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HISTORY BOOKS back to top
Between Galicia and Hungary : The Jews of Stropkov
"I must say I am very impressed by what you have done, and hope that the book will find its way to every Holocaust library. You are really to be congratulated for a very fine achievement."--Sir Martin Gilbert
This is not a typical yizkor (memorial) book, but a
history that offers a rich description of life in rural Slovakia. The
author draws not only on primary sources like vital records, but also
on personal memoirs and numerous interviews with survivors in Slovakia,
the US, and Israel. Painstakingly and with humor, she recreates
day-to-day life from c1640-1942, introducing tinkers plying their
trade, housewives carrying eggs to market, children playing in the
snow. We learn about pink salt,local crafts,market days, courting...A
BONUS: a complete list of all the Stropkovers as of 1942 (just before
the Holocaust) with detailed genealogical imformation included. Also,
over 100 pictures, including rare ones of an actual deportation, taken
by an enterprising Christian photographer. A good read on a subject not
readily available in English!
Reviewed by M.Arieli
Reviewed by Debbi Korman
My inquiries as a genealogist never stop at who and when. I am always asking why. Most of the time, I get no answers to my questions of why did my Hungarian ancestors do this or that, or why did they choose to do something at some particular time. Less often do I get answers to the how questions - how did they live their daily lives, how did they worship, how did they find marriage partners, how did they shop and why did they travel? The answers that Polish and Russian genealogists get about the shtetls do not apply to my ancestors. Amazingly Jewish Budapest provided more answers than I had questions about the life of Jews over the 100 years that my family lived in that great city.
Jewish Budapest is a remarkable, scholarly, history of Budapest. For those unfamiliar with the City, it has been long divided into multiple districts, each with its own history and character. Those districts were only unified in the 1870s to create what we now know as Budapest. The authors of Jewish Budapest move from district to district, chronicling the lives of Jews from, roughly, the 1700s to the current date. But this is no history derived only from dates and major historical events. It is a religious, social, architectural, economic and political history all woven together in a compelling and readable format. If the former were not enough, the book includes beautiful photographs; biographical sketches and portraits of Budapest’s religious luminaries and movers and shakers of the past 300 years; and passages from diaries, letters, books, and contemporaneous newspaper accounts about major events and daily life.
My family spent most of its 100 years in Obuda, the oldest section of the City. From Jewish Budapest I learned what happened during the flood of 1838 (which my family experienced) and how Jews and non-Jews pulled together to save people, regardless of religion, from the ravaging flood waters. I had a first hand look at the pomp and circumstance which accompanied the Austro Hungarian Emperor’s visit to the then famous Goldberger factory in 1857. I’m sure my family was there - they lived down the street. I learned that the Obuda synagogue, where my family members all married, is one of the finest Neo-Classical buildings in Hungary, and I further learned about all of its Rabbis, surrounding communal institutions, and characteristics of the Jewish neighborhood (where my family lived). The same level of historical detail is given to the discussion of the other districts of Budapest.
Much discussion is given to religious institutions and religious life, including the founding and maintenance of cemeteries; where, when, and why certain communal institutions evolved; and when and why certain synagogues were built, who attended them, which other synagogues were considered rivals, who spoke at their pulpits, and who donated their torahs and ceremonial objects. The level of detail is astounding.
Finally, there is discussion of the relationship between the Jews and non-Jews of Budapest, and why that relationship was so different from that in Poland, Russia, and other eastern European countries. The authors give us insight into why the Budapest Jews, and by extension Jews in many other Hungarian territories, were so successful in assimilating and in the process shaping their Judaism to fit a more modern world. As Hungarian researchers, we know that our ancestors brought this unique ability to assimilate to America.
For those with families who lived in Budapest, I highly
this book. The paperback version, (which costs between $20-25 through
Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble over the internet and which
can be ordered through local bookstores and through the publisher) is
an oversized, glossy page, 500+ page publication which would be an
to any genealogical library.
A jotett egyszerusege,
1997. A couple of days ago I received an
interesting book about Giorgio
Perlasca.It is the Hungarian translation of Enrico Deaglio : La
banalita del bene-Storia di Giorgio Perlasca (ED: Giangiacomo
Editore Milano ) -in Hungarian: A jotett egyszerusege, Osiris
1997.The book gives a good overview of the political and
situation in Hungary from the I WW to and during the II WW, and a
detailed account about the heroism of G.Perlasca. I am unaware
English edition.Magda Lapedus surely knows about this book as the
author thanks her among others for the informations given.
