Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Budapest: April 2014 A to Z Challenge

Blogging From A to Z
April 2014 Challenge
B is for Budapest, capital of Hungary.  With approximately two million inhabitants, today it's a thriving metropolis. But, it didn't begin that way. Budapest was originally settled by the Eravasci, a Celtic tribe, around 40 AD. They named the city "Ak-ink", which the Romans renamed, "Aquincum" after its conquest.

Remains of the ancient city of Aquincum can be seen today in Budapest.

The Ruins of the Ancient City of Aquincum, modern day Budapest.

(Personally, I find this to be pretty amazing and would love to tour Europe one day just to see all the cool shit I write about.)

Map of Europe
Hungary in Red

There is a shit-ton of fascinating history about Budapest but I want to tell you about a man who made a difference while residing there during WWII. Before I do, here are some links to learn more about the history of Budapest.

Okay, on to Mr. Perlasca.  Giorgio Perlasca was an Italian businessman working in Budapest when all hell broke loose in 1943.

"When Mussolini fell in July 1943, all Italians in Hungary were requested to return home. Perlasca refused to go to a German-ruled Italian puppet state. As Perlasca said: "I was neither a fascist nor an anti-fascist, but I was anti-Nazi." Perlasca was interned; however, on October 13, 1944, he was able to talk his way out of the hotel where he was being held." (Quote from the Jewish Virtual Library Website)

This is where it gets interesting.  Let's look at that last sentence one more time: " Perlasca was interned; however, on October 13, 1944, he was able to talk his way out of the hotel where he was being held."

I like this guy already but it gets really wild when he declares himself the Spanish Ambassador to Hungary.  I know, I know, I keep saying, "What the actual fuck?" too.  Stay with me, okay?  K.

Perlasca was appalled at the way Hungarian Jews were being treated.  He took it upon himself to save a couple here and there.  Then he saved families. Groups.  He was even able to pull hundreds of Jews off of a Nazi deportation train!  This man had huge balls and was sharp as a razor. He could think on his feet and never got rattled.  He bribed high-ranking Nazis in order to save more lives.  During one "negotiation", the greedy Nazi he was trying to bribe held a knife to his throat on a fourth floor balcony.  Perlasca never missed a beat and offered the guy double if he'd put the knife away.  Of course it worked.

Netflix is currently streaming "Perlasca" and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie. Yes, it's all in Italian with English subtitles but it's so good you'll forget all about that.

(Why don't people like foreign films?  I love em.  This one ROCKS.)

Here are a couple of reviews (from of the movie:

Worth watching

Author: abe shainberg from New York, New York
27 December 2013
Luca Zingarelli is great as Perlasca. It is a story about courage in the face of oppression and tragedy. Perlasca was a fighter for the Spanish & Italian fascists and changed over to his human side when confronted by the brutality of the fascists against the Hungarian Jews. Not Jewish himself, he risked his life against the Nazis and saved almost 6,000 Jews, posing as the Spanish Ambassador after Spain closed down their embassy.

Zingarelli's performance is astounding and you are on edge the entire film - as his monumental energy in not letting one victim die if he can disallow it, comes into view throughout. There are many touching human moments where people connect in the film. How Perlasca plays with the children, how he deals with young & old alike. How he deals with so many in shock with tenderness, strength and decency commands your attention in this very long film. I believe it was supposed to be watched over two nights in Italy, but I watched the 3 hour movie in one sitting. Great performances including Magda and Farkas, the consul. Bring popcorn.

Totally Awesome

Author: mandoz from Austin, Texas
1 August 2013
I am so totally in awe of the movie I would first like to start by thanking the people at NETFLIX for making this, and other similar, movies available to its viewers. The performance of the cast created a lot of emotion in me, I especially liked Luca Zingaretti and the Nazi officers. BRAVO! The power of the story by Enrico Deagilo kept my attention to the very end. How could have people been so cruel to their very own countrymen? No matter how dire the situation there is always compassionate people, like Perlasca, who are willing to step forward and attempt to correction the situation no matter what it will cost them. I am a big believer in the study of history and believe that those who don't are doomed to repeat it. The music by Ennio Morricone makes the movie even more appealing. This movie should be required viewing by all students in the world getting ready to graduate from high school.

