Glenn Beck just recently had a three-part series on George Soros. Soros is a public figure and he is fair game for a news commentator. But Beck offended some Jews when he claimed that, as a 14-year-old Hungarian Jew, Soros helped the Nazis steal property from the Hungarian Jews in 1944.
This quote from “The Daily Beast” explains how all this got started:
To inoculate himself against charges of anti-Semitism, Beck hurled them at Soros, pointing out that he’s an atheist and a critic of Israel. He accused Soros of helping Nazis steal Jewish property as a teenager and of feeling no remorse about it. In fact, when Soros was 14 in Nazi-occupied Hungary, his father bribed an agriculture official to pretend that the boy was his Christian godson. Soros once had to accompany his protector to inventory a confiscated Jewish estate. Asked by 60 Minutes if he felt guilty about it, he said no, because he wasn’t at fault. The slander that he was a Nazi collaborator has proliferated on the right ever since.
The Hungarian situation in World War II requires a bit of explanation:
Both Hungary and Bulgaria were allies of Germany in World War II. In October 1940, Hungary had become allies with the Axis powers by joining the Tripartite Pact. Part of the deal was that Hungary would be allowed to take back northern Transylvania, a province that had been given to Romania after World War I. (Transylvania is the province where many of the notable Hungarian Jews, like Elie Wiesel, lived.)
On April 17, 1943, after Bulgaria had refused to allow their Jews to be deported, Hitler met with Admiral Nicholas Horthy, the Hungarian leader, in Salzburg and tried to persuade him to allow the Jews of Hungary to be “resettled” in Poland, according to Martin Gilbert in his book, “Never Again.” Admiral Horthy rejected Hitler’s arguments and refused to deport the Hungarian Jews.
Because of this, the Hungarian Jews were the last to be deported. Most of the Holocaust survivors alive today are Hungarian. There were around 730,000 Hungarian Jews, but only around 430,000 of them were deported. That means that there were around 300,000 Hungarian Jews, like Soros, who had to come up with a story to explain why they weren’t deported.
The Hungarian Jewish survivors, who are still alive today, must come up with an explanation for why they weren’t gassed. Some of the 300,000 Hungarian Jews, who were not deported, have written books, claiming that they were sent to Auschwitz, but survived. The Holocaust, as we know it, is mainly about the Hungarian Jews.
It wasn’t just the Nazis in Germany that wanted to get rid of the Jews. Jews in Hungary had been persecuted since 1092 when Jews were forbidden to marry Christians. The order to round up the Hungarian Jews and confine them in ghettos was signed, not by Hitler, but by Lazlo Baky of the Royal Hungarian government on April 7, 1944.
The first transport of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau was on April 29,1944, according to Yehuda Bauer, who also wrote that mass transports of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz began on May 14, 1944.
The last mass transport of 14,491 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau was on July 9, 1944, according to Franciszek Piper (Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz), who wrote that most of the Hungarian Jews were gassed immediately upon arrival.
On August 13, 1944, a small transport of 131 Jews arrived from Hungary at Auschwitz and on August 18, 1944 the last transport of 152 Jews arrived. By that time, an estimated 437,685 Hungarian Jews had been transported to Auschwitz on 148 trains; these were mostly the Jews living in the villages and smaller towns.
After Hitler himself put pressure on Horthy to deport the Budapest Jews to Auschwitz, the Hungarian government decided to begin transporting the Budapest Jews on August 25, 1944. According to Yehuda Bauer, the plan was to transport the Jews on 6 trains with 20,000 Jews on each train; the first train was scheduled to leave for Auschwitz on August 27, 1944. However, the deportation plans were stopped when the Hungarian government received a telegram from Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on August 24th; Himmler had ordered the preparations for the deportation of the Budapest Jews to stop.
According to Eberhard Kolb, a staff member at the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Site, Reichsführer-SS Himmler had already opened a special section at the Bergen-Belsen exchange camp on July 8, 1944, where 1683 Hungarian Jews from Budapest were brought. The Jews in the Hungarian section were treated better than all the others at Bergen-Belsen. They received better food and medical care and were not required to work. They wore their own clothes, but were required to wear a yellow Star of David patch.
