How it Happened: Documenting the Tragedy of Hungarian Jewry

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Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 20185:30PM - 7:30PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, 1 Devonshire Place
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Documenting the Tragedy of Hungarian Jewry
By Ernő Munkácsi

Edited by Nina Munk
Translated by Péter Balikó Lengyel
Introduction by Ferenc Laczó
Annotated by László Csősz and Ferenc Laczó
Brief biography of Ernő Munkácsi by Susan Papp

A gripping first‐hand account of the devastating “last chapter” of the Holocaust, written by a privileged eyewitness, the secretary of the Hungarian Judenrat, and a member of Budapest’s Jewish elite, How It Happened is a unique testament to the senseless brutality that, in a matter of months, decimated what was Europe’s largest and last‐surviving Jewish community.

Writing immediately after the war and examining only those critical months of 1944 when Hitler’s Germany occupied its ally Hungary, Ernő Munkácsi describes the Judenrat’s desperation and fear as it attempted to prevent the looming catastrophe, agonized over decisions not made, and struggled to grasp the immensity of a tragedy that would take the lives of 427,000 Hungarian Jews in the very last year of the Second World War.

This long‐overdue translation makes available Munkácsi’s profound and unparalleled insight into the Holocaust in Hungary, revealing the “choiceless choices” that confronted members of the Judenrat forced to execute the Nazis’ orders. With an in‐depth introduction, a brief biography of Ernő Munkácsi, ample annotations by László Csősz and Ferenc Laczó, two dozen archival photographs, and detailed maps, How It Happened is an essential resource for historians and students of the Holocaust, the Second World War, and Central Europe.

Ernő Munkácsi (1896‐1950), a distinguished Hungarian jurist and writer, was general counsel of the Israelite Congregation of Pest and Director of the Hungarian Jewish Museum. In 1944, during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, he served as secretary for the Hungarian Central Jewish Council or Judenrat.

Nina Munk is a Canadian‐American journalist and author. She is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty.

László Csősz is senior archivist at the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest and co‐author, with Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, of The Holocaust in Hungary: Evolution of a Genocide.

Ferenc Laczó is assistant professor of history at Maastricht University and author of Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide: An Intellectual History, 1929–1948.

Péter Balikó Lengyel is a Hungarian writer and translator who earned his master’s and PhD candidacy in English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Susan Papp is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Toronto and author of Outcasts: A Love Story.


Daria Dumbabze


Attila Pók
Deputy Director of the Institute of History, the Research Centre for the Humanities at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Executive Vice President of the Hungarian Historical Association; Senior Researcher at the Institute of Advanced Study in Kőszeg

Judit Molnár
Professor at the University of Szeged

Nina Munk
Canadian‐American Journalist and Author

Doris Bergen
Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, Department of History, University of Toronto

Randall Hansen
Opening Remarks
Interim Director, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

Main Sponsor

Hungarian Studies Program


Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

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