Krisztián Ungváry: One terror regime is taboo, while the other is market kitsch

I have been planning to publish an opinion piece by Krisztián Ungváry that appeared in the July 21 issue of Népszabadság for some time, but Viktor Orbán’s speech completely upset my plans.

On July 12 Mária Schmidt, the director of the House of Terror and the person appointed by the Orbán government to oversee the creation of a second Holocaust museum in Budapest, gave an interview that contained several misstatements regarding the views of Ungváry on the Hungarian Holocaust.

Considering that the issue of this new museum, the House of Fates, is still very much in the news and in fact I will devote a whole post to it tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to publish this polemic of Ungváry. After all, Hungarian Spectrum published in full Mária Schmidt’s article outlining her revisionist view of Hungarian-German relations as well as the fate of Hungarian Jewry, and therefore the readers of this blog are familiar with her line of reasoning. Moreover, in the same post I published Mária M. Kovács’s article in which she dissected Schmidt’s rather flimsy arguments.

Here is another article that sheds light on the way Mária Schmidt operates. Right now there is a stalemate between Mazsihisz and Schmidt over the House of Fates because the Jewish organization claims that Mária Schmidt’s statement published on August 8  misrepresented the understanding that was reached between Schmidt and several of the Jewish organizations involved with the project.

My thanks to “Buddy” for the translation of this interesting answer to Mária Schmidt. It is packed with little known and important facts about the German occupation of Hungary in 1944. Buddy would like to dedicate this translation to his professor, Professor Mária M. Kovács of Central European University.

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Mária Schmidt doesn’t realize that she is committing the same tasteless mistakes that she accuses her opponents of, writes the historian, who responds in ten points to the statements of the director of the Terror House published on

In her interview in the July 12, 2014 issue of Népszabadság, Mária Schmidt referred to my statements several times, but twisted them around every time. In other cases, she demonstrated an unfortunate lack of historical knowledge.

1. According to Mária Schmidt, I claimed that Hitler did not even want Hungarian Jews to be deported.

In contrast, I claimed that Hitler did not insist on the immediate deportation of all Hungarian Jews at any cost. This is not the same thing, to say the least.

2. According to Mária Schmidt, “questioning the loss of sovereignty is a cover for politically motivated malice, but if we can be generous, we have to assume a lack of knowledge and professional incompetence at a minimum.” In contrast, the German policy makers thought differently about this amongst each other.

After March 19, 1944, economic offices of the German military were forbidden to even enter the grounds of a Hungarian factory at all, or meet directly with Hungarian managers on official matters.

Wehrmacht units were strictly forbidden to buy or requisition products, as all of their needs had to be fulfilled only through storage depots of the German or Hungarian defense forces. An example of this restraint is an entry in the war diary of the panzer tank division, which stated that “we aren’t allowed to interfere in the economy, or requisition goods, or take a position on the Jewish question [!], which will be resolved by the Hungarian government.”

At a German Economic Ministry session on April 16, 1944, Department Head Schlotterer stated that Hungary was not an occupied country like France, Italy or Denmark, and its government was a sovereign partner, and that it had to be acknowledged that more should be done for their common struggle.

Karl-Otto Saur, the head of the German fighter program, remembers the same thing: “We can never work by giving orders, only with requests and offers may we act.” This is worth noting because Saur was not by any means a man of weak temperament, but just the opposite, someone infamous for exploiting his authority to the utmost in every case to achieve his objectives.

Plenipotentiary Edmund Veesenmayer was the only one who regularly reported to his superiors that he insistently acted against Hungarian public officials – all of which relativizes, to put it mildly, the claim that Hungary completely lost its independence on March 19, 1944.

3. According to Mária Schmidt, the Germans “solved the Jewish question similarly” in every country.

However, the literature on the Holocaust is consistent in showing that the opposite of this occurred. In Romania, for example, no one was deported to extermination camps. In France only a small group of Jews were sent there, while in the Netherlands and Belgium, nearly all of them were.

The differences are especially noticeable if we look at the percentage of Jews who survived the Holocaust in each country. Obviously, the Germans wanted to solve the Jewish question similarly, no question, but they were not able to enforce their will completely in every location.

