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Gestapo Herds Thousands of Hungarian Jews into Three Concentration Camps

March 26, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Thousands of Hungarian Jews arrested by the Gestapo in Budapest and other parts of occupied Hungary are now being held in three concentration camps, awaiting deportation to Poland for extermination in gas chambers or forced labor in Upper Silesian coal mines, it was reported here today.

A brief S.O.S. reached here today from Jews in Hungary in the form of a carefully worded telegram of twenty words, which can all be reduced to the single word “Help” The message discloses that the camps where the arrested Jews are being held are located in Ersekuyvar, Ipolysag and Fuelek.

The first eye-witness account to reach here said that thousands of Jews, Social Democrats and various anti-Nazis swarmed over the countryside outside of Budapest after dark Sunday, making for the Slovakian frontier 70 miles away. Few trains left Budapest that night, and to board them required at least three special permits.

Carefully evading the main highways, the refugees, laden with bundles, tramped northward. Many were caught before they had a chance to reach the outskirts of Budapest. The rest marched for three consecutive nights, sleeping during the day in barns and woods along the way. Refugees from other towns were met by those from Budapest.

On Wednesday they approached the frontier. It is estimated that 10,000, divided into groups led by local guides, were prepared to cross into Slovakia at points usually not heavily guarded. But they were too late. The Slovak government had moved up reinforcements to guard the frontier, and along the 400-mile stretch from Bratislava to Kosice, there was not a loophole for the despairing refugees. Thousands were arrested, while Hungarian peasants sympathetically provided first-aid and shelter for others who were not seized, but who were too weary to flee elsewhere.

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