Days of protest, but the “Nazi” monument will stand in Budapest

I have been so preoccupied with the election results that I have neglected the recent tug-of-war between the Orbán government and a small group of people who desperately want to prevent the erection of a monument to commemorate the “occupation” of Hungary by German troops on March 19, 1944.

The monument depicts Hungary in the guise of the Archangel Gabriel as an innocent victim of German aggression when, in fact, Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany. By extension, the present Hungarian government puts the blame for the Hungarian Holocaust entirely on Germany, although they do admit that some civil servants shamefully collaborated with the commandos of Adolf Eichmann. But the Hungarian government is not to be blamed because, with the occupation, Hungary lost its sovereignty. Most historians who are experts on the subject, inside and outside of Hungary, see it differently. So does the Hungarian Jewish community, whose representatives have been trying to have a dialogue with Viktor Orbán: they proposed more appropriate ways to remember the seventieth anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust. At the end of February there was a short reprieve in the “war of words” between Orbán and the Jewish community when Orbán promised to postpone the erection of the monument and offered to engage in a dialogue sometime after the Easter holidays.

But then came the election, whose results Viktor Orbán described as a resounding victory, and he was again full of energy. Two days after the election workmen appeared on Szabadság tér (Freedom Square) and started building a barrier around the designated site of the monument. Soon enough activists gathered and swore they would take it down. And indeed, in the morning the workmen constructed the wall and in the afternoon the demonstrators took it down. By the second day the demonstrators had the right kind of equipment to do quite a professional job disassembling the barrier. By yesterday, the barrier had gone up six times and come down six times. Someone compared the situation to the famous Hungarian/Romanian folk ballad in which the walls that are built one day by the masons at the Fortress of Deva/Déva are destroyed by the next morning.

While this was going on, about 20 policemen stood idly by until April 14, when several of the organizers were ordered to appear at the police station and charged with defacement of property. The defacement consisted of using spray paint to write messages on the canvas that covered the metal barrier. Included among the people so charged were Zoltán Lovas, a newspaper man; Fruzsina Magyar, wife of Imre Mécs who as a young man was condemned to death after the failed revolution in 1956; and Alice Fried, a Holocaust survivor, whose “graffiti” read: “I survived the Shoa. I still want to live!” Since then Imre Mécs, who “willfully” wrote messages on the canvas, was also charged.

History falsification / spiritual well-poisioning The first on the right is Fruzsina Magyar

History falsification / Spiritual well-poisoning
Fruzsina Magyar is on the far right.

Meanwhile tourists keep inquiring what’s going on and the participants tell them that “the government wants to erect a Nazi monument and the people are protesting.” Of course, it would be far too complicated to explain to these people what is at stake here. The game of erecting and taking down the barrier will go on for a while, but meanwhile the foundation for the enormous statue of Archangel Gabriel is being built. Yes, it must stand just as ordered by the imperious Viktor Orbán. His announced deadline is May 1.

Opponents say that as soon as Viktor Orbán and his government are gone this statue will join the statues erected during the Rákosi and Kádár periods, which are now  in a kind of statue cemetery in Memento Park. Others are certain that the new monument will have to be guarded day and night because it is likely that opponents will deface this monument that they find so objectionable.

The English-language media doesn’t seem to have taken much notice of what’s going on in the heart of Budapest. I discovered only one opinion piece, by András Simonyi, former Hungarian ambassador in Washington, who finds Viktor Orbán “deaf to the uproar by the Jewish community and other decent Hungarians. He fails to show leadership and magnanimity. He is missing the opportunity to behave like a statesman.”  Statesmanship? Magnanimity? From Viktor Orbán?

By contrast, the German press has been covering the story of the monument from the beginning. After all, Germany is implicated in this story. But the Germans, unlike the Hungarians, faced up to their own past and were ready to take the blame. They also know, as do most historians, that the Germans had eager accomplices in the Hungarian Holocaust. German public radio had a segment on the controversy, “Proteste gegen Nazi-Bezatsungsdenkmal.” Yes, the description of it as a Nazi monument is spreading. In it the journalist responsible for the text accurately described the situation that awaited the German troops in Hungary. Junge Welt ran an article entitled “Orbán in the role of the victim.” Perhaps the writer who claimed that Hungarians never quite got over the fact that they lost World War II is right. Seventy years after the fact. It would be high time to do so, but self-examination is impossible as long as the Hungarian government prevents any kind of honest look at Hungary’s role in the Holocaust.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Andras Boros-Kazai
Guest