Giorgio Perlasca
Italian Businessman
"Spanish Ambassador"
Hungarian Hero


"Giorgio Perlasca was born in Como, Italy, in 1910. During World War II, he was an Italian diplomatic envoy to the countries of Eastern Europe as a food purchasing manager (meat) for the Italian Army. For a number of reasons, he found himself in the position to pretend to be a substitute for the Spanish ambassador in Budapest, Sanz Briz. When the ambassador was forced to leave Hungary, Perlasca decided to impersonate a Spanish consul in order to grant Spanish citizenship to thousands of Jewish Hungarians. He took advantage of the Rivera Law, which allowed him to naturalize all the Jewish people with Sephardi origins from all over the world. Thanks to this law, over a period of 45 days, between January 1944 and January 1945, “Jorge” Perlasca saved thousands of Hungarian Jews."

Final thoughts:  You gotta see the movie, "Perlasca".  I assume if you're reading my blog you're an adult so I'll just say that this film is fucking amazing but it's not for the pre-teen and under crowd, IMO.  Your kids, your rules.

That's it boys and girls.  

See ya on the flip side.

Tammy - Out.

Saw this story during final editing and thought I'd tack it on at the end, in case anyone was interested.


"The past may have finally caught up with a 97-year-old Nazi war criminal when Laszlo Csatary was taken into custody today in Budapest.
Csatary, who has been convicted in absentia and sentenced to death, was picked up early today, Bettina Bagoly, spokeswoman for the Budapest prosecutor, told ABC News.
The elderly former Nazi "was accused with committing war crimes," according to a statement released by the prosecutor's office.
Csatary will be taken before an investigative judge later today and the "prosecution office will initiate the house arrest," the statement said.
Bagoly said the prosecutor's office is still investigating allegations against Csatary, and the office statement indicated that the probe began in September 2011 at the instigation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel which specializes in hunting Nazi war criminals.
The prosecutor's statement said they were warned by the Wiesenthal Center that Csatary "will leave the country as soon as he realizes that there is ongoing investigation in the case."
The prosecutors said the investigation is complicated by the age of the crime and that it was committed in Slovakia, witnesses are in Israel, some of the legal papers are in Canada and the suspect is in Hungary.
Csatary has lived openly under his own name in Budapest in recent years. When the accusation against him became public this week and police visited his two homes in Budapest, Csatary was not there.
Csatary, the former police chief of a camp in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary, was described as a "particularly sadistic" Nazi official.
The court document released today states that he was a police trainee who was elevated to police chief in a concentration camp located in a brick factory in 1944. "In that position, [Csatary] regularly whipped the deported Jews with a dogs' whip without any special reasons and irrespective of the assaulted people's sex, age or health condition."
Almost 12,000 Jews held at the brick factory were sent to Auschwitz crammed into freight wagons, the indictment states, noting that on June 2, 1944 Csatary refused to allow the Jews to cut windows into the jammed trains in order to get more air.
Peter Feldmajer, the president of the Jewish community in Hungary, told ABC News that Csatary was notorious.
"He created a camp for torturing the rich so they would confess where they have hidden the money," Feldmajer said.
Laszlo Karsai, Hungary's top holocaust historian whose grandmother died in Auschwitz, agreed that Csatary was "very sadistic."
"There are two testimonies of German officers in Kosice who had to stop him from torturing Jewish women. He made women dig holes in the ground with their bare hands," Karsai told ABC News.
"But what do you do with a 97-year-old man who was very, very sadistic 68 years ago?" Karsai asked.
Csatary has been convicted in absentia and sentenced to death for war crimes in Czechoslovakia in 1948.
He arrived in Nova Scotia as a refugee under the false name, became a Canadian citizen in 1955 and worked as an art dealer in Montreal. In 1995 the authorities discovered his real name and revoked his citizenship. Before fleeing Canada, he admitted to Canadian investigators of his participation in the deportation of the Jews, but claimed that his role was "limited."
Last year, a Hungarian court acquitted another of the Wiesenthal Center's most-wanted, Sandor Kepiro, who was accused of helping organize the mass murder of about 3,000 civilians in the Serbian city of Novi Sad in 1942. Prosecutors appealed the verdict, but Kepiro died in the meantime.
The case comes at a sensitive time for Hungary, which has seen a rise in anti-Semitism in recent months with official attempts to it play down."