Viktor Orbán finally sent an answer, but the Jewish community’s boycott is still on

The deadline had long passed and Viktor Orbán’s promised answer to Mazsihisz’s three demands to ensure their participation in the events of the Holocaust Memorial Year still hadn’t arrived. So, it’s no wonder that Népszabadság headlined one of its articles “Orbán is ruminating.” And indeed, I don’t think that it was easy for a man who is not accustomed to retreating to admit that, despite all the power he acquired within the country, he might have to back down on the idea of erecting a monument to the German “occupation” of Hungary on March 19, 1944.

On February 16, in his “state of the nation” speech, he was still adamant and denounced those who “dare to tell us what we should or should not do, or what and how we should remember.” Commentators were convinced that Orbán would stand fast and wouldn’t give an inch.

There were other signs, however, that those harsh words were only for show. Zoltán Balog told ATV on Tuesday that the topic will most likely be “discussed” on Wednesday at the cabinet meeting. Mind you, we know from an earlier Balog interview that “discussing” something at the cabinet meeting means that all those present simply lend their support to Viktor Orbán’s decision. Still, he wasn’t the only one who indicated that the infamous memorial might not be in place on Szabadság tér on March 19. István Pálffy (KDNP) also suggested that it would be impossible to erect the structure given time constraints. Presumably they knew something even before the cabinet meeting.

Although word about the postponement became official only last night, the well-informed Ildikó Csuhaj of Népszabadság already knew about the decision a few minutes after the cabinet meeting. Her sources indicated that there was intense international pressure on the government, including German disapproval. Israel also made its feelings known by requesting the newly appointed Hungarian ambassador to have a heart to heart with officials of the Israeli foreign ministry.

After the decision was reached, Orbán wrote his long-awaited letter to the leaders of Mazsihisz. In it he mentioned, as Fidesz politicians always do, that the Holocaust Center was established during the first Orbán government and that it was during his first term that they declared April 16 to be the day devoted to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. On the other hand, he completely ignored the controversy surrounding the Holocaust Memorial Year: the falsification of historical facts symbolized by the planned monument, the appointment of a far-right historian to a newly established institution called Veritas who considers the Kaments-Podolskii deportations and murders of mostly Hungarian Jews a simple “police procedure,” and the concept and the person in charge of the planned House of Fates. Instead, Orbán claimed that the reason for postponing the erection of the “Gabriel” statue is the campaign season for national and EU elections that takes place between February 15 and May 25.

The contents of this letter didn’t make the slightest difference as far as the leaders of Mazsihisz were concerned. They announced that there is nothing in this letter that would necessitate calling together the entire leadership which decided on the boycott in the first place. This is only a postponement of the statue, with no mention made of the two controversial historians, Sándor Szakály of Veritas and Mária Schmidt of the House of Fates.

Gordon Bajnai agreed with the Jewish leaders. He called the postponement of the erection of the monument no more than a “cynical avoidance of conflicts before the election” which does not address the core problem: “Falsification of history still remains falsification of history two or three months later.”

Two fundamentally opposing historical views are clashing here, and in my opinion truth is not on the Orbán government’s side even if they decided to name their new historical institute Veritas. I want to make one thing clear. It is not only the Jewish community that cannot accept the Orbán government’s efforts to rehabilitate the Horthy regime. More enlightened members of Hungarian society, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are only too aware of the respective Hungarian governments’ roles between 1920 and 1944 that resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews and non-Jews.

Some people are not surprised that in the last twenty-five years perhaps the majority of Hungarians refused to look critically at their own past. After all, they say, it is a painful process, and it took at least that many years for the Germans to do the same. So far so good, but the difference is that now, twenty-five years after the regime change, instead of turning the corner and facing harsh facts, the Orbán government is doing everything in its power to prevent the kind of dialogue that might result in a fair assessment of Hungary’s twentieth-century history. In fact, it is undoing the fairly sophisticated re-examination of the past that already began to take place in the second half of the Kádár regime. Admittedly, publications on the Holocaust and in general on Jewish affairs are much more numerous today than in the 1970s and 1980, but I still have some very valuable books from those days in my own library.

