In the year 2013 ÓVÁS! Association prepared a book, commissioned by the Municipal Council of the 7th District, about the Jewish patrimony of Elisabethstadt. The title of the book is That which is visible and that which is invisible. While the book was being prepared, we started to conduct research into the question how did Hungarian Jewry contribute to the construction of Budapest. Our present project, bearing the title Who lived, who built here? continues this work, conducting the research for the area of Elisabethstadt, Theresienstadt, Leopoldstadt and Neu-Leopoldstadt. These are precisely those districts with the most concentrated Jewish presence before WWII.
The role of Jews in Budapest has been many times treated there is an important literature ont he subject. However, our programme is directing research into a new field. It aims at presenting visually, on the example of buildings, streets, entire districts, how and to what extent Jews contributed to shaping the outlook of the Hungarian capital.
ON THE PROJECT
In the first year of the project a website is created, where we are indicating on maps the buildings built by Jewish investors and/or designed by Jewish architects in the area of Elisabethstadt, Theresienstadt, Neu-Leopoldstadt and, eventually, Leopoldstadt, thus indicating the measure and extent of the Jewish contribution in these districts. At the final stage this will be shown diachronically on three historical maps reflecting three important periods. (what happened from 1840 to 1873, from 1873 to 1895, to 1918 and to 1945?). Although the survey constituting the background for the web publication will be as complete as possible, we will upload data only concerning those buildings, which are still standing, visible, among which we are walking, that is, those which still contribute to the urban landscape of Budapest.
On the maps we will signal distinctively those most important or most interesting buildings, which will be presented on the webpage with special emphasis, with a detailed textual description and with photos. Special attention will be paid to standing buildings that had hosted or are hosting Jewish community institutions but also to those that hosted important non-community institutions (café, movie, cabaret, etc.), to those, in which important, often world famous, Jewish personalities were living, or which were designed by outstanding Jewish architects, or were built by renowned Jewish families.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED SO FAR AND WHERE TO GO?
During the present workshop discussion we intend to make known to the experts invited the first phase of the research, that is, the results of the first six months, and ask for their opinion. The research and the development of the web page will be continued taking into consideration theirs advises, and criticisms.
In the second year the research, whose main punchline is architectural and urban history, will be supplemented by a number of sociological studies and, finally, a documentary. Also in the second year, the research material will be shared with the Zachor Foundation, in order it may be used as educational material. The two-year programme will be completed by an exhibition and a round-table discussion about the final results.
Budapest, the 22th of January, 2015