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Genocide Revealed: New Light on the Massacre of Serbs and Jews Under Hungarian Occupation Hardcover – January 27, 2012
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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My mother, and her entire family had to escape this holocaust because my grandfather was a prominent Serb, marked for the killing by Hungarian Nazi elements. Apparently, family friends informed my grandfather that he was on the list of those to be executed. The family left Novi Sad, leaving all property behind for sanctuary in Macva, Serbia.
There they lived under the "relative safety" of the occupying German Army. My mother was sixteen years old at the time these events transpired and she told me about blood in the gutters, summary executions, and individuals hanging from lamp-posts. She also told me about the execution squads on the Danube river. There, people were shot and their bodies allowed to slide under the frozen river.
She told me that the Hungarian soldiers were given drugs and alcohol to make the killings easier to perform. According to my mother's testimony, the Nazis among the invading troops called out, mocking the Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and other "undesirables" as they marched them to the killing fields. My mother has since passed away, with most of her youth consumed by the fury and cruelty of this war. Throughout her life, my mother remained strong and cheerful despite the things she had witnessed during the war.
Despite this story of inter-ethnic strife, I can also say that our family doctor was of Hungarian descent. He was a family friend, and he saved my mother when she was giving birth to me. Growing up, my best friend was a Hungarian boy. I pray for the future of my child, and the generations to come that they may learn from this event and not repeat the mistakes of their parents.
As a child, I also passed Jewish synagogues that were emptied by Nazi troops, with their congregation most likely sent to killing grounds like Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz. I asked my mother what happened to the vibrant congregations that came together in these buildings to worship God, and she told me the story. I felt sad for these people, and I saw only pigeons where congregations once laughed, cried, and prayed to God.
This book by Mr. Veljic is a necessary testament to human capacity for cruelty to his fellow man. The book also brought out elements of history I was not aware of. This facts where new to me even though I lived in what is now Serbia until I was fifteen years old. We live in dangerous times, where certain elements of society would like to revise history to suit their political aims.
My Name is Roberto (Bozidar), I am sixty-one years old, and this is my testament to the veracity of these events. There is other historical evidence that attests to the accuracy of these events as told to me, and as written in the book by Mr. Veljic.
The crimes that resulted under his authority as regent are unearthed and brought to light in the book, "Genocide Revealed: New Light on the Massacre of Serbs and Jews Under Hungarian Occupation," by Aleksander Veljic.
In this well-documented book, there is evidence, including numerous testimonies and historical recordings, that reveals Horthy's atrocious hand in killing thousands of Serbs, Roma, anti-Facists, and Jews. In brutal crimes against humanity, men, women, children, babies and the elderly succumbed to the vengeful cleansing of "undesirable" populations under Horthy's Hungarian forces. The Razzia (Great Raid) in Hungarian-occupied Serbia was carried out during the worst of Hitler's reign in 1942.
Veljic's unmitigated desire to establish the facts, despite significant adversity, is critical to establishing the historical record of the Razzia. His work is all the more important because Horthy managed to escape justice following World War II. The Holocaust Memorial Society has preserved a database opening up to history the cold hard facts that were intended to be buried by subsequent governments that distanced themselves from the Razzia and provided misinformation on the number of people actually killed. It has been 70 years since these events, but after seven years of diligent effort on the part of Veljic, these facts finally see the light of day.
Among the numerous historical data points within Veljic's book one can sense the humanity of those whose lives were obliterated. Seventy years later, detailed information about what some of the victims of the Razzia endured comes into focus. Their tragic stories and the horrifying accounts have been painstakingly documented.
Victims of the Razzia included many doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and intellectuals, as well as "little people" (as they were referred to at the time), among them housekeepers, cooks and janitors. Even Horthy's own godson, son of the Austro-Hungarian admiral, Nicholas Dragoylov, was murdered. In Hungary, Jews had never fully assimilated into the Hungarian bourgeoisie, and working-class Hungarians and peasants looked upon them with disdain, as they were perceived as pawns in the political and economic schemes of the Hungarian aristocracy.
The witness accounts shed further light on the nature of anti-Semitism in Hungary and reveal the presumptuousness and prevalence of the European mindset during World War II in its prejudice against its Jewish neighbors. The book begins with the focus on Horthy and his supporters, and sheds light on the difficulty many Serbs and Jews faced as they tried to blend in with the Hungarian population. To command the Hungarian forces to round up, ethnically cleanse, and kill on a mass scale all Jews, Serbs, anti-communists and Roma individuals in Serbia reveals the severity of personal hate that Horthy must have had for those unlike himself.
Learning from this history leads us to examine our own prejudices, our own judgmental tendencies to those among us who are different from us. The costly and cautionary history of the Razzia should surely convince us to have compassion for those who are not like us.