There are some who stand up and refuse to be part of the Hungarian Holocaust charade

I would like to share two documents with you. Both are reactions to the Hungarian government’s resolve to rewrite twentieth-century Hungarian history. The first is a letter sent by Steven J. Fenves, a Holocaust survivor and one of our readers.

Steven and I met thanks to Hungarian Spectrum. We exchanged a couple of e-mails from which I learned that he was born in Subotica/Szabadka (Yugoslavia) where his father, Lajos Fenyves, was the manager of Minerva Kiadó which published, among other things, Napló, the largest-circulation Hungarian language daily in Vojvodina.

The other day I received a new e-mail from him. It contained a copy of a letter he addressed to Professor Randolph L. Braham. I was very moved and admired him greatly for the sacrifice he made for the sake of truth. I asked permission to publish his letter here. You can learn more about Steven Fenves from his account of his trials after the family was deported to Germany. 

* * *

Dear Professor Braham,

This note is to let you know that your moving Open Letter has prompted me to act accordingly, albeit on a much more modest scale.

Subotica, in Serbia – also known as Szabadka – won funding for two projects in the competition for Hungary’s fund for the 2014 commemorations: one for opening a Holocaust Information Center by the Subotica Jewish Community organization and one for an exhibition in the Subotica City Museum. For the first, I was asked to authorize the use of my mother’s name, Klara Gereb (Geréb Klári), for the Holocaust Information Center. (She was a  locally well-respected graphic artist between the two world wars and perished in Auschwitz.) Initially, I assented to this request. The second project, not surprisingly, was to mount an exhibition of my mother’s work in the City Museum. For this, I promised to lend an unspecified number of artworks. (Because of the extensive looting during the deportations in June 1944, the Museum owns only 7 pieces of her work; I, however, own over 200 works on paper because in 1944 our former cook waded in among the looters and saved a large binder of her works, which she returned to my sister and me when we came back from the camps to Subotica in 1945.)

My resolve to support these two projects was badly shaken when I saw in Hungarian Spectrum a photograph of Sándor Szakály. There, facing him, was a bust of a Hungarian csendőr, complete with the black Bowler hat embellished with the flying black cock-feathers, exactly as worn by those gendarmes when they herded us into the makeshift ghetto and soon thereafter loaded us into the boxcars destined for Auschwitz. The map behind Mr. Szakály showed, of course, the pre-World War I map of Hungary, with Subotica well within its borders. It was extremely painful for me to realize that the Hungarian government that sponsors this man also funds the two 2014 activities in Subotica.

And then came your open letter requesting the removal of your name from the Data and Information Center (Téka és Információs Központ) at the Holocaust Memorial Center (Holokauszt Emlékközpont), reprinted in Hungarian Spectrum.

So I took action. First, I asked the director of the Jewish Community organization to remove my mother’s name from the name of the center. He responded that he had ordered the name to be erased (“töröltetem a nevet a központ nevéből” – a harsh expression that I have not read since the 1940’s). Second, I informed the Museum that I will not contribute in any way to the exhibition: no loans of artwork and no written contributions to any catalog or other printed material. I have not yet received a reply.

As I said at the beginning, these are two small actions not comparable to your momentous one.

Sincerely yours,
Steven Fenves
University Professor Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University

subotica2Hungarian Art Nouveau synagogue in Subotica/Szabadka

Interestingly the second document also comes from outside of Hungary. From Slovakia. To be precise, from Nové Zámky/Érsekújvár. By now the great majority of the city’s population is Slovak, but it seems that the Jewish community is still attached to its Hungarian roots. The Orthodox synagogue of Nové Zámky is registered as a historic landmark. It is one of only four synagogues in Slovakia that are still used for religious purposes by the local Jewish community. This community received 1.5 million forints as a contribution from the so-called Civic Fund  (Civil Alap) for events planned in connection with the Holocaust Memorial Year. Tamás Lang, president of the board of the Nové Zámsky Jewish Community, sent the money back accompanied by a scathing letter condemning the falsification of history and also the systematic revival of the cult of Miklós Horthy. Here is an abbreviated version of the letter.

* * *
The events and statements of the last few days make the sincerity of the Civic Fund’s  intentions highly questionable…. We can’t accept that Miklós Horthy, who is fully responsible for the destruction of Hungary’s Jewry, can have a statue in Hungary…. We can’t accept such statements as “we–Hungarians, they–Jews” even if it is uttered as “we Hungarians defend our minorities.”… We don’t forget that prior to the [German] occupation there were already 60,000 victims of anti-Semitism in Hungary. … We contest the statement that the only sin of the government at the time was that “it didn’t defend the country’s Jewish citizens and provided material supplies for their persecution” … [when] that government mobilized 200,000 civil servants against us. … It is true that Tibor Navracsics, deputy prime minister, and Bence Rétváry, undersecretary,  talked on international forums about Hungarian responsibility, but the direction of official statements and actions belies their words….  We cannot lend our names to the falsification of history and the whitewashing of the Horthy regime. The veneration of the memory of our parents, grandparents, siblings stands above everything else and hence we cannot take part in the events. The Board of the Nové Zámky Jewish Community therefore unanimously decided not to take the financial assistance of 1.5 million forints already granted and thus will not sign the contract that would have sealed the act.
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Ovidiu
Guest

Here it comes the US-Congress :

“Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican US House Representative for Florida, has commended Hungarian premier Viktor Orban and his government for actions taken to combat anti-Semitism”

http://www.politics.hu/20140130/us-house-representative-commends-orban-govt-actions-against-anti-semitism/

Guest

Orbán aka “Chief Forked Tongue” …

Joe Simon
Guest

Hungary is a democracy and Viktor Orban is a committed democrat. I visited the synagogues in Miskolc and Budapest for concerts. There is a thriving Jewish life in these centers.

