István Pál Ádám: Research & CV

The Spatial Control of Central European Concierges

Research Area 3: Objects, Traces, Mapping: Everyday Experience of Spaces.


Isti Claims PhotoIstván has been awarded the degree of PhD at the University of Bristol. His doctoral project examines the role of an understudied group of everyday Hungarians during and before the Holocaust: the Budapest building managers, concierges, or in Hungarian: the házmester. He analysed the building managers’ wartime acts in the light of their decades-long struggle for a higher salary, social appreciation and their aspiration to authority.

As he was working on his doctoral dissertation, gradually István has started to realize that it was not only the Hungarian context where building managers could play a critical role in the Jewish citizens’ survival. This is why his postdoctoral project investigates the similarities and differences among ordinary professionals working as concierges in different Central European territories in the 20th century: in Hungary, in the Czech Lands, in Slovakia and in Poland, and finally in a Western European country: France.

The comparative nature of Istvan’s postdoctoral project is useful in drawing up a European pattern of behaviour of those who belonged to the concierge profession. This could help to better understand the motivation of the general population, who witnessed the persecution of the European Jewry and who welcomed back the survivors in a transitional period. Instead of focusing on the wartime actions (or inactions) of the entire population of a specific country, or instead of drawing up righteous and less righteous realms, Istvan’s research shows that is makes more sense to choose certain groups with similar social and professional problems from various countries, and compare their long time acts and agencies.



2010-2015: PhD in Historical Studies, University of Bristol. Dissertation Title: “Bystanders” to Genocide?: The Role of Building Managers in the Hungarian Holocaust, written under the supervision of Tim Cole and Josie McLellan.

2008-2009: MA in History, Central European University, Budapest. Thesis Title: Post-Holocaust Pogroms in Poland and Hungary.

1998-2003: BA in Law, University of Szeged. Thesis Title: The History of Refugee Legislation.

1994-1998: BA in History, József Attila University, Szeged. Thesis Title: Polish Refugees in Hungary during World War II.

Grants and Fellowships

  • Claims Conference Saul Kagan Fellow in Advanced Shoah Studies, 2013–2015.
  • EHRI/European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellow at the Prague Jewish Museum, November 2014.
  • Junior Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, March 2014 – August 2014.
  • Tziporah Wiesel Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, December 2012 – May 2013.
  • EHRI/European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellowship at Yad Vashem, October-November, 2012
  • J. & O. Winter Fund Grant, 2011.
  • University of Bristol, Faculty of Arts Scholarship For Postgraduates, 2010.

Selected Publications

  • Budapest Building Managers and the Holocaust in Hungary. London, Palgrave, 2017.
  • Review on Barna-Pető, Political Justice in Budapest after WWII, Hungarian Historical Review 3 (2015), p. 790-795.
  • “Tipping the Rescuer? The Financial Aspects of the Budapest Building Managers’ Helping Activity during the Last Phase of the Second World War”, in: S:I.M.O.N. – Shoah: Intervention. Methods, Documentation 2 (2015) 1, p. 4-14.
  • “Das verletzte Selbstwertgefühl des Herrn Professor” in S.I.M.O.N. – Shoah: Intervention. Methods, Documentation 1 (2014), p. 22-27.
  • “A házmesterek szerepe a magyar holokausztban” [The Role of Building Managers in the Hungarian Holocaust], in Randolph L. Braham (ed.), Tanulmányok a holokausztról VI [Studies on the Holocaust, vol. VI], Budapest, Múlt és jövő, 2014, p. 103-137.