views updated Jun 11 2018


BUDAPEST , capital of Hungary, formed officially in 1873 from the towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest, which each had Jewish communities.

Buda (Ger. Ofen; Heb. אובן)

A community was formed there by the end of the 11th century. Its cemetery was located near the Buda end of the present Pest-Buda tunnel under the River Danube. In 1348 and 1360 the Jews were expelled from Buda but returned after a short interval. As Buda became the royal residence under King Sigismund (1387–1437), its community rose to prominence in the Jewish life of the country. Its leaders were entrusted by the king with the representation of Hungarian Jewry, and the position of Jewish prefect was held by members of the Buda *Mendel family, who sometimes took part in royal ceremonies. After 1490 the Jews of Buda were subjected to continual persecution, their property was frequently confiscated and the debts owing them were often unpaid. Following the Ottoman victory over the Hungarians at Mohacs in 1526 many Jews from Buda fled abroad or to the western part of Hungary, while the remainder were deported to Ottoman territory. Shortly afterward, in 1528, Jews were again living in the Jewish quarter of Buda. A census of 1547 showed 75 Jewish residents in Buda and 25 newcomers. During the 150 years of Ottoman rule the Jews were severely taxed, but their numbers continued to increase. A conscription roster of 1580 numbered 88 Jewish families, comprising about 800 persons, including three rabbis, inhabiting 64 houses. They engaged in commerce and finance, and sometime rose to hold official posts in the treasury as inspectors or tax collectors. Jews specialized in the manufacture of decorative braids for uniforms; the family physician of the pasha of Buda was a Jew (c. 1550). In 1660 the community numbered approximately 1,000 and was the largest and wealthiest in Hungary. The ruinous fighting between the Ottoman and Austrian imperial forces put an end to this prosperity. The Jews sided with the Turks; when in 1686 Buda was taken by Austria only 500 Jews survived the siege, the Jewish quarter was pillaged, and the Torah scrolls were burnt.

Jewish residence in Buda was prohibited until 1689, when a few Jews began to resettle there and had a prayer room by 1690. In 1703, when Buda was constituted a free royal city, a struggle began between the Jews of Buda, who preferred to remain under royal protection, and the citizenry which made efforts to extend its jurisdiction to the Jewry. This culminated in a decree ordering the expulsion of the Jews in 1712. In 1715 Charles iii ordered the burghers to end the continual disturbances and a more tranquil period ensued. A few Jewish families were exempted by the emperor from certain restrictions. The exemptions led to an attack and plunder of Jewish homes in the fall of 1720. Charles, however, again gave them protection. According to a 1735 census, the community numbered 35 families (156 persons), the majority merchants; five families owned open stalls. The repeated accusations of the citizenry bore fruit, however, under *Maria Theresa who in June 1746 issued a decree ordering the expulsion of the Jews from Buda. The obstinate resistance of the burghers was broken by *Joseph ii, and in 1783 Jewish residence was again permitted. The antagonism of the guilds recrudesced during the Hungarian revolution of 1848 when renewed demands were made for the Jews' expulsion.

communal life

Organized communal life in Buda dates to the 13th century. Under King Matthias Corvinus (1458–90) the head of this community had jurisdiction over the Jews of the entire country. During the Ottoman era, Buda Jewry had Sephardi and Ashkenazi congregations. Two synagogues are known to have existed in 1647.


The first rabbi whose name is recorded was *Akiva b. Menahem ha-Kohen (15th century) known by the honorific of nasi. In the second half of the 17th century difficulties in finding appropriate candidates for the rabbinate of Buda compelled the community to employ as rabbis scholars passing through Hungary on pilgrimage to Ereẓ Israel. *Ephraim b. Jacob ha-Kohen, a refugee from Vilna, became rabbi of Buda in 1660. About this time the movement of *Shabbetai Ẓevi gained a large following in Buda; a number of rabbis, among them Ephraim's son-in-law Jacob Sak, supported the messianic movement. The Austrian capture of Buda is recorded in the Megillat Ofen of Isaac b. Zalman *Schulhof. Jacob's son was the celebrated Ẓevi Hirsch *Ashkenazi (Ḥakham Ẓevi). Among rabbis of the Haskalah period was Moses Kunitzer. Prominent Jews of Buda in the 19th and 20th centuries include the orator and poet Arnold Kiss (d. 1940), and the scholar and educator Rabbi Bertalan Edelstein (d. 1934).


The synagogue of the Jewish community of Buda fort is mentioned in the Buda chronicle of 1307 as having stood beside the Jews' Gate. It remained in existence until the expulsion of the Jews from Buda in 1360. The second synagogue, built in 1461 in the new Jews' Street, survived until the recapture of Buda. It is mentioned and reproduced in 17th-century engravings. A Sephardi house of worship has been revealed, dating back to the Ottoman era. Subsequently the Jews of Buda could only hold prayer meetings in rented rooms. In 1866 a temple was built in Moorish style in Öntöház Street. In the heyday of assimilationism (from the mid-19th century), especially after the administrative union of Buda and Pest, the Pest community repeatedly tried to impose its hegemony on that of Buda, which, however, succeeded in safeguarding its unique historical character. The Buda community opened an elementary school in 1830.

Obuda (Hung. Óbuda, Ger. Alt-Ofen, Heb. אובן ישן)

"Old Buda," a village and later part of Buda, had a Jewish community in the 15th century which disappeared after the Ottoman conquest in 1526. It was rehabilitated from 1712 on, when the Jews lived under the protection of the counts Zichy, who granted them a charter in 1746, and to whom they paid an annual protection tax. The 1727 census records 24 Jewish families living in Obuda, and the 1737 annual conscription roster, 43. By 1752 there were 59 families, and the community employed two rabbis and three teachers; by 1784 there were 109 families with four teachers. The 1803 conscription list records 527 families. An elementary school was opened in 1784, the first secular Jewish school in the country. Moses *Muenz was rabbi in Obuda from 1781 to 1831. The Jewish linen weavers of Obuda won a reputation for the town; the Goldberger factory had an international reputation. After the revolution of 1848–49 a large contribution was levied on the Obuda community. The old synagogue of Obuda was demolished in 1817 and an imposing new one, still in existence, was consecrated in 1820. Julius *Wellesz was rabbi of Obuda from 1910 to 1915.


