THE PATH TO DESTRUCTION
PLAQUE MEMORIALIZING THE 1944 MISKOLC GHETTO
The text of the plaque reads:
On this site stood the Miskolc ghetto during the summer
of 1944, from where the fascist authority carried off
14,000 Jewish-classified Hungarian city-residents to Nazi
death camps. With everlasting reverence, we remember them
and the other senselessly massacred Miskolc martyrs
of the Holocaust of the Second World War.
Route from Miskolc to Auschwitz
At the beginning of World War II, there were 10,428 Jews in Miskolc.  In 1941, some 500 people were "deported from the city to the German-occupied part of Poland, for alleged irregularities in their nationality;" they subsequently were murdered in Kamenets-Podolsk. Miskolc Jews, including children, were drafted into labor brigades and forced to do public work around the city. Others, less fortunate, were conscripted into batallions that ended up on the Ukrainian front, where they were murdered.
The Germans occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944. With the collaboration of Hungarian Minister of the Interior Andor Jaross, a census or Jaross List was required to be taken of each Jewish community and all Jews in Hungary were ordered to wear yellow stars on their clothing. Just weeks later, the Jews of Miskolc were forcibly ghettoized. Some were moved to a stone quarry on the edge of the city and later were sent to Auschwitz. Many others were herded into a large shed that formerly was a brick factory. "The overcrowding was unbearable. In this shed there were no elementary sanitary arrangements or enough living space." The shed, which was located near the railroad tracks, was guarded by Hungarian and German police and soldiers.
List of Transports from Miskolc-Diosgyor
Deportations began on June 11th or 12th. Within days, there were a total of five transports. Some left from Miskolc proper, others from suburban Diosgyor. A total of 15,451 people were said to have been on the trains [see Table, right]. As this number exceeds the pre-war Jewish population in Miskolc by some 5,000, it seems to indicate that Jews from surrounding communities were included on these transports. The trains from Miskolc-Diosgyor passed through Kosice-Kassa within a day of embarkation. After a harrowing train-ride, the Jews of Miskolc arrived at Auschwitz between June 13th through 16th.
(Source: see endnote 12)
A survivor vividly described the torturous journey from Miskolc: "One morning in April 1944, they announced to us Jews that we’re being transported to a labor camp. We were brought to the train station. With screaming and beating they forced us into the cattle cars. The one and only window in each cattle car had barbed wire on it. The car was filled completely with people without any room at all. At each stop they would bring in a small container, a little bit of water. The conditions were excruciatingly inhumane. The train sped on for many days till we got to a large gate, on it was written: Arbeit Macht Frei (work liberates). We had arrived to Auschwitz."
In 1946, the post-war Jewish population of Miskolc was about 2,353. As only 105 Jews from Miskolc who had been deported were reported to have survived, the larger population figure probably reflects the fact that Miskolc was a transit center for returnees from the concentration camps. By 1970, death and attrition had reduced the city’s Jewish population to 1,000. In 1997, it was said to be less than 250 aging Holocaust survivors.
The Yad Vashem database contains thousands of Pages of Testimony for the martyrs from Miskolc who died in the Holocaust. There also are some 72,000 Hungarian names in JewishGen’s Holocaust Database.
- Halpern, Lipman, "Miskolc" in Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing Company, 1972), Volume 12, pp. 153-`54
- "In the beginning Jews were enlisted for public work. A group of girls, me included, was brought every morning to the forest to pick up branches and place them in piles. At night they brought us back home." From "Testimony of Shosh Bechar (Edith Potok)" [a Hungarian survivor who was in Miskolc during the war] in Orkin, Meir (ed.), You Tell it to Your Sons (Tel Aviv, Moreshet, 1990). Translated from Hebrew by Nachum Abraham, as part of a project initiated by Judy Cohen and Ada Holtzman.]
- "Testimony of Hedy Ellenbogen Brasch" (born Miskolc, 1935), whose father was sent to a labor camp in 1942. To read her story, click here. See also Lipman, supra. and "Hungary Before the German Occupation" (US Holocaust Museum, 2008) ["In 1939, the Hungarian government, having forbidden Jews to serve in the armed forces, established a forced-labor service for young men of arms-bearing age. By 1940, the obligation to perform forced labor was extended to all able-bodied male Jews. After Hungary entered the war, the forced laborers, organized in labor battalions under the command of Hungarian military officers, were deployed on war-related construction work, often under brutal conditions. Subjected to extreme cold, without adequate shelter, food, or medical care, at least 27,000 Hungarian Jewish forced laborers died before the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944."]
