Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Prominent Jew Escaping from Hungary Depicts German-hungarian Anti-jewish Atrocities

August 18, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Yugoslavian Central National Committee today reported that Koloman Kamarash, a prominent Jewish industrialist of Yugoslavia, reached the headquarters of Gen. Michailovich’s Army after having escaped from Hungary where his wife committed suicide when exposed to indignities.

The escaped Jewish industrialist had sought shelter in Budapest from the Nazi persecution of Jews in occupied Yugoslavia. Only a few weeks ago he was an eye-witness of the brutal German robbing and extermination of the Jews in Hungary. He said that, in addition to the Germans, there were two Hungarian high officials especially culpable in the mass-deportation and extermination of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews, Ladislav Vitez Endre, under-secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, and Lt. Colonel Stefan Dagy of the gendarmerie.

Immediately upon the occupation of Hungary, the fugitive Jew said, the Gestapo in Budapest suspended all the Jewish religious communities and established the so-called “Jewish Council,” which executed the orders of the Gestapo. At the same time wealthy and prominent Jews began to be arrested according to lists previously drawn up. Parallel with these arrests the Jewish Council was forced to send summons to other less prominent Jews to report at the building of the Jewish Seminary which served as gathering place for those to be sent to camps. The activity of the Hungarian government in the first four months consisted mainly of issuing decrees against the Jews.

“Upon their arrival, the Germans requisitioned Jewish flats and villas, throwing the occupants out into the street,” Mr. Kamarash continued. “All the Jewish houses, of course, were plundered. A decree soon arrived ordering the Jews to give over everything they had of gold, diamonds, precious stones and platinum. All the Jewish bank accounts were blocked and all ready cash over three thousand pengos was to be given up. The next decree ordered all Jewish shops to be closed in the course of 24 hours. About twenty thousand Budapest shops were Jewish, and German trucks could be seen daily taking away wares from these shops till nothing was left.


“The next decree ordered all Jews to live in ghettos. Jews were allowed to bring with them bundles of personal necessities not weighing over fifty kilos. These Jewish living quarters were situated in provinces and consisted of abandoned mills, barracks, brick kilns, gypsy houses, and in some towns of partially demolished houses. The worst Ghettos were in the Carpathian regions, in Bachka, and in Erdelj. In Munkach five thousand Jews were packed into an insufficient number of barracks and several hundred died daily of hunger and disease. The Yugoslav Jews from Bachka were first gathered in an abandoned mill in Subotica from where they were sent to Baja, without having received any food. There they remained under the open sky till the end of April, when they were packed into freight cars, seventy to a car, and without food or water were sent further on. It was learned later on that the greater part of these wretched people were found dead in freight cars when they were unloaded, and that all the survivors were killed in lethal chambers.”

There were no ghetto quarters in Budapest only because the government was of the opinion that the city would be spared of Angl-American bombing if the Jewish population lived dispersed all over the town, the escaped Jewish industrialist said. The so-called Jewish houses were marked at the entrance with a yellow star. At the end of June, the deportation of all Jews from Hungary, except Budapest, had been effected.

Recommended from JTA