Jews are first mentioned in Pest in 1406; in 1504 they owned houses and land. Records again mention Jews living in Pest from the middle of the 16th century, and a cemetery is known to have existed by the end of the 17th. After the Austrian conquest in 1686, Jewish residence within the city was prohibited. In the middle of the 18th century Jews were allowed to attend the country-wide weekly markets held in Pest, but the only Jews permitted to stay in the city for a specified time were Magranten ("transients"; see *Familiants laws). In 1783 Joseph ii abrogated the municipal charter with its exclusion privileges and permitted Jews to resettle in Pest. The first "tolerated" Jew received permission to settle within the city walls in 1786 in return for paying a "toleration tax" to the local governorate. Article 38 of the De Judaeis law passed in 1790 ratified the legal position of the Jews established under Joseph ii. In Pest, however, the law was understood to apply only to Jews living there before 1790, hence new arrivals were not permitted to settle permanently. An attempt was even made to expel the married children of the "tolerated" Jews. In 1833 there were 1,346 Jewish families in Pest. The restrictions on Jewish residence were abrogated by article 29 of the annual national assembly of 1840. Jews had the right to establish factories, and engage in trade and commerce as well as to acquire property. Pest Jewry took the lead in pressing for the abolition of the tolerance tax, and in 1846 the "chamber dues" were abolished. On the outbreak of the Hungarian revolution of 1848, Jews volunteered for civil defense, but the German citizens of Pest objected to their enrollment. On April 19 a mob which attacked the Jewish quarter was repelled by the military. Nevertheless many Jewish youths enlisted in the revolutionary army, and the Jews of Pest gave large financial contributions to the revolutionary cause. After the suppression of the revolt, a huge contribution was levied on the Pest community, and to help the Obuda and Pest communities a collection was made by Hungarian Jewry of 1,200,000 forints. The Pest community played a leading role in the struggle for *emancipation in Hungary. The half century preceding World War i was a period of prosperity and cultural achievement for Pest Jewry. Their numbers increased, and they played a prominent role in the capital's economic development. Max *Nordau and Theodor *Herzl were born there during this period. With the growth of Nazism before World War ii Jewish communal and economic life was again restricted.

communal life

Active community life is not recorded in Pest until the first half of the 18th century. The first synagogue was opened in 1787, and in 1788 the community received a burial site from the municipality; Moses Muenz of Obuda officiated as rabbi. The first rabbi of Pest (1793), was Benjamin Ze'ev (Wolf) *Boskowitz. Other noted rabbis of the community were Loew *Schwab, S.L. Brill, W.A. Meisel, S. *Kohn, M. *Kayserling, S. *Hevesi, and J. *Fischer. The new constitution for the religious community, approved by the local authorities, came into effect in 1833. The noted Orientalist I. *Goldziher served as secretary of the Neolog community of Pest from 1874 to 1904. A separate Orthodox community was established in Pest in 1871. Koppel *Reich became its rabbi in 1886, and a member of the Hungarian upper house in 1926.

See *Orthodoxy, *Reform


The Jews of Pest rented a place for worship in the Orczy building in 1796, whose congregation observed the conservative ritual; a more progressive temple existed in the same building, known as the "Kultustempel." In 1859 a double-turreted Moorish-style temple was built in Dohány Street. Construction of the octagonal temple in Rombach Street was completed in 1872. In 1913 the synagogue of the Orthodox congregation was erected in Kazinczy Street.

educational institutions

The first Jewish school in Pest was established in 1814 by Israel *Wahrmann. A Jewish girls' school was opened in the fall of 1852 and in 1859 a Jewish teachers' training college was founded. After the attainment of emancipation, a number of Jewish schools closed down, including those in Buda and Obuda. The Orthodox congregation of Pest opened its school for boys in 1873. The Rabbinical Seminary and its secondary school (gymnasium), opened in 1877, helped to make Pest the center of Jewish learning. The Pest community established a comprehensive secondary school in 1891. Following the widespread antisemitism aroused by the *Tiszaeszlar blood libel case in 1882, the idea of establishing a Jewish secondary school (gymnasium) found increasing support, and in 1892 Antal Freystaedtler donated one million forints for this project. The school was opened in the fall of 1919 as the Pest Jewish Boys' and Girls' Gymnasium. Because of the existing discriminatory restrictions, the Pest community also opened an engineering and technical college and a girls' technical college. The rabbinical seminary and a secondary school continue to function.

welfare institutions

Welfare and communal institutions of the Pest community included a hospital, opened in 1841; the hospital of the Orthodox congregation, opened in 1920; the Hungarian Jewish Crafts and Agricultural Union (mikefe), established in 1842; the Pest Jewish Women's Club, founded in 1868, which established an orphanage for girls in 1867; an orphanage for boys, established in 1869; the deaf and dumb institute, founded in 1876; and the blind institute, founded by Ignác Wechselmann and his wife in 1908. In 1950 the Orthodox community and the communities of Pest, Buda, and Obuda were unified by government order, forming the Budapest Jewish community existing under conditions similar to those prevailing in other communities in Soviet satellite states.



The annual registers of 1735–38, the first to show the number of Jewish families residing in the area which forms Budapest today, recorded 2,531 heads of families of whom 1,139 engaged in commerce. The Jewish population increased with the development of a capitalist economy and the growth of Budapest into a metropolis and reached its highest level in the period preceding and immediately following World War i. Subsequently it declined sharply due to the lowered birthrate, an increasing number of conversions to Christianity, and emigration during the counterrevolution and the Horthy regime. There were 44,890 Jews living in Budapest in 1869, 102,377 in 1890, 203,687 in 1910, 215,512 in 1920, and 204,371 in 1930. (See Table: Jewish Population of Budapest.)

[Jeno Zsoldos]

Holocaust Period

According to the census of 1941, the last before the Holocaust, Budapest had a Jewish population of 184,453, representing 15.83% of the total of 1,164,963. In addition, the city also had some 62,000 converts or Christians who were identified as Jews under the racial laws then in effect. As a result of the anti-Jewish measures taken by the various Hungarian governments between 1938 and the German occupation on March 19, 1944, approximately 15,350 Jews of Budapest perished. Most among these victims were labor servicemen; many others were murdered near Kamenets-Podolski in late August 1941 following their deportation for failure to prove their Hungarian citizenship. The Jews of the capital were subjected to severe social and economic restrictions in the wake of the many anti-Jewish laws. Many of these, including the first two major anti-Jewish laws of 1938 and 1939, were passed with the support of the Christian church leaders. Thousand of men of military age and older were drafted into labor service companies, many of which were deployed in the Ukraine.

