Skip to main content

Budapest Blackout: Student Researchers Begin Project on the Maria Madi Diaries

| Cade Lambrecht

"Budapest Blackout" are the words that appear on the first page of all seventeen volumes of diaries written by Dr. Maria Madi during the Second World War. The diaries begin on December 23rd, 1941, just one week after Hungary declared war on the United States. From that day on, Dr. Madi would not have the ability to communicate with her daughter and son-in-law who recently moved to the United States. To remedy the situation, Maria wrote journals she hoped would eventually reach her family. By the time of the War’s destructive end, seventeen journals were written, recounting the horrors of German occupation, air raids, and the treatment of Hungarian Jews. Madi would further reveal a shocking situation, in which she concealed and saved a young Jewish boy and his aunt in her apartment.

Following the war, Madi immigrated to the United States and lived here until her death in 1970. Her journals would sit idly by in the home of family members until 2014, when they were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Madi’s Grandson.

A Student-Faculty research team at UW- Eau Claire, led by Dr. Jim Oberly, has begun a project that will make the Maria Madi diaries more accessible and navigable. Currently, the diaries are available digitally at the USHMM website, but with no available research tools. The research team will be reading the journals and creating an index of important terms, events and people. The end goal of the project will be to create an online or written resource that will allow teachers, students, and the community to access the contents of the journals with greater ease.

Dr. Oberly and the student researchers (Cade Lambrecht, Chue Tu Her, Katherine Ciolkosz, Hannah Lahti, and Elizabeth Peterson) will be traveling to Budapest, Hungary this January through the International Fellows Program. They will work with Hungarian professors and students to translate portions of the diary, identify place names, and yield a comprehensive digitized document and index.

The final project is expected to conclude this spring.

 For more information on Maria Madi and her diaries, see this link for an article in the Washington Post.

To view the scanned PDF diaries, visit this link at the USHMM website.