From June 1944, Budapest citizens defined as Jews by Hungarian race laws were obliged to wear a yellow star and live under curfew in confiscated houses also marked with a yellow star. Almost 2,000 such houses were used to incarcerate around 220,000 people before they were transferred to the death camps. Yellow star houses were unique to Budapest, and although nearly 1,600 of these apartment blocks are still in residential use today, their history was largely unknown until 2014. Neither the victims nor the perpetrators wanted to talk and a culture of forgetting prevailed.
Over a 10-year period, photographer Nigel Swann documented Budapest’s inner city, unbeknown to him then, that many of the buildings photographed were former yellow star houses. In 2014 he obtained, through Budapest’s ‘Open Society Archives’, the original government decree listing all houses to be designated a yellow star; with this new knowledge, Nigel returned and re-photographed these poignant locations.