Hungarian Catholic Mission

Hungarian Faith - Catholics and the Holocaust

Antal Meszlényi, in his book The Hungarian Church and the Protection of Human Rights, lists all institutions, schools, convents, monasteries, students' hostels, etc. which offered asylum to persecuted Jews.

Hungarian Catholic Mission Hungarian Catholic Mission
  1. The Lazarist House, Budapest
    Thirty men were hidden in this house, pretending to follow spiritual exercises. Father Koehler, one of the priests was the indefatigable leader - a sort of commander-in-chief - of the Budapest rescue operations. As head of the team authorized by the Papal Nunciature, he issued thousands of safe conduct passes and when Jews were later driven into ghettos he obtained special permission from the authorities to be with them all the time, caring for them in fourteen emergency hospitals and two chapels. He was greatly helped in his work by the Sisters of Charity who also provided food for the detainees.

  2. The Mother House of the Sisters of Charity
    They began their life saving operation in August 1944 by admitting fifty adults and 150 children of deportees. They concentrated their efforts on the poor, abandoned and lonely subjects of the persecution. The Nazis tried several times to search the premises, but strangely enough they were satisfied each time after looking at some documents nuns presented to them at the door. Every Jew was saved.

  3. Sacred Heart Day School, Sophianum
    Eighty women and forty children were the first Jews admitted. Ten, mostly husbands, joined them later and were fed all through the siege of Budapest, most of them free of charge. The school, situated in center of Budapest with no garden for the enclosed nuns to get fresh air, owned a small villa in Zugliget, on the outskirts of the city, in Buda.

    There they first housed twenty fugitives, but when the Sion Convent had to be evacuated eighty more found refuge there. Arrow C¬ross agents tried to raid both places several times, but the firm resistance of the nuns saved the situation each time. All Jews survived.

  4. National Association of Catholic Housewives (Benedictine Oblates)
    Ten political refugees and eighty-two Jews sought and obtained asylum in the institute and some of them were still there in 1970, because they had nowhere else to go.

  5. Sion Convent, Sashegy, Buda.
    One hundred and ten persons were there when the Gestapo, stationed nearby, discovered their hiding place. The nuns succeeded in evacuating the shelter before the search party arrived and placed the refugees partly with the Sacred Heart nuns in Zugliget and partly with private persons. All were thus saved from certain death.

  6. Franciscan Missionary Sisters, Hermina út, Pest.
    In mid-October they opened their house to 120 children and 30 adults. The children received a schooling. The 150 refugees had no ration cards, so the nuns fed them from their own resources and suffered much hunger themselves. On 10 December the Nazis broke into the house, and took away all but a few older children and adults who managed to break through the surrounding cordon. To punish the nuns the attackers robbed them of all their money and food. The sisters also took part in Father Koehler's rescue operation to the border town of Hegyeshalom, carrying safe-conduct passes from the Nuncio to Jews being taken to Auschwitz. The nuns were brutally attacked by the Nazis and accused of being British spies, but in spite of that they managed to rescue and bring back to Budapest a large number of Jews.

  7. The Hospital of the Order of St Elizabeth (Elisabethinae)
    Over one hundred Jews were admitted as if they were patients. The nuns were so clever in disguising them that in spite of several inspections the agents of the Arrow-Cross never found out that they were refugees.

    Furthermore, with the safe-conduct passes of the Nunciature the nuns brought out of the brick factory at Obuda many Jews detained there prior to deportation. They provided them with clothes when needed. Everyone survived.

  8. The Capuchin Friary (O.F.M. Cap.)
    The Germans occupied it in the summer of 1944 for military purposes, so none could be hidden there. But the friars managed to find private hiding places for many Jews.

