An Open Secret?
The Dissemination and Reception of News about Auschwitz in Hungary in 1944
Keywords:Hungary, Holocaust, BBC, Diaries, Auschwitz
In this paper, I analyse diaries from 1944 to explore the extent to which ordinary Hungarian civilians were informed of the genocide of the Jewish population. The diaries indicate that information was sparse among the Hungarian population, and mainly obtained, directly or indirectly, from BBC radio broadcasts. The reactions of individual Christian and Jewish diarists varied according to the amount of credit they gave to the broadcasts or the rumours circulating within their social circles. However, both Jews and Christians tried not to give credit to the rumours as the idea of gas chambers and mass gassings was simply inconceivable to the majority of the examined diarists. Even Jewish diarists who had received news of the ongoing genocide and feared for their lives thought it more likely that they would be executed by volley fire. For them, this method of mass murder posed a more realistic danger.
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