A Brief Summary of Sociological Research on the DEGOB Protocols

We examined the fundamental demographic dimensions of the survivors featuring in the DEGOB protocols. We investigated their distribution according to gender, age, occupation and place of residence. The data found in the headings did not enable us to produce more than this, but this represents the first step towards a comprehensive processing of the protocols.

Because of problems outlined in the introduction, our analysis cannot be regarded as representative of either the totality of survivors, the deportees, or, naturally enough, Hungarian Jewry as accounted for in earlier population censuses. We must emphasize again that our assertions relate only and exclusively to those survivors who appear in these archives. Our explanations of our results may be historically and logically fair, but for the reasons previously outlined, they cannot be fully regarded as proven by our analysis.

According to our results, the survivors of predominantly two regions of 1941 Hungary feature in the protocols: Carpatho-Ruthenia (primarily) and Budapest. The distribution of gender among the two regions is precisely reversed: two-thirds of data from Carpatho-Ruthenia derives from women, while a similar proportion of Budapest data relates to men. We encounter similar proportions in the smaller settlements as well: here we find a ratio of two women for every man. Based on this, the two most "typical" survivors from the DEGOB protocols would be a Budapest man and a young woman living in a small village in Carpatho-Ruthenia.

We know that more than two-thirds of victims of the Holocaust in Hungary were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. From archival material relating to the deportations, it is also beyond question that two-thirds of the 430,000 Jews deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau were taken from Carpatho-Ruthenia and northern Transylvania. It is also known that the majority of young and middle-aged Jewish men were labour servicemen and a significant proportion of them avoided deportation, which when we consider the distribution of gender, means the population of women was disproportionately affected by deportation. It is also worth noting that during the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau, those with the greatest chance of survival among women were those in the age group 16-25 years without children. On this basis, it is historically relevant for us to hypothesize that these facts contribute to young women from Carpatho-Ruthenia featuring disproportionately in the DEGOB material.

The average age of survivors in the protocols is 27, the most populous age group being between 16 and 25 - they comprise over 50 percent of the whole. Generally speaking, we can note that with increasing age, ever fewer survivors can be found in the protocols, evidently because waning physical powers reduced the chances of survival, although this is merely a logical assumption on our part.

Men in the protocols occur in a much greater proportion than women in the older age classifications, while two-thirds of young adults (16-25) are women.

In the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, mothers with children were generally sent immediately to the gas chambers. We can presume that among the young 16-25-year-old women, there were fewer mothers with children, thus our historical knowledge offers us an explanation why this age group is over-represented by women.

We must also report on another notable result of the age distribution. Among men from the capital - at least up until the age of 45 - the number of survivors does not fall with age; indeed it increases. The proportion of Budapest men in the 16-45 age group is uniform. The capital had a similar "influence" on women as well: among the same age group of Budapest women, the difference here is the smallest.

We know from historical research that of Jewry inhabiting the territory of 1944 Hungary, it was only those in the capital who avoided deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Consequently, this community suffered the smallest losses during the Holocaust and was able to best preserve its age structure from before the war. The fact mentioned earlier that the Budapest Jews in the DEGOB protocols offer the most balanced spectrum of ages can be explained and justified by these scholarly historical arguments.

With respect to professions, the survivors of the DEGOB protocols fall into two main groups: the most populous being those working in industry (37.5 percent) - the overwhelming majority in smaller industry - while a slightly lower proportion (35.1 percent) were without profession, being students and dependents. The third largest such category is that of traders: 12 percent of survivors belong to this group.

There is a difference between the distribution of professions among Budapest Jews and those from Carpatho-Ruthenia. In the capital, compared to the entire sample, the proportions working in industry, trade, public service and freelance careers were high, while those not working in a profession was relatively low (18.2 percent).

In Carpatho-Ruthenia, the situation was reversed. Although the two main groups of professions dominate the whole sample, those without profession comprise over half of survivors from this region, while only a third worked in industry.

In the two other regions that had been annexed and then returned to Hungary (and could be taken into consideration during the analysis) - the Upper Province and northern Transylvania - these two professional categories were also decisive, but in both areas, those working in industry constituted the majority.

Briefly summarizing the current phase of research, this is all we can say about the principal demographic characteristics of survivors recorded in the DEGOB protocols. When the texts of the protocols have been processed, in all likelihood, even more interesting data will become available about the survivors and victims in one of the darkest chapters of Hungarian history.

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