Postcard of Kecskemét, Hungary
This postcard from Kecskemét, Hungary depicts the famous sites of the city including the synagogue, churches, a statue of the Hungarian author József Katona, and the main street. The synagogue is labled “Izr. Templom,” the Jewish Temple. It is a very impressive building, built in the Romantic architectural style with an onion dome above a tall tower and an elaborate entrance and windows. From looking at the people in the street nearby, the synagogue seems to be several floors high. The date written on the postcard in purple ink and on the stamp is April 10, 1903. The name on the postcard is unclear.
Kecskemét is Hungary’s eighth largest city, located 50 km from Budapest. Jews traded in the city as of the sixteenth century but were permitted to settle there only around the eighteenth century. Various Jewish institutions were subsequently established, including a synagogue, burial society and cemetery, charitable institutions, a school, and a Talmud Torah. The rapidly growing Jewish community, comprising both members of the Neolog and Orthodox denominations, needed a new synagogue. The Neolog synagogue, which is shown in the postcard, was built in 1871 near the town’s main square and became a symbol of the town. The dome was damaged by a severe earthquake in 1911 but was restored in the early twentieth century. The Orthodox community built their own synagogue in the early twentieth century.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, following anti-Semitic pogroms (known as the “White Terror”). In 1941 there were 1,346 Jews living in Kecskemét. Not long after the Nazis invaded Hungary in March 1944, the Jews of Kecskemét were moved into a ghetto, and most were sent to Auschwitz in June of the same year. Only a handful of them survived, and by 1949 there were only 221 Jews left in Kecskemét.
Today two synagogues remain in Kecskemét, but they are no longer used for Jewish prayer. The Neolog synagogue shown in the postcard is now a technology centre, and the Orthodox synagogue contains a small museum.
This postcard can be used by Jewish History teachers when discussing the different Jewish communities in Europe during the years of the Emancipation, World War I, and World War II and the Holocaust.
It can also be used in General History and Social Studies classes when learning the interaction between the Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours in Hungary.
What is this?
What buildings are featured on this postcard?
What language is used?
What is the date on the postcard?
Reading Between the Lines
The synagogue is featured along with some other popular tourist sites.
What can this tell you about the local attitude towards Jews?
Search online for information about the Jewish community of Kecskemét.
When was the community established?
Which Jewish denominations were there?
Many European Jewish communities tell the story of emancipation, growth, and integration alongside oppression and violence.
How is this reflected in the history of the Jews of Kecskemét?
Research the Neolog synagogue of Kecskemét.
What does its story tell us about the history of the Jews of Kecskemét?
Is there an interesting and historic synagogue in your town?
What is the history of the synagogue?
Have you been to Hungary? Did you visit any of its Jewish sites?
If not, search online for images.
Write about your impressions.
Create a postcard (or digital card using Canva) of your hometown.
Which sites will you include?
Which Jewish sites will you include?