The status of the Jews turned for the worse after the German occupation, which took them and their Christian supporters by surprise. On the day of the occupation, the Germans arrested a large number of hostages – prominent anti-Nazi Hungarians as well as influential Jews – on the basis of lists prepared in advance by the Gestapo. They also arrested a large number of ordinary Jews who happened to be in and around railroad stations and boat terminals. Most of these Jews were first interned in the facilities of the National Rabbinical Seminary, then transferred to the internment camps at Kistarcsa and Topolya, from where they were among the first to be deported to Auschwitz in late April. Supreme control over Jewish affairs was exercised by the Eichmann-Sonderkommando. The SS was able to implement the Final Solution program at lightning speed primarily because it had received the support of the newly established Döme Sztójay government that placed the instruments of state power at its disposal. The Sztójay government, constitutionally appointed by Miklós Horthy, Hungary's head of state, played a determining role in the planning and implementation of the Final Solution. Within the government, the Ministry of the Interior headed by Andor Jaross and his two undersecretaries of state, László Endre and László Baky, coordinated its anti-Jewish activities with the Sonderkommando. On March 20, the leaders of the Jews of Budapest were ordered to establish a Central Jewish Council with exclusive jurisdiction in all matters affecting the Jews of Hungary. The Council was organized under the chairmanship of Samu Stern, the head of the Jewish community of Pest, and included representatives of the major communal organizations: Ernö Boda, Ernö Petö, and Wilhelm Károly, representing the Neolog community of Pest; Samu Csobádi, representing the Neolog community of Buda; Samu Kahan-Frankl and Fülöp Freudiger, representing the Orthodox community; and Nison Hahan, representing the Zionists. As elsewhere in Nazi-dominated Europe the Council of Budapest, while doing its best to serve the community, was exploited by the Nazis as an instrument for the implementation of their sinister designs. The Council's Nazi-censored weekly, the A Magyar Zsidók Lapja (Journal of Hungarian Jews), served as a major vehicle in the Nazis' anti-Jewish drive, distracting the Jews from the danger awaiting them.

Within a few days after the occupation, the Jews of Budapest, like those of Hungary as a whole, were subjected to a large number of anti-Jewish measures calculated to bring about their isolation and eventual destruction. Starting on April 5, the Jews were compelled to wear a yellow star on their outer garments. Unlike the Jews of the countryside, however, the Jews of Budapest escaped being placed into a ghetto – at least until early December 1944. The authorities decided against establishing a territorially contiguous ghetto for fear that the Allies might then bomb the other parts of the capital. The Jews' freedom of movement was severely restricted, especially in the wake of the first major bombing that took place on April 2. At first, the Jews were ordered to vacate hundreds of apartments for Christian bombing victims. They were later concentrated in buildings that were identified by a yellow star. The so-called yellow star buildings were selected on the basis of a housing inventory made in May as ordered by Endre earlier in the month. According to that inventory, 2,681 of the close to 36,000 residential buildings in the capital were originally designated as yellow star houses. As a result of complaints by Christians, the yellow star designation was subsequently removed from 700 to 800 buildings, drastically reducing the living space assigned to Jews. In accordance with the June 16 order issued by Mayor Ákos Doroghi Farkas, the relocation and concentration of the Jews of Budapest in the designated yellow star-marked buildings was completed by June 24. Overall responsibility for the resettlement of the Jews was exercised by Rezsö Müller, the head of the Housing Department of the Jewish Council, acting in conjunction with József Szentmiklóssy, head of the Social Policies Section of the Municipality of Budapest. At first the Jews were allowed to leave the buildings only between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., a restriction that was later eased to 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. György Auer and other leaders of the Association of the Christian Jews of Hungary campaigned for the exemption of the 40,000 to 50,000 converts from these restrictions.

Under the Nazis' original plan, the Jews of Budapest were to be deported to Auschwitz following the completion of the anti-Jewish drive in the countryside. The plan failed because Horthy halted the deportations on July 7 – a decision he took largely in response to pressure from abroad and especially the realization that the Axis would lose the war. The Nazis, nevertheless, managed to continue their deportation program until July 9, liquidating the Jewish communities in the cities surrounding the capital, including those of Kispest, Újpest, Sashalom, and Szentendre. While the Jews of Budapest were under the constant threat of deportation, they survived relatively intact until October 15, 1944, when the Arrow Cross Party, popularly known as the Nyilas, came to power with the help of the Germans.

Under the leadership of Ferenc Szálasi, the Nyilas unleashed a terror campaign against the Jews. Thousands of Jews, labor servicemen and others, men and women, were murdered by roaming gangs and thrown into the Danube. Tens of thousands, mostly women, were concentrated in the brickyards of Óbuda, from where they were force-marched early in November to the border with the Reich, ostensibly to build fortifications for the defense of Vienna. Approximately 50,000 Jewish labor servicemen were handed over to the Germans. The anti-Jewish drive by the Nyilas was largely coordinated with Eichmann, who had returned to Hungary on October 17. (He was compelled to leave the country at the end of August.)

Representatives of the Vatican and the neutral powers in Budapest did their best to help the Jews by issuing various protective passes (Schutzpässe). Officially, some 7,800 Swiss, 4,500 Swedish, 2,500 Vatican, 698 Portuguese, and 100 Spanish Schutzpässe were issued. A large number of these safe-conduct passes (and a variety of Hungarian identification papers) were reproduced and distributed by the underground Zionist groups, saving countless numbers of Jewish lives. It was during the Nyilas era that foreign representatives, including Angelo Rotta of the Vatican, Carl Lutz of Switzerland, and Raoul *Wallenberg of Sweden, engaged in heroic rescue efforts. The Jews in possession of foreign passports or protective passes were placed in specially designated "protected buildings" that came to be known as "the international ghetto." With the approach of the Red Army, close to 70,000 Jews were placed in a closed ghetto established in District vii, close to the Dohány Street Synagogue, early in December. They lingered there under awful conditions during the Soviet siege of the capital, suffering thousands of casualties. The Nazis and their Hungarian accomplices planned to destroy the ghetto prior to their withdrawal. At the end, the ghetto together with the Pest part of the capital was liberated by the Red Army on January 17–18, 1945; the Buda part was liberated on February 13.

The losses of the Jews of Budapest were not as great proportionately as those incurred in the countryside. At the time of the German occupation, Hungary had a (racially defined) total Jewish population of 762,007, of whom 231,453 lived in Budapest. Of the total of 564,507 Jewish casualties incurred during World War ii, 100,803 (17.8%) were from Budapest. Of these, 85,453 were killed during the German occupation and 15,350 before the occupation, especially in labor service. At the end of 1945, Budapest had a Jewish population of approximately 144,000, representing 75.78% of the total of about 190,000 Jews who then lived in Trianon Hungary. Of these, 119,000 had been liberated in Budapest: 69, 000 in the ghetto, 25,000 in protected houses of the international ghetto, and 25,000 who had been in hiding (most with false Aryan papers). The others had moved to the capital from other parts of liberated Hungary.