It would be of great help to Mária Schmidt if she would at least obtain a decent high school history textbook or an encyclopedia, from which she could learn the relevant data on this.

4. Mária Schmidt finds it absurd that I claimed that we can not find a command from Hitler ordering the annihilation of the entire Hungarian Jewish population.

I must emphasize that it is not in question whether Hitler was responsible or not, and whether or not he stated the necessity of the annihilation of the Jews in general, but rather whether the German occupation of Hungary was also connected with the expectation that the entire Hungarian Jewish population had to be eradicated at any cost.

From this, I would have to conclude that Schmidt intends to prove that in spring 1944 Hitler gave an order for the complete and quick annihilation of Hungarian Jews in death camps, and obviously until now only requisite modesty has held her back from disclosing her evidence, which would completely rock the results of Holocaust research thus far, to the public.

5. Mária Schmidt claims that she has never encountered my aforementioned statement, and that I am the only one who is capable of such absurdities.

She would correct this statement if she read the literature of the Hungarian Holocaust, starting from Randolph L. Braham to László Karsai, Gábor Kádár, and Zoltán Vági, all the way to the work of Götz Aly and Christian Gerlach.

These authors are uniformly of the opinion that the German occupiers did not have a unified plan from the start about how to deal with Hungarian Jews. Of course, they received general instructions from their superiors, but owing to the exceptionally small number of German occupiers, they were forced from the start to carry out their anti-Jewish activities in cooperation with the Hungarian government, relying primarily, in fact, on the Hungarian apparatus.

Source: Országos Széchenyi Könyvtár

Source: Országos Széchenyi Könyvtár

6. According to Mária Schmidt, “certain people question a fundamental fact, in which there has been consensus up until now, namely that if the Nazi occupation of March 19, 1944 had not taken place, then the mass deportation and deaths of Hungarian Jews would not have occurred.”

I don’t know anyone who would cast doubt on this claim. So then who is Mária Schmidt arguing with?

7. According to Mária Schmidt, Eichmann’s incriminating statements comparing Hungarian officials to the Huns because of the brutality they showed with the deportations (which she mistakenly credits to Veesenmayer) were motivated by the fact that he was making excuses as a defendant in court.

The tiny flaw in all of this is that a significant part of Eichmann’s statements incriminating Hungarians originated in Argentina, when he gave an interview to a Dutch Nazi. Not holding back, he made statements that for the most part seriously incriminated himself during the interview, as he wanted to prove that he himself was the number one person responsible for the Holocaust.

8. According to Mária Schmidt, Eichmann and Veesenmayer forced the Hungarian perpetrators of the Holocaust to cooperate through extortion on a daily basis.

By comparison, historical scholarship reveals the exact opposite of this. The overzealousness of the Hungarian enforcers surprised even the German perpetrators. Eichmann was delighted with László Endre, State Secretary for Home Affairs, and his colleagues. He didn’t have to resort to extortion on Endre even once, especially since he only had advisory authority.

When the Hungarian authorities wanted to push back on Eichmann, they could do so without any trouble, for example when they didn’t permit him to deport those of military age. The situation was also similar with Veesenmayer, except that he did in fact attempt extortion, but if the Hungarian side did not wish to cooperate with him (such as after June 6, 1944, for example), then Veesenmayer’s attempts at extortion all came to nothing.

I am interested in seeing evidence from Mária Schmidt showing how, for example, Eichmann extorted the gendarmes and rural civil servants to get them to subject every woman branded as a racial Jew to a vaginal search…

I am also interested in hearing how Mária Schmidt would explain that in 1942 several county assemblies voted in favor of a bill that provided for the deportation of the Jews.

How would she explain Prime Minister Miklós Kállay’s characterization of 75% of MPs in the ruling party as intransigent anti-Semites, because they also demanded the deportation of the Jews even before the German occupation?

Perhaps Eichmann and Veesenmayer could have extorted them?

