The Princeton Jewish Center is offering a program that is free and open to all on Zoom.
This program, titled Hungarian Jewry Before, During, and After the Holocaust, will take place on Sunday, December 5, at noon, will be a conversation with two Hungarian Holocaust survivors: Agnes Kaposi and Maritza Shelley, facilitated by László Csősz. Register in advance at https://thejewishcenter.org/learning/adult-ed/ .
Jewish life in Hungary in the 1930s and 40s had its own unique challenges. The first law against Jews dates from 1920, and more than 20 other laws and regulations followed, curtailing civil rights of Jewish citizens. In 1933, when Hitler came to power in Germany, Hungary elected a pro-fascist Prime Minister. When Hungary entered WWII on Hitler’s side, Jewish men were conscripted into the army, and most were lost because of cruel treatment by their fellow countrymen. The rest of the Jewish population suffered from abuse and discrimination, but the Holocaust did not touch them until March 1944 when the German army occupied its ally Hungary. Almost immediately, ghettos were set up, and in 56 days, almost half a million Jews were killed in Auschwitz.
Dr Agnes Kaposi is an engineer. She was born to Jewish Socialist parents in 1932. Her memoir, Yellow Star – Red Star, is underpinned by historical commentary, describing her early years before the war, her experience in the camps both in Hungary and in Austria, her post-war years under a Stalinist regime, and her immigration to the United Kingdom in 1957, where she continues to live to this day.
Maritza Shelley was born in 1928 into a middle-class Jewish family. Along with her sister, she was sent to a slave labor camp. Later they were joined by their mother. They were forced to march--the final destination would have been a concentration camp in Germany ("Eichmann’s death march"). The three escaped before the march crossed the German border and were reunited with her father in Budapest, where they all lived under forged papers with the support of non-Jewish friends. Her father died right after Budapest was liberated. Maritza immigrated to the United States; her sister and mother stayed in Hungary.
To facilitate the conversation, we are fortunate to have Dr László Csősz. He is a historian and senior archivist at the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest. His main fields of research include the social history of the Jews in Hungary as well as antisemitic social and economic policies and the Holocaust in Hungary.
Neil Litt, Princeton, NJ