- Vera Varga
Laszlo, A koszegi zsidok. Budapest,
There is a book about the Jewish community in Guens/Koszeg: Harsanyi Laszlo, A koszegi zsidok. Budapest, 1974. It mentions Izrael Schay (recte Schey), who lived in Lakompak/Lackenbach in 1785. Probably his father was Moyses Schey. Probably they are descendants of Salamon Scheuch, who was conducting trade with Koszeg between 1615 and 1696 (pp. 82-83). In 1725 there are 4 Scheys, in 1735 - 6! There is more genealogical material in the book.
- Gyorgy Ujlaki
FRESH BLOOD by Sanford Ungar, head of the Communications Dept of American U in Washington. The book supports the thesis that the US is a place that needs constant renewal through immigration. The immigrrants bring their hopes and their concepts of freedom and democracy to the US and help the US sustain opportunity, democracy, and hope, says Ungar. He got that way after he took a day off from a film project in Kosice to visit Tusoce. which from Ungar's narration, might well be within 15 to 25 miles of Kozuchovce. He found the location of his father's house. It had been replaced by a new house on the same spot. It was occupied by a man who remembered Ungar's family well. In addition, the man eventually, as hours passed, became very voluble. Ungar slipped away when the conversation verged on the intimate and he feared that he would discover that some of the furnishing belonged to his grandparents who were lost in the Holocaust.
At one point a surviving relative had lived in that house, but he felt isolated. He went to Israel.
FRESH BLOOD has many references to Jews and a tremendously fascinating short history of the Mashadi, a group of Jews from Mashad, a holy Islamic city in Northern Iran. There are about 16,000 Mashadi in the world, 9000 in Israel, 2,000 in London 1,000 in Milan, and 4,000 in the NY Metropolitan area.
They are finely knit, deeply community conscious, and with a known history of maybe 500 years, pride themselves on their survival. For some time, they accepted outward behavior as Muslims, the way the Marranos accepted outward behavior as Catholics in Spain.
If you can get hold of the book, you'll enjoy the introduction where Ungar describes his visit to Tusice and his talks with his elderly uncle who gave him explict directions (after may 70 years' abasence from Tusice) on how to get there from Kosice.
-- Natan Polster
Hungarian Jewish Studies
Hungarian Jewish Studies (Two Volumes) Randolph Braham, NY 1966
A primer in Jewish History, compiled from different authors and sponsored
originally by the World Federation of Hungarian Jews(currently rather
Here is a synopsis of the table of contents of the two volumes:
The family tree of the Jews in Hungary (Erno Marton)-- also on LDS film
The settlement in Hungary-- continued 1735-1910 (Erno Laszlo)
Political aspects in modern times (Nathaniel Katzburg)
Destruction of Jews in Transylvania & Carpato-Ruthenia(Bela Vago/R.B )
Position of Jews after liberation(Ilona Benochovski)
Research Facilities in Hungary concerning the Destruction(Jeno Levai)
Hebrew Poetry in Hungary(Moshe Carmilly)
The Jewish Congress 1868-1869(Nathaniel Katzburg)
Role in the Economy(Istvan Veghazi)
Cultural overview(Erzsebet Balla)
Demography 1910-1941(Erno Laszlo)
The Jewish policy of the KALLAY gov't(Bela Vago)
Roosevelt's efforts to save the Jews in Hungary(Henry Feingold)
War crime trials(Jeno Levai)
The Jews of Hungary--
History, Culture, Psychology--
Raphael Patai. Wayne State, 1996. A scholarly, intensive 700 page coverage of all elements of Jewish life. Development from early days to modern times. Includes a story about the Khazars, famous Jews in history, Jewish organization-- social and cultural, a handful of photos.
A History of Hungary.
Peter Sugar, Indiana Univ, 1994
A relatively concise history of the Hungarian nation and country. Helpful in understanding the broader terms and issues as they relate to Jewish history in the Hungarian context. Different authors cover the various chapters. It is a bit redundant and confusing.
