840.48 Refugees/8–544: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland (Harrison) to the Secretary of State

5040. With reference to note verbale No. 257, June 26, 1944,51 concerning a communication regarding the inquiry of American Government with respect to treatment of Jews in Hungary, Royal Hungarian Ministry has the honor to inform the Swiss Legation of the [Page 1117] following: As in most European states Jewish question has particularly in recent decades also become one of the greatest economic, social and political problems in Hungary. Jewish problem became especially difficult as Jewry, thanks to liberal organization of the State, had been able secure prominent position in economic, political and cultural life. Also in those large states where race problem was far less important—as for instance Negro question in the United States—government was obliged to take corresponding measures for the protection of its own race. In consequence various governments of Hungary were obliged to strive against excessive influence of this foreign race as Hungarian Jewry constitutes far greater danger for Hungary than for instance Negroes or Japanese for white population of United States. Jews not only possessed most important economic positions in Hungary but thereby exerted very strong influence on national life of the country as a whole which threatened degenerate foundations of the national character of the people.

Recognizing this danger as in other European states the Hungarian Governments of the time also undertook solution of Jewish question. Articles of law XV of 1938 IV of 1939 and XV of 1941 formed legal basis for measures which tended toward solution Jewish question.

Military events on eastern front and approach of Soviet Army to Hungarian frontier made it necessary fully to mobilize all military material and moral forces of country for defense of nation’s existence. This also meant elimination of everything that would undermine or diminish the country’s resisting power. As defeatist propaganda and agitation of Jews—as in 1918—became more and more perceptible in this decisive phase of the war and in order to prevent repetition of tragic events of 1918–1919 government was obliged to eliminate on increased scale influence of Jews. They were consequently separated from rest of population and put to more useful work—either in country itself or abroad. In so doing Government and its functionaries did not fail consider laws of humanity and justice. If individual cases of injustice occurred they were always due to sporadic [actions] of some subordinate organs which in each case responsible.

Numerous Jews were placed at the disposal of German Government as workers as was case for years for tens of thousands of workers of Hungarian nationality and Christian faith.

Treatment of Jews working in Hungary is similar to that accorded other workers in work camps (for example students, et cetera).

With respect to food rationing non-working Jews do not receive certain more or less luxury articles (such as rice, fowl, butter, poppy); concerning basic necessities however they are on same basis as rest of population.

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It may be added in supplement that during recent weeks situation of Jews has been notably improved. Enclosed note gives details regarding these concessions. At the instance of some foreign organizations (International Red Cross, War Refugee Board) Hungarian Government has made it possible for Hungarian Jews to receive material help and for a considerable number of Jews to emigrate to neutral states, respectively, [especially?] to Palestine.

2. Translation from French of enclosure to above follows: Present status of action taken by Hungarian Government regarding Jews is following:


Deportation of Jews for work abroad temporary suspended.
View proposals presented by Swedish Red Cross by Swiss Legation acting behalf Palestine Immigration Commission as well as by War Refugee Board, Hungarian Government authorized emigration Jews Sweden, Switzerland, Palestine and other countries.
Jews who obtain from King Swedish nationality can emigrate Sweden in accordance with action of Swedish Red Cross.
Jews who have relatives Sweden or who have commercial contact for certain time with that country can emigrate Sweden or Palestine. This category includes about 400 or 500 persons.
Several thousand Jews are authorized emigrate Palestine aided by Palestinian Immigration Commission through intermediary Swiss Legation Budapest.
Persons indicated above can emigrate Palestine if bearers “Certificate d’Immigration” delivered by British authorities.
On basis of proposals mentioned above from War Refugee Board, Hungarian Government authorized Inter-Cross to arrange sending Jewish children under 10 years age to Palestine. War Refugee Board will be authorized materially assist Jews interned Hungary.


In addition concessions above mentioned following mitigations accorded in treatment Jews:

Deportation baptized Jews for work abroad stopped.
a. Administration behalf baptized Jews entrusted “Counsel [Council?] for Baptized Jews” established July 6, 1944;
b. Jews baptized prior to August 1, 1941, remain in the country but their segregation from non-Jewish persons will be ordered;
c. They are obtaining all facilities in exercise of their religion.
a. Facilities ordered for baptized residing Budapest will be extended to baptized Jews outside of capital;
b. Revision of situation of baptized Jews sent to work in Germany foreseen.
It will be decided as soon as possible who are to be considered as converted Jews and such action will affect not only Jews aged 16 to 60 but Jews all ages.
Following exempted bear Jewish star: a. Family members of ministers of Christian religion (parents, brothers and sisters, wives and children of Protestant ministers); b. Bearers ecclesiastical (Papal) decorations; c. Members of Order of Holy Sepulchre.


a. Discretionary right reserved for regent in exemption certain number of Jews. There will be exempted: b. Jews living in marriage with persons of Christian origin, c. Jews bearing certain war decorations (golden medal military bravery, et cetera); d. Jews of certain special merits; e. Ministers of Christian religions.
Departure Jews for work abroad will take place under conditions accordance humanitarian laws and Hungarian Red Cross will have possibility exercise control.
It will be permitted to send via Red Cross food parcels to persons interned concentration camps.
  1. On June 16 Minister Harrison delivered to the Swiss Foreign Office for transmission to the Hungarian Government a note inquiring into the intentions of Hungary with respect to the future treatment of Jews and reiterating the grave view which this Government took regarding the persecution of Jews and other minorities.