This gallery explores the history of the Hungarian yellow-star houses, a network of almost 2,000 apartment buildings where 220,000 Budapest Jews were forced to live for half a year, from June 21 1944. Both the houses and their residents were forced to display the yellow star.
Using the two June 1944 Budapest mayoral decrees establishing the yellow-star houses, OSA checked every single address on the final list of almost 2,000 designated buildings. Around 1,600 former yellow-star houses are still standing in Budapest today, across 13 districts of the city.
We transferred this data onto a Google map, and marked each former yellow-star house with a yellow star. The approximately 400 buildings that have been demolished since 1944 are marked on the map with a clear star.
Protected houses in the 13th district are marked in green.
For every former yellow-star house still standing today, we uploaded an image of what the house looks like today using photos from Google Streetview.
In April 2014, OSA staff and volunteers placed stickers on the front gates of the approximately 1,600 former yellow-star houses that are still standing in Budapest today. This sticker campaign aimed to raise awareness, and to encourage residents to join the June 21, 2014 commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the mass forced relocation of 220,000 Budapest Jews into almost 2,000 designated yellow-star houses.
Click on the image (or, where there is one, on the smaller image in the bottom left-hand corner) to reach the "Details" section, where you will find further background information, and stories concerning the 1944 history of the houses.
The 21 June commemorations began at 8 a.m. at Balzac Street 24 in Budapest's 13th district, where the first event of the day was hosted by Zsófia Mautner, a well-known food journalist and chef, and Róbert Alföldi, an actor, theatre director and former director of Hungary's National Theatre.
Róbert introduced a collection of recipes compiled in 1944 by five Hungarian women deported to the Lichtenwörth camp in eastern Austria, where they exchanged stories about meals back home to stave off hunger. The recipes were transcribed in the camp onto letter writing paper by Mrs. István Endrei (born Hedvig Weisz, 1914-2012), and published in 2014 under the title A Cookbook for Survival (Szakácskönyv a túlélésért).
Zsófia, whose grandmother also survived the Lichtenwörth camp, cooked a fruit bread from the recipe book, and invited everyone to try a piece.
"We had the yellow star posted on the main entrance of the house, but none of our Christian neighbors moved out. Our house was an island of peace in an ocean of unrest. The Christian neighbors even made sure when we were forcibly taken once from our homes for three days (as part of a public humiliation campaign) that nothing disappeared from the apartments. The neighboring yellow-star houses were looted." -- Tamás Marton, resident of Népszínház Street 46.
Cantor Zoltán Belz-Szilágyi sings "Belz mein Heimele" at Dob Street 52.
Standing behind in a suit and yellow tie is the singer György Korda, who is mentioned in the story under the Details for this item.
"This is the house where my grandfather lived from the 1920s with his four sons and three daughters (my grandmother died young, at that time, diabetes could not be treated…). Of the four boys, two returned from forced labor (and a few years as Soviet prisoners of war), the two youngest ones did not survive. My mother and family were taken from here to the ghetto at the end of 1944, or maybe early 1945. The story: after “our homeland lost its independence," masses of the “misfortunate coerced Arrow Cross” (a bitter irony) took the Jews from the yellow-star houses (too) to the Danube banks… Terrified, my mother and family obediently took their place in the line, but a cousin of theirs who also lived here “commanded them,” and they managed to step out of the line while still in the stairwell." -- G. Fandagabo, January 30, 2014.
A resident of the house since 1944 blesses those present in Hebrew.
“From June 21, 1944 until the establishment of the ghetto, this building was where Budapest citizens defined as Jews were forced to live: a yellow-star house. Erected in 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust.”
Songs of the Ghettos, from Cordoba to a Ukrainian shtetl, from Casablanca to Budapest.
"During the siege, bombings and shootings, the residents spent most of their time in the coal cellar. In the middle room, Uncle Vajda and Aunt Jolán slept on a set of twin beds. Laid across the end of the beds was a divan where Aunt Ida slept, and which she shared with me after I moved in. Until the very last day, I refused to go down into the cellar." -- Dr. M. Bárdos, former resident of Akácfa Street 59, seated on the far right of the photograph.
