70 Years After Hungarian Holocaust, Historian Protests Planned Memorial

tags: World War II, Holocaust, Nazis, Hungary



This year Hungary is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the deportation of more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews to concentration camps during the Holocaust. To mark the anniversary, the Hungarian government is planning to erect a statue depicting the German imperial eagle devouring the Angel Gabriel, who represents Hungary.

Jewish leaders and groups have protested this planned statue, arguing that it diminishes the victimhood of Jews during the Holocaust by making it seem as if Jews were merely part of the larger group of Hungarians targeted by the German occupation. The statue also ignores Hungary’s own participation in the deportation of its Jewish citizens under the leadership of the autocratic leader Miklós Horthy, Jewish leaders say.

For now, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, of the right-wing Fidesz Party, chose to postpone the planned Holocaust memorial from March 19 to May 31. But anti-Semitism, a well as ultra-nationalism, is also on the rise in present-day Hungary. The ultra-nationalist Jobbik party currently occupies 43 seats in Hungary’s 386-seat parliament. Jobbik is the party whose leader, Marton Gyongyosi, called on the Hungarian government in 2012 to make a list of Jews who “pose a national security risk.”

Meanwhile Dr. Randolph L. Braham, a prominent Holocaust historian and a survivor from Hungary, chose to return an award—the Medium Cross of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic—that he received from the Hungarian government in 2011, in a personal protest against the planned Holocaust memorial. In an open letter addressed to the memorial’s executives in February, Braham wrote that the memorial was for him the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Braham is a distinguished professor emeritus of political science at the City University of New York who has published and edited 62 books and contributed chapters to 50 others. In an exclusive interview with JNS.org, he discusses his decision to return the Order of Merit, the unfolding of the Holocaust in Hungary, and the country’s modern political climate....



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