Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller
Hungarian Holocaust: Documents of a Swedish Safe House in the International Ghetto of Budapest in November 1944
Hungarian Holocaust: Documents of a Swedish Safe House in the International Ghetto of Budapest in November 1944
Hungarian Holocaust: Documents of a Swedish Safe House in the International Ghetto of Budapest in November 1944
Hungarian Holocaust: Documents of a Swedish Safe House in the International Ghetto of Budapest in November 1944

Hungarian Holocaust: Documents of a Swedish Safe House in the International Ghetto of Budapest in November 1944

Budapest: Pannónia Utca 8, 1944. Manuscript. Loose leaf. During World War II Hungary was allied with Nazi Germany, however, the Jewish community was relatively secure despite the discriminatory, anti-Semitic legislation until the German occupation of the county in March 1944. Within two months after the occupation virtually the entire Jewry of the countryside was deported. In early July Miklós Horthy, the Regent of Hungary issued a directive to suspend the deportations after the intervention by international representatives, including Pope Pius XII, King Gustav of Sweden and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At this point, only the Jewry of Budapest remained in Hungary. The authorities, instead of ghettoizing ordered the Jews into over 2,000 designated buildings scattered throughout the city, to avoid heavy air-raid and strategic or carpet-bombing by the allied forces. These were the so-called yellow-star buildings, as they were marked with yellow Stars of David.

In July of 1944 Raoul Wallenberg arrived in Hungary, serving as Sweden's special envoy in Budapest. He began distributing certificates of protection (Schutz-Pass' and other protective documents), established hospitals, nurseries, and a soup kitchens for the Jews of Budapest. Wallenberg, together with other foreign diplomats, bought residential buildings and designated them as “safe houses”, which were reserved for Jews and their families holding Swedish certificates of protection. More than thirty of these buildings were under the protection of the Swedish Embassy. These safe houses were located in the neighborhood of Pest near the Danube, and called the “small” or “international ghetto”. Almost 40,000 people lived here, often with up to 60 people sharing one room. In 1945 January, an estimated 119,000 Jewish people were liberated in Budapest, 25,000 survived here (and about 70,000 in the “big” or Budapest ghetto that was set up in the meantime).

Some of the buildings in the international ghetto had been assigned to the Jews by the Hungarian authorities, serving as yellow-star houses. Among them the one at Pannónia street 8 (a large apartment building with ornate Art Nouveau, eclectic facade, it still stands today and is protected by the local government as a designated landmark of the city), whose records are presented here.

This remarkable collection of documents comprised of [1] the assignment of the officials of the safe house (they are named in ink), [2] its three-page policy and [3] two printed letters of requisitions related to the provision of food. All documents were issued by the Royal Swedish Embassy or its Humanitarian Department whose director was Rezső Müller (he is mentioned by name in one of the letters), a very close associate of Raoul Wallenberg, whose testimonies are often cited as he was one of the last persons who has seen Wallenberg alive in Budapest on January 17, 1945, before he left the city to meet with the Soviet military commander, General Malinovsky in the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen.

These papers, besides being a significant evidence of Wallenberg’s rescue efforts in Hungary, reveal the details on a more personal level of this important episode of the Hungarian Holocaust.

We could not trace any surviving copies of the Swedish Safe house rules or anything similar to these documents.

[1] Document Stating the Officials Assigned to the Safe House

[Carbon copy:] Tájékoztatás. [In ink:] “Pannonia u. 8.” [Carbon copy:] u. sz. ház A Svéd Királyi Követség védettjei részére. [Information For Those Protected By the Royal Swedish Embassy At Pannónia Street 8.]

One-page carbon copy document, filled in ink. Contains the names and titles of the officials of the safe house. Dated on November 25, 1944.

The document informs the residents of the safe house that the appointed house-commander is Dr. Gyula Gábor, the designated doctor is Dr. Lipót Kéval, and the nurses are Mrs. Lipót Kéval and Mária Balassa. It states that the number of the residents is 43 (the relatively low number is due to the fact that the building was already a designated yellow-star building, thus most of the apartments were already occupied) and requests the residents to read and sign the house policy that could be obtained from the house-commander (it remained unsigned).

Both, the house-commander Dr. Gyula Gábor and the physician of the building Dr. Lipót Kéval survived the Holocaust. Dr. Gábor was a dentist and became director of a hospital in 1945. Kéval (sometimes referred as Kévai) volunteered for DEGOB (Magyarországi Zsidók Deportáltakat Gondozó Országos Bizottsága), the National Relief Committee for Deportees after the end of the war to provide medical care for the returned deportees.

[2] Policy of the Safe House

[In ink:] Pannonia ucca 8. [Carbon copy:] A Svéd Király Követség védettjei részére kijelölt házak tájékoztatója. [Guide Of the Buildings Protected By the Royal Swedish Embassy.]

A three-page carbon copy document detailing the information and policy of the Swedish safe houses, dated on November 26, 1944.

Contains the instructions and regulations of the house in general, and the duties of the appointed house-commander, physician(s) and nurse(s).

The house-commander is in charge to register the Swedish certificates of protection of the inhabitants, appoints room commanders, keeps the regular contact with the Humanitarian Department of the Swedish Embassy (who maintained the safe-houses), negotiates between them and the residents, takes special care of the elders, children and the poor, registers the professions of the residents, lists the inhabitants who have no certificates of protection, and takes care of the general janitorial works.

The document also regulates the practices of the physicians in general and orders them to provide medical care to the residents free of charge, to designate and equip a room as an infirmary, to appoint the nurses, and to keep daily contact with the Humanitarian Department through the house-commander.

[3] Two Letters from the Humanitarian Department of the Swedish Embassy to the House-Commander. Both are one-page carbon copies, unsigned, dated on November 26 and 27, 1944.

The first letter informs the house-commander that the Swedish Red Cross will provide two plates of warm food daily for the protected residents of the safe house. The second requests the commander to compile a list of the residents whose food coupon has been lost or confiscated, including details regarding the loss, the type of the coupon, and the period of its validity. And it request the reply sent to Rezsö Müller, the head of the Humanitarian Department of the Swedish Embassy., as soon as possible.

Text in Hungarian. All documents with horizontal fold and light wear along edges, e.g. paper clip indentations, small chips. The first document with small brown stain and somewhat tinted from blue carbon paper. The second document with four underlined lines, stapled and slightly age toned. The two letters slightly age toned with two lines stemming from carbon paper. The documents are in overall very good condition. vg. Item #43774

Price: $7,500.00

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