World Jewish body urges Hungary to reconsider WW2 memorial

BUDAPEST Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:29pm EST

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The World Jewish Congress (WJC) urged Hungary on Friday to reconsider plans to erect a monument commemorating the German occupation in 1944 and to seek greater dialogue with the country's Jewish community.

Hungarian Jewish groups say the monument is part of an official drive to obscure the role played by Hungarians in the deportation and murder of the country's Jews during World War Two.

The Hungarian Jewish Congregations' Association decided this month it would boycott events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the June 1944 decision to send 437,000 Jews to Nazi death camps unless Prime Minister Viktor Orban heeded their concerns.

WJC president Ronald Lauder said in a statement he fully supported the Hungarian group's boycott decision.

"If Viktor Orban and the Hungarian government seriously believe that the statue should also be a memorial for the Jewish victims, at the very least they should listen to the Jewish community's concerns, take them into account, and reconsider their plans," Lauder said in an op-ed to be published in Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszabadsag on Saturday.

Lauder also expressed concern that the issue of Hungary's role in the Holocaust had taken center-stage as the country prepares for parliamentary elections on April 6.

"Extreme-right forces must not be allowed to exploit this issue for electioneering purposes. The remembrance of the Holocaust and of the atrocities committed during World War II ought to unite Hungarians, not divide them," he wrote.

Anti-Semitism remains a sore point in Hungary, whose 100,000-strong Jewish community is one of the largest in Europe.

Orban, who is expected to win the April poll, has pledged to do everything to stamp out anti-Semitism in Hungary, where the far-right Jobbik party openly uses anti-Semitic rhetoric.

His government says it wants to commemorate all victims of the Nazi occupation of Hungary.

"The victims of events after March 19, 1944, deserve empathy and an honorable commemoration," a spokesman said last month.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (3)
f00 wrote:
Let’s make a deal, tribesmen and tribesgirls.

Acknowledge your role in the post-WWII Hungarian communist regime. A role so disproportionate to your numbers that the 1956 uprising had the character of an anti-semitic revolt.

Perhaps even own Bela Kun, né Kohn, the jew who terrorized post-WWI “revolutionary” Hungary.

Hey, maybe you can even apologize, like any other group in the same position would do. Then perhaps the Hungarians would be more willing to give you something in return. Give it a try.

Feb 16, 2014 9:55am EST  --  Report as abuse
boreal wrote:
Events time line leading up to the June 1944 deportation of Hungarian Jews:

1938 Austria and Check Slovakia was annexed to Germany.
1939 September, Poland was invaded.
1940 April 9, in 6 hours Dania was overtaken by the Germans.
1940 May 10, invasion of Belgium and Netherlands is completed.
1940 June 10, Noriega was invaded.
1940 June 14, France was done.
1940 October 7, Romania has fallen.
1941 April, Bulgaria was invaded.
1941 April 17, Yugoslavia.
1941 April 30, Greece.
1941 June 10, Lithuania.
1941 June 10, Estonia.
1941 November 30, Ukraine.
1943 September, Albania.
1943 October 16-th in Italy, Germans broke in to the Jewish ghetto to collect the Jews.
1944 June, Hungarian deportations to German “request” commences.

From the annexation of Austria & Check Slovakia in 1938 to 1944 June, 6 years had elapsed. With the 2 annexed countries and Germany itself the number of occupied countries in Europe where martial law ruled the day under German influence, there were ALTOGETHER 19 countries.

Hungary was a late arrival. Let’s be frank. In fact, because of the 6 years delay from 1938 to 1944 June, Hungarian leaders of the day were sheltering Jews, not executing them!

Raoul Wallenberg the renowned Swedish diplomat in collaboration with Swiss diplomatic offices would not have been able to save up to 100,000 Hungarian Jews if in 1938 Hungary would have asked Germany to voluntarily start sending Hungarian Jews to the Nazi concentration camps.

Feb 16, 2014 9:58am EST  --  Report as abuse
karimnn wrote:
So they can’t dialogue with the local Jewish community unless there is a WWII (meaning holocaust of course) memorial?

We are fed up with the holocaust, it happened, it was a tragic event but it’s been over for over 60 years now. Let’s move on.

Feb 16, 2014 5:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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