Hungarian Pre-Holocaust Communal Records Saved From Auction Block #hungary #records

Jan Meisels Allen




Seven rare ledgers from the 19th and 20th centuries containing records of pre-Holocaust Jewish communal life in what is now Hungary have been removed from public auction and jointly purchased by the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives (HJMA), along with the National Library of Israel (NLI).


Among the documents are thousands of birth, death, marriage and other communal records from six different Jewish communities, many of them from the Holocaust era, which have not yet been digitized.


Included in the registers are marriage records going back to the 1850s in the eastern Hungarian city of Miskolc and burial society logs dating between 1942 and 1946 in the town of Satoraljaujhely, around 50 miles east of Miskolc. At the turn of the 20th century, Satoraljaujhely contained some 4,500 Jews — one-third of the town’s 13,000 residents — but the Jewish population was decimated in the Holocaust.


The ledgers will be kept in Jerusalem at the NLI, and will be available for exhibit at the HJMA, housed in Budapest’s Dohany Street Synagogue complex, upon request.


The items were set to be auctioned off by the Kedem auction house in Jerusalem on behalf of an anonymous seller on August 24, but were removed from the block after protests by activists and organizations dedicated to the preservation of Jewish heritage, who maintain that such records should not be held by private collectors.


The sale of communal documents has been the subject of rising controversy, as activists say the records contain priceless historic information and should be safeguarded in public institutions.


To read more see:



Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee