Testimony clips of Hungarian Holocaust survivors have been incorporated into a fascinating project out of Budapest: Open Society Archive’s “Yellow-Star Houses” online mapping exhibit.
The Open Society Archives (OSA) at Central European University is a repository, research institute and laboratory for new ways of assessing, contextualizing, presenting, and making use of archival documents. It specializes in Cold War and human rights holdings and includes 11,000 hours of audiovisual recordings and 12 terabytes of digital data.
OSA’s Yellow Star Houses project has created an interactive map that plots the modern-day locations of apartments in Budapest that were designated for Jews in June, 1944 and marked with yellow Stars of David. Nearly 200,000 Jews in the city were subjected to discriminatory “Jewish laws,” made to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing, and forced to move out of their homes and into one of the 1,944 designated apartment buildings by midnight on June 21, 1944. The yellow star houses served as a preparatory stage before deportation. Due to Regent Miklós Horthy’s decision on July 6, the Jews in Budapest were spared from the deportation to Auschwitz. Despite that, thousands of them perished during the Arrow Cross rule on death marches, on the shores of the Danube River and during the siege of Budapest.
Each yellow star house is marked on the map along with a photograph of what the building looks like today. The map is supplemented with numerous documents, including the relevant decrees, a list of houses, a chronology, a glossary, and recollections. Anyone who can contribute more information about their family’s history in these buildings is encouraged to contact the archive.
The website also features several clips of testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation of Holocaust survivors who lived in yellow star houses. In Hungarian, the survivors discuss their memories of leaving their own homes and living in yellow star houses in Budapest.
OSA will host a memorial event on June 21 in front of the remaining some 1,600 former yellow star houses. The project will culminate in December with an exhibit on the Budapest ghetto at OSA.