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How It Happened: Documenting the Tragedy of Hungarian Jewry

Thursday, February 14, 2019, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

WELCOME REMARKS / Michael Ignatieff / President and Rector, CEU
READING: excerpt  from  ERNŐ MUNKÁCSI's How It Happened / read by Nina Munk
PANEL DISCUSSION moderated by Nina Munk, editor of How It Happened / with 
László Csősz, senior archivist, Hungarian National Archives Ferenc Laczó, assistant professor, Maastricht University /

Please register for the event using this link

Books will be available for sale and signing at the event, offered by Bestsellers bookshop at a discounted price. The event at CEU will be followed by the opening of the exhibition A Calling Heard by Generations: The History of the Munk-Munkácsi Family at the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives.

BIOS / László Csősz is a senior archivist at the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest and co-author, with Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, of The Holocaust in Hungary: Evolution of a Genocide (AltaMira). Together with Ferenc Laczó, he co-wrote the extensive annotations in How It Happened.

Ferenc Laczó is an assistant professor of European history at Maastricht University and a graduate of the Central European University. Previously employed at the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena, he is the author of Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide: An Intellectual History, 1929-1948 (Brill) as well as the author or editor of several other books in Hungarian and English. He wrote the introduction to How it Happened and co-annotated the book with László Csősz.

Nina Munk is a journalist based in New York whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Fortune, The New Yorker, and the New York Times, among other publications. She is the author of four books, most recently The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty (Doubleday). She is the editor of How It Happened.


The Jews of Hungary were the last to be pulled into the Nazi machinery of destruction. In the summer of 1944, Adolf Eichmann and his team, working together with Hungarian authorities, rounded up 450,000 Jews and transported them to Auschwitz to be killed. 

Ernő Munkácsi, a lawyer and, in 1944, secretary of the Jewish Council in Budapest, avoided that fate. He wrote this seminal book (originally, Hogyan történt?) immediately after the war, amid accusations that he and his fellow Jewish leaders had failed their community, to document the destruction and account for How It Happened. 

This long-overdue translation, newly published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, makes available Munkácsi's profound and unparalleled insight into the Holocaust in Hungary, revealing the "choiceless choices" that confronted members of the Jewish Council forced to execute the Nazis' orders. Translated by Péter Balikó Lengyel and edited by Nina Munk, with an in-depth introduction by Ferenc Laczó, a brief biography of Ernő Munkácsi by Susan Papp, ample annotations by László Csősz and Ferenc Laczó, archival photographs, and detailed maps, How It Happened is the critical edition of one of the earliest and most important accounts of the Holocaust in Hungary.