Jewish Mementos in Vas Comitatus

Szombathely Part 5

Let us now remember two artists which would have spread the fame of Hungarian musicians worldwide had they not been murdered.

Alice Bárdos

was born on July 19, 1896 in Budapest. She obtained her diploma in arts at the Royal National Academy of Music. Her marriage in 1916 brought her to Szombathely. László Szente, her husband, was an architect but also a music critic and always worked on broadening his knowledge in that area. They had two sons: Mihály and György. Mihály fell victim to the Holocaust, his brother became a musician in the Netherlands. Before marrying Alice Bárdos gave many concerts abroad. From 1926 until December 31, 1940 she worked as a teacher for violin at the Szombathely school of music, she was forced to retire due to her Jewish heritage. She actively participated in the musical life of the city. In 1927 she founded the Szombathely Association for Chamber Music. She regularly played concerts and from 1931-35 she was vice director of the department of music at the Szombathely Cultural Association.

In 1935 together with two fellow musicians she founded the chamber ensemble Collegium Musicum which was active for 5 years and played 3-5 concerts a year, in the beginning these were in the apartment of the Szente family on Kállvária Street. She still had private students in the 40s and worked with the preschool music teachers at the elementary school. She now only performed with the Collegium Musicum and played concerts at the Budapest Goldmark Hall. Together with the Szombathely Ghetto she was deported to Auschwitz where she was immediately sent to the gas chambers because she had linked arms with her ill mother-in-law to support her.


László Weiner

(born. 1916, Szombathely - died 1944, Csepreg)

studied composition at the Zoltán Kodály Academy of Music. With eighteen he started a journal titled “My musical notes” in which he recorded his experiences of concerts. He was the first husband of the Ver Rózsa, a music teacher living in London. His short, talented career was ended by the Holocaust, he died in 1944 as forced laborer.

With the end of the 1930s all economic power and wealth was systematically taken away from the Szombathely Jews, they were degraded to second class citizens and finally locked into the ghetto and deported.

After the German occupation of Szombathely (March 19, 1944) the Jewish Council was formed under German pressure. The attorney Dr. Imre Wesel was its director, he was detained by the Germans. A stumbling block was put down in front of his last residence in the Ghetto on Bejczy Street. On Thököly Street a similar stone commemorates head rabbi Márk Benedikt, one on the central square commemorates the fish merchant József Mermelstein and one on Király Street guards the memory of elementary school teacher Alber Gábor.

Dr. Imre Wesel

was born on August 29, 1903 in Babócsa. He earned a doctorate in law and then married Judit Deutsch, the daughter of one of the most important merchant families. They had two girls, Hanna and Zsuzsa. With 37 he was elected head of the VIII. congressional district. He tried to help those families that had lost their livelihood as a result of the Jewish laws, supported the family members of forced laborers who had stayed behind. Within the Jewish community he held lectures and organized performances to enable the banned actors and musicians to earn a small income. He was appointed director of the Jewish Council under the German occupation. In this position too he worked for the benefit of the community. When he refused to give in to the outrageous demands of the Germans he was detained and kept in Pinkafő (Pinka Field), then brought to Auschwitz where he fell victim to the gas chamber. His wife and daughters were saved by the Kasztner train.

On May 8, 1944 the Szombathely Jews were ordered to relocate to the ghetto which had been established in the city center.

This compulsory new neighborhood was enclosed by the side of Erzsébet királyné Street (today the main square) with the even numbers, the Southern side of Sabaria Hotel down to Szenczy Street (today Bejczy Street), by the side of Kussuth Lajos Street with the uneven house numbers, the power plant, the evenly numbered side of Thököly Imre Street, the uneven side of Zrínyi Ilona Street, the even side of Brenner János Street, the neological synagogue and house no. 9 on Batthyány Square. The Sabaria Hotel, the power plant and the house no. 9 on Rákóczi Ferenc Street were not part of the ghetto. Those parts not cut off by walls were shielded with a wood fence which was three meters high, there was a gate on Szenczy Street.

In the early morning of June 29 the inhabitants of the ghetto were relocated to the Mayer motor plant which was the collection camp. The registry held 3766 names. Deportations to Auschwitz began on July 3 and continued through July 4.

The Szombathely Jews were almost entirely destroyed in the Holocaust, only about 10% of them survived deportation and forced labor. In 1945 the two Jewish communities were founded anew. 1946 the memorial for the doported and the forced laborers was inaugurated next to the neological synagogue as well as two martyr memorials in the cemetery. The 1949 census shows that 236 people belonged to the congressional community. The comitatus now has a weak and diminishing community of 30-40 people. Even closing the cemetery has been considered.

by Johannes Scholem Graf & Alexandra Vogt