Nazi atrocities are part of our collective memory (except in some Muslim countries), and quite rightly so. Many, though not all, send the message that Jews were the primary, perhaps the only, victims. The monument in Budapest is a welcome exception, in that it raises the memory of all victims of the German occupation. Historians everywhere know that after that Sunday in October, Germany treated Hungary as occupied soil. (Being a child of those years, I remember that we in Obuda disliked the Germans and their presence, though of course not as much as we feared and loathed the approaching Red Army.)
Something this inclusive and comprehensive ought to be welcomes, perhaps even celebrated, not misinterpreted and condemned.

Guest

@Andras Boros-Kazai: It sounds as if you want it both ways–Jews as victims, as well as the Hungarians who put them on the railroad cars. I don’t believe that the two sets should be put together and made innocent by the new monument. The new monument makes heroes of a kind of everyone but the Germans. Certainly not to my understanding.

tappanch
Guest

@Boros-Kazai

Would you look at the official government decree from the official source?

It is on page 90,100 – the decree of December 31, 2013.

The government declares the erection of a “memorial to the German occupation of Hungary” of outstanding importance. [sweeping away any local or professional objection]

There is NO word about victims – Jewish or non-Jewish.

“A Kormány nemzetgazdasági szempontból kiemelt jelentőségű üggyé nyilvánítja a Magyarország német megszállásának emléket állító, a Budapest V. kerület, 24747/1 és 24747/2 helyrajzi számon nyilvántartott ingatlanon,természetben a Budapest V. kerület Szabadság téren megvalósításra kerülő emlékmű felállításával összefüggő, az 1. mellékletben felsorolt közigazgatási hatósági ügyeket.”

http://www.kozlonyok.hu/nkonline/MKPDF/hiteles/MK13225.pdf

It was much later, when they modified the deadline from March 19 to May 31, that they inserted the “victims”, as an afterthought to calm protests.

The original and real aim has nothing to do with the memory of any victims – it is to satisfy Nazi elements in the ruling party.

The memorial with the Nazi eagle will be a gathering point of Nazis all over Europe in the heart of Budapest.

steve397
Guest
Dear Andras Boros-Kazai, the Germans never treated Hungary as occupied soil and in any case they occupied Hungary on 19th March and not in October 1944. Obviously you were not alive at the time otherwise you would know. I was 18 during the so-called occupation of Hungary and I saw not many German soldiers in the “occupied” Hungary, but saw the Hungarian placards on the street regulating the Jewish population and how day-by-day the persecution by the Hungarian authorities became worse. I also heard that Hungarian Gendarmes marched the Jews in the country to the townships where they were locked into cattle wagons to be taken to Kassa and handed over to the Germans for the final trip to Auschwitz. The yellow star I wore was on my clothing because of Hungarian regulation proclaimed in Hungarian in the Hungarian streets and newspapers. German occupation of an innocent Hungary? Who are we kidding, Messrs. Orban and Vona (and Andras Boros-Kazai). When will you ever realise that Hungary was a willing confederate of the Germans in the War and in keeping Hungary Judenfrei? When will you admit that since 1920 to the very last days of the Arrow Cross rule, Horthy and… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

Well, if the children disliked the Germans, then everything is fine. It is unfortunate that the Red Army, even more disliked by the children, advanced so quickly that the Hungarian Judenrein could not be completed, right, Mr. Boros-Kazai?

petofi
Guest

@Andras:

Well done, Andras. Typical Bolshevik revisionism.
Now, please tell us, before it is erased from the history books, did Stalin sign an agreement with Hitler? Was Stalin not happy to carve up eastern Europe? Because, soon enough, we here in Hungary will be forced to learn the great favors of friendship that Russia (ok, Soviet Union) extended to us for all those many years.

