Analysis of the DEGOB Protocols by Age

In this variable we have created seven categories, mainly by grouping the sample by ten years. We have deviated from this only in the case of the first and the last age group: in the first one we have arranged all those younger than 16; in the last we have grouped all those older than 66. Our decision was not arbitrary, rather was made considering the historical circumstances. We have chosen the age limit of 16 years, since during the selections performed by the SS physicians in Auschwitz-Birkenau usually only those who were older than 16 could avoid immediate death. Thus it is not surprising whatsoever that there are only a few survivors in the DEGOB collection who fall into this age group. At the "Jewish ramp" of Auschwitz-Birkenau the same fate awaited the elderly Hungarian Jews over 50 as those younger than 16: usually they were sent by Dr Mengele and his colleagues immediately to the gas chambers. Accordingly we have set the lower age limit of the eldest age group (0.1 percent of the sample) at 66.

In accordance with our analysis the average age of the sample is 27.3 years.

We may assert that a majority of the survivors of the DEGOB protocols belong to the age group 16-25 years (53.7 percent). This generation is followed by the next two: the proportion of the 26-35 years in the complete sample is 21.1 percent, and that of the 36-45 years is 16 percent.

These three generations from young adults to the middle aged constitute 90 percent of the survivors in the collection.

It is perceptible in this sample that-save for the youngest generation-the number of survivors decreases with the increase of the age. As we will see later, there is only one significant exception.

Distribution of age groups by type of settlement

Distribution of age of men by type of settlement

Distribution of age of women by type of settlement

Distribution of gender by age group

If we observe the age groups and the distribution of gender together we might further nuance the picture. It is visible that in the most populous, 16-25-years age group (2554 people) the proportion of women to men is approximately one-third to two-thirds. The proportion of the women is higher than that of the men only in the first two age groups; in the other generations the positions are changed and the men outnumber the women. The extent of the difference increases almost parallel with the increase of the age. Consequently the older the generation under examination is, the chances of finding men in the sample are greater.

We might observe this question from another aspect too. Diagram 3 shows the distribution of age groups in the groups of men and women. It is clear that in the case of both genders the most populous age group is the 16-25, but the correlation detailed above might be observed here too. Namely in the next two generations-26-35 and 36-45 years-have an approximately equal number of male survivors, while with the women the number gradually decreases in these generations and the next ones too.

(Two-thirds of the survivors testifying to DEGOB belonged to countryside communities-most of them were from Carpatho-Ruthenia-who were deported to Auschwitz in the spring and summer of 1944. The SS physicians selecting the arriving transports on the Birkenau ramp tried to avoid conflicts that would have slowed down the annihilation process. Therefore it was a general principle to send the mother to the gas chamber with her children. Accordingly, a majority of the young and the middle-aged mothers-those belonging to the 26-35 and 36-45 age groups-were killed on the day of arrival, while women without children had a greater chance to survive.)

As we have outlined in the analysis regarding the distribution of gender, more than two-thirds of those from Budapest are male, while the proportion is approximately the same in the case of the villages in favour of the women.[1]

Distribution of age groups by type of settlement

Diagram no. 4 shows the distribution of different age groups in the different types of settlements.

The most apparent difference in the results we have had thus far is that among the Budapest survivors (31.9 percent of the sample), it is not the 16-25 age group that constitutes the most populous generation; moreover, it is only the third largest age group.

The age groups that can be considered to be young and physically strong-i.e., the 16-25 years, the 26-35 years and the 36-45 years-are represented in roughly the same proportion among the Budapest survivors. In other words, among those from the capital the tendency we have observed previously-i.e., parallel with the increase of the age, the number of the survivors decrease-is not valid. Naturally from the 46-55-years age group, the tendency appears again; all in all, however, among the Budapest survivors the proportion of this generation is also far higher compared to the other types of settlements (in Budapest 9.6 percent; in countryside settlements 2.1-5.4 percent).

(Since in 1944 only the Budapest Jews avoided the deportation to Auschwitz, this community survived the Holocaust in Hungary with the smallest losses, not only regarding the number and proportion of the survivors, but also in the distribution of age groups of the remaining community.)

Distribution of age of men by type of settlement

It is apparent that the exception we have mentioned in the beginning of the chapter is the sharpest in this diagram. In the case of the Budapest men-from the age of 16 to the age of 45-we find more survivors as the age increases. In this case-in the aforementioned generations-the tendency characteristic of the whole sample turns around: the increase of the age does not bring along the decrease of the survivors' proportion.

It is also noticeable that compared to the other types of settlements, in Budapest the proportion of the age group 16-25 years is much more balanced compared to those of 26-35 and 36-45 years. While those belonging to the age group 16-25 years constitute 50-56 percent of the male population in the countryside settlements, only every fourth man belongs to this generation in the capital; the next two age groups are represented in an even higher proportion (28.5 and 33.2 percent).

Let us take a look at the women's distribution of age from these aspects.

Distribution of age of women by type of settlement

In the case of the women the general tendency might be observed that in the sample-regardless of the type of settlement-we find less survivors with the increase of age. This tendency is somewhat moderated by the capital. In case of the Budapest women the difference between the proportions of the three dominant age groups is far smaller than in the case of the other types of settlements.

Contrary to this, the structure of age groups of the Jewish female population outside the capital was dramatically rearranged by the Holocaust. Perhaps this rearrangement can be observed in the protocols as well: 67-75 percent (i.e., two-thirds to three-quarters) of the non-Budapest survivors belongs to the age group 16-25 years. This proportion is even more unnatural than the structure of age groups of the countryside male population (50-56 percent), which had been also massively distorted.

As a conclusion it is safe to say the special situation of Budapest regarding the age groups is not the result of the difference in the proportion of genders. The pattern by age greatly differs from that of the other types of settlements both regarding men and women; moreover, in the case of the former, even the age tendency is contrary to that of the other categories.

(These phenomena do not contradict well-known facts: the forced moving together of the Budapest Jews commenced two months later [June 16, 1944] than that of those in the countryside [April 16, 1944]; Horthy halted the deportations in the beginning of July 1944, therefore the deportations struck only those suburbs of the capital, e.g., Kispest, Újpest, Pestszenterzsébet, Csillaghegy, etc., that were annexed to Budapest after the war. The Budapest community suffered serious losses though; still a majority of it survived the Holocaust-as opposed to the almost entirely destroyed countryside Jewry.)

We would like to emphasise again that although our results do not contradict the aforementioned facts, our analysis is not able to prove that these historical facts are the reason behind them. We have no exact knowledge on the distribution of age groups among the deportees; we don't know if those belonging to the older generations of Budapest survivors might have shown smaller (or greater) inclination to take part in the interviews, etc. Thus our results do not indicate if the different proportion of the age groups is the result of the different proportion of survival or the variance in the inclination to answer the questionnaire, or the reason behind the phenomena is maybe the proportion of the deportees altering by age groups.


[1] See diagram 3 of the "Gender" menu point.

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