Postwar Community

The Jewish community of Budapest had a strong base for revitalization. During the first phase of the post-liberation period, the survivors devoted much time to the day-to-day problem of survival and the arrangements for the return of the liberated deportees. They organized communal hostels and public kitchens, supported largely by the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – the Joint. The Neolog and Orthodox Jewish communities resumed their operations soon after the end of hostilities. The Neolog community was led by Lajos Stöckler (the last head of the Central Jewish Council), who was also elected president of the National Bureau of Hungarian Jews. The Orthodox community was led by Samu Kahan-Frankl, who concurrently served as head of the Central Bureau of Orthodox Communities. The various relief and welfare organizations were unified to form the National Jewish Aid Committee under the chairmanship of Frigyes Görög, the head of the Joint in Hungary. The National Committee for the Care of Deportees was in charge of aiding the return of deportees and recording their personal accounts.

The surviving Jews regained their legal rights under the terms of the Armistice Agreement of January 20, 1945. In accordance with these terms, on March 17, the Provisional National Government repealed all the anti-Jewish laws and decrees that had been enacted during the Horthy and Nyilas eras. The Jewish communities' drive for restitution and reparation ended in failure, largely because of the bankruptcy of the state after the war and the policies of the Soviet-backed Communist regime that was installed in 1948–49. The political and socioeconomic measures of the Communists induced many of the Budapest Jews to leave the city. In particular, the antisemitic drive of the Stalinist era, disguised as a struggle against Zionism and Israel, convinced approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Jews to leave the city after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, mostly for Israel and other parts of the free world. During the Communist era, the Jews of Hungary were represented by the National Representation of Hungarian Jews, an umbrella organization led by Endre Sós and later Géza Seifert. It operated under the guidance of the Department of Religious Affairs, an agency of the Ministry of the Interior.

Following the systemic change of 1989, Jewish life was revitalized with the emergence of a number of social, cultural, educational, and Zionist organizations and institutions. The National Rabbinical Seminary, the only theological institution in the Soviet Bloc, was transformed into a Rabbinical University. Several of Budapest's synagogue, including that on Dohány Street, were refurbished, and in 2004 the Páva Street Synagogue was transformed into a Holocaust Museum. A Jewish day school sponsored by American philanthropist Ronald S. *Lauder was opened. The Jewish community of Budapest in 2004 included most of the approximately 80,000 Jews living in Hungary, constituting the largest concentration of Jews in East Central Europe. Of these, only 3,000 to 4,000 were dues-paying members of either the Neolog or Orthodox communities.

[Randolph Braham (2nd ed.)]


A. Buechler, A zsidók története Budapesten (1901); A. Fuerst, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 2 (1948), 109–86; S. Scheiber, Magyarországi zsidó feliratok (1960), 141–300; F. Grunwald, A zsidók története Budán (1938); Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), passim; Új Élet (fortnightly since 1945), passim; L. Venetianer, A magyar zsidóság története (1922), 147–280, 286–303; Z. Groszmann, A pestizsidó gyüelekezet alkotmányának története (1934); S. Eppler, in: Multés Jövö (1935), 329–38; M.H. Szabó and D. Zentai, Mit mondanak a számok a zsidókérdésben (1938); E. Duschinsky, in: The Jews in the Soviet Satellites (1953); R.L. Braham, The Hungarian Jewish Catastrophe: a Selected and Annotated Bibliography (1962); idem (ed.), Hungarian-Jewish Studies (1966– ); F. Grunwald and Naményi, in: A 90 eves Dohány utcai templom (1949), 19–31; A. Moskovitz, Jewish Education in Hungary (1848–1948) (1964), includes bibliography, with additions by B. Yaron, in: ks, 41 (1965/66), 85–88; A. Scheiber, in: Seventy Years: A Tribute to the Seventieth Anniversary of the Jewish Theological Seminary of Hungary (1948), 8–30; S. Eppler, in: A pesti izraelita hitközség (1925), 55–81; A. Scheiber, in: ks, 32 (1956/57), 481–94; F. Hevesi, in: jba, 6 (1947/48), 71–75; J. Lévai, Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (1948), passim; idem, Eichmann in Hungary (1961); E. Landau (ed.), Der Kastner-Bericht (1961), passim; Jewish Communities of Eastern Europe (1968), 30–37. add. bibliography: R.I. Braham, Hungarian Jewish Catastrophe (1962), biblio.; A. Scheiber, Héber kódexmaradványok magyarországi kötéstáblákban (1969); Braham, Politics; pk Hungaria, 191–220.


views updated May 23 2018


1900 TO 1918
1918 TO 1920
1920 TO 1938
1938 TO 1945
1945 TO 1956
1956 TO 1989

At the turn of the twentieth century, this central European capital—a product of the 1873 union between the settlements of Pest, Buda, Óbuda, and the Margit Island—was Hungary's largest city and an important center of culture, commerce, government, and industry within both the Kingdom of Hungary and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as a whole.


Already a fairly modern city for its time—home of the European continent's first underground transportation line, which was completed in 1896 and is still in operation—Budapest experienced a period of massive expansion and development at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1900 the number of people living within what would become the city limits reached 861,434, nearly triple what it had been just three decades earlier. The rapid growth was mostly the result of in-migration from other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. During World War I, the number of incoming refugees compensated for the number of wartime casualties, so the population of the city did not change significantly. The interwar period was characterized by another period of steady growth until World War II, when Budapest suffered heavy civilian losses (between 1941 and 1949, the population declined by about 7 percent). In 1950 the city was expanded to include several of its suburbs, raising the number of districts from fourteen to twenty-two and resulting in a significant population increase. The number of inhabitants stabilized at around two million in the 1970s, but the period since 1990 has seen a decline; in 2003 Budapest's population was down to 1,719,342.

1900 TO 1918

Compared to most European cities, Budapest was a highly industrialized urban center prior to World War I. In 1910, 40 percent of employed city dwellers worked in industry. For this reason—and the relatively pragmatic cultural scene, centered around a cultural elite made up more of journalists and politicians than of artists and philosophers—the Hungarian historian Péter Hanák described Budapest as a "workshop." Despite the city's industrial character, the period preceding World War I was characterized by intense cultural production. Among Budapest's most notable figures were the leftist poet and journalist Endre Ady, the leftist philosopher György (Georg) Lukács, the rightwing writer Dezsö Szabó, the composers Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, and the painters István Csók and József Rippl-Rónai. All were innovators in their chosen media and many were politically active.

