07 June 2004
Yad Vashem Chairman of the Directorate Avner Shalev welcomed the Hungarian Government decision to establish a committee to investigate the fate of lists of Jewish Holocaust victims. Under the auspices of the Hungarian Government, the working group will embark on a systematic and comprehensive search of all remaining archival documentation to complete the lists of names of Hungarian Jews deported to their deaths during the Shoah. Experts from Yad Vashem will be part of the committee, and the names in the resulting lists will be added to Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names.
The Hungarian decision comes in response to a request by President Moshe Katsav to Hungarian President Ferenc Madl, during Katsav’s visit to Hungary for the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Budapest in April, 2004. The Hungarians created the lists of names in 1944 before the process of ghettoization began. These lists represent the only possibility of discovering the names of Hungarian Jews murdered in the Shoah, since in Hungary and its occupied territories no deportation lists were ever produced (unlike in other countries, for example, France.)
In December 2003, a ministerial committee of the Hungarian government, under the chairmanship of Dr. Lajos Gecsenyi, was established to investigate the fate of the lists. In its report of March 2004, the committee found that the majority of lists of Jewish victims in Hungary had been destroyed or lost during World War II and the Communist era. Further, it declared that what little remained “can be found in archival collections” but could only be discovered through “meticulous and painstaking historical research work.”
Following President Katsav’s meeting with President Madl, Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy expressed his willingness to establish a joint working group comprised of specialists from the Holocaust Museum and Documentation Center in Budapest, and Yad Vashem. In a meeting with Prime Minister Medgyessy, Shalev welcomed the decision to establish the working group and the inclusion of Yad Vashem’s experts in the commission. In a letter he recently sent to the Prime Minister, Shalev noted that, “Yad Vashem will be a full partner to the committee and will offer all the necessary assistance to promote this effort…. Yad Vashem has been involved in such projects in other countries, and we know that meticulous research may yield results,” Shalev also proposed that experts from other institutions, countries and Jewish organizations join in these efforts and be part of the committee.
Yad Vashem is convinced that finding the lists is a necessary step in the quest to collect and document the names of all the Jews killed in the Shoah.