(By the way, as soon as the West applies itself–and present circumstances will certainly
hurry this on–substitutes for gas and oil will be discovered. Then, Russia, whose only home-produced export is the polonium sandwich, will have no more significance than Zimbabwe.
Nuclear arms or not, those Russian oligarchs haven’t stolen the country blind for the last 25 years, not to be able to spend their billions in Miami, New York, and Paris. They’ll make sure that the nuclear arms will be secured; and that Russia will go back to its feudal ways quietly.)

tappanch
Guest

As I noted in a January 19 blog note here, the selected sculptor, Peter Parkanyi Raab had already made a memorial to the Nazi writer Albert Wass, who was condemned to death in absentia for the 1940 killing of two Romanian men and two Jewish girls.

[Let me add, Wass died in comfortable exile in Florida]

Do you think that it is a coincidence that the promoters of this memorial selected such sculptor for the job?

petofi
Guest

Come to think of it, one must consider that Orban’s insistence on the monument begins the long-term project of weaning Hungarians off their pro-teutonic stance….and to be replaced, in time, by the great red eagle of the east.

Realitycheck
Guest
Andras Boros-Kazai : Nazi atrocities are part of our collective memory (except in some Muslim countries), and quite rightly so. Many, though not all, send the message that Jews were the primary, perhaps the only, victims. The monument in Budapest is a welcome exception, in that it raises the memory of all victims of the German occupation. Historians everywhere know that after that Sunday in October, Germany treated Hungary as occupied soil. (Being a child of those years, I remember that we in Obuda disliked the Germans and their presence, though of course not as much as we feared and loathed the approaching Red Army.) Something this inclusive and comprehensive ought to be welcomes, perhaps even celebrated, not misinterpreted and condemned. Nice job of contradicting yourself. Nazi atrocities are part of collective memory, yet you simply disliked them. A person may dislike chickpeas, but they would loath and fear the Nazi atrocities. The Jews of Hungary feared and loathed the Nazis, as any real victims would. How many of your family members were murdered by the Nazis? How many of your family members will be celebrated by this inclusive memorial? None of mine, they were given emigration papers by the… Read more »
Member

Before any more uninformed Fidesz friends start wit their usual rampage, let me explain something.
Although Fidesz and Jobbik (coincidentally) tries to portray this “resistance” against this questionable artistic quality of monument as the Jewish population of Hungary does not want to honour other victims of the Second World War, it is far from the truth.
The Jewish population would totally welcome a monument that would honour all victims of WWII, including gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill, artists who created “degenerate” art, Hungarians who tried to save the Jews, Hungarians who were innocently killed by the bombings, and so forth. This should be done with a monument that allegorically or otherwise represents all the victims, but does NOT portrays the perpetrators as one of the victims! THis is the problem. It is not the Jewish population of Hungary that said that Gabriel represents Hungary, it is the Hungarian government said that, and so did the “artist”. If you really want to honour all the victims, you do not put them in the same group as some of the murderers.

This is the problem, and not a monument, so pleads respond on this thread accordingly!

egy rossz alom orban idejeben
Guest
egy rossz alom orban idejeben

I estimate that about 75-80% of the Hungarians are as gently easily confused souls as our one pro-statue contributor.

How can we shed light in these dark brains without making them very defensive, angry, stubborn, and lost to the cause of the Enlightenment?

Maybe, we should stick to utility rate discounts.

tappanch
Guest

I would like to point out that the modified decree (promulgated on February 19) names the person responsible to finish the memorial in time.

It is the “Miniszterelnökséget vezető államtitkár”, Orban’s right hand man, Janos Lazar.

p. 2478

http://www.kozlonyok.hu/nkonline/MKPDF/hiteles/MK14024.pdf

pete
Guest

OT: in Hungarian, about Jobbik’s and the left’s results in the countryside. Jobbik will win the municipalities in the fall and thereby will gain access to EU funds which will further entrench its position which is already No. 1 in many rural regions.

http://magyarnarancs.hu/kismagyarorszag/a-baloldal-csak-a-szavazatvasarlasban-erdekelt-videken-ezert-akarjak-a-jobbikot-89596

tappanch
Guest

1.
Matolcsy spends 90 billion forints of the money of the Hungarian National Bank on purchasing real estate.

see p.24

2.
The Board of Outside Directors [is this the right term?] criticizes this and other programs [like buying a Guarneri violin] as outside the scope of the Bank.

p. 25
http://www.parlament.hu/irom39/13816/13816.pdf

3.
Mr Rona, a member of the board gives an interview on television.
He tells the audience, that the Bank, chaired by Matolcsy goes ahead
with the programs in spite of the Board’s objections.

http://www.atv.hu/videok/video-20140416-rona-peter

4.
Internet portal index.hu reports details with the headline
“National Bank gives money to friends without control”

http://index.hu/gazdasag/2014/04/16/mnb-csr/

5.
National Bank indicates it will sue the portal

tappanch
Guest

Here is a piece of juicy detail from the article in index.hu.