Exhibition at the Brody Art Yard of works by Polish-Jewish American painter Diane Sophrin, who lived at Vasvári Pál Street 8 for over 10 years. The exhibition refers to lost homes, and the universal tragedy of the Holocaust.
Vasvári Pál Street is a very short street in the inner 6th district, with only 11 houses, of which 5 were yellow-star houses.
Representatives of the embassies of Italy, the Vatican, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, and the International Federation of the Red Cross take part in a guided walk through the 5th and 13th districts commemorating the diplomats who saved tens of thousands of lives in 1944: Giorgio Perlasca (Italy), Angelo Rotta and Gennaro Verolino (Italy), Henryk Slawik (Poland), Sampaio Garrido and Teixeira Branquinho (Portugal), Angel Sanz-Briz (Spain), Raoul Wallenberg (Sweden), and Carl Lutz and Friedrich Born (Switzerland).
On June 19, 1945, a Wallenberg Memorial concert was held at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, organized by his former colleagues, and to honor Raoul Wallenberg's activities in saving the lives of tens of thousands of Budapest Jews.
On June 21, 2014, much of the concert program was repeated in honor of Wallenberg and colleagues, in the former yellow-star house at Tátra Street 6, in the 13th district.
June 21 also coincides with the annual Night of the Museums festival in Budapest. The Night of the Museums event series opened with the stairs concert of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Iván Fischer and his orchestra performed at 6 pm on Saturday 21 June, on the stairs of the Museum of Fine Arts on Heroes’ Square.
Also participating on June 21 with Night of the Museums programs on the yellow-star houses were the Petőfi Museum of Literature, the Goethe Institute, Budapest Metropolitan Archives, the Hungarian National Archives, the Cervantes Institute, Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, the Polish Institute, the Hungarian National Museum, and OSA.
"It is essential to read and understand these stories to feel the human and personal sides of the tragedy. The victims, reminiscences of survivors, witnesses and descendants make these buildings Holocaust monuments we live among and with.
We would like to commemorate with artworks and the ideas of contemporary artists concerning the history of these houses. Commemorating the episode when, from one day to the next, safe homes became prisons of social and legal exclusion."
From the Polish Institute's "Yellow-Star Houses: Holocaust Memorials We Live With" exhibition catalog.
Uncle Bandi's Street: video projection onto the former yellow-star houses at Dohány Street 57, 59 and 61.
At Dohány Street 74, home to the 1956 Institute, historian Krisztián Ungváry delivers a talk on the importance of remembering the yellow-star houses.
On June 21, Ádám Fischer led the civic Democrat Choir in an outdoor performance of Beethoven's Ode to Joy (from 0:30 in the video) at Szabadság Square.
June 21, 2014 was Yellow-Star Houses Remembrance Day, the annual Night of the Museums festival in Budapest, and the 75th day of the "Eleven Emlékmű" (Living Memorial) protests at Szabadság Square in Budapest's downtown fifth district, next to the government's (then planned) memorial to the 1944 Nazi occupation of its wartime ally Hungary.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a statue of a vast Prussian eagle symbolizing Germany, overcoming the Archangel Gabriel, who is intended to represent all the victims in Hungary.
The statue was erected with no public announcement but with a heavy police guard over the night of Saturday July 19 and pre-dawn on Sunday July 20. It has not been officially unveiled, nor is there any intention to unveil on the part of the government that erected it.
The ongoing protests and civic commemorations around the memorial site aim to create a public sphere of resistance and questioning the truth content of the memorial, to encourage dialog, open debate and discussion of Hungary's 20th century past, and how that is remembered in 2014, which the government has declared Holocaust Memorial Year. Many protesters argue that by placing the emphasis on German responsibility for the Holocaust and "all victims," the statue relativizes the Holocaust and represents a white-washing of Hungarian responsibility.
The statue is an integral part of a broader historical narrative, according to which Hungary has consistently been let down by the West. It suggests that because Germany occupied Hungary, the country could not have been Germany's ally in World War II. It is intended to symbolize the country's ongoing freedom struggle, a rationale that is currently used to justify both symbolic and material political goals, including the establishment of a new, illiberal Hungarian state, recently announced by the Prime Minister.