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István Pál Ádám: A Side Effect of Anti-Jewish Legislation – The Short History of the Budapest Building Managers
   

Wednesday, 28. May 2014, 15:00 - 16:30

Balassi Institut – Collegium Hungaricum, 1020 Wien, Hollandstraße 4

 

VWI goes to the Collegium Hungaricum

 

Although the Budapest building managers did not officially belong to any authority, nevertheless, on a daily basis they were responsible for enforcing discriminative regulations, and acted as intermediaries between the authorities and the Jewish Hungarian citizens. Most of them were coming from the Hungarian provinces, they were hardly educated, but suddenly, as a side effect of the severe anti-Jewish legislation, at the moment of ghettoization were handed an unprecedented power. It makes this group even more interesting that its members were not at all prepared for this kind of complete control over people, especially not over the members of the higher middle classes. In my view, this sudden power shift in the apartment buildings sums up the drama of the Holocaust in Budapest. I argue that there was a growing tension between the building managers' unexpected rise in social importance and their poor income. On the one hand, this tension made many building managers support such radical movements which targeted the redistribution of wealth on racial bases, especially the Arrow Cross or Nyilas movement. On the other hand, tips and other supplementary payments made the building managers assist the Jewish Hungarians' survival. As a result, no less than seventeen Budapest building managers were awarded the Righteous among the Nations title.

 

Comments by Peter Eigner

 

István Pál Ádám, LL.D., entered the Central European University's History MA program after working years in a compensation project for Holocaust survivors. At the moment, he is a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, where his work is supervised by Drs. Josie McLellan and Tim Cole. In 2012, he was the recipient of an EHRI fellowship at Yad Vashem. From December 2012 until June 2013, Ádám continued his research at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

a.o. Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Eigner, historian, Vice Dean of the Historic and Cultural Studies Faculty at the University of Vienna.

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