Viktor Orbán shapes the Holocaust Memorial Year

While Viktor Orbán was composing his letter, described by the philosopher Ágnes Heller as the handiwork of Moliére’s Tartuffe, the pious fraud who managed to fool his benefactor and his wife with his pretensions of divine authority, the Orbán regime’s political machine continued preparing the ground for its own version of the Holocaust Memorial Year, for the most part unadulterated by Jewish input.

Today I’ll focus on two events: (1) the agreement of cooperation between the Veritas Institute and the Holocaust Documentation and Memorial Center and (2) the meeting between members of the government and representatives of Mazsihisz, the umbrella organization for several Jewish communities. As I already noted a few days ago, the Veritas Historical Institute, directed by Sándor Szakály, and the Holocaust Documentation and Memorial Center, represented by György Haraszti, chairman of the board, signed an agreement of cooperation. Leaders of Mazsihisz and other Jewish organizations were stunned. Szakály and Haraszti have already agreed on some conferences that will be jointly sponsored by the two institutions.

The first conference will deal with the period between the German and Russian “occupations.” A sidenote: The word used in connection with the arrival of the Soviet troops is a matter of controversy of an ideological nature. There is no question that for the remaining Jewish population of Hungary the Soviet arrival was a “liberation” (felszabadulás), and therefore the Holocaust Center’s acquiescence in using the word “occupation” (megszállás) is unfortunate. Although admittedly most non-Jewish Hungarians feared the arrival of the Soviet troops, calling the event a foreign occupation is simplistic. It does, however, jibe with the Hungarian constitution’s (and Orbán’s) view of Hungary’s lost independence. The Germans took it away in 1944, and after the war the Allies that defeated Hitler’s Germany (which, after all, included the Soviet Union) continued to deny Hungary its independence. Hungary was a powerless, and hence innocent, nation; all the power, and all the responsibility, lay in the hands of its occupiers.

Monument of the March for Life, Budapest / Work of Zénó Kelemen

Monument of the March for Life, Budapest / Work of Zénó Kelemen

Now back to the controversial agreement between the Veritas Institute and the Holocaust Center. Historian Szabolcs Szita, the temporary director of the Holocaust Center, knew nothing about the negotiations between Haraszti and Szakály. Szita was named director three years ago and his appointment is coming to an end on May 3. No one knows who his successor will be. One thing is sure: he wasn’t encouraged to reapply. György Haraszti, on the other hand, obviously has very good relations with the Orbán government. He was named chairman of the board shortly after the election of 2010. He is also a professor at the Országos Rabbiképző–Zsidó Egyetem, the rabbinical school and Jewish university that is under the supervision of Mazsihisz.

As a result of his agreement with the Horthy-loving Szakály, a man Mazsihisz demanded the government replace with a more reputable historian, Haraszti was asked to leave all his positions at the rabbinical school at the end of the current academic year. I’m not worried about his future, however. The Orbán government takes good care of its own. As for topic two, at the request of Viktor Orbán a meeting with the leaders of Mazsihisz was arranged for April 30th, the same day Orbán released his letter to Katalin Dávid. The government was represented by Viktor Orbán, János Lázár, and Zoltán Balog. Mazsihisz sent its president, András Heisler; Péter Tordai, the president of the Budapest Jewish Community (BZSH); and Péter Kardos, chief rabbi of Hungary and a Holocaust survivor.

The meeting was described as a long and “frank” discussion. We all know what “frank” means in this context: the discussion was less than pleasant and it led practically nowhere. As far as the monument is concerned, it is not negotiable because Viktor Orbán “has no room to maneuver.” He cannot give up the original concept. This is very strange reasoning. Who is forcing him to erect the monument? Surely, nobody. What he might have had in mind was that because of his stubbornness he maneuvered himself into a corner from which he cannot extricate himself without losing face.

Some people might argue that Orbán feels so strongly about the issue that scrapping the monument and the idea behind it would shake the very foundations of his worldview. I doubt it. He is anything but a man of firm beliefs. He belongs to the church of “what works now.” The only promise the leaders of the Mazsihisz delegation received was that in establishing the House of Fates “they together will make a last attempt to create a system of cooperation that will ensure the true depiction of history in accordance with Hungarian Jewish perspectives.”

In certain circles this agreement was hailed as a sign of Viktor Orbán’s willingness to compromise. I am not that optimistic. I fear that the gulf between the two views is so great that it cannot be bridged. I will be most surprised if talks between government representatives and supporters, such as Mária Schmidt and György Haraszti, and Mazsihisz, supported by most historians of the Holocaust, can possibly arrive at a common ground.