The bulk of the city's most prominent architectural monuments were built around the turn of the century, including the grandiose and stylistically eclectic parliament building, which was the largest in the world when it was completed in 1902. Budapest's stock exchange (1895) and the Erzsébet Bridge (1903) spanning the Danube River were also of record-breaking size at the time they were constructed. The eclecticism of these monumental structures later yielded to Secessionstyle architecture, which began to appear in the city a few years before the war.

Politically, turn-of-the-century Budapest was at the center of the crisis of European liberalism. The Hungarian Liberal Party—which had negotiated the famous Compromise of 1867, giving the Kingdom of Hungary a kind of autonomous partnership status in the new Dual (Austro-Hungarian) Monarchy—had remained in control of the Hungarian government until just after the turn of the century. Crippled by corruption and scandal, and threatened by both growing nationalism (represented by the Independence Party) and an increasingly influential Social Democratic Party, the Liberals were finally defeated in the elections of January 1905. The period from 1905 to the beginning of World War I was marked by political antagonism between the national minorities and the Hungarian nationalists and rising social unrest resulting from the gross disparity of wealth between rich and poor inhabitants of the city.

In 1900, 79 percent of the city's inhabitants were native speakers of Hungarian, 14 percent spoke German, and just over 3 percent spoke Slovak. Although only about 5 percent of the total population of Hungary in 1910 was Jewish, Jews constituted nearly 23 percent of the total population of Budapest. Many Budapest Jews considered themselves Hungarians by nationality and most spoke Hungarian at home. They were also involved in the modernization of the city on many levels and made up a large part of the new middle and professional classes. Over 40 percent of individuals in certain professions (among them journalism, law, banking, and medicine) were Jewish. Their overrepresentation in the middle-class professions and in institutions of higher education fueled anti-Semitic sentiment among non-Jewish Hungarians who felt marginalized by the modernization process. The first anti-Jewish law in Europe, the numerus clausus of 1920, limited university enrollment of national and ethnic groups to numbers proportionate to their percentage of the overall population and was crafted to reverse this trend.

The character of the city was much changed by the events of World War I. After an initial wave of nationalist enthusiasm for the war, when the Central Powers—and Hungary with them—started losing, it became clear that a reshuffling of territory and the collapse of the monarchy was imminent. Neighboring countries were gradually occupying more and more Hungarian territory, causing a mass flight of civil servants and other refugees to the capital. From among the sizable Hungarian population remaining outside the country's borders, it is estimated that around 208,000 individuals—particularly members of the elite and former state employees whose livelihood was no longer ensured under foreign rule—converged on the city. Due to massive unemployment and the economic crisis that followed the war, however, many of these refugees did not remain in Budapest but moved to other parts of the country or abroad. Nevertheless, their presence and vocal dissatisfaction with the status quo contributed to the political instability out of which the so-called Soviet Republic was born.

1918 TO 1920

The postwar government headed by Mihály Károlyi was unable to stabilize Hungary's borders or to stop domestic social unrest incited by the Communists and Socialists. As a result, Károlyi ceded power to a left-wing coalition on 21 March 1919. That same day, the Communists—under the informal leadership of Béla Kun, a journalist who had been introduced to bolshevism as a prisoner of war in Russia—seized power from the more moderate socialists and proclaimed the Soviet Republic. The Communist leadership immediately set about nationalizing the economy and trying to negotiate a more favorable territorial settlement for Hungary. Its Red Army successfully re-conquered Kassa/Košice and large parts of Slovakia, and the Hungarian-sponsored Slovak Soviet Republic was proclaimed. On 1 May the workers of Budapest celebrated May Day with mass demonstrations. Despite a hopeful beginning, however, the new government's collectivization policies alienated the rural population, while Budapest residents grew anxious as city dwellers continued to suffer shortages of food and other goods resulting from the wartime economic blockade that was still in force against Hungary. Furthermore, by the end of July 1919, the Hungarian Soviet Republic had been defeated by the Romanian army, sponsored and equipped by the French general staff. The Romanians took Budapest on 4 August 1919.

Admiral Miklós Horthy, who commanded an antirevolutionary militia, entered Budapest at the head of his National Army on 16 November 1919. Following the departure of the Romanian troops from Hungary, Horthy established a "white" government, with himself as regent, in March 1920. That same year Hungary signed the Treaty of Trianon, according to which the country lost two-thirds of its territory to the new neighboring states of Czechoslovakia; Romania; the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; and Austria.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Republic, the Horthy regime initiated the White Terror, a series of more or less violent reprisals against suspected communists, other leftists, and many Jews. It is estimated that as many as five thousand people were executed and another seventy-five thousand imprisoned or sentenced to hard labor. As a result of the terror, nearly one hundred thousand people fled the country.

1920 TO 1938

In 1921 Horthy appointed István Bethlen prime minister. Bethlen passed a minor land reform, allowed workers to organize and enter into collective bargaining with their employers, gave free reign to the press, and did not completely enforce the numerus clausus law, allowing Jewish professionals to remain active members of a growing urban bourgeoisie. Bethlen also reinstated a limited franchise that allowed only 27 percent of the population to vote. He remained prime minister until 1931 and is credited with rebuilding Budapest's industrial capacity, which had been greatly weakened by the war and the postwar settlement. His fall coincided with the onset of the Great Depression.

From 1931 onward, Hungary's leadership moved increasingly to the right and became periodically pro-German. It was not long before the Hungarian leadership saw Germany as the only power capable of effecting territorial revision in the region; regaining the territories lost with the Treaty of Trianon was a primary objective for all Hungarian governments of the interwar period, regardless of their political orientation.

1938 TO 1945

After receiving territorial gains through Hitler's dissection of Czechoslovakia (1938) and an Axis-mediated agreement with Romania (1940), Hungary formally became an ally of the Axis in November 1940. The wartime economy brought 130 new factories and forty thousand workers to the capital city. Yet apart from mounting anti-Semitism and the implementation of three increasingly harsh Jewish laws barring Jews from public service and the professions and assigning Jewish men to forced labor battalions, Budapest remained relatively unaffected by the war.