In January, the Bank set aside 4 million euros for the Guarneri.

But the auctioneers say it is worth no more than 0.2 million euros.

Member
Regarding tappanch’s post. I read an article about he subject of Matolcsy’s spending spree earlier on, but what made me laugh out loud was in line with a previous discussion about grammatical errors in official places. One of the organization Matolcsy provides support for is called Harom Kiralyfi, Harom Kiralylany (Three Princes, Three Princesses). I have no problem with he organization, and in fact it seems that they reached out to all main Hungarian parties for support. The organization is about helping young people to have large families. It is about family planning, how to, money matters, and it even has a dating component. “Celunk, hogy megszulessenek a kivant, tervezett gyermekek.” “Our goal is that children who are planned and wanted are born”. I already have a stylistic problem with this, as I am not really sure what is the goal with the children who maybe not planned or not wanted, but that is an other issue. The real puzzle although is in the following sentence: “Ma Magyarországon a fiatalok 2,4 gyermeket terveznek, de csupán 1,3 születik meg.” “These days the young people of Hungary are planning to have 2.4 children, but only 1.3 is born.” Never in my life… Read more »
Márton
Guest
tappanch : Here is a piece of juicy detail from the article in index.hu. In January, the Bank set aside 4 million euros for the Guarneri. But the auctioneers say it is worth no more than 0.2 million euros. Most of the money will be stolen. That is clear. There is no ascertainable value for a genuine piece of work of art, the Bank and the seller (who will never be made public anyway) will strike a deal and it will be legal. If both parties are on the same ‘side’, both want to create the paperwork behind the scam then there are so many ways to make the transaction legal and unassailable before the court. (In this case the fidesz-guy buys the violin for 0.2m euros, gets, just to be on the safe side, two reports from professionals appraisers that it is worth actually 4m euros and then with all the supporting evidence the guy sells the violin to the Bank for 3.8, he was even generous and gave a discount to the nation, all legal). I think Fidesz thinks it invented the perpetum mobile or the money printing machine. As long as the Bank spends money on assets… Read more »
boomerang
Guest

If somebody reads Hungarian there is now a good article about such deals which the National Bank just stared to do, that is when the two formally ‘opposing’ sides are just stealing money together — and totally legally.

So much so that the lawyer behind this particular deal (practically representing both sides) is none other than The New Hope, Bence Tuzson (btw, he is also a lawyer). He is a personal protege of Orban.

This is just a minuscule scam which is worth 490m forints (2.4m USD) of which at least 3/4s were stolen checking out the piece if real estate which one party bought and the other, friendly party sold.

This is all legal and nobody can do a thing.

But why would Fidesz stop? People love them and now fideszniks feel even more empowered to steal all the money they can.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/04/16/490_millioert_vett_sonak_telket_az_fkf/

tappanch
Guest

little anti-Semitism as it appears in the fourth grade in Hungary, 2014

http://nol.hu/velemeny/baj-e-hogy-peti-utalja-a-zsidokat-1456817

petofi
Guest

tappanch :
Here is a piece of juicy detail from the article in index.hu.
In January, the Bank set aside 4 million euros for the Guarneri.
But the auctioneers say it is worth no more than 0.2 million euros.

-handling fees

Andras Boros-Kazai
Guest

Should’ve known better than to voice a differing opinion on a site I stumbled across. Still, I respectfully suggest that we do not sink to the level of the discourse which regrettably seems to have become the norm in Hungary: Baseless allegation as to one’s political leanings, one’s intelligence, even one’s character and morals. Are those the now-acceptable elements of a serious discussion? Ez is csak egy kispesti kocsma?

As for the dates, I happen to agree with a fair number of my fellow historians in that that certain Oktober Sunday was far more important a turning point than the formal occupation of Hungary in March.

