The war of the statues

The war is on. Each side has its favorite. On the right it is Miklós Horthy and on the left, János Kádár.  The first life-size Horthy statue stood for only a few hours in Kereki, a village of 567 inhabitants, seven kilometers south of Lake Balaton. As for the bust of János Kádár, although it will be unveiled it will immediately be removed from public view. Those who wanted to honor the former secretary-general of MSZMP, Hungary’s communist party, didn’t receive permission to set up the sculpture in the famous Hungarian cemetery on Fiume (Rijeka) Street. So, as one newspaper remarked, it will be “a mobile statue.”

First, a few words about Kereki. The town council is made up exclusively of “independents,” as is customary in smaller towns and villages all over Hungary. Of course, they are not really independents, as is abundantly clear from newspaper stories documenting the five-member town council’s fascination with Miklós Horthy. The wooden statue was paid for by a businessman living in the village and the deputy mayor of Kereki. The mayor himself didn’t support the idea but accepted the decision of the majority. According to the mayor, the inhabitants of the village are divided on the issue, and only about 10% supported the erection of a Horthy statue. Someone in the village, however, is very keen on Horthy because already last year the town council named a square after him. So, came Sunday, May 13,  and the Horthy statue was unveiled.

The organizers were hoping for 4,000-5,000 visitors but only about 400 people gathered, including the notorious Goy Bikers. The deputy mayor is ambitious. He eventually wants to have a number of statues of “the greats of Hungarian history.” That decision was already reached two years ago. I assume after the victory of Fidesz-KDNP in the spring of 2010.

The unveiling of the statue was not the end of the story. The leader of the Goy Bikers read a letter he had received from Péter Dániel, a lawyer known for his unusual ways of protesting the Orbán regime and the demonstrations of the Hungarian right radicals. Dániel became famous/infamous when he smeared deviled eggs on the Declaration of National Unity that every office had to display at the order of Viktor Orbán. Dániel told the Goy Bikers that he will pour red paint on the statue. “If that occurs, you can count on the Goy Bikers. We will certainly take care of the matter faster than the courts.” The audience applauded vigorously.

Dániel acted soon enough. In the dead of night he poured red paint all over the statue and hung a sign on Horthy’s neck: “Mass murderer, war criminal.”

Dániel didn’t try to hide his action. As soon as the deed was done he posted his “crime” on Facebook. He took a picture of the statue and gave an explanation of why he decided to act. He did it “in the name of all Hungarian and non-Hungarian victims and martyrs. In the name of every intelligent and decent man. In the name of the victims of Orgovány. In the name of Béla Bacsó and Miklós Radnóti. In the name of my maternal grandfather who managed to survive the war but spent years in Siberia. In the name of my fraternal great grandparents who were killed by the Arrow Cross men in Budapest and their bodies thrown into the Danube. In the name of thousands and thousands of innocent civilians. In the name of deported children and women who ended up in gas chambers. In the name of those massacred in Novi Sad.”

A few explanatory notes. At Orgovány hundreds of people were killed by members of the National Army under Horthy’s command in 1920. Béla Bacsó was a journalist of Népszava, the social democratic paper, who was killed by the white terrorists in early spring of the same year.  Miklós Radnóti, the great poet, was killed  by German and Arrow Cross soldiers. Novi Sad, a town in Serbia today, was the site of a massacre of  about 2,000 Serbs and Jews by Hungarian officers.

 Magyar Nemzet‘s article accused Dániel of cowardice. After all, said the journalist of the paper, Dániel bravely announced what he was going to do it and yet he didn’t dare do it in broad daylight. The president of the Miklós Horthy Society accused the mayor of not guarding the statue as he promised;  he demanded the mayor’s resignation. The Goy Bikers said they would go to the police and accuse Dániel of “terrorism.” Jobbik also moved against Dániel by going to the chief prosecutor’s office. In addition, they demanded a psychiatric examination. They also called on the “Jewish organizations that are so loud at other times to condemn Dániel’s act.” If they did, I  didn’t hear about it.

The national organization of anti-fascists also condemned Dániel’s night visit to Kereki. But he was defiant. He told ATV that even if they kill him or cripple him he proudly accepts responsibility for what happened. According to him, one mustn’t wait until “we have to wear the Star of David again.”

On Sunday, May 20, about 200 Jobbik supporters and Goy Bikers stood ready to beat Péter Dániel to a pulp. They also threatened his liberal friends who had gathered to discuss the events at Kereki. The police came to the rescue of the liberals and prevented bloodshed.

The liberal activists were very much divided on the issue and, if I had to guess, I would say that the overwhelming majority of the people who are against the government didn’t support Dániel’s actions. Yet they were faced with about 200 guys who were prepared for physical violence. I heard Dániel himself, who is burly man, recall the affair as frightening. They were not sure whether they could get out of the building alive. I also heard a woman who was present describe the scene in almost identical terms. Of course, there were many completely unacceptable words flying about: “traitor of the nation,” “filthy Jew,” “queer,” and “stooge of the Jews” (zsidóbérenc).

