Yad Vashem completes list of 500,000 Hungarian Holocaust victims

Yad Vashem finishes a decade-long project to give each Hungarian Holocaust victim a name.  

Yad Vashem, Israel’s World Holocaust Remembrance Center, held an event on Thursday marking the conclusion of a decade-long project to collect names of Holocaust victims from Hungary.

At the event, Yad Vashem paid special tribute to Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and long-time supporter of Yad Vashem and of this project to map, copy, catalogue and record the names and personal data of Hungarian Holocaust victims, since its inception.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev stated that this name-collecting project is “the most successful project that Yad Vashem’s Archives has undertaken.”

Yad Vashem has also applied this process to its names recovery efforts in the territories of the former Soviet Union, the Balkan states and Poland.

Through these projects, 80 percent of the total number of Hungarian Holocaust victims have now been identified

Some 600,000 Jews from Greater Hungary were murdered during the Holocaust,” Dr. Alexander Avram, Director of the Hall of Names and the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names at Yad Vashem, explained. “This number represents approximately one out of every ten victims of the Holocaust and one in every three victims of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the overwhelming majority of deported Hungarian Jews were sent.”

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At the outset of the project, only some 260,000 names were known, representing less than 40 percent of the total victims from Hungary. After years of intensive work and research, most of the names of the Hungarian Jewish victims, close to 500,000 names representing 80 percent of the total number of victims, have been accounted for.

Furthermore, the project has uncovered much more than just the names of the Hungarian victims, it has revealed part of their individual stories, and in some cases, for the first time was able to connect a rare photograph with the name of the faceless murdered.

The project was carried out by two professional teams abroad, one team in Hungary led by two renowned experts with 12 researchers, and another group in Transylvania, led by a well-known expert with three researchers.

One Individual Story

The project uncovered more than a list of names.  During the project, Yad Vashem copied 2,463,000 pages of documentation and catalogued almost 170,000 files, expanding its current archives with a plethora of information about the Jewish communities that once existed and thrived in Hungary.

One interesting story revealed by the project was that of Sámuel Léderer and his younger brother, Rezső, who were born in the small village of Magyarmecske in Baranya County. In 1940, only 13 Jews lived in Magyarmecske, amongst 185 Roman Catholics and 330 Calvinists.

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Sámuel actively participated in the public life of his village and the county. For decades, he was a magistrate of the village, and for 40 years, he was a member of the county council of Baranya. Both of the Léderer brothers farmed their land, which they had inherited from their father in 1910.

In 1939, the Second Anti-Jewish Law in Hungary was passed, allowing for the confiscation of the estates of Jewish landowners. The brothers appealed against the confiscation of their land, some 310 acres in total, in 1941. Their lawyer was Dr. József Greiner, the president of the Neolog Jewish community of Pécs. Nonetheless, the Hungarian State confiscated the Léderers’ land. Sámuel Léderer and his wife Gizella were murdered in Auschwitz on May 28, 1944.

Information on Sámuel Léderer was discovered during the research phase of this project from two different collections: a card catalogue of the Labor Battalions in Hungary, prepared by the Hungarian Ministry of Defense, and a collection of documents from the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture regarding the confiscation of Jewish-owned land in Hungary.

These facts were discovered only through a thorough search of archives across Hungary, and by the professional use of unique methodology and sophisticated technology connecting them to the vast archival collection of Yad Vashem.

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Currently, the Yad Vashem Archives house the most comprehensive collection of Holocaust-era documentation in the world, which includes some 201 million pages of documentation. The case of the Léderers demonstrates the range of information one can gather about a Holocaust victim, after the documents have been located, scanned, catalogued and indexed.

By: World Israel News Staff