Questions are being raised over whether Hungary is suitable to take over chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2015, amid accusations the government is whitewashing Hungary’s own Second World War past.
The IHRA is an organisation that promotes Holocaust education and research. The chairmanship, currently held by the UK, is rotated annually among members.
A letter signed by 30 Jewish-American senators and representatives said Hungary’s IHRA chairmanship is complicated by the government’s insistence on building a memorial to the victims of the Nazi occupation of Hungary which Jewish groups say diminishes the country’s own role in the Holocaust.
The lawmakers expressed “deep concern” over the project and urged Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to reconsider the plans.
Representative Eliot L Engel said in a statement: “The Hungarian Jewish population suffered perhaps more than any other in Hungary during the Nazi occupation, and any commemoration has to be sensitive to that.”
Dr Anna Gábor, curator at the Hungarian Jewish Museum, said it was a “shame” that Hungary will lead an organisation that encourages Holocaust education considering that the government seems uninterested in educating people about Jewish culture and history.
“They think the whole tragedy is only the Jewish people’s tragedy but it is not. It is the tragedy of the whole nation.”