9. All appearances indicate that Mária Schmidt struggles with langauge difficulties, as when she claims that with Sándor Szakály’s infamous statement calling the deportations of 1941 “a police action against aliens,” his only problem was that he used terminology of that time.

There are contemporary expressions that mean the same today as they did in the past, and can be used without any trouble. There are others which do not mean the same thing, but their meanings are clear, such as “malenkii robot,” about which nobody would ever think that the person involved had to work “just a little.”

This is because this expression is used solely and exclusively in the context of deportations to the Soviet Union. And finally, there are those that do not mean the same thing today as they did back then, and their meanings are not at all clear.

Such is it with the notorious “police action against aliens,” which even in 1941 did not mean procedures carried out against aliens, as a part of the “aliens” affected were native to Hungary. Moreover, out of the “aliens,” it solely and exclusively affected those considered to be Jews.

But even apart from this, it is disgraceful that someone uses this expression today to refer to the Jewish deportations, since the act had as much to do with police activity towards aliens as prostitution does to comfort. If I may draw a parallel: Japanese authorities called “comfort women” (ju-gun-ian-fu) those women who before 1945 were forced into brothels by the Japanese Imperial Army through brutal means.

The unreflected usage of this expression is just as scandalous as when Sándor Szakály, hiding behind objections on terminology, conceals that it was in fact a brutal act of anti-Semitism carried out by independent resolution from the Hungarian government, as opposed to the Germans, and about which even from the start they could have known would lead to the destruction of a significant portion of those affected (as no provisions had been made for their livelihood, their valuables however had been partially confiscated).

10. Mária Schmidt distorts the truth when she credits me with saying that the presence of NATO troops in Hungary is identical to the presence of the Wehrmacht.

Three years ago, an argument was made in connection with the preamble to the Hungarian Constitution that Hungary lost its sovereignty because foreign troops had entered its soil. I answered then (and repeated in my writing published this year dealing with the preamble to the Constitution) that with this logic, we would have to regard the presence of NATO troops as also creating a circumstance in which Hungary has lost its independence.

From this, Mária Schmidt fabricated the assertion that I believe that the Wehmacht and NATO resided in Hungary on the same basis.

Finally, a comment: Mária Schmidt regularly argues that her own sensitivities also need to be taken into account, and that she considers the lack of this as a sign of double talk.

I think some serious conceptual confusion exists here. I readily admit that she can also claim some victims in her family, such as her grandmother, who died in the war, or her father, who was hauled off as a prisoner of war. In any case, not a single critic has disputed, or hasn’t disputed for that matter, that a memorial to prisoners of war and war victims should be created from public funds.

But Mária Schmidt wants us to lament for her victims in exactly the same way as those who were murdered or knowingly sent to their deaths by Hungarian government officials.

Shouldn’t we consider that due to the differences between the two groups of victims, it would be useful to not always treat them as if they were in the same category? Don’t misunderstand me, every human life is as valuable as another, and every bereavement is equally unique.

But there is a difference between who is responsible for victimizing whom. Mária Schmidt’s relatives – if I understand correctly – were not victimized by the Hungarian state in even a single instance. In contrast to this, the Hungarian state played a decisive role in the tragedy of the Hungarian Jews, which is why the Hungarian state should perhaps memorialize this group differently than those for whom they were not responsible (or to a completely different degree) for their sufferings.

Mária Schmidt’s image of her main enemy consists of those from the “left-liberals loudmouths” to members of the “’68 generation.” It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t realize that she is committing the same tasteless mistakes that she accuses her opponents of, primarily by applying double standards.

A telling example of this is the gift shop in her own museum, where, curiously enough, specific souvenirs of only one totalitarian dictatorship are available for sale. Those who wish to purchase humorous Stalin or Lenin figurines find themselves in the right place. If there’s an attitude that should truly be left behind, it is Mária Schmidt’s behavior that makes one terror regime taboo, while making market kitsch out of the main people responsible for the other.


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Thank you Éva for publishing this. I am actually a former student and research assistant of Prof. Mária M. Kovács, so if possible I would like to dedicate this translation to her!

