly adopted
the proposal unanimously.”, Felvidéki Ujság 9 May, 1942, p. 5; „The Low Assembly of the city of Kosice
unanimously adopted the proposal of the mayor, Dr Sándor Pohl regarding the latest settlement of the Jewish
issue. The city public demands the definition of Jewish on a racial basis. The preparation of the deportation of
the Jews. The necessity of blocking Jewish properties or those of Jewish origin. The termination of exceptions
and exemption is demanded. Total isolation from the Christian social and economic life”, Felvidéki Ujság 16
May, 1942, p.3. The proposal No 14.511/1942-II by mayor Pohl practically adopted the resolutions of Bihar
County (NO 82/1942) and the city of Ungvár (No 40/1942). The whole thing came to nothing in the end because
the political will of the Kállay government in Budapest was not there. However, it should be noted that the new
Hungarian Catholic Encyclopedia considers Sándor Pohl mayor of Kosice a positive figure.
(http://lexikon.katolikus.hu/P/Pohl.html).
163
The Yearbooks of the Roman Catholic Girls’ High School and Lycée of the Girls’ Educational Institute
Angelinum operated by the Order of St Ursula from the 1938-39 to the 1943-44 school years provide interesting
data relating to the Christian middle class, especially to how their children – particularly girls – were educated to
become „conscious Magyars” and „devout lady-patriots”. It turns out from them that religious moral education
focused on participation at the Holy Mass and frequent receipt of the sacraments (confession, communion).
Social education included charity work and household management. Although there had been Jewish students in
every first grade earlier (the highest number in the 1939-40 school year), no Israelites could be found in the first
grade in 1943-44. At that time, no more than 4 Israelite students attended the high school classes (1 in grade two,
2 in grade three and 1 in grade four). The Lycée had no Israelite students in any year.
164
„The time of the final solution of the Jewish issue is not far away. Address by Lajos Reményi-Schneller”,
Felvidéki Ujság 10 March, 1941, p.3.

35

not mean much in itself; in fact, it hardly improved the position of individuals
categorised as „Jews” or „of the Jewish race”.165 Since, due to his descent,
because his ancestors beyond a given generation had been inevitably Jews, he
remained a Jew (of the Jewish race) in the eyes of the authorities.166 The
Christian church Baptising him shared the above racial categorisation and
provided him with spiritual consolation and „salvation” only. In his life on
Earth, a converted Jew could not hope for a relief from his sufferings and
tribulations or for protection; in the best scenario, he could rely on some kind of
compassion. Help was individual in every case whether the driving principle
was material or moral. Helpers, however, had to reckon with a high chance of
being denounced. All issues of Felvidéki Ujság bear witness to that!
The Kosice sources clearly allow the conclusion and support the fact that
’Christian’ in Hungary in the period investigated, and particularly in 1944, was
not a religious but a racial category, the opposite of ’Jewish’. Therefore, it had
no spiritual content or depth.167 It had deteriorated into a form with no content.
The political and ecclesiastical leaders, in fact, united under the concept of
national and Christian self-identification. It was due to the fact that they were
the members of the same ruling class organising and controlling the society. In
the social order carrying the features and structure of feudalism even their
adversaries were the same: liberalism, Socialism, Bolshevism and democracy.168
And they spotted the Jewry behind all the above.169 They even blamed the war
on them.170
It is proved by a telling case „Géza Kulcsár, a 39-year old farmer had been converted already in 1915. He
married a Christian woman and his children are all members of the Roman Catholic church. Despite all that,
Géza Kulcsár is considered a Jew according to the anti-Jewish laws and as such is obliged to perform labour
service.” Because all his friends knew him as Christian, he somehow got hold of a grey certificate form, filled it
with his personal particulars, and wrote ’ensign’ for his rank. The trick, however, came to light, so Géza Kulcsár
was tried at court for his action.” He was sentenced to six weeks in prison. „He forged the document out of
shame, as he wanted to hide from his friends he was in labour service”, Felvidéki Ujság 24 Novembr, 1942, p.5.
166
Cf Annex 5.
167
This was already clearly expressed in 1938 by the unknown author of the article „After the events in
Austria”. „We should not raise false hopes if we can see a large crowd in our churches that we could carry out
major changes in the society. The crowds in the churches simply mean that the majority of people openly confess
they would like to live on after death, they believe in God and the spirit. But you would be mistaken to believe
that such faith and desire influence their behaviour in public life or even in business life.”, Új Élet Volume 7,
1938/4, April, p.146.
168
„Anti-European unity front has come into being between the English plutocracy and Bolshevism”, Felvidéki
Ujság 14 July, 1941, p.2; „The failure of democracy”, Felvidéki Ujság 22 July, 1941, p.3; „The fight of
Chiristianity against Bolshevism”, Felvidéki Ujság 29 July, 1941, p.3; „The municipality of Kosice dealt with
the crimes of democracy”, Felvidéki Ujság 18 September, 1942, p.3.
169
János Darvas, „The Jew and the Soviet. A sincere image of the Jewish issue in Galitsia and the Ukraine”,
Felvidéki Ujság 17 February, 1942, p.6. According to the author: „The Jewry has become part of the power in
the Soviet to an extent unprallelled in the world. Therefore, the Soviet has become a special point for the Jewry
living in the Soviet Union, they are defending their own privileged social position, their own lines of power and
rank if they fight fanatically for the Soviet.” A series of articles by Dr Frigyes Marjay: „World Bolshevism –
world Jewry”, Felvidéki Ujság 1943: 13 March, p.8; 16 March, p.4; 17 March, p.4.
170
„Fighting till the ultimate victory! Chancellor Hitler announced in a great speech that Germany would
continue the war it has been forced into until the ultimate victory. (…) Hitler is convinced that the Jewry are
165

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As it is clearly seen from the example of Kosice, the main responsibility of
ecclesiastical leaders was their silent approval of politics and the state
administration monopolizing Christianity and ’Christian’ as an adjective to use
them for identifying, justifying and legitimising their actions.
The question of what exactly justified the deportation of the Jews was answered
by László Endre secretary of state at the Ministry of the Interior in a statement
made to a Berlin paper. In his opinion, „The Jewry in Hungary has become quite
openly the precursor of Bolshevism. The interest of defending our country
necessitated our actions against them, because Jews did not only serve the
enemy by internal incitement but also by actual spying and sabotage.”171 As the
Soviet army was approaching threateningly, Hungary in fact completed its fight
of „self-defence”. In effect, that was the only fight of Hungarians to be assessed
„successful” in those years. And the society, watching the events passively,
realised it would not have to account for anything at the end of the war if the
Jews disappear from the country, and – mainly – it would not have to return
anything172 because there would be nobody to return them to, and everything can
be forgotten. Since if you do not talk about something, it does not exist.

fighting against him!”, Felvidéki Ujság 9 November, 1940, p.1; Dr. F. P. Krüger, „The Jews of the world have
prepared the war”, Felvidéki Ujság 20 June, 1942, p.2.
171
Felvidéki Ujság 17 May, 1944, p.2.
172
Felvidéki Ujság 11 September, 1944, p.4: „You can only buy Jewish goods in possession of an ID card in
your name. Cards must not be transferred to others.”; 23 September, p.8: „On Monday, an auction of Jewish
leather goods blocked will be held. The sale of furniture is continued”; 28 September, , p.4: „The sale of the
stocks of goods and materials of Jewish businesses is started”; 29 September, p.3: „On Monday the sale of
Jewish pianos blocked will be started”.

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