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The nastiest aspect of the Second World War was the industry with which Germany and its allies - and in its turn the USSR - attacked not only the armies opposing them but also the civilian populations in the rear. Depredations against helpless civilians have a history as long as warfare itself, but this time cruelty plumbed new depths. The extirpation of the European Jews was scarcely below the demand for Lebensraum on Hitler's agenda, and as the war turned against him it became priority.
European anti-Semitism is deeply rooted, traditional rather than rational even in the Hungary of today. Szabolcs Szita makes it clear that although Nazism was the driving force much of the damage to Hungarian Jewry was done by Hungarians, in particular the police and gendarmerie and most of all the Arrow-Cross party. He also makes it clear, however, that many Hungarians had no part in it, and that in Budapest at least some gave active expression to their disapproval, frequently thereby risking their lives. Led by the courageous Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, posted to Budapest expressly for the purpose, a nucleus of neutral diplomats, Red Cross staff and sympathetic Hungarians strove against the Fascist terror and saved thousands of Jewish lives.
This book commemorates both those that have no memorial, who are vanished as though they had never been, and Wallenberg himself, ultimately the victim of the honest decency which he expected to find in others too.
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