Finally, I would like to talk briefly about two issues. Today Ilan Mor, Israeli ambassador to Hungary, and Sándor Pintér, minister of interior, gave out decorations to those who saved Jewish lives at their own peril during the Holocaust. Ambassador Mor bestowed the Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations awards to the children or grandchildren of ten Hungarians. Alongside the Israeli awards, Sándor Pintér gave out decorations “For Bravery.” I didn’t find a lot of information on this bravery award except that it is given to firefighters. Even a German Shepherd dog received it not so long ago.

Mihály and Szabolcs Fekete-Nagy at the award ceremony

Mihály and Szabolcs Fekete-Nagy at the award ceremony

One of the awardees was Béla Fekete Nagy (1904-1983), a well-known painter, whose two sons were at the ceremony to receive their father’s posthumous award. Mihály and Szabolcs  Fekete-Nagy accepted the Yad Vashem award but would not accept the “For Bravery” decoration from Sándor Pintér. Mihály delivered a speech which the cameramen muffled, but the message was that they would defile the memory of their father if they accepted the decoration from the minister of interior of the Orbán government.

I also just learned that in the last four or five months the government allegedly stopped all subsidies to the Holocaust Memorial Center with the result that this month the Center cannot even pay the meager salaries to its employees. This stoppage of funds might be a bureaucratic mix-up, but given the present tense relations between the government and the Jewish community it might be more than that. Perhaps the goal is to put pressure on the Holocaust Center to convince Mazsihisz to be less rigid and make a deal with the Orbán government. Or there might be another explanation. As we have learned, the Orbán government had rather strong objections to the leadership and concept of the Center. Since, as Mizsihisz argued, two Holocaust centers in one city are not really necessary and since this administration came forth with the idea of the House of Fates, it might want to marginalize or eliminate the Holocaust Memorial Center. I’m just guessing, but whatever the reason it most likely reflects the Orbán government’s two-faced attitude toward the Hungarian Jewish community.

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Mutt
Guest

Yes, the Bravery Decoration was given to 40-50 firefighters in 2013 for acts like bringing out high pressure oxygen tanks from burning garages.

http://www.katasztrofavedelem.hu/index2.php?pageid=szervezet_kituntetettek_erdemjel&evszam=2013

I think he pooch got in London but nevertheless he deserved it.

steve397
Guest

I am full of admiration for the Fekete-Nagy brothers who refused to receive the Bravery Award from Minister Pinter, even though Eva is wrong in suggesting that this award is not sufficient for those who saved Jews. It is as high as any and looks very posh indeed

In November 2011 I was the speaker on behalf of the Rescued at that year’s ceremony straight after Mr. Pinter’s speech. Subsequently I made clear to some friends that his speech did not sound right coming from a minister of a Government who are not sincere in their announcements. At the time my friends disagreed with me, but probably would now agree after noting all the words being so different from the action of Mr. Orban and his Government.