Instead of another pointless discussion about 70 year old events I’d appreciate some posts about what is going on in the present. I am especially concerned about MSZP’s recent actions during the negotiations for the upcoming Budapest elections. It is almost as if their goal was sabotage of the whole thing I just cannot understand it. First they dragged out the process while insisting that only their candidate Csaba Horvath is fit to become mayor of Budapest. Then they demanded all of the good positions. Then they demanded way too many positions, then they leaked all the names. Peter Juhasz even said that some names only didn’t leak because they did not dare to tell them to MSZP until the very last minute. Then they started to attack and badmouth Ferenc Falus, saying he is just a “retired public servant”, he has “no knowledge of city management”, Szofia Havas attacked him harshly and so on. Then they accepted Falus seemingly but they changed the agreement at the last minute giving themselves more seats more power more of everything. Now Egyutt says they will run alone if MSZP continues down this path of destruction. And I also heard the new leader… Read more »

Thank you very much for the translation of this. It’s valuable.

It’s sad, though, that Ungvary has to engage in some kind of ‘academic debate’ with this Schmidt. Schmidt is either a dangerous idiot promoted beyond her competency (if we’re being kind), or a paid propagandist. She deserves no voice.

I’ve two questions, if anyone is able to answer them:

Is Hungary’s role in the Holocaust taught in schools in Hungary? (It ought to be, regardless of how painful it might be).

How many German troops were actually engaged in Hungary during the 1944 ‘occupation’? I gather it wasn’t many, but I’m not able to find out numbers.


Oh, and regarding the gift shop in the ‘Terror Haz’ (House of Terror) theme park, I suspect that Ungvary’s books are not available for purchase. However, last time I was there (about two years ago), you could see English translations of Zsolt Bayer’s book on 1956 for sale. Says it all, really.

Penny Oswalt

At Bowen::: I am 50 years old and I was taught about the Holocaust in detail, with film footage, as a 5th grader learning history, it was heart wrenching and painful. I learned over the years that death is violent, it always has been. And Wars and those who ran rampant during the Hungarian Holocaust are either dead now or close to it. In the 1970’s it was taught in public schools here in the USA, now it is taught in college, providing you are studying Jewish History.
It is sad that over the years that it is being swept under the rug. All wars are violent, we in America can be perceived to be “War Happy”. There are alot of peace makers still in this world, they just need to come forth and be public about it. What is done is done, we cannot turn back time, but as long as we learn from our past, it will most likely produce no new wounds.


@Bowen – About Maria Schmidt deserving nothing except to be ignored: I would agree with you if she weren’t an adviser to Hungary’s PM, if funding for certain historical projects did not depend on her, and if she weren’t the director of one (perhaps soon to be two) well-funded museums. When she is ignored, her power and influence over society seems to grow. Demonstrating in print what a fool she is seems, unfortunately, all that can be done.


As government leader, you hoist one moron–Matolcsy–to a high government post, it can be an error.
You elevate two other members, as in the Peter Principle (ie. to the level of their incompetence) like Kover and Lazar, and its maliciousness.
You also raise others like Schmidt and Szajer and that criminal, new, development minister…that’s pure, unadulterated mockery and ill will.

Who can ever doubt the lunacy of Orban; and the meekness and incalculable idiocy of the Hungarian public to swallow all this whole?

Karl Pfeifer

Thank you Buddy for the translation.
László Karsai called on ATV Mária Schmidt a “History falsifier” and “Holocaust relativizer”. Mária Schmidt is not starting procedure against Karsai.
The head of the “post-communist mafia” V.O. is not satisfied with installing an autocracy in Hungary. He is doing himself a lot to falsify History. The memorial for the German occupation, Schmidt and her museums, Szakály etc. V.O. is not lunatic, in contradiction to the left-liberal elite, he knows his people. As long as he is making phrases about the national grandeur of Hungarians, he can plow on the backs of his people.


