In memory and honor
The underground of the Zionist youth movements in Hungary – 1944
From David Gore’s lecture at “e; Yad Vashem”; March 2015
At the end of 1943, early 1944, it was clear to the behavior of the Zionist youth movements in Hungary that systematic extermination of European Jews by the Germans took place. Everything for the salvation of Hungarian Jewry The reasons that were unequivocally decisive for the choice of rescue rather than fighting were:
Lack of topographic conditions – most of Hungary’s vast expanse, poor in forests, without marshland.
Lack of time – with the Germans entering Hungary, the anti-Jewish decrees were haunting each other with dizzying speed. Within a short time the Jews were concentrated in the ghettos and within a few weeks the Jews of the province were deported to Auschwitz. There was no time for getting organized.
The lack of a coat of arms – most Jewish men aged 21 – 42 served in forced labor under the Hungarian army and by 1942 most of them were on the Russian front. Those who were not recruited before, between the ages of 18 – 48, were called to the service after the Germans entered. With women and children alone, armed resistance cannot be organized.
The lack of empathy from the local population – an atmosphere of hostility, and strangeness prevailed among Hungarian citizens. No aid could be expected from any of the non-Jewish locals.
The occupation of Hungary surprised the Hungarian authorities and Jewish institutions, except for the Zionist youth movements. As early as the evening of the occupation and the next day, the members of the older movement over the age of 17 were instructed to change their identity, identify Aryan and go underground. Thus, in the new identity, the anti-Jewish laws to come will not apply to them, and then they will be able to act and save others. This strategic decision marked the beginning of the underground activity. At the end of the Slash rule of the Jewish public in Budapest, he saw the underground members and the leaders of the underground as an alternative Jewish leadership. Underground members knowingly risked rescuing their friends and rescuing thousands of Jews they did not know. The underground leadership’s decisions on rescue operations were autonomous. They did not receive orders from anyone, neither local nor overseas. The underground operatives had the opportunity at any given moment to cement themselves.
The initiatives of the Hungarian Zionist youth underground in 1944 included the following rescue operations:
Sending 200 emissaries to Jewish communities in the field towns and forced labor camps to alert them to the expected deportation and purpose.
The smuggling of about 15,000 youth into Romania, in the direction of Israel.
Establishing and operating 55 children’s homes in which six thousand people were rescued.
Providing “e; sponsorship” e; (Schutzpass) to tens of thousands of Jews to postpone the end.
Sending emissaries to Jewish communities in the field towns and forced labor camps
From the first day of the German occupation the Jewish communities of the field cities were cut off from their surroundings, from the main Jewish institutions in Budapest and from all over the world. The use of public transport was forbidden to Jews, the phones were cut off, the radios were obliged to be handed over to the authorities. The youth movement’s underground, on its own initiative, sent envoys to the detached province, to warn of the expected anti-Jewish measures: the ghettoization, the approaching deportation and the purpose of the deportation. The emissaries brought fake certificates, money and instructions to the Jewish youth how to escape to Budapest.
The envoys were equipped with appropriate certificates to fulfill their dangerous duties. The apostles were not always able to contact friends or local Jews, as there were instances where they were completely distracted by community leaders. The existing documentation indicates about 200 emissaries who arrived in 300 communities and forced labor camps during 1944.
The smuggling of about 15,000 youth into Romania, in the direction of Israel
The only escape route from the concentration camp, the extermination camp and the safe death was the immigration – to flee across the Romanian border, towards Israel, then Palestine. Thus began the organized smuggling of Jewish youth (a trip to the Hebrew code by professional smugglers) to Romania through the border towns of Szeged, Kolozsvár, Békéscsaba and Nagyvarad. The smuggling began in Budapest, in the composition of a group of applicants for smuggling, and in the individual preparation of each. This preparation included taking care of appropriate attire, certificates, memorizing their new names. It was necessary to provide everyone with both Hungarian and Romanian money. Applicants were briefed on how to behave on the train, where to meet the smuggler and how to identify him. They had to go through the ring of security forces, the army, the police and deaf agents trying to identify and capture undercover Jews, enter the Budapest traffic lane and buy a train ticket. For the long hours of the trip, they had to behave without drawing attention and showing the certificates naturally to the suspicious testers. They spent the night in a foreign city with the help of a smuggler. Then they crossed the border on foot at night and sent back the agreed sign that the escape had succeeded. Arriving in the first large city on the Romanian side – Arad or Turda, since they did not speak Romanian, Jews from the border area who also spoke Hungarian to reach Bucharest were aided. In this dangerous operation, several people were caught while traveling by train, also in the border towns and sometimes even on the Romanian side.
