Munkács Under German Rule
In the early hours of 19 March 1944, Nazi Germany invaded Hungary. Together with the Wehrmacht, SS units and Gestapo men arrived and immediately began their operations. The German invasion of Subcarpathian Rus' left the Jews bewildered, as they were mentally prepared for their liberation by the Red Army and had not expected such a tragic turn of events.
Deportation of the Jews of Munkács. The Jews walked with their possessions along Mihaly street, opposite the great theater. They were brought to the brick factory, from where they were deported.
"On 20 March the Germans entered Munkács. I remember that day as sad and tense. The town was paralyzed; everyone locked themselves up in their homes, and only we, the children, stood at the corner of the street and watched what was taking place. A German soldier shouted at us to clear the pavement, and forbade us to go out after evening fell. They went into the houses and searched them thoroughly for money and valuables – all just to agonize us. When they entered the synagogue they ordered us to bring religious Jews with beards and sidelocks. They made them stand in front of the Holy Ark and sing while trampling the Torah scrolls […] those who refused or tried to run away were shot to death."
(Peretz Litman, Hana'ar MiMunkacs, (Hebrew), p. 46)
The first days of the occupation were marked by many anti-Jewish actions, replete with violence and humiliation. An order was made for the Jews to wear a yellow circle, 10 cm wide. This was replaced with a yellow Star of David of the same size on 5 April, the day the same official order was proclaimed across Hungary. Jewish shops and offices were also marked, and later confiscated. Jews were forbidden from riding public transportation except with a special permit; they were forbidden from using the telephone or receiving regular mail. Jews were not allowed to leave their homes after nightfall, and their residential areas were limited. A Judenrat (Zsidó Tanács in Hungarian) was established in the town, headed by the previous community leader Dr. Peter Zoltán. After Zoltán was ousted by the German invaders, the Judenrat was led by one of the community heads, Dr. Sandor Steiner.
Jews who were not residents of Munkács were forced to leave the town and return home within a few days. Students and teachers at the Munkács Hebrew Gymnasium that lived in the towns and villages in the area were also forced to leave. At the final meeting that took place at the hevra kadisha (burial society) building, the director and teachers of the Gymnasium decided to hold the matriculation examinations and complete the school year. The Gymnasium building had been confiscated by the Germans and turned into a military hospital.
The Germans established a camp at the Sajovits Brick Factory at the southern edge of the town, and at the Kallus Brick Factory in the northern edge. Jews from surrounding villages were concentrated there, together with wealthy Munkács Jews. The latter suffered a web of torture to force them to reveal the whereabouts of their property.