General Characteristics of Sociological Research of the DEGOB Protocols

The 3523 DEGOB protocols we examined contain the data and stories of 4838 survivors. In our sociological research we analyzed the data found in the protocols' headings: survivors' name, date of birth, residence, occupation and other fundamental demographic statistics. Thus far, we have not been able to include the main text of the protocols into our research. This may become the objective of later analysis (and we hope it will be). But for now, we can only analyze this diverse material according to a few basic variables, using material found in the headings.

During our research, we created a database in which we coded the survivors' statistics according to the various criteria we wished to examine. We present the categories created during the encoding in the given sub-chapters of this work. Generally speaking, we attempted to create easily usable and quickly accessible categories, which are comparable with the classifications used in the 1941 census. Where we have not done this, we indicate with a justification why we have selected another solution. The creation of the variables did not cause any peculiar difficulties, because the data in the headings of the protocols offered themselves to us on a plate, so to speak. In this way we derived the variables of gender, age and occupation. We assumed two variables from the survivor's place of residence: one obtained its name from the type of settlement (it classifies settlements according to the type of residence), the other was named "the region" (it classifies settlements according to their geographical location). Detailed explanation of the variables can be found under the given menu point.

Data occurring in the analyses always means assessable data. In other words, missing data does not feature in the summary (since it was not possible to note in every case the age, residence or occupation of the responder. In many cases, names cannot be recognized and sometimes were not given whatsoever).

We used software widely utilized by sociologists for research: SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences).

The generalizability of this research is relatively restricted since it is not possible to draw general conclusions about the survivors of concentration camps, since no protocol[1] with all the survivors has been prepared which could be regarded as a population, from which samples can be extracted.

During analysis, we used the term "sample" generally for the sake of simplicity, although in our case, it is the analysis of the existing set of data, which must never be regarded as representative.

When we talk about samples and the process of sampling, we must be aware of certain characteristics of the parent population (classification according to gender, age, etc.) - in this case, Hungarian Jews who survived the Holocaust. In an ideal situation, we would possess some list containing many survivors, in order to select by some process a sample smaller than the original. The card index of some thirty thousand Holocaust survivors, which we mentioned in our general introduction on the protocols[2], is still unprocessed, although that does not include the full number of survivors. We have a population for which temporarily we have no precise information. The problem is exactly that the DEGOB protocols pretty well signify the only major set of processed information at our disposal about the survivors of the Holocaust in Hungary. Our "sample" cannot be regarded as representative, either of Holocaust survivors or with respect to any single variable.

For example the small number of children in the material derives not just from the nature of Auschwitz's operation, but also because there was clearly far less likelihood of them travelling to the interview site in Budapest (either alone or with their parents). Auschwitz was not always directly to blame for the smaller proportion of elderly people in the sample. Sometimes it contributed indirectly: the physical hardship, especially after what the survivors had gone through, of getting to the DEGOB office meant a significant burden. What is also true, however, is that elderly people were more compelled to go to the organization for help, which gave them additional motivation to take part in the survey. There may be other numerous similar factors, some of which we have not yet considered, which might have influenced the formation of the written material.

The objective of our research is precisely to learn more about the survivors of the Holocaust - in this case, about a group of survivors. In each instance, our assertions apply only and exclusively to the group of survivors who feature in the DEGOB protocols. This is precisely why we have refrained from every general conclusion and explanation in relation to the population classified as Jews and deported in 1944-1945. Nevertheless, we carried out comparisons concerning the Jewish populations living in Trianon Hungary and the re-annexed territories. These collations are only for information and orientation. The research can and intends to give a picture of the survivors featured in the DEGOB protocols - indeed, it regards this as its principal merit - not least because subsequent researchers who wish to deal with the material should be aware of the basic demographic characteristics of this group of survivors. Elements of our historical knowledge, which would serve as an explanation, in as much as our "sample" was representative, appears in given analyzed units in parentheses.

Therefore, assertions in individual chapters mean nothing more or less than that the individuals featured in the DEGOB protocols are distributed according to a given variable.

We can also say that we can describe the characteristics of this group according to several demographic indices, but that we cannot say why a group is like this.

We must draw the reader's attention to certain phenomena of the 1941 population census as well[3]. The Hungarian authorities recorded the majority of Hungarian Jewry as being of Jewish (Israelite) faith, but also recorded 61,548 citizens as not possessing Jewish religion but being of Jewish origin. Scholarly literature also accounts for some 40,000 Christian Hungarian citizens of Jewish origin who remained hidden for a number of reasons [4]. Combined with the Jewish populations in areas re-annexed to Hungary, this made 725,007 people of Jewish (Israelite) faith, as well as the additional one hundred thousand, meaning that there were approximately 825,000 people living in Hungary in 1941 who were classified as Jewish by the antisemitic discriminatory laws.

Terms used [5]

Population: The population from which we take a sample.

Generalizability: That quality of a research finding that justifies the inference that it represents something more than the specific observations on which it was based. Sometimes this involves the generalization of findings from a sample to a population.

Coding: The process whereby raw data are transformed into standardized form suitable for machine processing and analysis. Its essence is the reducing a wide variety of idiosyncratic items of information to a more limited set of attributes composing a variable.

Representativeness: That quality of a sample of having the same distribution of characteristics as the population from which it was selected. By implication, description and explanations derived from an analysis of the sample may be assumed to represent similar ones in the population.

City with municipal rights: the 1886 public administration law established two degrees for cities: those that held municipal rights and those with an "organized" council. The former had the right to make local decrees and supervised the local authorities, implemented laws and ministry decrees, against which it could appeal directly to the government and the parliament.

Trianon Hungary: as a result of the peace treaty concluding the First World War, signed in the Grand Trianon palace at Versailles on June 4, 1920, Hungary lost two thirds of its territory and population (reduced from 282,000 square kilometres to 93,000, with a population falling from 18.3 million to 7.6 million). Trianon Hungary is the term used to describe the newly shaped country.

Variables: Logical groupings of attributes. The variable "gender" is made up of the attributes "male" and "female".


[1] We should note that although DEGOB strove for this, it could not have succeeded because - as stated by Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági - "many survivors - learning from the events of 1944 - did not wish to appear on any inventory or list." Gábor Kádár - Vági Zoltán: Zsidók és nem zsidók. Szolidaritás és embermentés a vészkorszakban. (Jews and Gentiles. Solidarity and Rescue in the Holocaust) In Holocaust füzetek 1998/10. pp. 9-91. p. 16.

[2] Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives L. 4/6.

[3] Where we did not indicate separately, these figures derive from the series of Historical Statistical Volumes: Az 1941. évi népszámlálás 3. Összefoglaló adatok .(Census of 1941. Part 3: Summary Data.) Budapest, 1978. and Az 1941. évi népszámlálás 4. Demográfiai és foglalkozási adatok törvényhatóságok szerint. (Census of 1941. Part 4 : Demographical and Occupation Data by Municipal Authorities.) Budapest, 1979.

[4] Kovács Alajos: A keresztény származású, de zsidó származású népesség a népszámlálás szerint. (Christian Population with Jewish Origin in accordance with the Census.) In Magyar Statisztikai Szemle, 1944/ 4-5. pp. 95-108.

[5] Source for sociological terms: Earl Babbie: The Practice of Social Research. 1995, Wadsworth.

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