It seems that even Gábor Vona, party leader of the Jobbik, realized that dressing the Magyar Gárda in black shirts was a bit over the top. He therefore changed the guard’s uniform to a white shirt, black sleeveless vest, black pants, high black boots, and a black baseball cap with an insignia reminiscent of the Hungarian Nazis’ armband. The result is a fairly grotesque uniform somewhat similar to outfits of nineteenth-century peasant lads. It reminded one of the reporters of the uniform of chimney sweeps or the old-fashioned "főpincér" (the waiter who at the end of the dinner at a restaurant came with the bill).
While people focused on the Gárda’s uniform, I felt even more uncomfortable looking at the uniform of another paramilitary group present at the initiation: they wore military fatigues, boots, and genuine military caps. Until now I hadn’t heard of this "guard." The name is Nemzeti Őrsereg (National Guard), an old-fashioned word for Nemzetőrség. Their leader is Tamás Poszpischek and the organization is one of the small local paramilitary units which sprung up at different parts of the country lately. A picture gallery of this whole sorry affair is available: http://www.hirszerzo.hu/galeria.40
According to reports, several thousand people enthusiastically greeted the fify-five guardists. Yes, the original number was fifty-six, but the organizers claimed that one of their members got shot with an air gun and therefore was unable to appear. I am very doubtful that such an attack occurred, at least not by a member of the left liberal camp (not normally the gun slinging crowd). I think that this claim was designed to arouse the ire of the audience and show that they are in danger.
I was hoping until the last minute that Lajos Für, former minister of defense in the Antall government, would change his mind and wouldn’t take part in the ceremonies. But he did. A commentator, former MDF member József Debreczeni, called him "by now completely senile" in an article that appeared in Népszava this morning. But perhaps this is too kind a description. In addition to Für, Mária Wittner, a Fidesz parliamentary member whose claim to fame is that she was condemned to death after 1956, gave a speech. She was waving a Hungarian flag with a hole in the middle, the symbol of 1956. I, who had a minor role to play in the 1956 revolution as a college student, shudder just to think about that misplaced symbolism. Wittner spoke of the Magyar Gárda as a "chain of love which will fight against satan, that is the current government and communism of fifty years." Vona announced that they will establish local units of the guard in every county and in Budapest. "They will fight against global capitalism and global power, whose aim is to destroy nations and make people into mere consumers." After the ceremony at a press conference he also muttered something about establishing a bank, the Bank of Hungarian Families, that will not be interested in profit.
Gábor Vona promised that on October 23 they will swear in several thousand new members. Up to now 2,000 people have allegedly indicated their interest in taking part in the movement. The Gárda’s aim is to finish the change of regime (because according to them there is still communism in Hungary) and save the Hungarian nation which, he claims, is in danger of extinction. There were the usual cries: "Down with Gyurcsány" and "Down with Trianon."
The appearance of three members of the clergy raised quite a few eyebrows. A Catholic priest, a Lutheran pastor, and a Hungarian Reformed minister blessed the flag of the guard. The MSZP immediately demanded to know what these three churches have to do with a clearly neo-Nazi organization. The Catholic and Hungarian Reformed churches claimed ignorance. The priest and and the minister acted on their own. They didn’t know anything about their plans. The Lutherans couldn’t be reached.
According to Ildikó Lendvai, Wittner’s presence at the ceremony is a clear-cut admission on the part of the Fidesz that the party is in some way involved with the Jobbik and its guard. The Fidesz claims that they had no knowledge of Wittner’s plans. This time I more or less actually believe the Fidesz spokesman. Anything is possible in connection with Mária Wittner. Why the Fidesz put Wittner on the party list so that her becoming a member of parliament was assured is another story.