Hungarian Jews furious over WW2 whitewash memorial

By Valentina Jovanovski, January 23, 2014
The Hungarian Parliament (Photo: Dirk Beyer)

The Hungarian Parliament (Photo: Dirk Beyer)

Hungary's Jewish community is demanding the government reconsider a planned memorial marking the 70th anniversary of the German occupation, saying it fails to acknowledge the country’s role in the Holocaust.

András Heisler, president of Mazsihisz, the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, said the plans disregard “the responsibility of the Hungarian government of that time.”

Mazsihisz also objected to the placement of the monument in front of a memorial to victims of the Soviet era, which the organisation believes will diminish the uniqueness of the Holocaust.

The Hungarian government said in a statement that it is “paying tribute to all Hungarian victims” of the German occupation by erecting this monument and that it is confused by Mazsihisz’s stance.

It announced the plans at the end of December as part of its Holocaust Memorial Year. The memorial should be completed by March 19, the day of the start of the occupation.

Mazsihisz said it did not believe any Jewish organisations had been consulted about the project.

The monument will be located in the same square where a controversial bust of Hitler ally Miklós Horthy was unveiled by a church in November.

While some left-wing opposition members of parliament have also opposed the memorial, the far-right Jobbik party is supporting it.

In a further escalation of tension between the government and the Jewish leadership, Mazsihisz threatened to withdraw its participation from the Holocaust Memorial Year on Sunday in reaction to a statement by the director of Veritas, a government established historical institute.

Sándor Szakály claimed in a recent interview that the deportation of thousands of Jews in Hungary in 1941 was a "police action against aliens." Mazsihisz called for his resignation.

Last updated: 2:44pm, January 23 2014