- Biography of Andor Jaross. Jaross bore a large responsibility for the expeditious extermination of Hungary’s Jews. "Each subsequent phase (loss of political rights and economic, ghettos and deportations) was led by Jaross with ruthless efficiency and attention, following all guidelines suggested by Eichmann." ibid. Jaross was tried after the war and executed in 1946.
- Brasch, supra.
- "The final ghetto in Miskolc was a brick factory that was located next to railroad tracks. I was there." Posting on the H-SIG email list dated May 27, 2007, by Miskolc Holocaust survivor John (Janos) Kovacs, Michigan.
- "Testimony of Shosh Bechar," supra.
- Some sources say the deportations took place between June 11-15, 1944. Others say they began on June 12th or ended on June 14th. The memorial plaque at the synagogue gives the transport dates as June 11-14.
- In a message posted on the H-Sig list on May 30, 2007, John J. (Janos) Kovacs, supra, cited Randolph Braham's A Magyar Holokauszt, the Hungarian translation of Braham’s The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary. Kovacs quoted from the Hungarian edition: "Transports carried the Jews concentrated in Miskolc between June 12 and 15. Some transports were loaded up in Disogyor." (Hungarian edition, p. 37). Kovacs noted: "We see in appendix six [of the Hungarian edition] that three transports were from Diosgyor and two from Miskolc. Ibid, p. 515. The footnote on p. 515 states that the train information does not always correspond with other sources. The original Braham work in English leaves out the information about five transports from Miskolc, pp. 625-626 and appendix six entirely."
- The table is extracted from a list entitled "Trains of Death," previously published on the Internet by JuDr. Mikulas Gasko and no longer available.
- "Testimony of Shosh Bechar," supra.
- Halpern, supra.
- This was the figure given to Helene Kenvin by Mr. Birnbaum, then the caretaker of the Kazinczy utca synagogue.
- Barsh, Hedy Ellenbogen, "Testimony of Hedy Ellenbogen Brasch"
- Bechar, Shosh, "Testimony of Shosh Bechar (Edith Potok)" [a Hungarian survivor who was in Miskolc during the war] in Orkin, Meir (ed.), "You Tell it to Your Sons" (Tel Aviv, Moreshet, 1990). Translated from Hebrew by Nachum Abraham, as part of a project initiated by Judy Cohen and Ada Holtzman. To read the full testimony of Shosh Bechar, click here.
- Bodnar, Piri Piroska, Out of the Shadows: The Legacy of a Holocaust Survivor (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2005)
- Braham, Randolph L., Hungarian Jewish Studies (New York: World Federation of Hungarian Jews, 1966)
- Braham, Randolph L., The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry (New York: Pro Arte for the World Federation of Hungarian Jews, 1963)
- Braham, Randolph L., The Eichmann Case: A Source Book (New York: World Federation of Hungarian Jews, 1969)
- Braham, Randolph L., Eichmann and the Destruction of Hungarian Jewry (New York: Pro Arte Publishing, 1963)
- Braham, Randolph L. (ed.), Studies on the Holocaust in Hungary (Boulder: Social Science Monographs and the Csengeri Institute for Holocaust Studies of the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, 1990)
- Braham, Randolph L. and Pok, Attila (eds.), The Holocaust in Hungary: Fifty Years Later (New York, Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 1997)
- Braham, Randolph L. (ed.), The Tragedy of Hungarian Jewry (New York: Social Science Monographs, 1986)
- Cesarani, David (ed.), Genocide and Rescue: The Holocaust in Hungary 1944 (Oxford, 1997)
- Gasko, Mikulas, "Trains of Death".
- Halpern, Lipman, "Miskolc" in Encyclopedia Judaica (Jeruselem: Keter Publishing Company, 1972), Volume 12, pp. 153-154
- "Hungary After the German Occupation" (US Holocaust Museum, 2008)
- "Hungary Before the German Occupation" (US Holocaust Museum, 2008)
- Kovacs, John J. (Janos), Postings on the H-SIG email list, dated May 27 and May 30, 2007. The archive of the H-Sig email list may be searched for these and other relevant postings.
- Leval, Jeno, Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (Zurich: Central European Times Publishing Co., 1948)
- Pierik, Perry, Hungary, 1944-1945: The Forgotten Tragedy: The Last German Offensives of the Second World War: The Loss of the Last Jewish Community in Europe (Nieuwegein: Aspekt, 1996)
Credits: Text and page design copyrighted © 2008 by Helene Kenvin. Photograph of the ghetto plaque copyrighted © 2008 by John J. Kovacs. Translation of the ghetto plaque by John J. Kovacs. Page created by Helene Kenvin. All rights reserved.