Jewish Theatre in Budapest: The question of belonging 1939-1944

Anna Kalmár

Abstract


The Hungarian government introduced a number of anti-Semitic laws that restricted Jewish ’presence’ between 1920 and 1944, first in universities, then in professional spheres and finally, in public places. By 1941 hardly any Jewish-born theatre workers were employed by the Budapest theatres. Simultaneously, the authorities gave permission for a Jewish theatrical initiative to launch, within the confines of the cultural organisation of the Pest Israelite congregation (OMIKE). The initiative, entitled ’Artists’ Action’ was seen as a kind of ‘cultural ghetto’ by the authorities, but to its member it represented a fight for continuous access to culture. It was also a cultural mission which provided a livelihood for 400 artists and unified thousands of people. Studying the Artists’ Action, its leaders, members and audience, also provides an insight into an identity in crisis: the search for a unified Hungarian Jewishness amidst social exclusion was actively supported by the practices of the cultural institution as well as the journal of the congregation. 

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DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.067


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