History of Transcarpathian Ruthenia
The First Jews to be Deported
The Jews of Carpatho-Ukraine and Hungary, as a whole, were relatively safe in comparison to the rest of European Jewry until 1944. However, before jumping into the extermination of all Jews in 1944, one must acknowledge the early blips of foreboding anti-Semitism. In 1941, Germany urged the Hungarians to assist in the attack against the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. This coincided with an official decision from the agency responsible for foreign nationals living in Hungary to deport foreign Jews. This came at no provocation from the Nazis and was inspired completely from within Hungarian political bodies. The Jews targeted were mostly Polish and Russian Jews, but there were also many refugees from western Europe.
Anyone who was not able to establish Hungarian citizenship was put into a freight car to Korosmezo – a border town – where they were transferred into the hands of the Germans. As of August 10, 1941, approximately 14,000 Jews had been deported from Hungary to German-controlled territory (mostly from Transcarpathian Ruthenia.) Later in the month there was a final transport of 4,000 more Jews, bringing the total to 18,000. Almost all of these Jews would die at the hands of the Germans, who marched them from Korosmezo to Kamenets-Podolsk where they were shot on the spot with the local Jews. The massacre at Kamients-Podolsk was the first large-scale mass killing of Jews executed by the Kamienets-Podolsk.
Jews from Carpathio Ruthenia waiting in Birkenau’s Birch Forest before they are gassed. They will have had nothing to drink during the 3 day journey.
In May 1944, Hungarian leaders organized the ejection of around 140,000 Jews from Subcarpathian Ruthenia to the border of the Generalgouvernement, Nazi-occupied Poland. Once the Jews from the area were under control of the SS, they were deported to Auschwitz where they mostly perished. A group of Jews from Transcarpathia is the one that is pictured in the infamous “Auschwitz Album,” which is the only known series of pictures of actual deportations arriving in the death camp.
After the Holocaust in Transcarpathia
The Germans and their collaborators killed approximately 263,000 Jews who had resided in the territory. This total is included in the amount of Jews killed by Hungary in total – usually given as close to 500,000 people. In Transcarpathia about 80% of the Jews perished and the rest left for Israel after the war ended. The community has never recovered.