I moved into a Jewish apartment – Part III
I noticed a newspaper from August 25, 1944, in the Muzeon archive. One of the items they published was about Hungarian Jewish people who abandoned their apartments as a result of the deportations to Auschwitz. The editor of this magazine made the decision to publish a number of letters from Hungarians who described their experiences while living in the apartments they had to relocate into as a result of the bombing that destroyed their homes. The variety of reader experiences and responses is what piqued our interest in translating this post.
This article is the last in a series of posts and depicts the last two letters sent by readers to the newspaper’s editorial staff. In the first letter, the author tells how, as soon as he moved into a Jewish apartment in Pesta, after the owners were deported to Auschwitz, he found a beautiful poem in the former Jewish owner’s papers. It is titled “To a New Spring” (Új tavasz elébe), and the author is unknown. The second and implicitly last letter sent to the editor of the antisemitic newspaper is, in a more amusing tone, the lines of a reader pestering the editor for an explanation of a framed photo found in a Jewish apartment. The picture seems trivial, hence his curiosity about its significance and the important place where he found it hanging. Our aim in publishing this article is to present the documents of the time and the Hungarian perception of the Jews who were deported to Auschwitz.
''We are alone'', VII, No. 17, August 25, 1944.
We Are Alone was a newspaper on the subject of war and antisemitism, a socio-political and literary magazine published between October 1938 and October 1944. The paper’s politics was right-winged. The place of publication was Budapest. It was published by Stádium.
It was edited by György Oláh, Kálmán Pongrácz and József Kárász. In its camp of popular writers are several (József Darvas, Gyula Illyés, László Németh, Pál Szabó, Péter Veres), Transylvanian (Jenő Dsida – posthumously -, Albert Wass), Hungarian writers from Slovakia (László Dobossy, Pál Szvatkó) and other groups of writers (Endre Illés, Zoltán Csuka, Andor Németh, Lőrinc Szabó, Gyula Takáts, Sándor Tatay, Sándor Weöres).
I moved into a Jewish apartment, ''We are alone'', VII, No. 17, August 25, 1944, p. 8.
Readers’ testimonies about what they found in abandoned Jewish homes
I moved into a Jewish apartment, ''We are alone''.
”Now that the apartment house in which our editorial office was located has been occupied by a defence authority for office purposes, and we have been allocated three office rooms from the luxurious apartment of a Jewish lawyer, we are studying with particular interest what it means today for a Christian accustomed to narrow, modest circumstances to suddenly find himself in luxurious Jewish apartments through no fault of his own. On this subject we can now listen to our acquaintances who have been bombed out or evacuated one after the other.”
In the first part of this article presents a beautiful poem found in the papers of the former Jewish owner of an apartment in Pest. The poem is entitled “To a New Spring” (Új tavasz elébe), the author is unknown.
Here is the first letter of the Part III of this article:
”János Neményi, a teacher in Budapest, who also got into a house in Pesta after the bombing, found the following poem and sends it from the papers of the former Jewish landlord to see what they were hiding.”
First part of a letter sent by a reader of the antisemitic newspaper ''We Are Alone''.
TO A NEW SPRING…
You just have to believe, with strong, unbroken faith,
And to will with tenacious determination,
And what the blind storm of a thousand years has carried away,
Our strength and our peace will be restored.
What our fathers’ swords have lost,
Our spade, our hoe, will yet take all,
This is a new way of fighting, but the price of the fight
Is enormous and worth fighting for.
It’s a new way of fighting, the price is neither blood nor heart
And if our fate is cold and snowy
We must want and, soon happily,
On a Jewish field the new spring greets us.
For us, Sárom, again a rose will grow,
The manna of the land, the forest, the field, the wild,
We must believe and want at all costs!
Only backwards, to the past, we must not look!
We must not look back. But who looks forward?
Who fears new and holy deeds?
Who throws money and faith into the frying pan?
These bastard fathers? These old sons?
Nor thou, nor thou, the youth of my people,
The ancient blood is cold within thee,
You are branches of a tree that is rotten at the root,
And you are a flower that has been stung by the frost.
Come, then, you who are rotten at the roots,
I will cut my breast with a dagger.
I will wring out my heart like a rag.
And I will wet you with my blood.
Come, come! Let me pour it out on you,
all the burning fire of my blood,
that you may see as I see,
With prophetic, spring-fresh eyes!
See, there, how the valley of Carmel calls you.
It awaits you, comrades, friends!
Look, there is the land of Rishon le Zion.
How he offers his wine, strikingly coloured,
And God’s mighty voice roars to you:
Hey, sons of mongrels, hey, old fathers!
Glory to him that hath one sheaf,
Who lays one ear of corn before you!
Hail to him who at least a year,
At least one day of his life has given us!
And there shall be one land, one far away, happy country,
Beyond the sea, beyond the tears and the whining,
Where Jews shall bear the fate of Jews,
And my proud and fair race shall rest.
Where they will no longer have to walk with their backs bowed,
And no ragged adolescent can step on us any longer.
But he laughs at us like a sunny bird
On a Jewish field, the holy Jewish spring.
We must only believe, with strong, unbroken faith!
And to give, to give persistently,
And what for millennia wild storms have carried away,
The land, the country, everything, everything will be found again.
The second part of a letter sent by a reader of the antisemitic newspaper ''We Are Alone'', including the poem in Hungarian.
The last part of the article presents, in a more amusing tone, the lines of a reader of the newspaper who pesters the editorial staff for an explanation about a photo found framed in a Jewish apartment. The picture seems mundane, hence his curiosity about its meaning and the important place he found it hanging.
The last letter sent by a reader to the editorial staff of ''We are alone''.
”Finally, another reader, whose wish was not to publish his name, keeps pestering us to tell him what the following photograph, which he found framed in a prominent place in the Jewish apartment, means: is it Gibraltar or Pantelleria? For it is obviously an Anglo-Saxon naval base, but why the Jew held this picture in such reverence now in the war, we leave it to our readers to decipher, to whom we present the framed photograph:”
Photo sent by a reader of the antisemitic newspaper ''We are alone'', VII, No. 17.
It is important to understand that the purpose of this newspaper was to reinforce stereotypes about the supposedly very good material status of Jews, when in reality most Jewish families were not wealthy. Our aim in publishing this article is to present the documents of the time and the perception of Hungarians towards the Jews who were deported to Auschwitz.
Egyedül Vagyunk, VII Évfolyam, 17. Szám, 1944 Augusztus 25, 8. oldal.
Új magyar irodalmi lexikon I. (A–Gy). Főszerk. Péter László. Budapest: Akadémiai. 1994. 487. o.