When we interviewed Judit Kinszki, she told us, "All my life I've been waiting to find someone who I could tell about my father. Because he was taken from me at such a young age, I feel that when I describe him, I can draw closer to him."
Judit takes us back to the early days of the 20th century. The Kinszkis were upper-middle-class, highly educated, and hardly observed Jewish traditions at all. The Gardonyis were a lower middle class family determined to secure good careers for their children and religiously observant. When Imre Kinszki announced that he wanted to marry Ilona Gardonyi, his family had her fired from her job! Which is all it took for Imre to hunt her down and propose marriage on the spot.
Imre and Ilona had two children--Gabor was born in 1926, Judit in 1934. Judit's biography is one of our most affecting, telling us just how badly a middle class Jewish family suffered as the skies darkened around them. Judit and her mother survived the Budapest ghetto. Gabor and Imre were taken away and perished.
Imre Kinszki, by the way, was more than an amateur photographer. His images, which ten year old Judit saved in the Budapest ghetto, are now considered modernist masterpieces. A tragic story of a family destroyed, and a budding career cut short.
Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust - An article by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
An essay on the contemporary Hungarian Jewish community, by Professor Geza Komoroszy.
Explore Jewish architecture in Europe in this database provided by Bet Tfila.
This newspaper article describes the Jewish summer camp in Szarvas, where Jewish children from Hungary can find a connection to their religion.
Click here to see a map of Hungary.
A brief description of the Keleti train station in Budapest - a famous landmark and pictured in the film. It was the subject of one of Imre Kinski´s last photographs.
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge, the suspension bridge connecting Buda with Pest, is arguably Budapest’s most recognizable landmark (and one that appears prominently in the Kinszki film). Although it was destroyed by the Germans during the Siege of Budapest in 1944-1945, the bridge has been rebuilt and looks similar to that which stood at the time of the war. The following link provides a history of the bridge and several color photographs.
A collection of photos from Budapest.
Judit and her mother were sent by the Nazi authorities to live in the Budapest Ghetto. The following is a link to the original Decree on the establishment of the Budapest Ghetto in November 1944.
USHMM link to an essay on Hungary after the German occupation of 1944.
An outline of the Nazis’ plan for dealing with the “Jewish problem” in Hungary after the German occupation in March of 1944.
The final battle for Budapest between Soviet forces and the German/Hungarian Armies left much of the city completely destroyed. The following article is an excellent account of this ferocious World War II battle.
A collection of articles and photos relating to Jews in Hungary during the Second World War, provided by the Jewish Virtual Library.
The Jewish World and the Holocaust - An article by Yad Vashem.
During the Holocaust, many Hungarian Jews were forced to work in the Hunagarian Labor Service System. To learn more about forced labor, read this article from Yad Vashem.
Judit and her mother lived in the Budapest ghetto during the Holocaust. Read these two articles to learn more about the fate of Budapest´s Jewish inhabitants during the Second World War; the first one is provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the other by Yad Vashem.
This map from the United States Holocaust Memorial indicates the location of Buchenwald and other concentration camps throughout German-occupied Europe.
Judit tells us that her father, Imre Kinszki, died during a death march to Sachsenhausen. For pictures, as well as a brief article about the history of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, near Berlin, go to this page by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.
The German concentration camp in Sachsenhausen was also the location of "Operation Bernhard". Directed toward the end of World War II, this secret German plan forced camp inmates to forge British banknotes which would then be used to flood the country and thus destabilise the British economy. "Operation Bernhard" gained prominence thanks to the Academy Award-winning Austrian motion picture, "The Counterfeiters". Click here to see the official trailer of the movie.
This article by the USHMM tells the infamous story of the death marches at the end of World War II, when the Nazis evacuated several concentration camps. During these forced marches, prisoners were brutally mistreated and shot if they could not keep pace.
Judit Kinszki tells us that her father, Imre Kinszki, was a noted modernist photographer. See some of his photographs.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington held an enormous exhibition on Central European photography.
Another famous Jewish-Hungarian photographer was Laszlo Moholy Nagy, who was also a noted Bauhaus artist. The following websites provide biographical information as well as a selection of his photographs.
Next in the line of renowned photographers of Jewish-Hungarian origin is Robert Capa, who became famous for his pictures of the Allied landing at Omaha Beach in 1944. Click here to see some of his photographs and to learn more about his life.
Last but not least, Robert´s brother Cornell, who died in May 2008, was also a well-known Hungarian-American photographer. Click here to see some of his works.