The extermination of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

The final act of mass murder of the Jewish population during 1941-1945 in Europe by Nazi
Germany was the Holocaust in Hungary. On 18 March 1944, Hitler summoned Miklós Horthy,
Regent of Hungary at the time, demanding greater acquiescence from Hungary. Horthy tried to
resist in vain since Hitler ordered the invasion of Hungary and on 23 March the same year the
government of Döme Sztójay was installed. The new government legalized Arrow Cross Party,
which had a similar ideology as Nazism or Fascism and Hungarian Turanism combined.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann was sent to Hungary to supervise the deportations of
Hungary Jews. In less than eight weeks after his arrival, the Yellow Star and ghettoization laws,
as well as the deportations were accomplished with help of Hungarian authorities and
gendarmerie. The plan, called the Aktion Höss („Operation Höss”) by the Germans, was put in
action, with Rudolf Höss’s return to Auschwitz to supervise the arrival of Hungarian Jews. The
plan was to deport 12,000 Jews a day, in four trains a day, each having 45 cattle cars.
The first transport train left on 29 April 1944 from Budapest carrying 1,800 men and women,
between age 16-50 who were deemed fit to work. The second train left from Topology on 30 of
April with 2,000 deportees. These transport trains went through so-called selection, where 616
women and 486 men were chosen for work, while the remaining 2,698 passengers were gassed
upon arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The mass transports, organized by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Head Office
or RSHA) began running on the 14th of May 1944. Typically, there were three to four trains a
day carrying from 3,000 to 4,000 Jews. According to Danuta Czech with the arrival of the first
three trains on 16th of May 1944 onward, the smoke could be seen from the crematoria

To simplify the work needed for the extermination of Jews in Operation Höss, trains with 48- 50
cars carrying Jewish prisoners, called ‘’settlers’’ two freight cars of lumber were added to the
trains. ‘’Settlers’’ had to unload the lumber, intended for them, on the ‘’death ramp’’, and stack
them in piles on other locations designated for it inside the camp. Prisoners would already be
separated in advance inside the cars and wait in the nearby forest for their turn not knowing
what exactly is in store for them.

From the 14th of May up until the 9th of July 1944 there were 147 trains in total deporting
434,351 Jews according to László Ferenczy of the Hungarian Royal Gendarmerie. The number of
Jews deported according to Edmund Veesenmayer, the Reich plenipotentiary in Hungary, was

437,402. About 80 percent of Jewish deportees were gassed on arrival and the remaining 20
percent were used as slave labor or in quasi-medical experiments.

Our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

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