Guest

Joe, why don’t you visit politics.hu and look for comments concerning Jews?

Then tell us what you think about them and the Hungarians who posted them …

Ovidiu
Guest

wolfi :
Orbán aka “Chief Forked Tongue” …

He is the Boss indeed : “Prime Minister Orban is taking a leading role in the battle against anti-Semitic voices in Europe and throughout the world,” the US House Representative said.

This US congressman seems corrupt to the bone, a “pay-per-declaration” congressman.
But maybe he genuinely believes what he says and he just honestly airs an opinion, who can tell for sure.But either way it works as well for undermining US’s moral authority in the world.As if US still has much left of it, there has been a free falling in the last 10 years.
You can’t get lower than having American rights activists/political dissenters taking refugee in Putin’s -“free world”.

sfenves
Guest

Dear Éva,

Thank you for publishing my letter.

One tangential correction: the attached photograph is of the Subotica City Hall, not of the Synagogue. The confusion is understandable: both outstanding Hungarian Secession buildings were designed by my mother’s uncle, Jakab Dezső, and his partner, Komor Marcel.

Thanks again,

Jóska

Paul
Guest
Well done to Professor Fenves and Tamás Lang, if only more people (and not just Jews) had the courage to stand up to Orbán and his cowardly racism. Professor Fenves’ account of his deportation was incredibly moving. It is one thing to read about and know about the Holocaust, but to read someone’s first-hand account, almost as an incidental, is quite stunning. The matter-of-fact, first-person, recollection of “when they herded us into the makeshift ghetto and soon thereafter loaded us into the boxcars destined for Auschwitz” must be the most chilling words I have ever read. As the last survivors pass on and the Holocaust becomes ‘just’ history, I fear the younger generations will not have the understanding of the sheer horror of what was done that we earlier generations have grown up with. Already I hear it compared to other atrocities (Stalin’s mass murders, the Killing Fields, Rwanda, etc), as if it makes any sense to rank such awful obscenities and declare one less important because others were ‘worse’. We mustn’t allow this to happen. The unimaginable horror of the Holocaust and the behaviour of those responsible for it, must be remembered for all time for what it was… Read more »
lalala
Guest

Please correct the caption under the photograph used in this article – the photo is of Subotica town house, not the synagogue. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/33207808

Paul
Guest

Joe Simon :
Hungary is a democracy and Viktor Orban is a committed democrat. I visited the synagogues in Miskolc and Budapest for concerts. There is a thriving Jewish life in these centers.

I bet you’ve never been to a concert in one of the Debrecen synagogues though, or one of the ex-synagogues in places like Ungvár or Beregszász. Not many Jews left there.

I wonder why?

Istvan
Guest

Thank goodness for the honesty of these letters, thanks Eva for posting them.

Andy -- GODOT please
Guest
The “We” and the “They” definition is ‘Standard Issue’ in Hungarian minds and the related conception of the world ! The ‘We’ delienates the “Christians” on the one hand and the “others” “foreigners” “aliens,” “hoodlums”, “hooligans”, “do-nothings”, “robbers”, “dishonests” and “the evil wheeler-dealers”. on the other hand. HOWEVER there is an acceptance of standard wheeler-dealer behavior that will include Christions if necessary. — That is the Standard Definition Vocabulary in existence. There is an distinct effort by the standard thinkers (including the Orbansits!!!!) to weed-out the non-christians and in the next step to ostracize these persons, families, folls, you name its!!!!! Hushed and Covertly. Many who read the above might well find it true, and may well see their own selves in the mirror…. Some will see themselves as to where they belong or have been forced to “belong” – within a preconceived slot by the evil non-thinkers of society. Equivalent to a mass hysteria that has been going on for 150+ years against a Jewish minority. The only answer to change is the naming of the devil in every instance until the pre-conception has been dissolved into the general amalgam of the world as it needs become in Darwins… Read more »
Mr. Paul
Guest

Isn’t Szabadka in Serbia though? I don’t really understand how this compares to Braham’s action. Is the Serbian government also engaging in questionable activities? Unless I read this correctly the whole protest of Fenves is taking place in Serbia, against a Serbian memorial center in a Serbian city. I just don’t see the connection to Braham. At all.

