Archive[Judaica ][Holocaust] Archive of twenty letters, mostly on Red Cross letterhead, that document a family trying to stay connected amid the horror and chaos of the Holocaust. Dated 1941-1944. Mostly written in Hungarian or German with English translations. The two earliest letters, dated January and December of 1941, are written on regular postcards and are in Hungarian and not translated. This series of letters are brief and to the point, as only twenty five words were allotted and "family news of strictly personal character" was the only information allowed by the censors. These letters were sent to Lajos Fischer, one of Hungary's top goalkeepers in the 1920s, by his parents who lived in Jerusalem. Lajos Fischer was born in Budapest in 1902 and during his distinguished career, Fischer played for VAC, the only exclusively Jewish club in Hungary and another Jewish club, Hakoah-Vienna in Austria. Later he moved to the United States and played in the American Soccer League during the golden age of the United States soccer in the late 20's. He was a national figure as he played nine times for the Hungary national football team from 1924 to 1926. The Jews of Hungary were generally well integrated into Hungarian society and they represented 23% of the population of Budapest in the late 1920's. But anti-Jewish policies grew more repressive in the interwar period and at the time of these letters, Fischer was now in his late 30's to early 40's and his parents had as a result of the anti-Semitism already moved from Hungary to Jerusalem. Lajos Fischer himself resided on Kiraly Utca in Budapest, which was the northern edge of the Jewish quarter. Hungary's Jewish population, while still persecuted, was relatively protected from ghettoization and deportation to camps until the Nazi-aligned Hungarian government attempted to clandestinely enter negotiations with the Allies in 1944, upon which its President Horthy was deposed and a Nazi puppet regime was installed.
In two letters in December 1943 and January 1944, Fischer's parents reference acquiring "certificates for emigrants", particularly for "Mimi" and "Imre", who could be Fischer's children. The Budapest Ghetto was not established until late 1944, after the extent of this letter archive, but the last couple letters were written in March and April 1944, after the Nazis had occupied Budapest. It is possible that, while unsaid, the family was trying to secure passage for Imre and Mimi, as they could see the writing on the wall regarding the Hungarian Axis government that was soon to collapse, and rightfully were terrified of what a Nazi takeover would mean for their son and grandchildren. When that takeover took place just a couple months later, SS leader Heinrich Himmler would immediately order the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, where an estimate of 400,000 were gassed upon arrival in just the summer of 1944. If not for the heroic interventions of Raoul Wallenberg, foreign embassies, and the Vatican, even more Hungarian Jews would have perished. It is not clear from these letters or our research if Fischer was ever transported to the camps, but he did survive the war and died decades after the war, still in Hungary. It is estimated that from an original population of 861,000 people considered Jewish inside the borders of Hungary in 1941–1944, only 255,000 survived. Fischer was one of the lucky few as one of the less than 30% of Hungary's Jewish population that survived WWII and the Holocaust. The letters are still in very good condition overall.