This situation changed on 19 March 1944, when Hitler occupied Hungary following neighboring Romania's defection from the Axis camp. The Jews of Hungary were rapidly ghettoized and deported, but Horthy stopped the deportations when it came to the Jews of Budapest—except for those living in suburban Budapest, who were deported in July—for whom he is supposed to have had a special sympathy. On 16 October, the German SS forced Horthy to resign, installing the leader of the fascist Arrow Cross Party, Ferenc Szálasi, in his place. In November, about fifty thousand Budapest Jews were deported to Austria by Adolf Eichmann and the Arrow Cross militia. Although the Red Army had already advanced deep into Hungarian territory, in early December Budapest police and Arrow Cross militiamen, working under the supervision of a handful of Gestapo men, rounded up about seventy thousand of Budapest's Jews and ghettoized them in Pest. During this time, the Swedish emissary Raoul Wallenberg sought by various means—including by forging Red Cross and Swedish government passes, bribing officials, and making appeals to various governments—to save some of Budapest's Jews. About 120,000 of the Jews who ended up in the ghetto or under Swedish protection survived the war.

For Adolf Hitler, Budapest was an important site as both the capital of Hungary (Germany's last remaining ally in Europe) and the last line of defense for Vienna and southern Bavaria. In addition, the Axis's only remaining crude oil plant was in southwest Hungary. Joseph Stalin also had good reason to hasten the fall of the Hungarian capital, believing that the liberation of Budapest and Vienna would increase his bargaining power with the Allies at Yalta. In late October he called on Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, the commander of the Second Ukrainian Front, to seize Budapest within days. In the first week of November, Malinovsky's troops managed to reach Budapest's eastern suburbs and by Christmas his forces had completely surrounded city, leaving the German and Hungarian forces trapped in a cauldron. On that Christmas day, German forces mounted a massive counterattack and the battle for Budapest began.

Although a number of Budapest's civilian inhabitants had fled to western Hungary to escape the siege, the majority had remained, believing that the Soviets would take Budapest quickly. By January civilians and soldiers alike were scrounging for food, relying on melted snow, horsemeat, and meager bread rations. A breakout attempt initiated by the commander of the German forces on 11 February resulted in huge German and Hungarian losses, and by 14 February the siege was over. After Buda was captured, Red Army soldiers plundered the city and terrorized the populace. Already notorious for raping local women, Soviet forces compounded civilian fears by rounding up able-bodied Hungarian men and sending them to do labor service. The city itself was largely devastated, with thousands of buildings partially damaged or left in ruins. None of the city's five bridges over the Danube survived the siege, and nearly forty thousand Hungarian civilians—many of them Jews—had perished or been killed.

1945 TO 1956

The immediate postwar period saw the brief reemergence of a democratically elected government, which was edged out by the pro-Soviet communists by 1947. After the war, the reconstruction of Budapest began almost immediately. Over the next several years, the vast majority of the capital's historic buildings were restored. The communist leadership also initiated the construction of new residential buildings—better known as block apartments—around Budapest's periphery. Among the most notable structures from the Stalinist period is the Népstadion (people's stadium) sporting complex, which was constructed entirely by volunteers. Monuments to communist leaders, the Red Army, and Hungarian leftists also began to appear, and street names were changed to glorify revolutionary heroes. In 1950 the suburbs surrounding Budapest were formally incorporated into the capital, significantly increasing its size and population.

The first years of communist rule were typified by reprisals against wartime fascists and people who had collaborated with the Germans, and Stalinist-style show trials and purges of many old-guard Hungarian communists. Following Stalin's death in March 1953, the political atmosphere in the city became more relaxed. In the fall of 1956, following Poland's successful reform negotiations with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Hungarian reform communists, students, and workers were inspired to push for change in Hungary. On 23 October, a demonstration in support of reform in Poland attracted tens of thousands of students who marched from Pest to Buda. In an unplanned gesture, the students continued on to the parliament building, where they demanded the reinstatement of reform communist Imre Nagy as prime minister. A smaller group of demonstrators gathered in front of the Budapest radio station, where they were fired upon by Hungarian secret police. Shortly thereafter, a large crowd toppled an enormous statue of Stalin, dragging parts of the statue through the city. Units of the Hungarian army, which had been ordered to protect key buildings, ended up giving their weapons to the rebels.

Nagy was made prime minister on 24 October but quickly discovered that the revolt was no longer about reforming the system but about eliminating it. On 25 October the secret police again fired on the demonstrators in front of the parliament building. Two days later, Nagy formed a new reform-oriented government and announced the withdrawal of the Soviet military from Budapest, the dissolution of the secret police, and Hungary's unilateral withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, appealing to the West to protect Hungary against Soviet military retaliation. The Soviets nevertheless invaded Budapest, and by 4 November their forces had crushed the "counterrevolution." Budapest was again heavily damaged by the fighting and an estimated two thousand Hungarians—most of them inhabitants of Budapest—died in the conflict and another two hundred thousand fled the country. Nagy and several members of his government were executed on 16 June 1958.

1956 TO 1989

AfterNagy'sremoval, János Kádár was installed as the new head of government, and he remained in that position for the next thirty years. Immediately following the 1956 events, the Kádár regime began arresting—or in some cases executing—those who had participated in the uprising, but Kádár later softened his stance and implemented a series of reforms that became known as "goulash communism." His reforms included the 1968 New Economic Mechanism, which allowed for limited private enterprise and partially decentralized the economy. Hungary was becoming the most liberal country in the Soviet Bloc, and Budapest began attracting young travelers from other Warsaw Pact countries.

Rising unemployment, high inflation, and mounting national debt resulted in Kádár's removal from leadership in 1988. The reburial of Imre Nagy in Budapest in June 1989 set the tone for the transition to a noncommunist government. The funeral attracted nearly 250,000 people to Budapest's Heroes' Square. The first free elections in over forty years were held in 1990.


As it entered the twenty-first century, Hungary was divided between leftist liberals, represented by the socialist coalition, and nationalist conservatives headed by former prime minister Viktor Orbán and his Young Democrats Party, who struggled for control of the government and the ability to interpret Hungary's role in the past and determine its role in the future of Europe.

Several of the city's postwar cultural figures have received international acclaim. Budapest native Imre Kertész won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002 for his largely autobiographical novels about the experience of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. The work of another Budapest author from the interwar period, Sándor Márai, has been translated into several languages.

The transition did not come without difficulties and challenges, however. The capital city has, since 1989, earned a reputation as a sex capital of Europe, employing sex workers from poorer parts of the former Eastern Bloc, mainly Ukraine. The city is also battling a sizable illegal labor market that brings poor workers from neighboring countries to the city to take construction and other temporary jobs. Further challenges have included cleaning up the environmental damage brought about by careless industrial practices under communism, combating drug abuse, and dealing with extreme right-wing and skinhead groups who harass and sometimes physically attack members of minority groups living within the city, particularly Roma (Gypsies).