  9. The Society of the Sacred Heart Sisters (Népleányok), Pest.
    There was very little room in their Home, so they sent applicants to the nearby Jesuit Provincial House. But in the Corda bookshop run by the Sisters they set up an admission bureau to which the Holy Cross Association and parishes could direct the refugees. The Holy Cross Association was established for the protection of baptized Jews under the spiritual leadership of Professor József Jánosi SJ and directed by the journalist Dr. József Cavallier.

    The bureau then passed them on to brave private individuals who volunteered to hide them in their homes. In their Vöröstorony Retreat house outside the capital the Sisters hid twenty persons and gave 200 meals daily to those in need. All this amid constant harassment by the Nazis. Everyone survived.

  10. Collegium Marianum (Students hostel in Pest)
    One hundred girls were sheltered there and were fed free of charge if destitute. All were saved.

  11. College of St Anne, Pest.
    Countess Pejacsevich placed 150 refugees there, the majority of whom were children from the countryside. They escaped harassment by the Nazis because one of the policemen on duty at the nearby Romanian Embassy posted himself in front of the college gate, pretending it was an official building. Everyone was saved.

  12. Collegium Theresianum, Pest.
    Thirty Jewish girls were hidden there among the students. The Nazis raided the house three times, but never found anyone, because the girls rushed each time to the partly bombed part of the house through a passage dug under the rubble. The Nazis never reached that part of the house because they did not find the secret passage.

  13. The Champagnat Institute of the Marist Brothers
    They gave refuge to one hundred children and fifty parents, but they were betrayed by one of the French soldiers also hiding there. He came from Alsace and was probably an SS agent. Forty Gestapo men burst into the building one night and murdered most of the Jews. They arrested the six Brothers and took them to Gestapo headquarters on Svábhegy. From there they were taken to the district court of Pest and to the cellars of parliament and were cruelly tortured. Finally they were taken to Castle Hill, where they survived the siege. Only a few Jewish children and adults, accidentally left behind in the institute, survived.

  14. The Pauline (Pálos) Monastery, Mount St Gellért, Buda.
    Mostly occupied by the German army since summer 1944 they could not admit anyone, but they managed to place in private homes all those who turned to them for help.

  15. Mother House of the Daughters of the Divine Redeemer, Svábhegy,Buda
    They sheltered 150 children, but the Nazis and the Gestapo, whose headquarters were quite nearby, found them and took them away.

  16. The Carmelite Nuns (O.D.C.)
    Gave hospitality to 330 Jews, mostly children, all of whom were saved.

  17. The Mary Ward School in Váci utca, Pest.
    They admitted 40 children and 8 adults, later a further sixty children and twenty adults to their villa in Zugliget. Both places were inspected and harassed several times but nothing happened to anyone.

  18. The Central Seminary, Pest.
    They hid forty children, but when the situation became too dangerous the seminarists took some of them home to their parents and relatives. Fourteen remained with the students and temporary shelter was provided for another thirteen refugees.

  19. The House of Mercy, Obuda.
    Twenty-five adults and fifteen children hiding there were taken before Christmas to so-called sheltered accommodation on Nazi orders. People in sheltered houses were under curfew and supposed to be deported later, but because of the siege there was no time to carry out the deportations and many Jews in sheltered houses survived.

  20. The Good Shepherd Convent, Buda.
    They admitted 112 girls. Here again the Nazis twice raided the house, but a hidden passage into an adjacent building provided a refuge for the fugitives and everyone survived.

  21. The Jesuit Provincial House, Pest.
    Father Rayle, with the Lazarist Father Koehler, one of the leading figures of the rescue team, hid roughly 150 Jews in the Provincial House, which especially during the last week of the siege of Budapest was in a highly vulnerable position. Day after day the Nazis broke into the house and chased the priests all over the building at gunpoint. Father Rayle put an end to this procedure by disguising two Hungarian soldiers - from 100 soldiers who were also hiding in the building - as policemen, transforming the porter's lodge into a police post. This stopped further entry by anyone into the building. All refugees survived.