Apparently MSZP’s main remaining politicians are not only clueless and utterly incompetent to lead, but rumors abound how many of them (not only Zsolt Molnar and A. Mesterhazy who are now gone) have been simply purchased by Fidesz. Of course, we talk about really petty money here (at least in terms of political corruption), a couple of millions, not Simicska-Orban levels. But these MSZPniks are content with that, since to begin with this “new generation” of MSZPniks has never had any real visions or goals about what to attain in politics — other than to participate in the backroom wheeling-dealings in which the savvier fideszniks always took advantage of them easily. So now killing any joint left wing agreement or rather committing a collective suicide on the left wing is just as good an option as any, because the top 10 people thinks they can still get to keep their jobs in the Parliament in 2018 but can also make a couple of millions on the side. After all they also want to build their Balaton weekend houses and want to move up to district II or XII.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)

Many thanks to the author, translator, and publisher.

@Bowen: while I’m generally against feeding the trolls, I’m afraid answering them can’t be avoided when the trolls are in power.

@Tim: I agree, the upcoming local elections matter a lot. However those ‘discussions about 70 year old events’ are happening now, and they do show the (sorry) state of the ideology of the current rulers of Hungary.

Among other things, the historical whitewashing attempt is obviously designed to enforce the fairytale of the benevolent-protective-christian-nationalist-State-surreptitiously-victimized-by-evil-foreigners. Rings a bell? And one can only hope that, if the Hungarian 1930s ended up in a tragedy, its 2010s will end as a farce.


Not too much OT:

Maybe the museums should start to sell pictures of places from the glorious Hungarian past like:

Adolf Hitler Tér – named in 1938

Mussolini Tér – named in 1936 !!!!!


London Calling!


…..someone on here has been banging on about these locations for some time!


Your rudeness is discourteous.



Thanks for this Éva. I have been astounded by the extent of Holocaust denial in Hungary. I did some oral history research in Apostag in 1991/2, and the ‘witnesses’ made it quite clear that the deportation of all six hundred Jews from the village was done entirely by the Hungarian Army and Gendarmerie. There may have been some belated attempts by the Regency, under international pressure, to halt the deportations from Budapest, scheduled for late August, and to ‘release’ the Jewish children (under 10, see British National Archive ‘Eden’ document, 8 August), but it was the Romanian defection which resulted in Himmler’s order to cancel any further deportations. Of course, the failure of the Lakatos government led to the ‘second stage’ of the Holocaust, under the Szalási regime, though we shouldn’t forget the continuing atrocities carried out in the work camps and on forced marches throughout July and August, including those carried out against the Roma. You can find my writing on this in wordpress, but no doubt you are also familiar the recently-published memoirs of Domokos Szent-Iványi about the Regency at this time. The discussion of these events is essential in the current context, not least because most ‘liberal… Read more »
Buddy: Thank you so much for translating this. Karl Pfeifer August 11, 2014 at 1:49 am: I could not agree more. i had the exact same thoughts but of course not even close to be so eloquent. I often wonder why these “educated” people so into these kind of falsification. I think they “feed each other”. In order to gain power without to much of a plan, you have to come up some sort of agenda. Let’s face it Orban never had a clue how to create 1,000,000 new jobs, as he promised, Fidesz have not have to clue how to balance the books, and so forth. Orban took on the role of Don Quixote against “enemies” to the problem is not within, so there is nothing to solve inside. Even inside the “conspirators” who infiltrated the country (banks, etc.) who he have to fight. He is also brutal to those who do not play the game with him, so people around him got in line to serve this Hungarian Don Quixote, as they are all well paid from tobacco shops to EU contracts, from school principal positions to Presidents of the country, from directors of museums to chief-advisories. They… Read more »
I found section 10 of Krisztián Ungváry’s response to Schmidt intriguing given Fidesz’s affinity to Russian nationalist aspirations. Ungváry writes: “Mária Schmidt distorts the truth when she credits me with saying that the presence of NATO troops in Hungary is identical to the presence of the Wehrmacht.” He goes on to explain the dispute that rose over the preamble to the Hungarian Constitution (the National Avowal). The preamble dates the Hungarian loss of self determination from March 19, 1944. As Ungváry puts it ” I answered then (and repeated in my writing published this year dealing with the preamble to the Constitution) that with this logic, we would have to regard the presence of NATO troops as also creating a circumstance in which Hungary has lost its independence. From this, Mária Schmidt fabricated the assertion that I believe that the Wehmacht and NATO resided in Hungary on the same basis.” Currently Papa Air Base has 1000 total personnel and family members from the nations Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States, as well as personnel from Boeing and their families. Since July 2001 Papa AB has been designated as a NATO… Read more »
Istvan: I think the logic of Ms. Schmidt is extremely simple. The NATO – in her view – is similar to the Wehrmacht and thus is bad. NATO is an American/Western institution and thus she would like to break free from it and from any obligations Hungary might have towards the West. “We want to be free and, if we want to, be friendly with Russia”. Mind you, Ms. Schmidt is a HUF billionaire. As marital property she jointly acquired a huge real estate company together with his wheeler-dealer husband (who was of jewish descent, but apparently did not mind her wife’s anti-semitic escapades), who deceased suddenly a couple of years ago. So half of this acquisition became hers upon his death as so-called divided personal property not subject to inheritance. Needless to say that real estate holding company was acquired by her husband and some other investors in a rather tricky privatization, but they were fideszniks so that was cool. Besides being a chief ideologue, she is essentially an oligarch which in turn gives her an even stronger position in questions of ideology. And of course, if possible, she would also like to manage her assets in smart ways… Read more »
D7 Democrat