And please leave Wass Albert out of this, unless you wish to honor the “courts” that convicted him and thousands of other “liberated” East Europeans, with a number of Jews among them. He may have fallen for a wrong, even evil, ideology, but he had good company. Those were the times when one of the brightest philosophers of the past century wrote Nazi pieces, the cream of French intellectuals sipped champagne with occupying German officers in Paris, and the brilliant American poet broadcast Fascist exhortation from Rome.

tappanch
Guest

@Albert Wass

Randolph Braham: A Magyarországi Holokauszt Földrajzi Enciklopédiája

(Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocaust in Hungary)

p. 1119

Vasasszentgotthárd, Szolnok-Doboka megye

“There were 12 Jewish in the village in 1941.
[…]
The incoming Hungarian army shot several local people to death in the Fall of 1940,

including two Jewish girls: Eszter & Róza Mihály, who were visitors from Csicsógyörgyfalva

and were staying in the house of their brother-in-law, Jakab Rosenberg. According to the

local people, the two girls and two local Romanian youth were executed at the order of

Count Albert Wass and his father Count Endre Wass by the unit led by first lieutenant

Pakucs.”

tappanch
Guest

The names of the executed Romanian men are Ioan Caţit and Iosif Moldovan.

Guest

Is this the new Wass-apologist?

http://www.beloit.edu/polisci/faculty/
An excerpt:
“Andras Boros-Kazai is a native of Budapest, Hungary. He came to the United States in 1957 and earned his citizenship with five years of service in the U.S. Army (three of which he spent in Southeast Asia). He majored in English and Political Science at Kent State University and the University of Pittsburgh while working full-time as a concrete-maker, administrative assistant, bartender and jazz drummer. He earned graduate training in Area Studies at Indiana University, and earned a Ph.D. in History in 1982. Since 1975, Andras has taught courses in revolution, empire and ethnicity-nationalism, Central European, Central Asian and Balkan history, film in the socio-historical context as well as Hungarian language and culture at Indiana University, Ohio Northern University, University of South Dakota and at Defense Intelligence Institutions. …”

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Andras Boros-Kazai :
Those were the times when one of the brightest philosophers of the past century wrote Nazi pieces, the cream of French intellectuals sipped champagne with occupying German officers in Paris, and the brilliant American poet broadcast Fascist exhortation from Rome.

Nobody in these countries is honoring those guys as victims. In France, the memory of those who were condemned after the end of the war is still heavily tainted (which doesn’t prevent anybody from appreciating the genuine talent of some).

Eva S. Balogh :
Perhaps the writer who claimed that Hungarians never quite got over the fact that they lost World War II is right. Seventy years after the fact. It would be high time to do so, …

Getting over losing the First World War could be a start…

tappanch
Guest

The former pupils of the Jewish Elementary School of Óbuda keep witness about 1941-44:

http://nol.hu/belfold/zsidot-es-kutyat-nem-szolgalunk-ki-1457091

“Német fegyvereseket nem láttam, mindig csak magyar rendőröket, magyar csendőröket, magyar nyilasokat. ”

I have did not see armed Germans, there were always Hungarian policemen, “csendőr”s and “nyilas”s.

tappanch
Guest

Grammatical correction:

The former pupils of the Jewish Elementary School of Óbuda bear witness to the events of 1941-44.

“I did not see armed Germans, there were always Hungarian policemen, “csendőr”s and “nyilas”s.”

Martin
Guest
Andras Boros-Kazai : Should’ve known better than to voice a differing opinion on a site I stumbled across. Still, I respectfully suggest that we do not sink to the level of the discourse which regrettably seems to have become the norm in Hungary: Baseless allegation as to one’s political leanings, one’s intelligence, even one’s character and morals. Are those the now-acceptable elements of a serious discussion? Ez is csak egy kispesti kocsma? As for the dates, I happen to agree with a fair number of my fellow historians in that that certain Oktober Sunday was far more important a turning point than the formal occupation of Hungary in March. And please leave Wass Albert out of this, unless you wish to honor the “courts” that convicted him and thousands of other “liberated” East Europeans, with a number of Jews among them. He may have fallen for a wrong, even evil, ideology, but he had good company. Those were the times when one of the brightest philosophers of the past century wrote Nazi pieces, the cream of French intellectuals sipped champagne with occupying German officers in Paris, and the brilliant American poet broadcast Fascist exhortation from Rome. Dear Prof. Boros-Kazai, Please… Read more »
wpDiscuz