Szakály’s appointment, according to Mazsihisz’s brief description of the meeting, was not on the agenda. On the other hand, the Mazsihisz leaders offered some preliminary plans for a “House of Coexistence” which Mazsihisz suggested as an alternative to the House of Fates. Again, I have the feeling that this is a dead issue. As is clear from the agenda of the conversation, the creation of the House of Fates is going ahead. A House of Coexistence would be another establishment costing additional money. I doubt that Viktor Orbán is in the mood to give such a gift to Mazsihisz and the Jewish communities it represents. Especially not after Jewish communities supported the two-week-long demonstration against his “accurate and flawless” monument.

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Sandor
Guest
He has no room to maneuver? How very interesting! He had plenty of room to maneuver when the nascent National Theatre building had to be torpedoed and left unfinished, in fact “ditched,” in order to have his own alternative monster built in the boondocks. Although that was a much greater magnitude of a project. Indeed, as a reminder of that “maneuver,” there is still today an enormous ditch fouling up one of the most central, most historic squares of Budapest. He also had enough room to maneuver when he strangled the fourth subway project, already under construction, merely to punish the sinful Budapest for the temerity of daring to elect a liberal lord mayor. And doing it shortly after signing an agreement with that very lord mayor about the financing of the subway! That was an even greater project than the National Theatre by several orders of magnitude and also involved European financial support. When he maneuvered Hungary out of that, the country lost billions of European financing. Just as he could call into being this monster by fiat, so he could also stop it at once at will. It is not that he cannot maneuver, he just simply won’t.… Read more »
Sandor
Guest

Sorry, I made an error. I meant to write in the last sentence:

He will also lie anything to save face, as if it would be possible to save face by lying.

Help Haraszti To Come Clean
Guest
Help Haraszti To Come Clean

Haraszti must be convinced to leave the sinking ship of Orban.

If Orban is blackmailing Haraszti, he should come clean.

petofi
Guest

All ‘tempest-in-a-teacup’.
By now we should know that when Orban ‘lights up the jews’….he is probably hiding something else. I suggest that the monument issue serves to feed the anti-semites, but mostly, to keep people’s minds off the missing response(s) to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Pomeranian
Guest

Help Haraszti to Come Clean:

The “sinking ship of Orban”. Muhahahaha. That’s good.

Orban’s ship is not going down anytime soon. Dont’t even dream about it.

You should be smarter than that. And you should have thought about Haraszti when he was appointed. Orban never appoints people by chance. Think about the search for a minister for development which eventually found one Lászlóné Németh.

Nobody had such a conscious human resources policy when it comes to strategic (politically important) positions as Orban does, since I don’t know when, maybe the early 1950’s.

Loyalty and controllability are paramount, to a point no Western person can imagine.

If Haraszti was appointed in the first place, then that had to have a compelling reason. The only question is what?

Steven Geiger
Guest

10 years ago I kicked out Haraszti as a member of the Board of Directors of the Mensch Foundation International.He was the only one I kicked out.

Member
OT Béla Glattfelder EU representative of Fidesz is getting very confused. In his recent rant against the EU where he tells the world that the EU should stop telling Hungary what to do inside its borders, at the same time he also states that they will do everything to make sure that the EU will help to create jobs for young people in Hungary. He also said that Fidesz must protect the creation of workplaces from the left that attack Hungary in Brussels, and from the right that wants Hungary to quit the EU. I am not sure what kind of a drug the Fidesz members are on. I thought that only Toronto has problem wit its crack using mayor, but apparently Glattfelder has some issues.. – First of all, never in the last two decades so many Hungarin youth left Hungary because of the “fantastic” policies implemented by the Hungarin agivernemnet then under Fidesz. – Saying that Hungary performs better in workplace creation is like saying that a factory that employs children for slave labour has success with low labour expenses. Hungary created a work scheme where they force people to do legitimate jobs way below of minimum wage.… Read more »
csongor
Guest

Some1:

re the young people leaving Hungary. It is a huge mistake to think that they are fundamentally different from the Hungarian population from a political point of view.

They, like most people under 34-40, who entered voting age in the last 15-20 years overwhelmingly support Fidesz and, among the working class people, Jobbik.

They leave Hungary, enjoy freedom of movement, but they do hate ‘liberals’ and the EU-federalists.

I also have many acquaintances who have been working at the Commission for many years, have been enjoying all the perks and they still hate the EU.

These may sound contradictory, but people are that: contradictory.

