Trial of Rioters Responsible for Kunmadaras Pogrom Opens; Synagogue Fire Investigated

The trial of eight persons charged with responsibility for the anti-Semitic riot at the town of Kunmadaras on May 21 during which three Jews were killed and many injured, has opened here before a military court.

Most of the defendants, among whom there is one woman, were shoeless and dressed in tattered clothing. The woman, Esther Kabai-Toth, was unable to give her birth date, but said she was about 41 years old. Two of the others are illiterates. The youngest defendant is only 15.

The Kabai-Toth woman is charged with spreading the report that a missing child had been kidnapped by a Jewish shopkeeper and killed for his flesh, from which sausages were made. The prosecution brought out that she had continued to spread the rumor after she knew that the child had been found.

The other chief instigators of the riot, according to preliminary evidence, were a Slovakian named Zsigmond Toth and a school master named Nagy. The latter was on trial before a local court in Kunmadaras for pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic activities when the outbreak occurred. Toth is charged with making statements to the effect that the extermination of Slovakian Jewry was progressing and that the Jews of Hungary must suffer the same fate.

Aside from the slander about the Jews murdering children and the sympathy felt by many persons for the schoolmaster, the main motivation for the riot seems to have been a desire to loot the shops of the Jews who were the targets of the attack. As one of the injured men lay dying, the mob carried almost everything moveable from his store. The local police made no move to stop them. Two of the injured Jews, a husband and wife, had returned from the Bergen-Belsen camp only six weeks before the outbreak.

One of the accused told the court today that he was innocent, because the steel rod with which he had beaten one of the murdered Jews was hollow and, therefore, could not be considered a lethal weapon.

(Police authorities in Budapest announced today that an investigation of the destruction of an Orthodox synagogue at Mako, last Friday night, is continuing. The persons believed to be responsible for setting the fire which razed the synagogue have not been found, and some investigators have expressed the opinion that the blaze may have been caused by lightning.)

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