An authentic Jewish wedding in eastern Europe, 1933

An authentic Jewish wedding in eastern Europe, 1933


norman lebrecht

December 25, 2019

Extraordinary documentary film (with sound and music) from the wedding of the Munkatcher rebbe’s daughter, together with other scenes from Jewish life, religious and secular.

Munkacs was Czech until 1938, when the Hungarians annexed the town. In March 1944 the Nazis took control. By the end of May, 28,587 Munkacs Jews had been transported to Auschwitz, most of them to be murdered on arrival.

Munkacs today is Mukachevo, Ukraine.



  • Susan says:

    This is amazing. My father and family would have been there. He would have been 7. Unfortunately my dad passed 2 years ago. He would have so enjoyed this. Thank you for finding and sharing this

  • O, dear Norman, what possessed you to post this….for which I am eternally grateful…believe it or not, my mother’s first cousin’s wife was from Munkac….Perhaps this link might be of interest…Many members of my father’s family were from Czestochowa, where my father was a slave laborer under the nazi’s in the Hasag Pelceri munitions factory. My father was from Wielun, Poland, the first town to be bombed on 9/1/39 and my mother was from Jaworzno, Poland, near Czarnow. Both my parents were the only surviving members of their quite large immediate family. My grandparents on my father’s side were murdered in gas van transports to Chelmo, and my mother’s family were murdered in Auschwitz.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      There is so much about this film that is unique, not least the demonstration that devout and secular Jews enjoyed a peaceful coexistence in many towns and shtetls in those times. History is never made of absolutes.

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        This is so beautiful, Norman. Thank you. My dad was 3, mom was 1. What came after was horrific. As much as we complain about current times, I don’t think anything can quite compare to the 1930s-40s. I think one reason our parents lived through so much and long, is because they endured so much sacrifice and had so little. They were not entitled or lived life in any excess. It is so important to have these videos to document life nearly 100 years ago. My wife’s grandfather came to the US from Ukraine in 1920. When his family came to visit later on from Europe, he begged them not to go back. They went back and lost their lives in the Holocaust.

    • Lawrence Berg says:

      What an amazing film and thank you so much for posting it. Is he still alive ?

  • esfir ross says:

    Visit Mucachevo, stayed at home of people that survived Aushwitz camp. Most population speak Hungarian. Great home cooking and baking. They didn’t speak about war time.Just was so happy when England beat Germans in 1966 football championship

  • Sharon says:

    Wow! Where is this invaluable footage archived? It’s interesting to see that apart from the Zionist youth group life in a rural Jewish town in 1933 was little different than life in the late eighteenth century

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Thank you for posting this. What looks to be a thriving community in 1933, all the more poignant and appalling given what subsequently happened. Some of the children in this could still be alive today and for them it is more than a historical document but a memory and that memory must be remembered and honoured by all of us given the horrors that they subsequently lived through and the millions in similar communities that didn’t.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Touching and shocking when you think what was in the future. Possibly most of the people you see in the video did not survive the war.

  • esfir ross says:

    Recommend excellent movie “Karpaty” about Jewish man from Mucachevo that survived WWII and try to keep prayer house. Man’s friend with Gipsies that also suffered in the war. I met young Jewish people in Karpaty region that still communicate in Yiddish.

  • Lawrence Berg says:

    Fantastic footage of a lost world .. how much better this world could have been ..

  • Simon S. says:

    Great, just great to see this.

    If I may, some additional remarks on the town’s history: in 1933, Mukachevo and the whole region which is nowadays Transkarpathian Ukraine was not Czech but Czechoslovak. It had been part of Hungary (and with it of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) for centuries, but (as almost everywhere in East Central Europe) its population was multi-ethnic: Hungarians, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Jews…

    With the Treaty of Trianon at the end of World War I, which treated Hungary (one of the two constituent parts of Austria-Hungary) as a defeated country, the region became a part of the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia.

    When this state was cut into pieces by Germany and its allies in 1938, Hungary got its share and regained territory lost 20 years earlier. In WWII, Jews were exterminated like everywhere in Nazi-controlled Europe.

    After WWII, Hungary was again reduced to its post-1918 borders. The region we are talking about became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic within the Soviet Union. Since 1991, it has been part of independent Ukraine. In recent years however, claims by Hungarian nationalists to regain the country’s pre-1918 borders (which would also include Slovakia as a whole as well as large parts of Croatia, Serbia and Romania) have grown louder.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Being in the EU means that claims to territory can not become public policy in Hungary (or any other part of the EU), despite what some barely heard nationalists may claim.

  • Jonathan Cable says:

    “Munkacs was Czech until 1938, when the Hungarians annexed the town.”

    For more than a thousand years, from 895 to 1918, Munkács was Hungarian. In 1938, it had been Czechoslovakian for 20 years, after Trianon had taken away two-thirds of the territory and one-third of the native population of Hungary and given it to other countries.

    Thank you for not falsifying history.