Despite these challenges, the city has nevertheless become a major center of international tourism. Many of the houses and other buildings in and around the centers of Buda and Pest have been renovated or rebuilt, and many historic sites, including churches and monuments, have been restored. In the spring of 2004 central eastern Europe's first Holocaust memorial museum opened in a renovated synagogue. Commercial construction has also increased sharply since the 1990s. Massive new shopping centers now line the city's periphery and a number of multinational companies have set up branches in Budapest. On 1 May 2004 inhabitants of the capital celebrated Hungary's entry into the European Union.

See alsoBartók, Béla; Eichmann, Adolf; Horthy, Miklós; Hungary; Kádár, János; Károlyi, Mihály; Khrushchev, Nikita; Kun, Béla; Lukács, György; Nagy, Imre; Stalin, Joseph; Wallenberg, Raoul.


Berza, László, et al., eds. Budapest Lexikon. 2 vols. Budapest, 1993.

Enyedi, György, and Viktória Szirmai. Budapest: A Central European Capital. London, 1992.

Gerlach, Christian, and Götz Aly. Das letzte Kapitel: Der Mord an den ungarischen Juden 1944/1945. Stuttgart, Germany, 2002.

Gerő, András, and János Poór, eds. Budapest: A History from Its Beginnings to 1998. New York, 1997.

Gyáni, Gábor, and György Kövér. Magyarország társadalomtörténete: a reformkortól a második világháborúig. Budapest, 2003.

Lendvai, Paul. The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat. Princeton, N.J., 2003.

Lukacs, John. Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture. New York 1900.

Ságvári, Ágnes, ed. Budapest: The History of a Capital. Translated by Kornél Balás and and Kaŕoly Ravasz. Budapest, 1975.

Sugar, Peter F., Péter Hanák, and Tibor Frank, eds. A History of Hungary. Bloomington, Ind., 1994.

Ungváry, Krisztián. Battle for Budapest: One Hundred Days in World War II. New York, 2003.

Valuch, Tibor. Magyarország társadalomtörténete: A XX. század második felében. Budapest, 2001.

Holly Case


views updated May 08 2018


BUDAPEST. Buda and Pest, which along with the rural borough of Óbuda (Old Buda) united in 1873 to form the modern Hungarian capital Budapest, were Hungary's geographical and economic centers in the early modern era. By the mid-fifteenth century Buda had become an economically and culturally vibrant royal city and seat of government. In 1541 it was conquered by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 15201566), and until its reconquest by the allied forces of the Holy League in 1686 it remained the center of the Ottoman Empire's northernmost province. From 1686 until 1703 Buda and Pest were under the jurisdiction of the Viennese Court Chamber (Hofkammer). In 1703 they regained their status as royal free cities, opening the way for their spectacular development within the Habsburg Monarchy. Buda, however, never regained its former status as the royal seat, for the Habsburgs ruled Hungary from Vienna, their imperial capital situated over 150 miles to the west.

The population of Buda at the end of the fifteenth century is estimated at twelve thousand, while that of Pest was around ten thousand; under Ottoman rule (15411686) Buda and Pest had, respectively, about eight thousand and twelve thousand inhabitants. As a result of Habsburg policy and immigration, the eighteenth century saw a spectacular population surge. By 1820 Pest had become Hungary's largest city, with more than fifty thousand inhabitants as compared to Buda's thirty thousand. In the fifteenth century the majority of Buda's inhabitants were Hungarians, and there were significant German and Jewish minorities. Under the Ottomans, Muslim Turks and Orthodox Slavs made up 50 to 75 percent of the population. By 1714 Germans constituted 52 percent of the population, followed by the Serbs (41 percent) and a tiny minority of Hungarians (5 percent). The relative proportions did not change significantly during the remainder of the century. Although at the beginning of the eighteenth century Hungarians had a plurality in Pest (40 percent), by mid-century Pest, too, had become a German city; in 1746, 67 percent of its population was German, while Serbs and Hungarians made up 17 and 16 percent, respectively.

The administration and economic life of Buda from the 1420s until the Ottoman conquest was regulated by the Ofner Stadtrecht (Buda book of statutes). Under King Matthias I Corvinus (ruled 14581490) Buda became the center of the Hungarian Renaissance, contributing significantly to education and culture. The king's library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, housed some three thousand volumes and was one of the richest libraries in Europe, equaled only by that of the Vatican. Under Ottoman rule, Buda and Pest acquired a clear Oriental character, with mosques and Turkish baths, several of which were still in use at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In the eighteenth century Buda and Pest regained their status as the country's political and cultural centers. New churches, monasteries, and schools were built by various religious ordersJesuits, Franciscans, Poor Clares, Carmelites, Capuchins, and Augustinians. These new edifices, along with the baroque palace erected by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (ruled 17111740; king of Hungary as Charles III) and Maria Theresa (queen of Hungary, 17401780), gave the twin cities their distinct baroque look.

See also Austro-Ottoman Wars ; Habsburg Territories ; Hungary.


Balázs, Éva H. Hungary and the Habsburgs, 17651800: An Experiment in Enlightened Absolutism. Translated by Tim Wilkinson. Budapest, 1997.

Fekete, Lajos. Buda and Pest under Turkish Rule. Budapest, 1976.

Gerő, András, and János Poór, eds. Budapest: A History from its Beginnings to 1998. Translated by Judit Zinner, Cecil D. Eby, and Nóra Arató. Boulder, Colo., 1997.

GÁbor Ágoston


views updated May 14 2018


the shared capital
the national capital

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, was also one of the two capitals, along with Vienna, of the Dual Monarchy after the 1867 Ausgleich (compromise). Its current name is the outcome of the 1873 administrative unification of three adjacent towns on the Danube River: Buda and Pest, and the smaller Óbuda (Old Buda). This act was the culmination of a steady urban development that took off in the eighteenth century. Budapest, however, came into its own in the long nineteenth century—a period of almost uninterrupted expansion. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the combined populations of Pest, Buda, and Old Buda was smaller than that of Vienna, but by the early 1870s Pest was the second-largest city in the Monarchy—and the sixteenth-largest in Europe—and by 1910 Budapest ranked eighth among European cities. By the closing of the nineteenth century Budapest was a formidable metropolis and a real capital city. But it had to be made into one; earlier Hungary had had no real capital.