  22. The Ranolder Institute - Girls school run by the Sisters of Charity, Pest.
    The school suffered extensive damage during the Allied bombings and could not admit anyone, but 100 Jewish girls were hidden in the Blessed Catherine Holiday Home in Zugliget. There the nuns installed a fake military workshop and managed to survive until the siege, when that part of the city was quickly liberated from the Germans and the Jews were saved.

  23. The Daughters of Divine Charity, Knézits utca, Pest.
    In November 1944 two hundred forced laborers were put up in the house and very well catered for. After they left 110 adults and children were given asylum. Arrow-Cross agents stationed across the road spotted them and broke into the house. They kept the Sister Superior at gunpoint and took away the fugitives. Only five or six managed to escape over the roof.

  24. Women's Home, run by the Social Sisters, Bokréta utca, Pest.
    The twenty-five refugees hiding there were denounced by a Nazi employee. Sister Schalkházi and teacher Vilma Berkovits together with two Jews were driven away and shot the same day. The papers of other refugees were found in order, but they did not feel safe and fled.

  25. Institute of St Theresa, Proféta utca, Pest.
    Thirty fugitives were put up in the house, which also functioned as accommodation agency. Many hundreds of Jews picked up their safe¬-conduct passes and false papers there and about 500 were directed to safe private addresses. The Nazis tried to infiltrate the Institute several times, but the Sisters always managed to avert the danger and everyone survived.

  26. The Cistercians in Horánszky utca, Pest, successfully sheltered fifteen refugees.

  27. The Headquarters of the Catholic Apprentices
    Twenty-six places were retained for refugees. Dénes Sándor, a teacher of religion, and Dutch officers who were hidden there on a secret mission to Budapest, directed the resistance activities of an enthusiastic group of young Christians. They carried out their humanitarian rescue operations while doing military service by tricks worthy of the most daring adventure stories. Many thousands of safe-conduct passes and false documents were handed out from here. In spite of a German motorized unit being moved into the premises at the end of December, everyone survived.

  28. Sisters of Mercy of Szatmár, Hám János Home.
    The Home was just one flat in a large housing block, but the Sisters managed to admit twenty Jews. The other tenants only found out about this when they did not come down to the air raid shelter because Germans sheltered there as well. Everybody kept quiet about it, so all the Jews were saved.

  29. Society of the Sacred Heart, Ajtósi Dürer Sor, Pest.
    Two hundred women and children found refuge in this boarding school for girls. Furthermore, a large contingent of forced laborers (all Jews) who were living in a grammar school nearby obtained papal safe¬-conduct passes through the Sisters.

    When the labor force was moved away, many of them found refuge and accommodation through the Sisters. They were given food and clothing as well. Everyone was saved.

  30. Caritas Old People's Home
    Though very small it sheltered eleven Jews. The Arrow-Cross agents became suspicious of the numbers and arrested the warden during the night. They interrogated and threatened him with imprisonment, but he gave nothing away and all were saved.

  31. Josephinum (Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary), Pest. [11]
    Sixty children and twenty adults, including two Yugoslav citizens were hiding there, quite near the infamous Nazi center on Andrássy út. In spite of that no harm came to anyone, they all survived the siege.

  32. The Benedictines (O.S.B.)
    Hid 80 Jews in the air-raid shelter of their monastery and kept them all through the siege. Fathers Lucius Havasi and Francis Xavier Szunyogh suffered much while acting as ghetto chaplains.

