Yesterday the neo-Nazis held a “review of the troops” on Heroes’ Square in Budapest on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the notorious Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda). The police originally forbade the gathering, giving the usual excuse in such cases: the meeting would interfere with traffic. This was a pretty lame excuse because there is no traffic to speak of on the square. What they should have said is that the Hungarian Guard had been officially disbanded. They could have added that it is also against the law to march in formation, which the organizers planned. The uniform itself is also banned.
The organizers went to the the Court of the Capital (Fővárosi Törvényszék) where the judge allowed the march and the celebration. By the way, this court ruled in the same vein when the police wouldn’t allow the Gay Parade. One might even argue that it was a fair decision because the traffic flow excuse didn’t really wash.
Apparently the organizers expected about 2,000 participants, but at 3:30 Origo’s reporter on the scene figured that there were no more than 200 people. From the videos and pictures I saw the crowd seemed larger than that. Origo also reported that “on the square the guardists appeared in different uniforms. There are those who wear the green top of the New Hungarian Guard (Új Magyar Gárda/ÚMG) while others are in the uniform of the Association for a Better Future Militia (Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület/SZPE).”
I did some research on the various neo-Nazi groups in connection with this “review of the troops.” It turns out that it was the Guards of the Carpathian Homeland (Kárpát Haza Őrei/KHŐ) that organized the event. Kárpát Haza bears a suspicious resemblance to the Hungarian Nazi leader’s Kárpát-Duna Nagyhaza which for Szálasi was the name of the newly restored Greater Hungary.
This group is certainly active. They took part in the demonstration, about 1,000 strong, in Devecser–a town of 4,000. They joined others from the Hungarian National Guard (Magyar Nemzeti Gárda/MNG), the New Hungarian Guard, the Sixty-four Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom/HVIM), the Association for a Better Future Militia, and the Army of the Outlaws (Betyársereg). If every single active participant in these groups appeared in Devecser, these five neo-Nazi groups have at least 1,000 members.
The websites of the groups I visited all have online opportunities to join. They also have recruiting days in different parts of the country. This summer KHŐ organized recruiting days in Balatonfenyves, but in Budapest, Pest, and Heves counties KHŐ seems to be so strong that recruiting is continuous. It was this group that organized the demonstration in defense of the alleged war criminal, László Csatáry.
Who are KHŐ’s collaborators? Naturally Jobbik, which seems to me a kind of umbrella organization over all the groups. KHŐ also indicates on its website that it keeps in touch with a group called Blood and Honor (Vér és becsület-VB) which was banned a number of years ago. The short but “stormy” history of VB can be read here. Another organization is the National Revolutionary Party (Nemzeti Forradalmi Párt/NFP) that only the other day held an “Anti-Zionist Bacon Grilling” in Mezőnyárád. Their website is perhaps the most lurid I found, but 791 people seemed to like both the pictures and the messages.
In addition, there is a group called the Hungarian National Front (Magyar Nemzeti Front/MNF), a viciously anti-Semitic and quite openly Nazi organization that seems to me perhaps the most dangerous among the ones I looked at more closely because it has intellectual pretensions. One can download all sorts of pseudo-scientific literature from old and new Nazi propaganda material, including one entitled “What Hitler would advise Jobbik to do.” I found with a certain glee one of left-wing David C. Korten’s harangues against capitalists and globalism. Years ago I noticed on the Internet that far-right commentators, joining a member of the Hungarian Workers’ Party, absolutely adored David C. Korten.
The KHŐ also works closely with the Association for a Better Future Militia or SZPE. This group became infamous during the protracted anti-Roma demonstrations in Gyöngyöspata. If you’re drawing a blank, you can refresh your memory by reading one of several articles I posted on this particular event. SZPE is a group that the Hungarian prosecutors actually wanted to get rid of. The prosecutor’s office of Békés County asked the court to put an end to the group’s activities because of their behavior in Gyöngyöspata and Hajdúhadháza. The prosecutors pointed out that their activities in these two villages were in contravention of Hungary’s international obligations. Moreover, the prosecutors argued, SZPE claimed that it was a cultural organization while it was patently obvious that their activities had nothing to do with culture. The judge, Erika Mucsi, found the charges unsubstantiated. The prosecutor’s office had to pay 600,000 forints in court costs. So, when the prosecutors at last move, the court decides to come to the rescue of these groups.
Banning these organizations doesn’t seem to have much effect on the neo-Nazi movement in Hungary. One can ban Magyar Gárda but then comes Magyar Nemzeti Gárda or Új Magyar Gárda. However, I suspect that without the existence of Jobbik, which is after all a party with 45 parliamentary members, these groups would fade after a while. But as long as at practically all neo-Nazi demonstrations Jobbik parliamentary members are there to give their official sanction, these groups will most likely gain more adherents.
One radical solution would be to ban Jobbik as a party, which could be legally achieved by appealing to the obligations of Hungary in the Treaty of Paris on the ban on Nazi organizations. The risks in doing so, however, would be enormous. Hungarian society is deeply divided and banning Jobbik could have lethal consequences. The ban should have been done shortly after this, originally student movement began in 2002.