Hungary

Hungarian ORT started its activities in the second half of  the 1930s. Despite the outbreak of the war, the organization continued running its newly established courses in Budapest and in the provinces. It also extended its work to Jewish  refugees from Poland and Yugoslavia who at the outbreak of war fled to Hungary.

Hungary entered the Second World War in July 1941, on the side of the Axis powers. In March 1944, in order to prevent it from forming alliance with the Allied powers, Germany occupied the country. The deportation of Hungarian Jews started in May 1944. In less than two months 440,000 Jews living outside Budapest were deported. Most of them were murdered in Auschwitz, some were subjected to forced labour in Austria. In November 1944, 70,000 Jews from Budapest were sent on death marches. The remaining members of the community were forced into the ghetto where additional 20,000 were killed before the country‚Äôs liberation in February 1945. The last German troops were expelled from Hungary in April 1945. In February 1946 Hungary was declared a republic and from then on the power in the country was gradually taken over by the communist party. In August 1949, the parliament passed the new constitution modelled after the 1936 constitution of the Soviet Union. As a result, the country was industrialized following the Soviet economic policy and private companies were nationalized. Out of the 830,000 Jews living in Hungary before the war, only about 190,000 survived the Holocaust. Two-thirds of the surviving community lived in Budapest and this is where immediately after the end of the war ORT concentrated its work. 

 The main ORT schools in Hungary were the technical secondary-level colleges in Budapest, which taught over 300 pupils, both girls and boys. Their graduates were awarded both with technical qualifications and with high school-leaving certificates in general studies. In June 1947 the first workshops outside the capital - sewing courses in Debrecen and Miskolc, were opened. Later ORT also set up vocational workshops in Bekeszaba, Gyongyos and Szeget . An agricultural school and training farm was established in Bonyhad. A large group of ORT students were women whose husbands were deported during the Holocaust and who after the war had to single-handedly provide for their families. The high percentage of women resulted in a very high share of sewing workshops among the courses offered by the Hungarian ORT.  At the same time more technical classes were introduced, as the subjects of the courses had to fulfil the needs of industrialization and of the changing economic and political system in Hungary. Among the students obtaining new trades were former shopkeepers, bank clerks as well as lawyers and others.

 

 

In mid-1947 Hungarian ORT maintained twenty-seven institutions with 809 students. ORT's activities in Hungary became less intensive after the massive emigration to Israel started in mid-1948. As it happened in other  Eastern European countries, ORT's  activities were stopped  by the Communist government in 1949. In the beginning of that year, ORT's flagship schools, the youth colleges in Budapest, were nationalized. As a result,  ORT focused on its work with 2000 students  in the smaller towns and opened an additional dressmaking school in Hodmezovasarhely. The organization also continued running  vocational training of adults in Budapest. By 1950 however all ORT activities in Hungary were nationalized.