  33. The Sisters of Unio Eucharistica, Pest.
    Their Institute was in a private apartment in Appony Square, near the Elizabeth Bridge. They transformed it into a small hospital and admitted twenty Jews as 'patients'. Following a betrayal, the Nazis raided the flat in the middle of the night and drove away all the refugees whose documents were not good enough. They also dragged the Sister Superior to a detention centre, beat her, and threatened her with execution. They then let her go with a warning that if she was caught once more hiding Jews they would kill her at once. In spite of that she hired another flat in Andrassy út and later in Benczur utca, where she again took in thirty Jews. She placed a further forty in private houses all were saved. The founder of the Order, Prelate Professor Arnold Pataky, also placed his four-room flat at the disposal of fugitives and provided many Jews with false documents which he obtained by bribing a Nazi. All destitute people were helped free of charge. Professor Pataky was a member of the Upper House of Parliament and was present at the only session called by the new head of state, the Arrow¬ Cross man, Ferenc Szálasi, at which he vigorously protested against the inhuman treatment of Jews.

  34. Salesian Fathers' House of St Aloysius, Obuda
    Twelve adults and forty children were admitted there. The close proximity of the local Nazi centre made the place dangerous from the start. The Nazis attacked it three times. During the first raid they drove away half the refugees, some of whom they shot at once. The second time five men were taken away. The third time the Nazis returned was during Christmas night when they drove thirteen little boys to the river Danube. There they shot twelve of them dead. The thirteenth, who could swim, was not hit but simulated the fall into the Danube and miraculously survived to tell of the horrors of that night. Meanwhile the Father Superior and his deputy were dragged to Nazi headquarters for a brutal beating. Only the personal intervention of the Papal Nuncio saved their lives. As a further punishment, the house was ransacked and the money box of the poor Salesian Fathers stolen.

  35. Rescue operations of the Social Sisters (Sociális Testvérek)

    Under the leadership of Sister Margit Schlachta, the Society of Social Sisters took the lion's share of all rescue operations. Their sense of justice and respect for human dignity placed them in the forefront of fighters against brutality, injustice and murder. Few people know that Sister Schlachta travelled to Rome and personally presented to the Pope a secret report she had compiled on Jewish persecution in Slovakia. As a result of her efforts the Slovak bishops took an energetic stand against the Nazis and put an end to deportations from Slovakia. While in Rome she also had discussions with Cardinal Spellman. Margit Schlachta also sent a circular letter to 500 Hungarian members of parliament, blaming them for the unlawful appropriation of Jewish property. The Sisters organized courses to explain and condemn Hitlerite doctrines and to teach Christian charity.

    The Social Sisters' periodical Word of the Spirit bravely sided with the persecuted. Sister Schlachta's New Year letter enraged extreme right wing politicians. Hundreds of letters of safe conduct were obtained by the Sisters from the International Red Cross, the Swedish Embassy and the Papal Nuncio. The latter's residence provided a 24¬ hour emergency service.

    In 160 groups with eighty teachers, spread all over the country, they provided religious instruction to over 10,000 Jews who, protected by the Holy Cross Society, wanted to become Christians. Four Sisters were murdered by the Nazis and are considered as martyrs. One of them, Sister Salkházi said one year before her death: "If anyone among the Sisters has to die during these hard times, let it be me." God accepted her sacrifice.

    The Sisters also did a wonderful job in ghettos and sheltered (yellow-star) houses, helping many Jews to escape. Roughly a thousand Jews were rescued in the following houses of the Society of Social Sisters: The Mother House in Budapest, Thököly ut: 140 persons; Remeteváros: 120; Ajtosi Dürer Sor 100; at Pécs: 20; Jankovich holiday camp: 20; Zamárdi: 15; Kolozsvár: 10; Nagyvárad 20; Szegvar: 10; Ulászlo utca: 16. The others were in the houses at Bokréta utca, Pest, Szombathely, Székesfehérvár, Gyöngyös and Zugliget.

    SOURCE: The Persecution of Jews in Hungary and the Catholic Church, Dr. Andras, Zakar, Dtd May 29, 2006

Hungarian Catholic Mission Hungarian Catholic Mission Hungarian Catholic Mission Privacy Policy Hungarian Catholic Mission Hungarian Catholic Mission Site Map Hungarian Catholic Mission NBR Computer Consulting, LLC