Rezension: Ferenc Laczó, Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide

Ferenc Laczó, Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide. An Intellectual History, 1929–1948Leiden: Brill 2016.

Rezensiert für den Arbeitskreis Historische Friedensforschung bei H-Soz-u-Kult von: Marius Turda, Centre for Medical Humanities, Oxford Brookes University.

Ferenc Laczó is one of the most promising scholars of his generation. Having already published two books in his native Hungarian, he turns his attention in his first English-speaking monograph to the Jewish engagement with and response to discrimination, persecution and survival during the period between 1929 and 1948. The erosion of Hungary’s relationship with its Jewish communities began during the First World War and intensified after the communist experiment of 1919/20. A fragile national equilibrium was reached during the 1920s and 1930s but with anti-Semitism and racism gnawing at it persistently, it barely survived the outbreak of the Second World War. After the occupation of Hungary by the Nazi Germany in March 1944 the fate of the Hungarian Jews was sealed. The deportation of almost half a million of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau followed, with over 300,000 murdered upon arrival. The centuries-old history and culture of many of the Jewish communities in the post-1938 enlarged Hungary was tragically terminated.

The book is organised in seven chapters, together with an introduction and a conclusion. Following an overview outlining the main moments in Hungarian Jewish history before, during and after the Holocaust, coupled with some theoretical reflections on the state of research and recent historiographic trends, the book’s first substantive chapter deals with aspects of Jewish identity, traditions and values as reflected by the contributions to the Izraelita Magyar Irodalmi Társulatévkönyvei (the Yearbooks of the Israelite Hungarian Literary Society). Under Samu Szemere’s editorship, the Yearbooks provided a host of narratives about identity, belonging and assimilation. The chapter also discusses the work of the leading scholars affiliated with the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, such as Vilmos Bacher, Ignác Goldziher and Sándor Scheiber. Not surprisingly, salience is given to religious and ideological arguments, especially when the focus of much of the Jewish contributions to the Yearbooks was both on Hungarianness and Jewishness, seen as complementary forms of identification. Laczó shows how these authors underscored multiple identities to generate powerful cultural practices, of which assimilation was perhaps the most widespread. weiterlesen

Empfohlene Zitierweise
Marius Turda: Rezension zu: Laczó, Ferenc: Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide. An Intellectual History, 1929–1948. Leiden 2016 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 13.07.2017, <>.