Abony, Hungary

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For this year’s A to Z Challenge, my theme is geographical-historical. I’m spotlighting places I’ve written about or mentioned in my writing, and trying as best as possible to focus on lesser-known places. Why read yet another post about Paris, Budapest, or Toronto when you can learn about a place like Kutaisi, Surabaya, or Uelen?

The Kostyán István House of Abony, one of many cultural heritage houses.

The Roman Catholic church of Abony.

What remains of the Abony Synagogue.

The United Reform church of Abony.

Abony is a town of about 16,000 people, between the Danube and the Tisza River, and about 53 miles from Budapest. My hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, set in the early post-WWII years (with some unrealistically long, uninterrupted monologues to be turned into a Part II that’s a flashback to about June 1944 through the liberation), is partly set in Abony.

Abony contains some archaeological finds from the 7th and 8th centuries, and first appeared in the records as Aban in 1450. In 1552, like many other places in Europe, it fell under Ottoman rule. Over the next century, the town was almost completely destroyed. In 1748, it went from a village to a town. The town’s landmarks include the Harkányi Castle, the old synagogue and churches pictured above, a number of old family homes and mausolea, and the Lájos Abonyi Folk Museum and granary.

Abony never had a huge Jewish community, in comparison to a place like Budapest, Kisvárda, or Debrecen. No census ever recorded the population as even a thousand.  At the outbreak of WWII, there were under 400 registered Abony residents.  The town got a large increase in Jewish population in the early decades of the 19th century, but after 1840, most people left for larger centers of population. Prior to 1840, anti-Jewish legislation only allowed certain cities to be lived in. In addition to the synagogue, there were also a religious school, a women’s group, an almshouse, and a fund to help the needy.  Several important scholars and rabbis also came from Abony.

After the Nazi invasion of Hungary on 19 March 1944, and the ensuing ghettoisation, people from the nearby towns of Tószeg, Törtel, Zagyvarékas, Jászkarajenö, Kocsér, and Újszász were sent to the Abony ghetto. Several weeks later, everyone was sent to the Kecskemét ghetto, and in late June, three different transports sent the population to Oswiecim. Less than 100 people survived the Shoah and returned to Abony. Only 19 Jewish residents were there in 1959. Several years later, the community was gone. The synagogue remains as a monument.

Sources consulted:

http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/pinkas_hungary/hun127.html

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0001_0_00174.html

Bird’s-eye view of Abony, image copyright Civertan Grafikai Stúdió.

Abony’s coat of arms.

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18 comments on “Abony, Hungary

  1. WWII had such a tragic and awful impact on so many communities in Europe. From your pictures, Abony looks like a beautiful place with a sad history.

    I look forward to hearing more about lesser known places over the next month 🙂
    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles
    Fantasy Boys XXX

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  2. Trisha says:

    I’ve never visited Hungary – but what a fascinating, yet grim, history it has. Thanks for sharing this information about Abony, and the photos.

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  3. The Jews could only live in certain cities? Interesting.
    Looks like they are trying to restore that one building.
    Beautiful place.

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  4. Alex Hurst says:

    I love their coat of arms. Since my imagery for coats of arms is always to warn others to not “mess” with the family, I can only imagine that arm whacking people across the face with the wheat.

    Wonderful photos, too.

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

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  5. Too bad the synagogue is in such a poor state of repair. Always sad when beautiful old buildings fall apart. Happy A to Z!

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  6. A lot of history there, as so much from WWII happened right within the country’s borders. Maybe not as much as with Poland and Germany, but still, Hungary was deeply affected.

    Many years ago, we drove through once without stopping a whole lot, except for quick bathroom brakes. And saw mostly rural areas. We meant to go back for the natural hot springs, but didn’t happen, yet. Thank you for the beautiful and detailed post. Loved the pictures as well, and I look forward to coming back here often.
    Best,
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites

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  7. The Roman Catholic church looks beautiful, as does the birds eye view of Abony. It’s nice to get an insight into countries I have yet to visit. I’ll be checking back and will also take a look at your books as I love character driven stories.

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  8. Thanks for the lovely pictures and the historical story behind them. The world needs to remember these things.

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  9. Chrys Fey says:

    Great pictures! I would love to visit Abony. Thank you for sharing this bit of history with us. I’ll be back to see more. 🙂

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  10. Beautiful. Tragic. It so interesting to SEE the comparison through current images. They speak so much about the history of the place without saying a word.

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  11. I love your theme and I will get to virtually travel many places through your posts and pics. What a rich, but also sad history.

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  12. The architecture is stunning! Really beautiful buildings!
    Writer In Transit

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  13. sdneeve1 says:

    Thank you for the historical journey through Abony. Interesting to read about. 🙂

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  14. LadyJai says:

    I’ve was an Air Force Brat, travelling the world with my father. I have been fascinated with history and historical places since I was young. I love how “old” everything is in other countries. You just don’t find that here in the US, at least not very often. I have roots in Hungary. I wish I could find them, and the stories that go along with them. This little town looks like so many I’ve visited — full of history, stories, perseverance, love, and life.
    Thank you

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

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  15. Millie Burns says:

    Love the pictures…what a beautiful place. Always look forward to reading your in depth historical information.

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  16. LillianC says:

    Now this is an excellent theme! What wonderful photos. They make me want to hop on a plane and go!

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