WJC mourns the passing of Professor Randolph L. Braham

30 Nov 2018
30 Nov 2018 Facebook Twitter Email Print

The World Jewish Congress mourns the passing of Professor Randolph L. Braham, the doyen of wartime Hungarian Jewish history. Braham ("Randy" to his colleagues and friends),  who was born in Bucharest in 1922, and raised in the Transylvanian city of Dej, was the author of prodigious, meticulously researched scholarship on the fate of Jews in Hungary and Romania. His monumental and magisterial books--including his 1994 The Politics of Genocide--were path-breaking works that revealed the unimaginable horror that befell Hungarian-speaking Jews at the hands of the Germans and their local accomplices. His own biography reflected the tragedy of the Jews he whose story he would later come to chronicle. In 1944, like many of his peers, he was forced into the Hungarian Labor Service and detained briefly in a Soviet POW camp. After the war, he found work as a translator for the American Army in Berlin. In 1948, Braham arrived in New York and most of his career was spent at City College and at the CUNY Graduate Center, whose Rosenthal Institute for Jewish Studies which he established in 1979. Deeply troubled by the ongoing obfuscation of history in Hungary, Braham returned the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary that he had received in 2011. He also insisted that his name be removed from the Holocaust Memorial Center Library in Budapest that had been dedicated in his honor. President of the Association of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities (MAZSIHISZ) and WJC Vice-President,  Andras Heisler, declared  "The enemies of truth claim that they are the friends of Hungary, but it isn’t so. Braham was the real friend of Hungary, one of the greatest Hungarian historians. He was a patriot for whom the mother tongue of truth, the Hungarian language, was his most important working tool and weapon. He offered the truth to his compatriots as the only real healing agent... He knew that only those who take a hard look at the past and who accept and draw lessons from it can have an opportunity to live a meaningful and responsible life. Last year, at the age of 95, he paid a visit to Hungary... He loved Hungary, and he wanted to shield us against the resurrection of our darkest demons."   

"Braham was a brilliant, courageous man and an outstanding scholar who never betrayed his principles. Thanks to his relentless efforts we know in great detail about the destruction of one of the greatest Jewish communities in Europe. May his memory be a blessing, " said WJC CEO Robert Singer.