2014. május 28., szerda

Religious Jews in Nyíregyháza

The fate of the Jewish people in Nyíregyháza is followed from 1840. The first Jew settling down in the town was Jakab Fried, who came to Nyíregyháza from Tokaj. Eight years later there were 71 people living in the town and their number was incred-ibly increasing due to the waves of immigration. Over thirty years their number grew twenty-nine times bigger. In 1880 there were 2053 people living in the town and their number was proportionally increasing with the population of the growing town, aver-agely until 1944 they gave 8-10 percent of the total population. Two religious tendencies appeared in the town, too: the orthodox and the status quo. The latter calls itself „status quo neolog". Using this phrase its followers wanted to indicate that most of the Jewish people in Nyíregyháza tended to assimilate, tried to adapt themselves to the local society and declared themselves Hungarian. By the beginning of the twentieth century the two tendencies separated from each other institutionally, only the elementary school and the 'Szentegylet' were maintained col-lectively Although the town during the mentioned period was explicitly considered as an agricultural territory, the Jewish people living here did not make any effort to acquire land. Most of them were engaged in trade and industry. In some commercial branch-es they nearly managed to gain monopoly as almost thirty percent of the units of trade belonged to them. The realization of the anti-Jewish laws resulted in the economic and political impossibility of performance of the Jewish people in Nyíregyháza, too. As a result twenty-five committee members - who were elected or gained their membership by right of their being the greatest tax-payers of the community - were expelled from the municipal corporation. The imprisoning of the Jewish people in Nyíregyháza into ghettos took place on 23 April in 1944. Until then there were only provincial Jewish people in the ghettos marked out in the middle of the town. The imprisoning of almost five thousand people into ghettos increased the number of people living there up to seventeen thousand. The realization of the originál schedule - the deportation of the people from the ghettos to reception camps - was hastened by incredible crowdedness, too. The majority of the Jewish people of Nyíregyháza were taken to Harangod puszta, but there were some of them in Nyírjes Tanya and Varjúlapos, as well. The evacuation of the reception camps started on 14 May and finished on 4 June. The destination through Kassa was Auschwitz II. Birkenau. Only 600-800 of the five thousand Jewish people from Nyíregyháza survived the hell of death camps. Unfortunately, they also demonstrate the public feeling which lacked sympathy and a helpful intention towards the slandered, outraged and robbed fellow-citizens was rarely felt. The list of the Jews of Nyíregyháza. Mayor Pál Nyíregyházi (Szohor) ordered the registration of the Jewish people living in the town on 11 April 1944. The list - made by the religious community - contains 4753 names. The register which is kept in the archives is the contemporary carbon copy of the original list. Today it is impossible to establish whether the registration took place on the basis of identity papers or verbal communication. There were people who were recorded twice and there were some people who were registered by their nicknames instead of their given names. Many people with identical names could be distinguished only on the basis of their moth-ers' names, but in the case of old widows the census-takers often used only the hus-bands' names not the maiden names.

I was born  István László Szabó in 1964. My father was the manager of a large agricultural estate in Demecser, a village of few thousand people, 30 km from Nyíregyhaza. We lived the normal Hungarian assimilated Jewish existence: I went to Demecser elementary school, had my Bar Mitzvah, went to the local synagogue on High holidays. My mother kept a kosher household. My father was only 49 years old when he was dead .The same year(1982), when I just finished High School. As Jews were not allowed to go to university, I went to the town of Nyiregyhaza, where I started an apprenticeship as an computer technician mechanic. The life was the most horrible, humiliating, soul destroying experience. My parents had lived a comfortable, middle class existence. My father was a proud Hungarian.  The brutality dehumanized everybody, not only the ones who did the beating, but us too. Old friends fought for the corners of the room, which looked more comfortable. The same happened in the kitchen, with cooking and food, if food was available at all. For me personally, the pathetic life did not last long.  My father who was a strong practical man, said to them, "I will not go, somebody has to stay with the women and children. At that time, I didn't know what would happen to my parents. It happened to my parents. Apart from cultural differences there was an other factor, which I could understand but never condone. was a survivor of a bitter struggle just to live, and wanted to live, even by treating us badly.Next day we went by train to Hungary. I did not go further than Szombathely, a border town, where the Hungarian medics put me in hospital. I was operated on my armpit, received antibiotics, and good nourishing food. When they felt I was well enough, around the middle of July, I went to Budapest, where I knew I had my mother's aunt. The train travel was a nightmare. People stormed the train in the second it pulled in the station. Thousands traveled, mostly for scrounging for food, as Budapest, was a city of starved people, totally without affordable food supply. There was a rampant inflation, one's wages was not worth a kilogram of bread at the evening of a pay-day. People sat even on the roof of train carriages, just to get. Nobody recognized me, not a living soul, but one.When we left to the haus, we gave our little fox-terrier to a neighbor. The dog was on the street, came towards me, licked my trousers, sniffed and jumped up and down. I became myself again, who, at last, been recognized and loved --by a dog. My father and mother murdered by overwork, or starvation. Nobody will ever know the exact truth about how they died.

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