Essay by danalee October 2003

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In this paper I will explain what happened to the Jews of interwar Hungary. I will use as a reference for my paper the article entitled Hungary written by Ezra Mendelsohn.

After WWI, Hungary was reduced considerably in size as a result of its losses of the war and the signing of the Trianon treaty. They had lost more that seventy- percent of its former territories and sixty-percent of its population. Hungary was no longer a multinational state but now a nation-state made up of Magyars and a small German minority of about one-half million Germans. The social class of the people was a gentry-peasant society and the country became more industrialized than its neighbors did.

The modernization of Hungary was done mostly by non-Magyars, the Jews and Germans became the industrialists while the Magyars developed the intelligentsia and a bureaucracy. The gentry and the landowning magnate groups became associated with the political nation.

Prior to WWI Hungary was ruled by the Hungarian gentry, even after Bela Kun. Interwar Hungary was obsessed with getting the Trianon treaty revised and having the Hungarian Empire reestablished. It was because of this idea of revision that kept the country from any social or political change. Revision was also an invitation for the intervention from foreign states as Hungary lacked the power to overturn the Versailles settlement. It meant the alliance with Hitler's Germany based on the hatred of the outcome of the war and meant disaster for Hungary and even more so for Hungary's Jews.

Before WWI most Hungarian Jews had adopted Hungarian culture and were as acculturated as the Jewries of Bohemia and Moravia. Many Jews in Hungary spoke Hungarian and regarded themselves and were regarded by others as "Magyars of the Mosaic persuasion". There were several reasons why this was done.