Fate of Hungary's Jews

Gabor Mate writes (Dec. 18) in a moving article on the fate of Hungary's Jews that in 1944 "437,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz and other camps". He refers to a "Nazi genocide program. . . mechanized mass murder" and states that "nowhere were so many people exterminated in so short a time."

This is indeed an astonishing account. Can Mr. Mate provide any verification for the genocide claim and for his seemingly precise statistics?

According to Walter N. Sanning ("The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry", Institute for Historical Review, 1983) who relied on data supplied by the International Red Cross and Zionist sources, there were 400,000 Jews in Hungary in 1939 and 200,000 "survivors" in 1946. Of the remainder, 27,500 died in the military labor force, 25,000 were taken prisoner by the Red Army (very few of whom returned), 40,000 were deported to the East in 1945, the negative birth rate during the war accounted for 20,000, conversions to Christianity for 10,000 and migration to Rumania for 6,000.

Of the unaccounted balance of 71,000, some may well have died during internment by the Germans. If so, the cause of death would have been more likely typhus than a diabolical slaughter or deliberate starvation as was the case with prisoners held by the Americans and Russians.

As for the "horrendous" travel arrangements, perhaps Mr. Mate would be less condemnatory were he to learn something of the orgy of rape and mass murder which characterized the "transport" of ethnic Germans from the Eastern Territories and Sudetenland when these areas were "liberated."

The Globe & Mail, unless it can authenticate the Mate story, should apologize to its readers, especially those of German extraction, for exposing them to this insidious anti-German hate propaganda.


Ian Macdonald

December 27, 1989