GENEVA (Dec. 26)
The first authentic report on the situation of the Jews in Budapest and other sections of Hungary since last March, when the German Army occupied the country, reached here today. The report was smuggled out of Budapest several days ago.
“The Germans,” the report says, “entered Hungary on March 21, 1944 and immediately started the segregation of Jews into ghettos. This was followed by mass-deportations of Jews, so that by the middle of July not a single Jew remained in the Hungarian part of Transylvania, in the Carpathian section of the country and in southern Hungary. More than 600,000 Jews in these provinces were deported within a period of two months, most of them to the extermination camp of Oswiecim, in German-occupied Poland.
“From the city of Budapest only about 10,000 were deported at that time, while more than 250,000 Jews were herded into special ‘Jewish buildings.’ It was hoped that these Jews would be left alone, but the situation took a new turn in the middle of October, soon after the pro-Nazi Szalasy Government came to power.”
GERMAN TANKS ATTACK JEWISH HOMES IN BUDAPEST; THOUSANDS OF JEWS KILLED
Acting upon the orders of Premier Szalasy and supported by German troops, Hungarian anti-Semitic Arrow Cross units carried out a pogrom on October 15, during which many thousands of Jews were massacred on the streets of Budapest, the report continues. On the pretext that Jews were hiding arms in the “Jewish buildings” Arrow Cross units invaded Jewish homes and dragged the residents into the street killing them with utmost brutality. German tanks and armored cars fired at buildings from which Jewish residents refused to leave.
On the next day, October 16, an order was issued prohibiting Jews to leave their dwellings. The order remained in force for five days, during which no Jew could secure food. It was followed by segregation of all Jews in a ghetto which was established in the section of the city around Tabak Street which is thickly-populated by Jews. The Jewish population was given several days notice to move into the ghetto premises.
RED CROSS TRIED TO PROTECT 14,000 JEWISH HOLDERS OF “SECURITY PASSPORTS”
About 14,000 Jews in Budapest who were holders of Palestine emigration certificates and of “security passports” issued by the Swiss and Swedish legations were taken under the protection of the International Red Cross in Hungary. They were not ordered into the ghetto, but were kept in special houses in a fashionable section of the city, near the Margareten Bridge. It was understood that they were to be allowed to leave for neutral countries with the permission of the Hungarian authorities.
Meanwhile, the Szalasy Government issued an order conscripting all able-bodied Jews – men up to the age of 60 and women up to the age of 40 – for forced labor. It was indicated that 50,000 of these laborers would be sent to Germany. Actually the number deported to Germany was more than 100,000. The remaining Jews were put to work building fortifications in the vicinity of Budapest. Only children and aged persons remained in the ghetto.
Soon the Arrow Cross units, who were in charge of driving Jews to forced labor, began to hunt for Jews in the section where the holders of Palestine certificates and security passports resided. They disregarded the fact that these Jews were under the supervision of the International Red Cross. Several thousand holders of Swiss and Swedish passports were dragged by Arrow Cross youths into a synagogue on Tabak Street, where they were brutally beaten and their “security passports” torn up. They were then sent to the premises of a brick factory which was the center where all Jewish slave laborers were herded under the open sky.
HUNDREDS OF JEWS BECAME INSANE; MANY DIED OF DISEASE
At the same time, members of the Arrow Cross organization continued their raids on Jewish homes in the ghetto and plundered everything which was of value, leaving the aged and the sick to sleep on the bare wooden floors of crowded houses and in dark unventilated basements. Many hundreds of Jews became insane, others died of epidemic diseases which developed in the ghetto. No medical aid was available.
During the Arrow Cross raids Jews were murdered by the hundreds. What has happened to those who were taken to work on fortifications around Budapest is not known. Up to today no information is available as to their fate. It is assumed that many of them were among the 100,000 Budapest Jews who, early this month, were driven on foot to the Austrian frontier and perished either en route, or in the woods at the Austro-Hungarian border after the Germans selected only 2,000 as fit for labor in copper minas.