the shared capital

In 1784 Joseph II made Buda the political and administrative center of the country, and the university was moved to Pest. The twin cites divided the tasks of a capital: Buda was the administrative center of Hungary, Pest the economic and cultural center. Although the diet met in Pozsony (Bratislava) until 1848 and the palatine's seat remained in Buda, the center of politics shifted gradually to Pest during the "reform era" (1825–1848)—a move that culminated in the 1848 revolution, the first urban revolution to start and spread from the cafés and streets of the city. By the first half of the nineteenth century Pest was a significant regional commercial hub, trading mostly in agricultural produce and livestock. The economic center of the city shifted from the walled historical downtown to the north, followed by an eastward expansion to the suburbs. Accelerated by the 1838 flood and the ensuing building regulations, multistoried Pest sprang up in the form of neoclassical palaces, apartment buildings, and new genres of notable public buildings, such as the National Museum, the Redoute, the Board of Trade, and the German, later the Hungarian, Theater of Pest. The long-debated proposal for a permanent bridge between Buda and Pest was implemented in this period, reinforcing the ideal of physical, administrative, and—by levying a universal toll regardless of social class—social unification of the twin cities. The bridge was inaugurated only in 1849, following the revolution. The years of political oppression did not put the growth of the twin cities back; in fact, an economic boom preceded unification. Commercial capital started to move into the food processing and manufacturing industry, and by the end of the century commerce lost its dominance to industry and finance. Pest became a mill town on a world scale with significant sugar and machinery production and distilleries. Neoabsolutism did not add much to the cityscape other than reconstructing the royal palace and erecting the Citadel—the Hungarian Bastille—a jerry-built symbol of oppression whose arms were aimed at rebellious Pest.

the national capital

The metropolitan outlook of the city is the result of the construction boom that picked up after the Ausgleich of 1867 and, following the London example, the establishment in 1870 of the Metropolitan Council of Public Works, which imposed comprehensive planning principles and building codes on the twin cities even before they became unified in 1873. The almost complete home rule that the compromise granted to Hungary and the territorial enlargement that followed from unification threw Budapest into a frenzy of "catching up." The task of constructing both a European metropolis and a national capital gave rise to the most spectacular growth in the history of the city, and, except for Berlin, the fastest in Europe. The population of Budapest rose from 270,000 in 1869 to 880,000 in 1910, or, including the suburbs, to 1.1 million. The twin processes of industrialization and urbanization transformed the social landscape accordingly. The proportion of agricultural laborers declined, and by the end of the nineteenth century the majority of the population consisted of proletarians, with the two most dynamically growing groups being industrial workers and maids. The continued mass influx of labor from the countryside to the capital shifted the ethnic composition of the city in favor of the Hungarian-speaking population, which, combined with the invigoration of assimilation, made multiethnic Budapest a Hungarian city. The 1880 linguistic census recorded 55 percent of the total population as native Hungarian speakers, one-third German, and 6 percent Slovak—a marked difference from the previous German dominance, especially in Buda. From the 1860s onward Hungarian was the exclusive language of public education.

Between 1873 and 1896 the number of buildings almost doubled under the guidance of the Metropolitan Council of Public Works. The infrastructure of a modern metropolis was established. The achievements of the period were duly acknowledged and displayed during the Millennium Exhibition in 1896—a Universal Exposition of sorts with an acute historical consciousness—commemorating a thousand years of settled Hungarian history. The city commissioned a new town hall (completed in 1875), a customs house (1874), and a municipal slaughterhouse (1872), constructed a new water plant, opened the Central Market Hall (1897), engaged in large-scale hospital building from the 1880s, and organized the public health system. The number of students enrolled in primary and secondary schools rose by 110 percent in the period. With the construction of the Parliament (completed in 1904) and the neighboring ministries, a central government district emerged on the Pest side as a counterpoint to the Royal Palace in

Buda. The first grand achievement of coordinated town planning was the Avenue (later Andrássy Avenue)—the Champs-Elysées of Budapest—a major thoroughfare and symbol of embourgeoisement lined with elegant apartment buildings, villas, historical monuments, and representative public buildings including the Opera House (1884) and several art museums. The construction of a second bridge (1876), Western Station (1877), and Central Station (1884); the rationalization of traffic by the cutting of the Grand Boulevard; and the electrification of mass transit and the opening of the Millennium underground—the first on the Continent—led to a new integration and compression of urban space.

The Millennium closed the first and most impressive—and also the least controversial—period of development in the history of Budapest. Following the turn of the century economic and population growth began to lose momentum, and a still vigorous but more controversial development was rife with social and political tension. The municipal authorities pursued an active policy in order to alleviate the problems that followed from population growth and the lack of adequate infrastructure. This was a period of a dynamic expansion and differentiation of municipal services, the municipalization of public utility companies, and the institutionalization of social policy, which ultimately made an increase in urban consumption possible. It was in the early twentieth century that the city saw the first mass mobilization of industrial workers who by then not only outnumbered any other social group but also showed a strong territorial concentration. By the eve of World War I, politics and culture had become radicalized, social criticism had taken a new turn, and political change loomed large—but the explosion came only after the war.

See alsoAustria-Hungary; Cities and Towns; Vienna.


Bender, Thomas, and Carl E. Schorske, eds. Budapest and New York: Studies in Metropolitan Transformation, 1870–1930. New York, 1994.

Frojimovics, Kinga, Géza Komoróczy, Viktória Pusztai, and Andrea Strbik. Jewish Budapest: Monuments, Rites, History. Edited by Géza Komoróczy. Translated by Vera Szabó. Budapest and New York, 1999.

Gerő, András, and János Poór, eds. Budapest: A History from Its Beginnings to 1998. Translated by Judit Zinner, Cecil D. Eby, and Nóra Arató. Boulder, Colo., 1997.

Gyáni, Gábor. Identity and Urban Experience: Fin-de-Siècle Budapest. Translated by Thomas J. DeKornfeld. Boulder, Colo., and Wayne, N.J., 2004.

Hanák, Péter. The Garden and the Workshop: Essays on the Cultural History of Vienna and Budapest. Princeton, N.J., 1998.

Lukacs, John. Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture. New York, 1988.

Melinz, Gerhard, and Susan Zimmermann, eds. Wien, Prag, Budapest: Blütezeit der Habsburgermetropolen; Urbanisierung, Kommunalpolitik, gesellshaftliche Konflikte, 1867–1918. Vienna, 1996.

Judit Bodnar


views updated Jun 08 2018

Budapest Capital of Hungary, on the River Danube. It was created in 1873 by uniting the towns of Buda (capital of Hungary since the 14th century) and Pest on the opposite bank. It became one of the two capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1918, it was declared capital of an independent Hungary. Budapest was the scene of a popular uprising against the Soviet Union in 1956. The old town contains a remarkable collection of buildings, including Buda Castle, the 13th-century Matthias Church, the parliament building, the National Museum, and Roman remains. Industries: iron and steel, chemicals, textiles. Pop. (2001) 1,775,203.