Emissary missions

As soon as the Germans took over Hungary, on March 19, 1944, the country towns were completely cut off from the outside world. Jews were forbidden from traveling on trams, busses and trains, and steps were put in motion to bring all the Jews into the towns and then deport them to the extermination camps. The underground Zionist Youth Resistance Movement (ZYRM) leadership embarked on a daring operation to make contact with and inform the Jewish communities. Volunteers from among the youth movement membership were sent, under false identities and at great risk, to bring the information on the purpose of the ghettoization, on the impending deportations, and their destinations (the extermination camps). In the towns they visited, the emissaries encouraged any youths who were willing and able, to flee to Budapest. The youths were given instructions and provided with forged documents and money. Unfortunately, many of the community leaders with whom the emissaries spoke, refused to believe or act on the warnings. There were even some leaders who, even if they believed the warnings, threatened to call the police and have the emissaries arrested, if they continued to spread the information and “sow panic.” Many young people who realized the impending catastrophe knowingly chose to stay with their families, regardless of the danger.

Between March 19, 1944 and June 30, 1944 at least 77 emissaries were dispatched on 141 missions. Unfortunately, the response to their missions was minimal.

The ZYRM also made contact with the Jews in military forced labor units in the camps on Hungarian soil. Young women from the ZYRM traveled to the camps on a regular basis, to relay messages, instructions, money and documents. These operations continued until the liberation on January 18, 1945.