Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide

An Intellectual History, 1929–1948


Hungarian Jews, the last major Jewish community in the Nazi sphere of influence by 1944, constituted the single largest group of victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide Ferenc Laczó draws on hundreds of scholarly articles, historical monographs, witness accounts as well as published memoirs to offer a pioneering exploration of how this prolific Jewish community responded to its exceptional drama and unprecedented tragedy. Analysing identity options, political discourses, historical narratives and cultural agendas during the local age of persecution as well as the varied interpretations of persecution and annihilation in their immediate aftermath, the monograph places the devastating story of Hungarian Jews at the dark heart of the European Jewish experience in the 20th century.

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Ferenc Laczó, Ph.D. (2011), is Assistant Professor in contemporary European history at Maastricht University. He has published peer reviewed articles in Holocaust Studies, the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, and the Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook.
"Ferenc Laczó's monograph is a groundbreaking study focused on Hungarian Jewish intellectuals from the interwar years, through the aftermath of the Second World War. He shows that Hungarian Jewish identity, although generally very Hungarian, was not nearly as monolithic as is often portrayed. Moreover, he shows that Jewish intellectuals engaged in diverse ways with the deteriorating situation of Hungarian Jewry and the unfolding Shoah. After the war their writings were important in setting the tone of public discourse for years to come. [...] This is a book that scholars and others who are interested in the Holocaust in general, and the Holocaust in Hungary in particular, should read. In tandem with Mary Gluck's excellent study which touches upon some of the issues L. addresses about Jewish self-understanding, but regarding an earlier period, we now have a pair of excellent scholarly sources for exploring diversity and change in Hungarian Jewish identity and self-understanding during a tumultuous period." - Robert Rozett, in: Sehepunkte 18-10 (2018)
“For those who care about the Holocaust in Hungary, this book is an opportunity. In fact, if I had to choose only one book on the Holocaust of the Jews of Hungary, I would select this one because of its wide perspective.” - Brian Horowitz, on: H-Nationalism
“With eloquent language and nuanced argumentation, Laczó has collected a wealth of material about the Hungarian Holocaust and opened the door to the international community of Holocaust scholars, who are invited to explore, compare, and stand in awe of the depths of the material Hungarian Jews created in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust.” - Ilse Josepha Lazaroms, in: East Central Europe [DOI: 10.1163/18763308-04501006]
“The outcome is a meticulously researched and well contextualised study, which engages critically with both the Hungarian scholarship on Jewish studies and the international debates on Jewish history and the Holocaust. The book’s refreshingly persuasive interpretation is based on Laczó’s noteworthy ability to explain difficult and complex debates in an accessible language, without however diminishing their rich internal cultural dynamism and specific topoi.” - Marius Turda, on: H-SozKult
“[Laczó] tells a nuanced story of a community in crisis and provides an important corrective to the oversimplified picture historians often paint of unflaggingly assimilationist Hungarian Jews that refused to heed the warnings of the ever-increasing threats to their existence.” - Leslie M. Waters in Austrian History Yearbook [DOI: 10.1017/S0067237818000504]
"This is an innovative and extremely important study about a basically unexplored subject in the history of the Holocaust. It focuses on the rich variety of responses by Hungarian Jewish intellectuals to the catastrophe that befell Hungary’s Jewry during the Nazi era. Based on extensive and meticulous research, Ferenc Laczó’s study sheds light on one of the darkest eras in Hungarian and Hungarian-Jewish history." - Randolph L. Braham, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
"Ferenc Laczó has not only filled an important gap in the history of the Holocaust in Hungary. With this methodologically innovative, highly original study, he reshapes our understanding of the ways in which Jews responded to their persecution before, during and after those terrible events." - Dan Stone, Royal Holloway, University of London
"Ferenc Laczó has written a subtle and thorough intellectual history of Hungarian Jewish thought coming into and emerging out of the Second World War. It is a rare story in which people remain, but ideas change. He shows how the Holocaust cut across intellectual traditions, changing their course forever. Nonetheless, it is the ongoing presence of Hungarian Jews and the brief interlude of intense reflection following the war that forms the centerpiece of the book, and offers the strongest argument for why this case study matters." - Holly Case, Cornell University

More reviews can be found online at the following locations:
- Catherine Horel, in: Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History (Journal of Fondazione CDEC) 13 (August 2018)
- Robert Rozett, in: Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung / Journal of East Central European Studies (ZfO / JECES) 67.2 (2018), pp. 296-298
- Ildikó Szántó, in: Hungarian Cultrual Studies [DOI: 10.5195/ahea.2018.344]


Hungarian Jewry before and after the Holocaust
Jewish Intellectual History and the Case of Hungary
Themes and Sources

Jewish Studies in the Horthy Era
Modern Traditions

Intellectual Agendas in the Shadow of Looming Catastrophe
Conceptions of Jewish Culture
From Creating to Saving Jewish Culture
Political Discourses
Narratives of Crisis

The Audible Voices of the Persecuted
Hungarian Jewish Scholars and the Horthy Era
A Contemporary History of Nazism

Articulating the Unprecedented
The DEGOB Interview Protocols
Remembering Buchenwald
Annihilation and Death Camps
Witnessing the Gas Chambers

Narrating Survival
The Privileged among the Terrorized
On the Devil’s Island, on Tortured Roads
Diverging Fates

Documenting Responsibility
Nazism as Falsified Genealogy
The Profound Ambivalences of a Key Witness
An Integrated History of the Holocaust in Hungary
A Communist Panorama of the European Jewish Catastrophe

Biographical Notes
Main Primary Sources
Main Secondary Sources. Books
Main Secondary Sources. Articles

Intellectual historians, historians of the Jews and the Holocaust, as well as historians of Central and Eastern Europe.
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