The organized smuggling operation ceased on 23 August 1944. Romania discontinued its support for the Germans and joined the war with the Soviet Union. The Romanian-Hungarian border became a battlefield. According to records in the community books of the cities of Arad and Torda, 15,000 Jewish youths crossed the border illegally for a period of time between April – August 1944.
Establishing and operating fifty-five children’s homes in which six thousand people were rescued
On October 15, 1944, after the rise of the Fascist Arrow Cross party, various age groups of Jewish men and women were ordered to report to forced labor. This caused the adult population of Budapest to disappear and many children remained without parents. Within a short period of time, members of the Zionist youth movements erected fifty-five children’s homes under the auspices of the International Red Cross, under Department A, headed by Nathan Komoy, president of the Zionist Organization. In these children’s homes, 6,000 people survived.
The Zionist youth movement underground ensured the continuous supply of basic food for children’s homes and during the cold winter months also for heating materials. Members of the youth movement’s underground escorted the supply carts and protected the food shipments from the harassment of armed groups of the “E; the Arrow Cross”; or from arbitrary confiscation by a military unit.
Providing “e; sponsorship” e; And the document forging workshop
From 1941, the Swiss Embassy represented Hungary in Great Britain and the affairs of Israel as part of the British Empire, and the arrangements for immigration to Israel. Three weeks after the success of the Normandy invasion by the Allied forces on June 6, 1944, the Hungarian Government’s Forum approved the memo of the Swiss Embassy for the realization of 7,800 certificates in the possession of the Israeli Land Office in Budapest and issued by the Palestinian Authority .
On July 24, 1944, an office was opened to register immigration applications and the Aliyah organization under the sign: “e; Immigration Department, Foreign Interest Representation, Swiss Embassy” e; Until the administrative processes of immigration were completed, the applicants received a Schutzpass sponsor certificate stating that they are registered with a collective passport that defined them until their departure from Hungary as Swiss nationals under the auspices of the Swiss delegation. This registration office is located at 29 Vadász Street at “e; the Glass House”; a building that enjoys extraterritorial status.
From August, the Ministry of Zionist Youth Movements operated in “e; the Glass House” e; Under the direction of Rafi Benalom. In this office, underground activists handed out fake certificates, received their assignments, briefed applicants for escape across the border, where encrypted messages of border robbery arrived, and from there directed the envoys to the forced labor camps. To “e; the glass house” e; The news came about members of the underground who were captured and imprisoned and from there took care to redeem them from captivity. Office “e; pioneer” e; Discussions and negotiations were held with representatives of the anti-German and anti-fascist groups on cooperation – without the knowledge of the management of the “glass house”; Consultations by the leadership of the underground Zionist youth movements were also now held between the walls of “e; the glass house” e; The safest place in the casual and dangerous meeting places in cafes and parks.
In the second half of October, after the eucharist’s party; the Arrow Cross; e, the youth movement underground initiated the “e; gates of the glass house”; And they were swallowed up by deserters from forced labor camps, families of Zionist activists, members of youth movements and others. “e; glass house” e; Which has expanded to be three buildings. Zionist youth in “e; the glass house” e; Initiate a huge and pretentious rescue enterprise: Provide a sponsor to all who require to earn time and push the end !! The certificates were printed at the “glass house” and also from the “e” offices; the International Red Cross “e” and the “e; the Swiss Consulate” e; specially erected for this purpose. Entire units of forced labor were returned with the help of these certificates from the German border. e; the Glass House; e; sheltered over 4,000 Jews who were liberated on January 18, 1945 by the Red Army.
In May-June 1944, an anti-German alliance called “e; the Hungarian Front” was organized; Attended by several parties and personalities of the regime’s opponents. They needed fake IDs and went to the underground of the Zionist youth movements to provide them with documents that would allow them to change their identity and act underground. Their requests were answered. The main documents provided to the anti-regime groups were: a certificate of permanent residence, military documents and certificates of a military worker. Thanks to these connections, the anti-German circles provided apartments, hiding places and workplaces for members of the Zionist youth movements.
For safety reasons, the forgery document has replaced its location and camouflage several times. At the beginning of December the linker who held the connection with the outside world did not appear at the appointed time nor later. According to the unwritten laws of the underground, the workshop left its location immediately. On December 21, 1944, in the new workplace, located at the branch of the city engineer’s office at 13 Ardibet, three members of the workshop team were captured, with all the equipment. The three (David Gore, Mickey Langer, Andrei Fabri) were brutally interrogated at the “e; Arrow Cross” party offices. Mickey Langer got his soul out of the power of torture. The two survivors were taken to the central military prison on Margit Avenue, where their investigations and tortures continued. On December 25, the underground leadership released them along with 115 other underground members who were imprisoned in the same facility.