Hungary 'deceitful' over Holocaust

By Thomas Orszag-Land, June 10, 2011
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Representatives of Hungarian far-right party Jobbik protest against the new constitution in parliament

Representatives of Hungarian far-right party Jobbik protest against the new constitution in parliament

Leading intellectuals and a Jewish leader have rounded on Hungary over the country's new constitution, which attempts to whitewash the country's involvement in the Holocaust.

The preamble to the new constitution, which will gain legal force next year, states that the country lost its independence when it was invaded by Nazi Germany in March 1944, implying that the state therefore bears no responsibility for the deportation of some half a million Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz.

The new constitution could affect the attitudes of the courts to future restitution claims arising from Holocaust atrocities.

Peter Feldmájer, chairman of the Association of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities, said that the Hungarian Holocaust began long before the German invasion, and that the Nazis were welcomed by an independent government and a cheering population.

Leading historian Krisztián Ungváry said: "All generations following the Holocaust still bear the responsibility to confront the deeds of the past. This process is now substantially undermined by the new constitution."

Professor István Deák, a Hungarian historian at Columbia University, New York, added: "I cannot overstate how much Hungary would gain in its international standing if, after seven decades of deceitful evasions since the war, it would at last face up to its responsibilities from the past."

Last updated: 3:31pm, June 10 2011