Protests in central Budapest erupted after a controversial memorial was erected on the night of July 20-21 to honor “all the victims” of the German occupation of Hungary, reported by the Hungarian press.
Plans to erect a monument to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Hungary were announced late the year beforehand and were criticized by the opposition and other groups for trying to distort Hungary’s role in the Holocaust. It has been heavily criticized by civil society. Critics claim that the monument depicting Hungary being attacked by an eagle of the German Empire with the Archangel Gabriel casts the Hungarian state and Hungarians from an active role, although they caused the death of some 50,000 Jews during the occupation.
Szabadsag Square protesters formed a live chain, including Ildiko Lendvai of the Socialist Party and Tamas Bauer of the Democratic Union (DK). Some protesters threw eggs at the memorial. Other politicians were said to have attended the event, including newly elected socialist leader Josef Tobias, co-leader of E-PM Gergely Karaksony, and DK deputy leader Peter Niedermuller. Police told news organizations the next Sunday afternoon that reports had been submitted against three of the protesters for disturbing the peace, including egg pelting, and police checked the identity of a total of 11 protesters.
DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsany said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was “falsifying the Holocaust” by getting a monument “confusing the murderer and the victim” erected “in the shelter of the night.” He accused Orbán of dishonoring all Jewish, Roma, and gay victims of the Holocaust and added that it was “characteristic of the regime that it did not dare set up the statue of falsehood during the day.”
The opposition E-PM claimed that the monuments would be removed if a center-left mayor was elected in Budapest in the next local elections that fall. He said the monument did not serve an objective and peaceful remembrance and instead tried to deny the responsibility of the Hungarian state.
The Hungarian Liberal Party in a statement pronounced that instead of being a reminder of the horrors of war, the monument to the Nazi occupation had become “a memorial to the arrogance of the Hungarian government.” News organizations cited this incident as basis that the Fidesz-KDNP coalition does not want to promote true national reconciliation and confront the past together.
The Hungarian government should consult more with the relevant groups on decisions related to the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, said Ira Forman, US State Department special envoy for surveillance and countermeasures of anti-Semitism.
The Hungarian Jewish Federation (Mazsihisz) stated that they regret their attempt to engage in a dialogue about the monument of the year was unsuccessful, but adds that their efforts have remained not in vain because of a number of famous scientists, church officials, and public figures that have publicly criticized the symbols used in the monument.
agencies, EURACTIV with. “Controversial Monument Divides Hungarians, Angers Jewish Community.” www.euractiv.com. EURACTIV, July 23, 2014. https://www.euractiv.com/section/central-europe/news/controversial-monument-divides-hungarians-angers-jewish-community/.
Dunai, Marton. “Hungary Pm Defends Contested Monument to Nazi Victims.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, January 22, 2014. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-holocaust-german-memorial/hungary-pm-defends-contested-monument-to-nazi-victims-idUSBREA0L1H820140122.
“German Occupation Statue in Budapest Not a Holocaust Memorial, Says Orban.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. https://www.jpost.com/jewish-world/jewish-features/german-occupation-statue-in-budapest-not-a-holocaust-memorial-says-orban-355939.