Mr. Paul
Guest

But this grant was not returned though was it? So they might never notice that anything happened at all. They just know that they sent out the grant and it was spent as designated. (as opposed to the other case). I started thinking about this because I saw this on the Hungarian news. I saw a news item about the second letter, where the grant was returned. But I saw no mention whatsoever of the first letter in the media.

It is a minor point but to my knowledge this grant was not distributed by the Hungarian government, but by the Civil Alap. This as far as I know is staffed by Mazsihisz, Köves Slomó’s organization and other parties, among others.

Mr. Paul
Guest

I think you misunderstand my point. My point was that the connection between this Serbian Museum and the Hungarian government is extremely thin to the point of non existence. I simply do not see the Serbian Museum as a legitimate target. To be attacked on the account of this extremely thin connection. Also there is no need for insults on the basis of differing opinion.

tappanch
Guest

If I had a chance I would ask this question from an Orbanist apparatchik:

If Gabriel symbolizes all the victims as you say, may I ask how many non-Jewish people did the German army and the Gestapo kill in March 1944 after the occupation?

MP Bajcsy-Zsilinszky, the only person in the country who shot at the Germans was arrested, but months later released.
(He was rearrested and executed by a Hungarian court in December 1944)

tappanch
Guest

Szabadka, 1910 census:

58.8% Hungarian (including 3.7% Israelites)
35.3% Bunyevac
3.7% Serbs
2.0% Germans

Mr. Paul
Guest

“And yet, today you toss Szabadka out of Hungary”

You completely lost me at this sentence. I double checked and yes it has TODAY in it. I just don’t understand your anger towards me when supported by such sentences.

Mr. Paul
Guest

The Hungarian government gave the ability to Civil Alap which is chaired by several Jewish organizations like Mazsihisz to distribute the funds. Mazsihisz itself received 180 million forints from this fund. This Museum in Szabadka (now I am careful not to say Serbian Museum), received a tiny fraction of this grant that was distributed NOT by the government but by organizations like Mazsihisz.

THIS in my mind is an extremly thin connection. I don’t think this connection makes the museum a legitimate target. I don’t think an attack on the museum is justified based on this connection.

You can also suspect that the Museum was absolutely shocked by this, not understanding how did they become the target. You can suspect this from the fact that they didn’t reply.

Paul
Guest

In what way is the museum a ‘target’ or this is an ‘attack’ by Professor Fenes?

Professor Fenes is simply withdrawing his participation in a project funded by the Hungarian government as a protest against that government’s attitudes and actions.

How that isn’t clear from Éva’s article is beyond me.

How ‘thin’ does a connection have to be before it is no longer relevant? The Holocaust wasn’t a minor event that isn’t worth making that much fuss about, it is the single most evil act that has ever taken place in Europe. It must be remembered and ANY attempt at revisionism must be resisted with all our might.

We only have to forget history to repeat it. Just look at Hungary today.

An
Guest

Re: thin connection… the Fidesz government is shamelessly using government and EU monies to further its own causes among Hungarians in neighboring countries (and at home, of course). I’ve read some really disturbing stories how Fidesz is using these monies to favor organizations that they see as “loyal” over equally deserving organizations who are too independent for their own good and are not willing to fall in Orban’s line. They also like to turn these organizations against each other. These monies are used as bribe and reward monies… the whole system is very disgusting. No connection is too thin here.

steve397
Guest

Joe Simon :
Hungary is a democracy and Viktor Orban is a committed democrat. I visited the synagogues in Miskolc and Budapest for concerts. There is a thriving Jewish life in these centers.
I would agree about the thriving Jewish life in country centers, but when talking to a Jewish community leader in Szekszard I was told that half of the Jews in that town keep their origin a deep secret from their friendly neighbours and thrive as non-Jews.

An
Guest

I applaud Prof. Fenves’s decision, but it also saddened me very much… it must have been a very difficult decision. I hope there comes a time when we’ll have a Hungarian government who will honestly want to honor the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, without a political agenda of whitewashing the very regime that was the breeding ground for the horror that took place.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Joe Simon :
Hungary is a democracy and Viktor Orban is a committed democrat. I visited the synagogues in Miskolc and Budapest for concerts. There is a thriving Jewish life in these centers.

Why don’t you mention Mr. Metzger the former chief rabbi of Israel who confirmed that everything is O.K. in Hungary?

Orbán is a committed chief of a group of friends who made out of Hungary a maffiastate.
Orbán is a committed democrat like Putin, like the bosses of the postsoviet maffiastates in Asia.

tappanch
Guest

Orban is speaking today to European bankers at a banking jamboree.

As the first speaker, he is giving advice to them.[:-)]

He became an advocate for Russia.
“If we cannot cooperate with Russia, I do not know where Europe will get the resources it needs”

“Energy is much cheaper in the US than in Europe.”

[Mr Smart Victor, if you compare the taxes, the difference is not as large.]

tappanch
Guest

He is praising himself. “Competitiveness requires political stability, cheap work force and cheap energy. We are leading in innovation” – Orban says.

“Eastern European countries [in EU] combined are almost as large as Germany.
THey can be engines of European growth, if they complement the German economy.”

“Concentration of political power is necessary to handle the crisis successfully” – he adds

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