The Bergen-Belsen camp was originally an “exchange camp,” which had different categories of prisoners. The Hungarian Jews were in the category of Preferential Jews (Vorzugsjuden) because they were considered highly desirable for exchange purposes.
The first transport of 318 Hungarian “exchange Jews” left the Bergen-Belsen Hungarian camp on August 18, 1944, bound for Switzerland. On August 20th, the trainload of Hungarian Jews arrived in Bregenz and then went on to St. Gallen the next day.
Himmler, who was beginning to think of himself as Hitler’s successor, had begun working behind Hitler’s back in negotiating with the Jews. On August 21, 1944, three SS officers (Kurt Becher, Max Grüson and Hermann Krumey) who were representing Himmler, and a representative of the Budapest Jews, Rudolf Kastner, met with Saly Mayer, a leading member of the Jewish Community in Switzerland.
The meeting took place in the middle of a bridge at St. Margarethen, on the border between Germany and Switzerland, because Mayer refused to enter Germany and he also did not want the SS men to enter Switzerland, according to Yehuda Bauer. Becher asked for farm machinery and 10,000 trucks, and in return, he promised to free 318 Hungarian Jews from Bergen-Belsen. In a show of good faith, the train with the 318 Jews was already waiting at the Swiss border. Mayer offered minerals and industry goods instead of the trucks. This is the famous “Jews for Trucks” incident.
According to Yehuda Bauer, Becher later claimed that he had persuaded Himmler not to deport the Budapest Jews, and that was why Himmler issued an order to stop the deportation three days later.
A second group of 1368 Hungarian Jews left the Bergen-Belsen camp on December 4, 1944 and entered Switzerland just after midnight on December 7th, according to Yehuda Bauer.
Altogether, there was a total of 2,896 Jews released for ransom, including a transport of 1210 Jews from the Theresienstadt Ghetto who entered Switzerland on February 7, 1945.
After the departure of the second Hungarian transport to Switzerland in December, more transports from Budapest continued to arrive at Bergen-Belsen and the Hungarian section remained in existence there until April 1945. According to Eberhard Kolb, it was a transport of Hungarian Jews in February 1945 that bought in the lice that started a typhus epidemic in the camp. The delousing facilities in the camp had been temporarily out of order at that time.
When Hitler learned that Himmler was negotiating to ransom the Hungarian Jews he was so enraged that he later expelled Himmler from the Nazi party. However, Hitler had already given his permission in December 1942 to release Jews for ransom, so Himmler was not going against established Nazi policy.
It was not until May 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were deported, that Auschwitz-Birkenau became the site of the largest mass murder in modern history and the epicenter of the Final Solution. In 1942, there were 2.7 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, including 1.6 million at the Operation Reinhard camps, but only 200,000 Jews were gassed at Auschwitz that year in two old converted farm houses. This information is from the book “Auschwitz, a New History” by Laurence Rees, published in 2005.
Almost one half of all the Jews that were killed at Auschwitz were Hungarian Jews who were gassed within a period of 10 weeks in 1944. Up until the Spring of 1944, it had been the three Operation Reinhard camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, that were the main Nazi killing centers for the Jews, not Auschwitz.
From the beginning of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in 1933, until March 1944, Hungary was a relatively safe haven for the Jews and many Jews from Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland sought refuge within its borders. However, in 1938, Hungary had enacted laws similar to the laws in Nazi Germany, which discriminated against the Jews.
On September 3, 1943, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies and turned against Germany, their former ally. Horthy hoped to negotiate a similar deal with the Western allies to stop a Soviet invasion of Hungary.
On March 18, 1944, Hitler had a second meeting with Horthy at Schloss Klessheim, a castle near Salzburg in Austria. An agreement was reached in which Horthy promised to allow 100,000 Jews to be sent to the Greater German Reich to construct underground factories for the manufacture of fighter aircraft. These factories were to be located at Mauthausen, and at the eleven Kaufering subcamps of Dachau. The Jews were to be sent to Auschwitz, and then transferred to the camps in Germany and Austria.
When the American troops liberated Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Dachau, the Jews who were in these camps were mainly Hungarian Jews who had been sent to Auschwitz and then transferred to the sub-camps of Buchenwald, Dachau and Mauthausen where they worked in factories.