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ORT Bonyhád  Farm School in Hungary

After the Second World War ORT resumed its activities in Hungary under Soviet rule. It was allowed to operate as an independent legal organisation with its own statutes registered as Orzagos Tovabkepzö Tarsasag.

Plans for an agricultural school for youths in the country were set in motion in 1946. An estate in Bonyhád  in southern Hungary was purchased by World ORT and building work was under way in order to adapt it to a training farm with boarding facilities. After extensive renovation the Bonyhád  training farm opened in early 1948, with an initial intake of 16 students. Later, two groups of students were taught simultaneously: one working towards Hachshara and Aliyah, the other working with a view to continue in farming in Hungary. Field work, gardening, fruit and vegetable cultivation and dairy and poultry farming were among the subjects taught. During the summer months, two additional hectares of land were leased for sowing wheat, making the farm as self-sufficient as possible. During the winter, focus shifted from work in the fields to theoretical studies.

The farm was officially inaugurated in September 1948 in the presence of Hungary’s  Minister of Agriculture and local officials. The Minister was so impressed with ORT’s work that he arranged to send state-developed poultry breeds to the farm and promised to grant it benefits otherwise available only to agricultural cooperative societies. 

In October 1948 the Bonyhád  farm participated in the first regional agricultural show held in Szekszárd. The ORT stall received much praise and was discussed in detail in the local and regional press. The weekly magazine, Tolnymegye, wrote: “The ORT exhibition aroused special interest, as it showed new methods in model farming and some exemplary gardening”.  Even before it opened, the local, non-Jewish community expressed an interest in participating in the farm’s courses. In 1949 ORT agreed to accommodate local farmers, providing an evening class at the farm specifically for them.

1948 signalled the beginning of the end for ORT in Hungary. ORT schools were increasingly under threat of nationalisation. This was abated for a time, following negotiations with government officials. Programmes continued, but at the same time, increased immigration to the newly founded State of Israel meant many students left their courses before completion.  Following the nationalisation of ORT’s two big trade schools in Budapest in January 1949 work continued at the Bonyhád farm. However, by the end of the year student numbers had diminished and the programme ended the following year.