Museum Statement on Passing of Professor Randolph Braham

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December 12, 2018

Press Contacts

Andrew Hollinger
Director, Communications

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum expresses its profound sorrow at the passing of Professor Randolph L. Braham, a unique figure among Holocaust scholars and the world's preeminent historian of the Holocaust in Hungary. 

Professor Braham was born on December 20, 1922, in Romania to Jewish parents. In 1944, following the occupation of Northern Transylvania by the Hungarian government of Regent Miklos Horthy, who had allied his country with Nazi Germany, Hungarian authorities deported Professor Braham's family to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Braham himself had been conscripted by these same authorities into a forced labor battalion on the Eastern Front. He escaped in late 1944 and survived in hiding until the end of World War II.

After providing translation and other assistance to the American military forces who were seeking to assist Holocaust survivors and other displaced persons after the war, Professor Braham earned graduate degrees in the United States and taught at the City University of New York, where he founded the Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. He wrote over 60 books and a multitude of articles.  Professor Braham won the National Jewish Book Award twice, for The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary (1981) and for his monumental three-volume The Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocaust in Hungary (2014). The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum co-published the second of these works with Professor Braham, as well as two additional volumes, The Holocaust in Hungary: Sixty Years Later and The Nazis’ Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary. 

Professor Braham served as a founding member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and participated in some of the Museum's earliest efforts to collect and make available to researchers Holocaust-related archival materials from around the world.  He donated his own massive collection of personal documents and books to the Museum, where they are open to the public for research.  He took special care to mentor young scholars from the United States, Hungary, and elsewhere who took an interest in the Holocaust, and especially the Holocaust in Hungary.  His impact on the generations of scholars of the Holocaust in Hungary who were born after World War II cannot be overstated. 

Professor Braham fought consistently against the falsification of Holocaust history and was especially critical of the distortion of history that has been promoted by the government of Hungary since the return to power of the Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.  It was, after all, the government of Hungary of an earlier era that had fostered violent antisemitism, murdered Professor Braham's family, and drafted Braham himself into a forced labor battalion where the danger of death was extremely high.  To protest the current Hungarian government's actions, in 2014 Professor Braham publicly returned the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary that had been awarded to him in 2011 and had his name removed from the library of the Holocaust Memorial and Documentation Center in Budapest.

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