Stand by Your Man: Honor and ‘Race Defilement’ in Hungary, 1941–44

Abstract

The practice of race defilement in Hungary began following the passage of the 1941 Marriage Law, a comprehensive law on marriage that introduced mandatory premarital health checks, marriage loans and the prohibition of marriage between Jews and non-Jews. In contrast with Nazi Germany, in Hungary non-Jewish men were exempted from the provisions of the law, so only Jewish men could be convicted and only if they had a liaison with “honorable” women. The vague non-legal term “honorable” provided the authorities with the opportunity to limit sexual and other contact between “Jews” and “non-Jews” and also to exert control over female bodies through policing and surveillance, as female “honor” was in most cases crucial in order to determine the course of the proceedings. This paper uses the theoretical framework of the history of emotions to reconstruct the types of “honor” that come to light from an analysis of the papers of these court cases and their importance for sexual politics in Horthy-era Hungary.

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