And now we can turn to János Kádár. As I just learned from the Hungarian media, it was 100 years ago that János Kádár was born in Fiume/Rijeka, then part of Hungary. He was the illegitimate son of a chambermaid working in one of the plush seaside hotels on the Adriatic.

The bust was ordered by the Friends of János Kádár (Kádár János Baráti Kör). It is made of limestone, and the sculptor is András Várhelyi. The idea was to set up the bust next to the grave of János Kádár and his wife. First they approached the director of the cemetery who wouldn’t take  responsibility for the decision. Because the cemetery belongs to the Hungarian state the request went to the office handling state properties, but so far they haven’t received an answer. So, on May 26, after the bust is unveiled, it will immediately be removed and will be kept for the time being at least in the offices of the Workers’ Party of Hungary. The president of the Friends of János Kádár told the reporter of Index that even if permission had been granted by the Hungarian government, in the present political atmosphere it wouldn’t make any sense to display the statue outside.

If there are all sorts of misconceptions about Miklós Horthy, the admirers of János Kádár can also come up with interpretations of his political career that are not based on facts. Today I heard György Moldova, a prolific and popular writer of the Kádár period, who sang his praises and called him a great historical figure. By the way, Moldova will make the speech and do the unveiling on Sunday. Moldova even denies  Kádár’s responsibility for Imre Nagy’s death.

There are always true believers, right and left.

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Peter Karlsson
Guest

Speaking of war of statues: this afternoon pigs’ feet were placed on the statue of Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest II. district, possibly as a retaliation for what Dániel did to the Horthy statue. http://www.magyarnarancs.hu/belpol/megbecstelenitettek-raoul-wallenberg-szobrat-80136

Member

Cécile Tormay’s memorial was also sprayed with red paint. Humans vs. Fascist. 2:1 so far.

Tormay was a famous anti-semite writer, how was actually a lesbian (fiercly denied by the exra-right).

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20120522_tormay_cecile_emlektabla

Member

muttdamon :
Cécile Tormay’s memorial was also sprayed with red paint. Humans vs. Fascist. 2:1 so far.

I know it is not right to feel like this but I almost feel when they put out a statue that is a clear reminder of the pain it caused to so many, that it is a provocation. I mean what was Horthy’s greatness? Did he suffer? Jews suffered. Putting up a memorial for Jews or for martyrs of the Nazi or Communist era, I do understand, but putting up memorials for objects or people who were part of the problem is just not right. I do not support or agree with vandalism in any form, but I do understand why would someone do it under theses circumsatnces.

GDF
Guest

OT: Is there a way to subscribe to receiving all comments and posts in e-mails?

Member

I think you have to register the you can follow blogs and setup notifications.

Member

Peter Karlsson :
Speaking of war of statues: this afternoon pigs’ feet were placed on the statue of Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest II. district, possibly as a retaliation for what Dániel did to the Horthy statue. http://www.magyarnarancs.hu/belpol/megbecstelenitettek-raoul-wallenberg-szobrat-80136

Well it is not the first time from the fascists. Let’s not forget the holocaust memorial at the Danube. That was against all Jews, while pouring red paint on Horthy’s ugly statue was clearly against one fascist, Horthy. It is a shame that many Hungarians are so uneducated and so dumb that it is waste of time to explain the difference. Even on Eva’s blog, it is truly shocking what some of the comments are, like most of the Hungarian nation is in denial of the past and have no idea what is wrong with the picture of today’s Hungary.

Member

GDF :
OT: Is there a way to subscribe to receiving all comments and posts in e-mails?

You can set up to receive all blog entries. After you register, make sure you check Following button on the top grey menu bar.
Also: On the top grey menu bar, click on your username. A new page will open.
Choose Reader from the new horizontal menu bar (second from left). A vertical menu bar will open.
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Wondercat
Guest

The statue of Raoul Wallenberg garlanded with pigs’ feet… Why are curators of performance art not descending upon Hungary?

pusztaranger
Guest

Wondercat :
The statue of Raoul Wallenberg garlanded with pigs’ feet… Why are curators of performance art not descending upon Hungary?

Well it actually did start with performance art in 2009.

British artist Liane Lang photographed the Turul-Statue in the 12th district (memorial for the victims of WW2) with a severed plastic hand in its beak,
http://galeria.index.hu/kult/2009/06/11/turulszobor/?current_image_num=2&image_size=m#
and the very next day the Holocaust memorial at the Danube bank in Budapest was desecrated by unknown perpetrators who stuck pigs’ knuckles in the individual shoes.
http://republikschilda.blogspot.com/2009/06/schweinshaxen-im-holocaust-denkmal.html
(Quoted from here: http://www.hagalil.com/archiv/2011/06/05/hungary-8/ )

The pigs’ knuckles on the Wallenberg statue mean the same thing, it’s an antisemitic message intended to desecrate the memory of someone who saved Jews from deportation: “You “jews” desecrated the memory of Horthy, now we desecrate your saviour’s statue.”