Mr. Paul
Guest
Today interview with András Heisler, the leader of Mazsihisz: Klubradio interview 2014. february 20th: András Heisler said that they recieved the letter from Viktor Orban the prime minister. First Heisler was asked about the phrasing, “Tisztelt elnök urak!”, “Tisztelt Ügyvezető Igazgató Úr!” to which he explained that there were three people signing the Mazsihisz letter, not just him. Heisler reiterated their committment to the Mazsihisz congress decision: since their three demands(“Követelések” was the exact word used by Heisler) raised by the congress were not yet dealt with there is no reason to call a new congress together. Only a full congress is capable of reviewing the earlier decision according to Heisler. Heisler welcomed the fact that there will be negotiations on the issues raised after the election. He said the the current climate is so hysterical that if anyone says anything they get immediately and viciously attacked. He used his own example: when they wrote the letter to the prime minister some found the letter to be too polite and heavily criticized it. It was covered on this blog too that a Mazsihisz member called for the immediate dismissal of Heisler and other Mazsihisz leaders because their letter wasn’t acceptable… Read more »
Bergmann
Guest
If there is one thing people living in non-Western places learn very quickly is that dictatorships love to use the trick of the “burocratic mix-up”. And that there exists usually a way to “solve these glitches”. The solution is either money to the relevant burocrat’s pocket or in more complex cases simply ‘getting the message’ and changing behavior. So in less fortunate places it becomes a reflex for people to understand these “burocratic mix-up”s. People can actually be taught things easily, they react to incentives well, much like dogs can be taught to be housebroken. A good example to the latter kind of mix-up (if the problem with the salaries at the Holocaust center would not be clear) is when people under communism were applying for passport and they did not get it. No explanation, nobody knows why, but the application was rejected. Then the applicant is approached by the secret police who suggest that there may be a way to solve this unfortunate burocratic mix-up. Of course they cannot promise anything, it is not their competence really, but perhaps they can still help. Provided the applicant sings up to be an informant on his friends. I am sure Fidesz… Read more »
BreakUp
Guest

Currently, Hungary is being saturated by twisted Fidesz/Jobbik linked associations, foundations, think thanks, schools, clubs, from “magyar garda” to the “vitez” order.

It is a plain proof that our people are easily bought by money, by utility price discounts, etc.

The angry Hungarian is the worst enemy of Hungary. They are the assurance for a Fidesz ruled Hungary.

The Rona Peters, Lamfalussys, Eotvos, Karolyis, Klebelsberger must break up this system.

The Gyurcsanys, Mesterhazys will follow them.

ferike kömeny
Guest

The German occupation memorial will be bigger than previously thought (some 20 tons in all). The underground parking garage probably needs to be fortified so that the memorial could be built. But of course.Does anyone seriously think that the memorial will be canceled when we have this kind of detailed planning and preparation?

C’mon. The Jews can’t expect that. They need to be reasonable and start appreciating the concerns of the majority for once. Is this so hard to do? Why is it that foreigners always expect the majority to cave in to some particular interest?

Of course once the project stands, the Government will be more than happy to continue the honest dialogue with the Israelite denomination about the co-operation in matters of mutual importance.

I would also mention that Hungary has a fruitful relationship with the State of Israel. Trade has increased and tourism is also gathering pace. There are realistic grounds to envisage further successes. While it is clear that there is still much to be done to improve mutual understanding, Hungary has proven to be a great friend to Israel since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Let this beautiful friendship flourish.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/02/21/oszlopokkal_20_tonnas_lesz_a_birodalmi_sas_raszakadhat_a_szabadsag_teri_melygarazsra/

Member
ferike kömeny : The German occupation memorial will be bigger than previously thought (some 20 tons in all). The underground parking garage probably needs to be fortified so that the memorial could be built. But of course.Does anyone seriously think that the memorial will be canceled when we have this kind of detailed planning and preparation? C’mon. The Jews can’t expect that. They need to be reasonable and start appreciating the concerns of the majority for once. Is this so hard to do? Why is it that foreigners always expect the majority to cave in to some particular interest? Of course once the project stands, the Government will be more than happy to continue the honest dialogue with the Israelite denomination about the co-operation in matters of mutual importance. I would also mention that Hungary has a fruitful relationship with the State of Israel. Trade has increased and tourism is also gathering pace. There are realistic grounds to envisage further successes. While it is clear that there is still much to be done to improve mutual understanding, Hungary has proven to be a great friend to Israel since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Let this beautiful friendship flourish. http://index.hu/belfold/2014/02/21/oszlopokkal_20_tonnas_lesz_a_birodalmi_sas_raszakadhat_a_szabadsag_teri_melygarazsra/ So,… Read more »
Max
Guest

OT: Meanwhile, FM Martonyi simply did not attend Thursday’s extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers on Ukraine in Brussels .

Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski flew to Kiev after the Brussels meeting, having talks with both Yanukovych and opposition leaders. He has just tweeted that his talks ended at 7:20 a.m.!!

Hungary and Poland are both neighbours of Ukraine. Still, what a difference of diplomatic attitude and drive…and geopolitical position for that matter!

zerkof
Guest

Some smartass fidesznik (who is a favorite of the young fidesznik mandiner.hu crowd) said half-jokingly that maybe we could buy Karpatalja (the Transcarpathia region) from Ukraine from the Russian loan, like the Americans bought Alaska, as Ukraine might be in need of some cash now.

According to her, it would also be in the interest of the Ukrainian ethicity of the region as they would get right away into a “super Western-European country”. Now, apart from many absurdities, the question is why would these Ukrainians join laggard Hungary rather than Slovakia or Poland if they could do have a say in it?

http://cink.hu/miert-jo-hogy-nem-ujsagirok-vezetik-magyarorszagot-1525818316

petofi
Guest

@ferike

“Why is it that foreigners always expect the majority to cave in to some particular interest?”

Only because…that particular interest is on the side of Decency, Integrity, and Honesty–but that rarely makes a difference to ‘bunko’ Hungarians, does it?

petofi
Guest

In a follow-up to the German arrests of three former concentration guards, Hungarian officials have arrested two former associates of Csatary, aged 94 and 97, who are presently being held in a wellness center on Lake Balaton recuperating from the shock…

petofi
Guest

The pictures of Kiev are a forerunner: we can expect similar ‘assistance’ from Mr. Pyutin in the future-

Guest

Am I the only one who thinks that ferike kömény’s comment was meant to be satirical?

The (in)activity of Hungary’s government re the Ukraine btw is really remarkable – shouldn’t Hungary as a neighbour be directly involved?

But Orbán and his henchmen just look on …

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

wolfi :
Am I the only one who thinks that ferike kömény’s comment was meant to be satirical?

No, especially as ‘Ferike Kömény’ could easily be read as ‘Kumin Ferenc’. 🙂

NB: of course, the latter’s writings can often be confused with their own pastiche.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Some1 :

ferike kömeny :

C’mon. The Jews can’t expect that. They need to be reasonable and start appreciating the concerns of the majority for once. Is this so hard to do? Why is it that foreigners always expect the majority to cave in to some particular interest?

Ferike, you should read the Györi Nemzeti Hirlap which can be read on www. It was published from 1936 until 1945. Until 1944 October 15 it was taking the line of MEP and the Hungarian Government and that line was extremely anti-Semitic and racist. In the name of “national-Christian” values it incited hatred and by doing so contributed to the Holocaust perpetrated in Hungary. So if Orbán and his ilk want to rehabilitate the Horthy-System, those Hungarians (Non-Jews and Jews) who are not in agreement, should respect this, because Fidesz has won about 53% of the votes in 2010?

steve397
Guest

I will never respect Hitler, although he usually won 99.8 % of the votes.

Dr. L. PETROVICS Ofner
Guest
Dr. L. PETROVICS Ofner
Eva S. Balogh : Re: Heisler’s optimism, We will see. In his place I wouldn’t be too optimistic. I don’t think that he is actually. He simply wants to look to be open for further talks. THE GRIEVING PROCESS required of Hungary looking at and acknowledging its past CAN NOT follow the “desired” German resolution. For one, it speaks for a resolution which is applicable to the former West Germany only. Since the time of Gyula Horn, every administration has tried to apologize, and it is valued that under Pokorni Zoltan’s leadership FIDESZ funding supported the Commemoration of Shoa, and the building of HDKE –which had to be built and rebuilt three times out of meager government funds. BUT this Spectrum which often provides useful info reflects the main problem why Hungarians can not approach a form of grieving which can move beyond mutual rage, toward expressions of sympathetic, felt sorrow: This is that as one is sitting SHIVA quietly, a bunch of old Hungarian Goat Herds from foreign shores rush into the living room shouting, “You are not grieving correctly. You must be FIDESZ-nik.” Sure u agree that this is not only disruptive of mourning, but far worse, especially… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

steve397 :
I will never respect Hitler, although he usually won 99.8 % of the votes.

