Cruelty and humanity in the months of massacre

04 Dec

On December 1, 2012, the fifth Memorial Day of forced laborers coerced to erecte fortifications in the Austrian – Hungarian border area during the winter of 1944 – 45 was observed in Balf. The National Literary and Historical Memorial Site in Balf upholds the memory of victims of the forced labor camps in the region of Sopron, among them outstanding personalities, such as Antal Szerb, Gábor Halász and György Sárközi.

Megemlékezés és koszorúzás az egykori tömegsírok helyszínén

In the first part of the program, at the memorial erected on the site of mass graves, Prof. Dr. Szabolcs Szita has evoked the events that took place in the area of western Hungary, in Sopron, Balf, Kőszeg and Rohonc/Rechnitz during the winter of 1944-45. At the occasion, flowers of commemoration were laid by Dr. István Simon, deputy mayor of Sopron, Dr. László Varga, vice-dean of the Pedagogical Faculty of University of Western Hungary, György Frisch, chairman of the National Association of Persecuted by Nazism, György Sessler, chairman of the National Association of Forced Laborers, Dr. János Botos, deputy director of the Holocaust Memorial Center and Dr. István Nuber, educational advisor of the Holocaust Memorial Center.

At the subsequent program in the József Attila Culture Club, Dr. János Botos greeted the participants of the commemoration titled “Destruction through Labor: Months of Mass-Murder”. Announcement of results and award giving ceremony of the students’ essay competition represented the central element of the program. The authors of the very best essays, out of the 65 nominated ones, received the acknowledgements of the Holocaust Memorial Center and the special awards of the town of Sopron.

The afternoon section of the program, devoted to rescue activities, bore the title “Victory of Humanity”. Sections of a documentary about humanitarian activity by the Austrian Maria Mauz and her mother were screened, followed by presentations of historians Engelbert Kremshofer from Graz and Harald Strassl from Eisenstadt. The program was closed by handing out memorial plaques to Austrian families Kremshofer, a Trummer and Lederer, that rescued Jews during the Shoah.


Organizers of the Memorial Day:

Holocaust Memorial Center

University of West Hungary – Institute for Teachers Education

National Association of Forced Laborers

Committee of Persecuted by Nazism

Emlékezés 1944 – 2004 Public Foundation

Holocaust Institution Budapest


Supporting Partners

Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich

Austrian Cultural Forum, Budapest

Simon Wiesenthal Educational Center, Wien

BMI Mauthausen Archiv, Wien

Verein R. E. F. U. G. I. U. S. – Rechnitzer Flüchlings- und Gedenkinitiative

Jewish Community of Sopron