Guest

The war of statues is reciprocated “executio in effigie.” Let us hope it stops there.

Kirk
Guest

OT, the economic shock that everyone feared might just have happened. Seems like gaming the EC and the IMF may come back to haunt as the HUF is now > 300 / Euro.

Paul
Guest

The ruddy forint is a nightmare. Our savings account reached its release date (or whatever it’s called) earlier this month. I had been waiting for this for months, anxiously watching the performance of the forint, but when the day finally came, the trend was positive. The forint appeared to be on a gradual recovery and nothing I could see or forsee on the political/economic front appeared to indicate that this wouldn’t continue.

So I left the money in.

And what’s happened since? The forint has gone up nearly 30 Ft to the £!!!!

That’s £340 we’ve lost since last July. The way this is going, I might as well take the money out and set light to it.

Or maybe I should convert it into 5 Ft coins and dump it at Kósa’s front door…

Paul
Guest

Kirk – An reckons that this is a reaction to the general mood of fear and depression because of the Euro/Greece/Spain situation, rather than something related specifically to Hungary.

(By the way, An, thanks for that reply, I didn’t get the chance to say thanks at the time.)

Kirk
Guest

Yup, this is about appetite for risk and the current policies in Hungary aren’t one to instill confidence

Paul
Guest

I love nesting!

Wish we could edit our posts though…

GDF
Guest

Paul:”Wish we could edit our posts though…”

Do it in Word (or other word-processor) and then highlight, ctrl c, ctrl v.

Actually in Firefox the text is spell-checked on the fly, as you type it into the comment box.

Paul
Guest

GDF – my spelling is so bad that I usually write my posts in wp or email and then cut and paste. But mistakes still get through – hence my wish that we could edit posts. The one problem I have with WordpPress (so far) is the lack of a preview before you post.

Member

Paul :
I love nesting!
Wish we could edit our posts though…

Yep, it’s all fun until people start to reply for earlier comments in one thread. Short threads are fun. Let’s wait until 5-6 different thoughts will be discussed on the same subject, like Simon jumps in with something irrelevant, and someone posts OT, etc. The longer threads will become nightmare to make sure you read every reply, and some important comments will be missed. I was admin to several blogs on different subjects before and that was always the trend.

Paul
Guest

It always seems to cause argument, and I was once of your persuassion, but it makes it so much easier to follow a particular argument or sub-thread that I think it’s worth the occasional confusion.

To my (ex-IT) mind, it’s also a more logical way to lay out a discussion.

But let’s see how people get on with it over the next week or two. If it’s really causing some old-timers problems (smiley thing), then I don’t really mind if we go back to the flat approach.

Paul
Guest

But see what I mean – three posts in a row from me, but because nesting is on you can tell immediately which post I’m replying to.

With the ‘flat’ approach you have to start each post with a quote or reference to the post you are replying to.

Paul
Guest

I’m not a fan of statues. Something like the shoes on the bank of the Duna or the flag with the red star torn out I saw in Eger works far better than any statue ever could.

Perhaps, when all this is over, we shouldn’t have a statue of OV, just a map of Europe with Hungary torn out?

trackback

[…] Kurz darauf wurde die Statue von einem Aktivisten mit roter Farbe übergossen, siehe Pester Lloyd: Denkmal für Hitler-Paktierer Horthy in Ungarn eingeweiht und “umgestaltet” und Hungarian Spectrum: The war of the statues. […]

Member

Eva S. Balogh :
I’m amazed at the fantastic pictures you manage to find. I especially enjoyed the postcard from 1938 with Hitler, Mrs. Horthy and the governor. Considering that Horthy always said that he had aversions to Hitler the picture where he is shaking hands with him is telling.

Eva, What are the pictures you are referring to? I cannot find the link.

Wondercat
Guest

You have to visit Pusztaranger’s blog for that. The Horthys’ pictures amusingly are captioned with abbreviations for titles that include the word “Durchlaucht”.

enufff
Guest

I could never understand how some groups spend so much time obsessing about one race. Glorifying their own race by putting down another. Why not concentrate on their own shortcomings and find ways to improve it?

Ron
Guest

Eva: Considering that Horthy always said that he had aversions to Hitler the picture where he is shaking hands with him is telling.

And it is not even once, but many times:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGaLB4eZ4L8 (around 0.37 min.)

or the launch of the Prinz Eugen battleship in 1938
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/frau-von-horthy-launches-prince-eugen

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