History of the Jews in Hungary

The history of the Jews in Hungary dates back to at least the Kingdom of Hungary, with some records even predating the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895 CE by over 600 years. Written sources prove that Jewish communities lived in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary and it is even assumed that several sections of the heterogeneous Hungarian tribes practiced Judaism. Jewish officials served the king during the early 13th century reign of Andrew II. From the second part of the 13th century, the general religious tolerance decreased and Hungary's policies became similar to the treatment of the Jewish population in Western Europe.

Hungarian Jews
יהדות הונגריה
Magyar zsidók
Location of Hungary (dark green) in Europe
Total population
152,023 (total estimated for Hungary + Israel, does not include other countries)
Regions with significant populations
 Hungary 48,600 (core population, estimation) (2010)[1]
120,000 (estimated population) (2012)[2][3]
10,965 (self-identifying Jews by religion, 2011 census)[4]
 Israel 32,023 (immigrants to Israel) (2010)[5]
Related ethnic groups
Ashkenazi Jews/Hungarians[lower-alpha 1]

The Jews of Hungary were fairly well integrated into Hungarian society by the time of the First World War. By the early 20th century, the community had grown to constitute 5% of Hungary's total population and 23% of the population of the capital, Budapest. Jews became prominent in science, the arts and business. By 1941, over 17% of Budapest's Jews had converted to the Catholic Church.[lower-alpha 2]

Anti-Jewish policies grew more repressive in the interwar period as Hungary's leaders, who remained committed to regaining the territories lost at the peace agreement (Treaty of Trianon) of 1920, chose to align themselves with the governments of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy – the international actors most likely to stand behind Hungary's claims.[8] Starting in 1938, Hungary under Miklós Horthy passed a series of anti-Jewish measures in emulation of Germany's Nürnberg Laws. Following the German occupation of Hungary on March 19, 1944, Jews from the provinces were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp; between May and July that year, 437,000 Jews were sent there from Hungary, most of them gassed on arrival.[9]

The 2011 Hungary census data had 10,965 people (0.11%) who self-identified as religious Jews, of whom 10,553 (96.2%) declared themselves as ethnic Hungarian.[4] Estimates of Hungary's Jewish population in 2010 range from 54,000 to more than 130,000[10] mostly concentrated in Budapest.[11] There are many active synagogues in Hungary, including the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest synagogue in the world after the Temple Emanu-El in New York City.[12]

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