Bridging Three worlds--
Hungarian Jewish Americans 1848-1918,
Robert Perlman Univ Mass 1996? Categorizes the emigrees as the 48ers, revolutionaries that were running away after the failed war of liberation and the poor masses that followed towards the end of the century. Describes their places of settlement, their organizations and relationships with non Jewish Hungarians. It is more helpful for understanding their Americanization rather than learning a lot about the "old country". Extensive bibliography.
in Hungary-- A history of Zemplen Co.,
Meir Sas. Toronto 1986. An excellent overview of the Zemplen history. Contains numerous quotes from obscure archives.(Work was facilitated by Dr Hogye from the Zemplen State Archives). Explains various taxation relationships, economic life of the local Jews and their political situation in relation to the nobles' ruling class. At the end -- a brief description of almost every village in Zemplen
of agriculture, Hungary 1848-1975.
Joseph Held, Columbia U 1980. Various sections treating agrarian conditions and focusing on the political movements and peasant organization. The first section however, describes life, beliefs and social values of the local population, a microcosm in which our ancestors came to play.
FAMILY STORIES back to top
- poems by Magdalena Klein
Fithian Press, 1997
Pearls and Lace is a volume of 34 poems written by the youngest child of a
middle-class Jewish family from Marghita, Romania. Magdalena was an
eyewitness to the rise of fascism in Transylvania and the horrors of
concentration camp in Auschwitz.
The collection, selected from Magdalena's notebooks and translated from
Hungarian by her niece Susan Simpson Geroe, represents a testament to the
human spirit that transcends even the most horrific events of history. The
poems are preceded by a 10 page history of Magda's family, interspersed with
In search of motherbook,
Susan Rubin-Suleiman, Univ Nebraska, 1993
-A six month diary of an expatriate-intellectual's stay in Budapest
-A story of typical Hungarian-Jewish family emigrating after WWII
-A guide to understand the split psyche of your immigrant family, friend
-A study in self identity and feeling of 'home'.
Anthony Bianco, Random House 1997
It is the fabulous story of the rise of the Reichman family to riches and fame through their Toronto based Olympia and Tile. But is also a rich and instructing story about life and enterpreneurship in the Hungary of the 1920's, the saga of a family running from the ever expanding war to France and to Tangier. Convincing and riveting writing!
Where she came from.
Helen Epstein, Little and Brown 1997
Author, daughter returns to her mother's city of Prague. Through some relatives and friends of her parents she weaves a clear story of her family's life in this century. A move from a village to a province and then to the capital city. Also is a good introduction to the history of the enlightened Czech Republic(1918) under the leadership of Dr. Massarik. It is rather strange to read about the lack of anti-Semitism in the republic in an era when all surrounding countries are engulfed in it! Life in Theresienstadt and in post war Prague.
With my own eyes.
Jacob Katz, Brandeis Univ, 1995
Candid autobiography, with the story line starting in a small village, through studies in a Yeshiva setting and trough trials and tribulations of the era between the wars in Hungary, Germany and Palestine. Good reading on social arrangements in the village, families hosting yeshiva students, life in a German university and from rough starts in the Holy Land of 1929 to the head of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Extraordinary talent
and adaptation skill!
Journey to Vaja,
Elaine KalmanNaves, McGill-Queen Univ,1995
Rich and authentic story of life on an rented estate in Szabolcs county, of N E Hungary. As renters for three generations, the author's family becomes to be recognized as the landowners themselves. Through a multitude of detailed and colorful characters the farm life becomes alive with economics, competition, socialization, religious activities, and everyday interaction with the peasant population. Estate life is at the core of country living in Hungary and this is a great illustration of it.
Wine and Thorns
in Tokay Valley.
Zahava Szasz Stessel, Fairleigh Univ,
A cross between an Yizkor book for the town of Abaujszanto in north of Hungary and a cut and dry sociological thesis and the Jewish life in the place. It lends a rather comprehensive understanding to the functioning of a village with about 400 Jews. The book is built on interviews contains a list of names of the town's residents in 1944 and a fair amount of photos and rich bibliography..
Elojatekok egy Oneletrajzra.
Hegedus Geza, Budapest , 1982? ( Prologue to an Autobiography)
An original way to tell a life story without voicing an opinion! The author was a professor of drama at the University of Budapest and good story teller. From a family and a childhood in Nagyvarad, through an endless procession of relatives and\ friends in the Hungarian capital he captivates the reader with historical events, personalities, and the national. Hungarian-Jewish character. In the period of between the wars, Jews were motivated to prove that they had resided in Hungary since 1848. This led to a flourishing of genealogy(of course it was easier than now since all the registries were inplace) and among others the author who became an expert in the area, has the most expansive family tree(a bit speculative), going back to a Spanish Catholic!
This book appeared also in Hebrew, its title is Lelo Goral and in Hungarian its title is Sorstalansag. The book tells of a young boy's deportation from Budapest to Auschwitz and Dachau and his return home. Everything is described through his naive eyes. The author gives us his feelings and thoughts as they were THEN. That's very painful because we know what's really going on. We can feel how the boy's will for living deteriorates as days go by and hunger and indifference take over. When he comes back, he's totally different. He's angry and hateful. It's a very powerful book.
Margalit (Mocsari) Modai.
LISTINGS and CENSII back to top
II Jozsef alatt,
Gustav Thirring- Budapest ,1938 (The people of Hungary under Emperor Joseph the 2nd,i.e. 1785)
Primarily a statistical compilation of the famous census data, re-gathered from a variety of archives. Consists of tabulation of population break-downs by region, religion, occupation, social status, density, gender etc. and a caption of what actual material survived.(The archives in Csongrad still have "ten humonguous volumes" of the original registration sheets).
However, there is also fascinating narrative that helps to understand the political standing of the Austrian empire vs Hungary vs the nobles vs the towns vs the Jews vs everybody and everything else.
The reign of Joseph the 2nd 1780-1790, which ended with his untimely death, is a continuation and reaction of his mother's reign, Queen Maria-Theresa, who tried for 30 years, patiently and unsuccessfully, to transform her empire into a more centralized, well functioning country, similar to her arch-rival, Prussia, and against the autonomy of the counties/nobles.
The Hungarian nobles resisted these efforts including the census in question. Although not the primary reason, this census, taken with the involvement of the army, led to physical confrontations and brought Hungary to the brink of revolt. This is why, after Joseph's death, most census records were destroyed by the county officials, the nobles. Many of king's edicts, including the edict directing the Jews to assume last names, were ignored or reversed.
There are separate breakdowns for Jews, even in places where the statistical significance is zero. (The Jews were only 1% of the population overall). Although Maria-Theresa was very much anti-Jewish, I wonder if the preoccupation with the Jewish questions had something to do with the struggle against the Turks/Non-Christians/Pagans and thus Jews.
Finally, this census is the precursor of the famous 1787 edict that ordered Jews to adopt permanent family names. Also, for anyone interested, in the whole Hungary(Jews No different) therewas a shortage of 100,000 women! Poor guys...
Magyar Szabadsagharc es a Zsidok.
Dr. Bela Bernstein,
Budapest 1898, 1937, 1998 -- The 1848 Magyar Struggle for Freedom and the Jews
The book contains two sections: The first is a compendium of heroics of Jewish participants in the 1848 war of independence, the second is a list of roughly 2000 names of Jewish soldiers, medics and officers. It appears that it was first published to demonstrate the Jewish effort and patriotism to the Hungariancause. The 1937 edition is clearly a political manifest in the wake of the growing anti-Semitism and the "Jewish Laws". The 1998 edition appears to be a centennial commemorative.
The war of independence(from Austria) was an unsuccessful popular uprising that quickly turned into a civil war and subsequent defeat. No records per-se, survived the defeat, and it took almost 20 years until life returned to normal and the first attempt was made to gather war information. The second attempt was in 1890 where a roster of the still living was combined. After the revolution many were executed, especially leaders, some emigrated to the U. S., some even served in the Turkish army. About a thousand Jews were especially punished by having to serve in the Austrian army. One bonanza-- their names were recorded in the Austrian Military Archives!
By the best estimates there were 15,000 Jewish participants in the war, out of an army of 150,000. Their ratio of the total population was 3%. Of the 15.000 names about 2,000 are documented here. The Book is written in the 19th century flowery style and is not clear enough by today's standards.
The four listings are:
Officers' listing in 1848
Officers alive in 1867, listed with a location, that appears to be their residence
Veterans still alive in 1890 listed with a location, as above
The Austrian Military List, with place and date of birth. Most useful
Two databases will appear on the Home page: 2,200 veterans sorted
by name and by location