An historic note on refugees

Every day, new tidings arrive from Russia about the slaughter of Jews. Russian Jews flee towards Galicia, and they might be upon the Hungarian border in a day or two. Counties like Nyitra, Szatmár, and Szabolcs are sending memorandum after memorandum to the Parliament, demanding a stop to this immigration […].

(Gyula Krúdy: A tiszaeszlári Solymosi Eszter, IV., 1931, my translation)

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No Simple Case

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – and the death of Hungarian writer Antal Szerb. It’s the dark irony of fate that on the same day Allied troops entered the death camp, Szerb was beaten to death by Hungarian Nazis (calling themselves ‘Hungarists’ or those of the ‘Arrow-Cross’) in a forced-labor camp in Balf, Hungary.

Szerb was of Jewish descent, but at the same time he was a Hungarian literary scholar through and through. The blackguards who did the beating were not men of culture – how could they know that the man they killed had done more than anyone else to spread and promote Hungarian literature?

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