Nationally, the NSDAP never scored better than 37% under reasonably democratic circumstances.

petofi
Guest

@Dr. Petrovics

“….history must be valued…”

Now, Mr. Petrovics, how do you square the above comment with Orban banning the use of precedent in legal decision making…?

petofi
Guest

@ Dr. Petrovics

“…where their interests lie.”

I don’t know about others, but my interests lie in re-establishing Dignity, Decency, and The Rule of Law. Now, if you want me to compromise those principles just to ‘get along’ with
Fidesz/Jobbik….well, then you can go elsewhere to serve up your super subtle,squeamish
apologisms.

Mr. Paul
Guest

In typical petofi fashion you are not replying to the actual point made by someone. Instead you serve up your own delusions.

The question about interests was a simple one. Is pushing for a coalition between Fidesz and Jobbik in your interest?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Dr. L. PETROVICS Ofner

Grieving, apologies… I suspect this is your field and of course see nothing wrong with that, but are they really the point today?

There has been a notable shift in Holocaust studies over the last decades, to which Hungarian scholars certainly contributed. The trans-disciplinary input of anthropologists, economists, sociologists, geographers etc. have helped make this field very important to the general crtiticism of European modernity. The awareness of the nightmare being inseparable from the dreams (of equality, science, education, techno-administration etc.), like a figure in the carpet, is essential for today’s and tomorrow’s citizens understanding of their current and future responsibilities.

My impression is the present government has been completely impervious to the shift. By turning their back on the idea that trying to understand the Holocaust today is a universal concern, not a ‘Jewish’ one, they are missing the opportunity to get beyond the circle of guilt and blame, and glueing Hungarians in the past.

petofi
Guest

Mr. Paul :
In typical petofi fashion you are not replying to the actual point made by someone. Instead you serve up your own delusions.
The question about interests was a simple one. Is pushing for a coalition between Fidesz and Jobbik in your interest?

Typical KGB/Communist tactic: threaten with a worse scenario or except the plain bad one, eh? Sorry, I don’t fall for that. It’s Orban’s cheap trick to say to the West that he alone is the bulwark against greater Jobbik power in Hungary–hogwash! Orban is a bulwark against decency and lawfulness, that’s all. And what’s more, Jobbik wouldn’t have the power it has if Fidesz/Orban hadn’t helped build it up all along…

Mr. Paul
Guest

See that wasn’t so hard. Now you answered on the topic at least.

OT: Washington reporters do have sex with Obama administration members /congress people (probably in exchange for information) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/20/actress-robin-wright-dc-more-corrupt-hollywood/

In other news : Népszabadság reporters are also sometimes more well informed than they should be.

SegitsKiraly
Guest

Yanukovich = Orban

We need new Bela Kiralys in both countries.

1 To disarm the ultra right wing extremists
2 To allow establishment of decent new ruling bodies
3.To allow peaceful development of EU oriented progressive democracies.
4. To assure independence from Putin’s oppression and Paks II, III, IV deals.
5. To prevent antisemitism, racism, fascism

tappanch
Guest

Yesterday, we should have mourned (or celebrated) a significant moneyversary.
[my term, =money anniversary]

Orban signed the contract to purchase 21.22% of MOL from the Russian Surgutneftegas on May 24, 2011.

The rubber stamp parliament approved the deal on June 20, 2011.

Yesterday, the share price breached both the 40% loss level @13,480 and the 200 billion HUF loss level @13,450

It is a minor mitigating factor that MOL paid 10.25 billion HUF dividend on this packet last June.

http://bse.hu/menun_kivuli/portlets/companyprofile?security=518

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