Just a note.

cheshire cat
Guest

Csongor, you are right. Many newcomer Hungarians in the UK are Fidesz or Jobbik supporters and voters, in my experience.

MusicLover
Guest
On May 11th, there will be an invitation only concert as part of the Holocaust Memorial Celebrations at the Music Academy. The programme choice is peculiar. The concert features works by Hungarian Jewish composers whose careers were cut short by the Holocaust and I think we can all agree that that is both fitting and dignified. The problem is with the central work: a mass, written by Ernő Dohnányi for the consecration of Szeged Cathedral in 1930. And it gets more peculiar. Dohnányi was accused of being an Arrow Cross collaborator which effectively ended his performing career even after his exile to Florida. I’m sure people will rush to Wikipedia to check up on Dohnányi and you will find some dreadful stuff about him. To be scrupulously fair though, he has his apologists and my own feeling having done my own reading on the subject is that their arguments are more convincing than the ones summarised on Wikipedia. To quite a large degree, Dohnányi’s complicity may have been exaggerated. But even so, he remains a strongly ambiguous figure. And it is puzzling why a work written in 1930 for a different faith is deemed relevant. Worse though is that the… Read more »
Member

csongor
May 2, 2014 at 8:15 am Quote
Some1:
re the young people leaving Hungary. It is a huge mistake to think that they are fundamentally different from the Hungarian population from a political point of view.
They, like most people under 34-40, who entered voting age in the last 15-20 years overwhelmingly support Fidesz and, among
the working class people, Jobbik.
__________
My comment was not about the political stand of the young people who leave Hungary. My comment was about that they are not happy there, whatever the reason is. Their employment numbers added to the Hungarian statistics as a success story is a lie.

Obviously if they leave the country under the rules of the Fidesz government because they are unhappy for whatever reason in Hungary, and they still decide to vote for Fidesz then they are stupid, but that is another story, and has nothing to do with my post.

The letter of Viktor Orbán
Guest
The letter of Viktor Orbán

The letter of prime minister of Hungary to the Mazsihisz.: http://www.origo.hu/attached/20140430davidk.pdf

The big forum debate on politics.hu
Guest
The big forum debate on politics.hu
oneill
Guest
“They, like most people under 34-40, who entered voting age in the last 15-20 years overwhelmingly support Fidesz and, among the working class people, Jobbik.” What’s your proof for that? Have any surveys been done on the matter? If not, then you are talking off the op of head, or to put it more politely you are relying on your own personal experience. My own personal experience would be quite the opposite I know of very few Fidesz/Jobbik expats. Remember when Big Brave Vona came to London for a Jobbik rally, he ended up quivering locked up in an underground toilet because the number of local *and* Hungarian anti-fascists greatly outnumbered the Nazi Hungarian expats. Approx 60 Hungarian Fidesz/Jobbik nazis turned up to support him out of a Hungarian exile population of what nearly 100,000? Also it’s notable that the regime made it as difficult as possible for Hungarian expats to vote in the last election- do you really think if Orban believed that he could pull in even one more vote from London, he wouldn’t have made it as easy as he did it for his sheep in Romania? Now… I will agree that the main reason why people… Read more »
valosagonline
Guest

Oneill, it is your pure fantasy. The antifa protesters of London were British. The most popular party in Hungarian universities is the Jobbik: http://nol.hu/belfold/20130216-tarol_a_jobbik-1367357

In the young less educated classes, the ratio of Jobbik supporters can reach 80%

kommentelo
Guest

“Have any surveys been done on the matter?”

There are tons of surveys about politics and age distribution. MSZP always does better than average in the 70+ group while Jobbik always does better than average in the under 30 group.

You just have to google the surveys. Age data is ALWAYS collected for every representative survey anyway, per definition. Sometimes they do not publish it but they do create tons of such “age survey”s over time.

oneill
Guest

kommentelok
Ok.
Give a link. Go on.
You won’t because you can’t.
The reason Der Fuhrer didn’t make it as easy for Hungarian exiles to vote in the Uk as he did for folk born in Romania was… why do you reckon? Administrative mistake;)
He was running scared, that’s why.

valosagonline

“The antifa protesters of London were British.”

Nope. You obviously weren’t there, my friend
“The most popular party in Hungarian universities is the Jobbik”
Quite possibly. But logically those Nazis aren’t also living simultaneously in the UK or am I missing something?

tappanch
Guest

Let us remember, since no Hungarian newspapers do.

The first armed clashes between peasants and noblemen took place at Mezőtúr exactly 500 years ago.

The victory of the noblemen over the peasants in July 1514, and Werbőczy’s subsequent Tripartitum shaped Hungarian constitutional law into a legalistic exercise of oppression of the minority ruling class over the majority.

