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Yellow stars and trouser inspections : Jewish testimonies from Hungary, 1920–1945 

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Yellow stars and trouser inspections : Jewish testimonies from Hungary, 1920–1945 
Call No: 943.905 P18y

Call Number943.905 P18y
Dates2008; ©2008
Statement of ResponsibilityLaura Palosuo.
SummaryThis study analyzes narratives of individual Jewish experiences of discrimination and genocidal violence in Hungary during the period of 1920-1945. The aim is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the events through an investigation of survivor testimonies concerning anti-Jewish laws and the Holocaust. The main focus is on how survivors perceived the treatment to which they and their fellow Jews were exposed, and how they responded to the persecution they faced. Perceptions and responses are analyzed through multiple factors such as gender, age, social class, and geographical place.

The period under investigation stretches from 1920, when the law of Numerus Clausus (a quota system influencing admission to universities) was introduced, until the end of the Second World War in early 1945. Focus is placed on the war years, especially on 1944, the year of German occupation and the fascist Arrow Cross rule. Experiences from the labour service system, the Jewish house in Budapest, and the ghettos, as well as of hiding and resistance, are some of the recurring themes which are examined here. Extensive interview, along with eyewitness reports and memoirs, from the empirical basis of the study.

The results demonstrate the complexity of individual experiences during times of upheaval, and the importance of the above factors is evident within the testimonies. The survivors' experiences greatly depended on gender, age, social class, geographical place, civil status, religious orientation as well as "race". However, the importance of the different factors changed over time. For instance, in the beginning of this period, discrimination had a direct impact on adult males, while children, women, and the elderly were indirectly affected. Furthermore, persons belonging to the upper classes could circumvent the anti-Jewish laws in various ways. Ultimately, differences in treatment decreased, according to the testimonies. Women, children, and the elderly also became victims, as did individuals from all social classes. —Abstract (Title page verso)
ContentsPart One   Conceptualizing the Task

Chapter 1  Defining the Framework of the Study
  • Aims, questions, limitations, and definitions
  • Analyzing multiple factors
  • Previous research
Chapter 2 Using Interviews as Sources of Information
  • The Raoul Wallenberg archiver
  • Selection of source material and other methodological concerns
  • The subjects of the study: survivors from Budapest
  • Oral History

Part Two   Experiences of Discrimination Before 1944

Chapter 3  A Short History of the Hungarian Jewry:
  • From Emancipation to Antisemitism, 1867-1943
  • Emancipation and the Golden Era
  • From inclusion to exclusion: the First World War as a watershed
  • Hungarian politics and anti-Jewish laws in the interwar years
Chapter 4  Experiences of Anti-Jewish Legislation
  • The Numerus Clausus
  • The first and the second anti-Jewish laws
  • The third anti-Jewish law
  • Jewish reactions to the laws: discussing emigration
  • Concluding remarks
Chapter 5  The Labour Service System 1939 - March 1944
  • Male experiences within the labour service
  • Female responses and responsibilities
  • The youth and the children
  • Concluding remarks

Part Three   Experiences of Persecution and Genocide 1944-1945

Chapter 6  A Short History of the Holocaust in Hungary
  • March 19, 1944 - February 1945
  • The German occupation
  • The Arrow Cross takeover and its immediate consequences
Chapter 7  Jewish Perceptions of the Events in 1944-1945
  • The provinces
  • Budapest
               Experiencing another wave of anti-Jewish regulations
               The Pest ghetto
                Living in the International ghetto
                The effects of the labour service system in 1944
                The death marches
  • Concluding remarks
Chapter 8  Jewish Responses and Survival Strategies in 1944-1945
  • Anticipatory reactions to persecution
  • Hiding and passing
  • Passing the time: cultural and verbal activities
  • Appearances
  • Suicide
  • Resistance and rescue
  • Concluding remarks
Chapter 9  Intersectional Analysis of the Hungarian Jewish Losses
  • Gener, age, and geographical origin
  • Concluding remarks
Chapter 10  Concluding the Task:
  • Analyzing Experiences of Discrimination and the Holocaust


Physical Description 216 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Carrier Typevolume
PublisherUppsala : Uppsala Universitet, Department of History & the Uppsala Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
  • Thesis (Ph. D.)—Uppsala University, 2008
  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 256–266) and index
RecognitionGifted in 2009 by Adam Jones