Toronto Star

Leading historian of the Holocaust in Hungary


In Hungary, the Holocaust began in a flash and seemed to disappear from historical memory just as quickly.

In less than two months in 1944, nearly 400,000 Jews were deported by Hungarian gendarmes working under the Nazi SS. Most were murdered at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, and by the end of the Second World War, about 600,000 people had been killed.

Scholarshi­p on that period remained scant for decades, in large part as a result of the repressive policies of communist leader Janos Kadar. It was largely through the efforts of Randolph Braham, a political scientist and Holocaust survivor whose parents were killed at Auschwitz, that the plight of Jews in Hungary became far better known.

Braham did “more for recording the history of the Hungarian Holocaust than anyone else,” Maria Kovacs, a history professor at Central European University in Budapest, said while introducin­g him at a lecture in 2017. “We owe it to him more than to anyone else that this history did not disappear ... ”

Braham, who described Holocaust scholarshi­p as his “destiny” and fought against moves to whitewash Hungarian collusion with Nazi authoritie­s, was 95 when he died Nov. 25 at his home in Queens. The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son Robert Braham.

He was best known for his 1,600-page, two-volume book The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, described by New York Times reviewer Elenore Lester as one of “the most important works of Holocaust history.”

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