Orban’s rubber stamp Parliament brought back legalistic oppression as a noble tradition.

tappanch
Guest

More correct English grammar:

oppression of the majority by the minority ruling class.

Istvan
Guest

oneill I understand your concern relating to Some1’s rather expansive assessment of Hungarian youth emigrating and the logic of having some polling data. All I can provide is what I have seen here in the Midwest USA, maybe Eva sees different things back east in the USA. Working class youth who are skilled tradesmen and have sponsors I have met here who are recent immigrants, and there are not many I would add, could be characterized politically in the way Some1 has. But that seems not to be true of Hungarian immigrants or green card holders (Permanent Residency Card) or work visas holders, such as an H-1B Visa, with University level educations and I have met a few.

Just as to the relevant immigration data for Hungarians to the USA. From 1986 to 2012 there were only 31,365 legal Hungarian immigrants to the USA. There are currently based on the best estimates made by the US government very few illegal immigrants from Europe at all, the best guess is about 34,500 from all of Europe including Hungary (see http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2011.pdf ). There were only 363 Hungarians accepted for the 2014 DV-2014 diversity lottery to the USA (see http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/dv2014-selected-entrants.html ).

kommentelo
Guest

“Give a link. Go on.”

Oneill Did you read the study that was linked to you earlier? It was already linked to you, what prevented you from reading it? I was talking about studies dealing with age distributions in voting. Studies that examine the voting of different age groups. Such studies are common and one was already linked to you so why would anyone post more to you until you read the one already posted? What this has to do with “exiles” I don’t get.

oneill
Guest

“Oneill Did you read the study that was linked to you earlier? It was already linked to you, what prevented you from reading it? I was talking about studies dealing with age distributions in voting.”

It gave voting preferences of Hungarian expats presently living in the UK?
Nope, thought not.

Let me help you: surveys of Hungarian expats living in the UK.
Now.. get someone to explain that rrelatively easy concept to you.
Try again.

cheshire cat
Guest
I agree that we could do with some reliable statistics, rather than anecdotes. What I meant is that recent emigrants are often (surprisingly) not anti-Fidesz. Partly because their support was formed while living in Hungary, prior to their decision to leave. Also, many Hungarians in the UK have minority feelings, that they are not appreciated as Hungarians by the rich Westeners and are looked down upon – therefore the image that “Orban stands up for the Hungarians” and “stops Westeners ordering them about” and encourages them to be proud of being Hungarian etc appeals to them. I can only rely on my own experiences and I certainly don’t ask Hungarians about their political views unless they bring it up. But 15 / 20 would be pro-government or pro-Jobbik or “right- leaning”. This includes people with professional degrees, doctors etc My family in Hungary is also pro-Fidesz, so are some friends. I don’t tend to classify them as brainwashed idiots but try to listen to them and understand where they are coming from. Often it comes down to “Orban defends Hungarians’ interests”, and they usually admit that they don’t know as much about politics as me. Some of them have a… Read more »
kommentelo
Guest

“It gave voting preferences of Hungarian expats presently living in the UK?
Nope, thought not.”

Finally you say what you wanted. All expats living in UK voting preferences. And here I thought the discussion was about young people.

Just because it is overwhelmingly young people who emigrate, because they know languages, have no families yet to tie them down, have no property, have means and opportunity. Their voting preferences are known from countless studies. But of course you are not interested in those studies they all contain statistics which is useless when you can more easily rely on anecdotal “evidence” and your theories. I think we can agree that you were right in everything. Since there are no studies about the 19,2-19,5 year old Hungarian expats with brown hair, and glasses who are living in Birmigham we can never know their voting preferences ever. Or until a study is made researching just them and nobody else. It is forever a secret.

Kirsten
Guest

My experience with Hungarian expats in “Europe” would (unfortunately) point to a similar proportion to what cheshire cat wrote. I am not sure either whether this is based on “political” thinking because those who think politically are most often very critical (to the point of being uncompromising), and others appear to be hiding their political ideas because what appears to be disliked the most is to see Hungary criticised by others. The support for the “pro-Hungarian” Fidesz is really something like a defence of the nation. Perhaps slowly the idea should be established that the nation is not close to extinction at every turn.

Member

Istvan
May 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm Quote
oneill I understand your concern relating to Some1′s rather expansive assessment of Hungarian youth emigrating and the logic of having some polling data.
__________

I did not provide an expansive assessment. I think you are contributing something to me, but it muster someone else’s s comment I quoted.

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