by Máriá Mádi
edited by James W. Oberly
introduction by András Lénart
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
eISBN: 978-0-299-34313-2 | Cloth: 978-0-299-34310-1
Library of Congress Classification DB992.M33 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 940.53180943912

Mária Mádi (1898–1970) was a Roman Catholic Hungarian physician living in Budapest during World War II. Stuck in the city, she vowed to become a witness to events as they unfolded and began keeping a diary to chronicle her everyday life, as well as the lives of her Jewish neighbors, during what would be the darkest periods of the Holocaust. From the time Hungary declared war on the United States in December 1941 until she secured an immigrant’s visa to the US in late 1946, she wrote nearly daily in English, offering current-day readers one of the most complete pictures of ordinary life during the Holocaust in Hungary. In the form of letters to her American relatives, Mádi addressed a wide range of subjects, from the fate of small countries like Hungary caught between the major powers of Germany and the Soviet Union, to the Nazi pogrom against Budapest’s Jews, to family news and the price of food.

Mádi’s family donated the entire collection of her diaries to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. This edition transcribes a selection of Mádi’s writings focusing on the period of March 1944 to November 1945, from the Nazi invasion and occupation of Hungary, through the Battle of Budapest, to the ensuing Soviet occupation. While bearing witness to the catastrophe in Hungary, Mádi hid a Jewish family in her small flat from October 1944 to February 1945. She received a posthumous Righteous among Nations Medal from Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.

Editorial commentary by James W. Oberly situates Mádi’s observations, and a critical introduction by the Holocaust scholar András Lénárt outlines the wider sociopolitical context in which her diaries gain meaning.