The “Double” of Erika B.

Sexual Conduct and Honour in a Hungarian Race Defilement Case

  • Gábor Szegedi
Keywords: anti-Jewish laws, ‘race defilement’ practices, gender history of the Holocaust, emotional history approach, Foucault

Abstract

This paper introduces the everyday realities of ‘race defilement’ practices in early 1940s Hungary through a case study. I argue that race defilement was an integral part of the Hungarian őrségváltás, ‘the changing of the guards’, in which the so-called ‘Christian’ middle class tried to push their ‘Jewish’ male rivals away from economic and political opportunities and this included access to ‘honourable, Christian women’. The case of a well-to-do and influential lawyer exemplifies that the judicial system was especially keen on enforcing őrségváltás by handing out punitive measures for Jews who were in a position of power and therefore seemed more of a threat to the non-Jewish elite. The case study also shows that playing with the gendered notion of ‘honour’ and with the resources still available to Jews in Horthy-era Hungary in the early 1940s, the outcome of cases could be swung. I here employ an emotional history approach and Michel Foucault’s concept of the psychological-ethical ‘double’ to indicate how emotions and readily available stereotypes were used by the actors of this particular case for various, often game-changing purposes.

Published
2019-08-02