Jews saved from deportation at the last minute in Budapest, Hungary
Appearing in the photograph are Jews who were saved at the last minute from deportation after they received diplomatic certificates of protection. The photograph was taken from the car of Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous Among the Nations, who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest through the issuing of diplomatic certificates of protection and other efforts.
The German army conquered Budapest, the capital of Hungary, in March 1944. The deportation of Hungarian Jewry began in May. By July, 437,000 Jews had been deported, the majority of whom were murdered in Auschwitz. During that period the Jews of Budapest were not deported, yet they were concentrated in homes that were marked with Jewish stars. The deportations of Hungarian Jewry to the death camps ceased in July 1944.
In October 1944 a fascist regime under Ferenc Szalasi was established in Hungary. In the first days of the new regime approximately 600 Jews in Budapest were murdered and many Jews were forced to build fortifications against the advancing Russian army. On November 8 the deportations resumed, and on November 13 a ghetto was established in Budapest. Diplomatic representatives of neutral countries, including Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, issued to many of the city’s Jews documents that declared their bearer to be under the protection of the neutral country. Many of the Jews who held these documents were living in homes that bore the flags of the foreign and neutral consulates, and were thus protected from deportation.
The majority of the Jews of Budapest not in possession of these documents were concentrated in the ghetto in Budapest by December 2. The ghetto’s population numbered approximately 70,000. During December 1944 and January 1945 between ten to twenty thousand Jews were murdered in Budapest by members of the ruling “Arrow Cross” party.
The different sections of Budapest were liberated in January and February 1945. Approximately 120,000 Jews survived in the city, the majority in the ghetto, and the others as a result of the documents of diplomatic protection, falsified Aryan papers and hiding places.
Yad Vashem Photo Archives 1249/34