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Symposium Marks 70 Years Since the Destruction of Hungarian Jewry

Launch of New Book Conscripted Slaves Details the Plight of Jewish Forced Laborers in Hungary

2 April 2014

On Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 9:00 Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research will hold a special symposium focusing on Jews in Hungary during the Holocaust. The symposium will consist of two central sessions: the first discussing forced labor of Hungarian Jews and the second focusing on special aspects of the Holocaust concerning Hungarian Jewry. The event will be held in the Constantiner Lecture Hall at the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem. The symposium is open to the public and the press and will be conducted in Hebrew.

Opening remarks will be delivered by the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel, Andor Nagy and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. Sessions will be chaired by Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto, Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research of Yad Vashem and Prof. Dina Porat, Chief Historian of Yad Vashem, and will include lectures from leading researchers in the field of Hungarian Jewry and the Holocaust including: Dr. Robert Rozett, Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries and author of the newly released Yad Vashem publication, Conscripted Slaves: Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, Dr. David Silberklang, Editor-in-Chief of Yad Vashem Studies, Judit Konya, a researcher of the halakhic consequences of anti-Jewish legislation issued by the Hungarian government and the local authorities between 1938 and 1944, Prof. Dan Michman, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research of Yad Vashem and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies, Dr. Na’ama Shik, Director of the Educational Technology Department at the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem and Dr. Rafi Vago, Tel Aviv University.

The symposium was made possible by the Gutwirth Family Foundation.

Conscripted Slaves: Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, by Dr. Robert Rozett, tells the story of the some 45,000 Jewish men who were forced to accompany Hungarian troops to the battle zone of the Former Soviet Union during the spring of 1942 until the summer of 1944. The Hungarian authorities considered these men unworthy of bearing weapons, yet demanded they take part fully in the “blood sacrifice” of the war against Stalin and his forces. Some 80% of the Jewish forced laborers never returned home, falling prey to battle, starvation, disease, and grinding labor, aggravated immensely by brutality and even outright murder at the hands of the Hungarian soldiers responsible for them.

The vast majority of Hungarian Jewry was deported during the last year of the war following the German occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944 and continuing until the end of the war in Europe. The Jews of Hungary were deported under German command mostly by Hungarian police and officials. In addition, beginning in 1942, tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews died after being conscripted by the Hungarian military as forced laborers, and thousands of others were handed over to the Germans where they were murdered in the first major shooting action in 1941. Overall, some 568,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.