“Besides being a chief ideologue, she is essentially an oligarch which in turn gives her an even stronger position in questions of ideology.”

She is an exception there then amongst the Orbanist oligarchy. The only “ideology” the regime’s oligarchs have is making money as fast and by any means possible.


Thanks, Topf!

It’s almost unbelievable what you get her in the way of background info – Hungarian news sites probably don’t report on these things like the “economic background” of the Orbanistas – i e the amount of money they made …

Some times I here similar stories from a member of my wife’s family, but regular Hungarians don’t know this – or don’t they care? Are they happy with these kind of businesses where the Fidesz mafiosi get all the good deals?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)

Speaking about trollism, and Fidesz’s current Russian tropism, I wonder how they’re going to adapt the ‘Brussels Moscow’ and ‘EU USSR’ slogans, heard and read so many times these last four years, from the ‘Peace Marches’ to the European Parliament …


The Hungarian-Russian chapter of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK) today is calling for talks between Russia and Hungary over Russian’s ban on farm products from Hungary since it is part of the EU. No doubt the MKIK is seeking a special exemption from the ban since Hungary is really a good friend of Russia and really supports the right of Russian separatists to establish the ethnic based autonomous regions within the Ukrainian state.

Does anyone really think that this illustrious body would dare propose such an idea as bilateral discussions with Russia over the trade embargo if Fidesz did not give the green light for such discussions?

I think the correct description of this would be áruló.


Wolfi: this is public, but perhaps wasn’t clear to many of the present readers of HS. And I am assuming that the half of the assets (after the division of the marital property) which was then subject to inheritance went to her daughter (?), but Ms. Schmidt originally must have received a life long right to enjoy the proceeds from all such assets inherited by the child(ren) of Mr. Ungar, although I think this right could have eventually be swapped for a portion of the inheritance. All in all I figure she must have ended up with some 65-75% of the assets his husband gathered via his deals, easily making her a billionaire.


“I answered then (and repeated in my writing published this year dealing with the preamble to the Constitution) that with this logic, we would have to regard the presence of NATO troops as also creating a circumstance in which Hungary has lost its independence.”

I do not understand. Is this Ungvary saying that Hungary would be occupied from the NATO troops? Is he retarded or am I misunterstanding something? What is he saying exactly. What is the accusation against NATO, that he wants to use as historical denial for the German occupation?

I find by Ungvary even the bringing up of NATO in this context as tasteless, ignorant and unprofessional. What did he try to achieve by bringingn NATO into this??


damage, it is you who misunderstands, I am afraid.

Ungvary’s logic is that since we do not feel being forced to do anything by NATO’s presence (and in line with this Orban is getting in bed with Putin even though that would be sort of against the spirit of NATO — but we are not occupied or lost our sovereignty), the mere fact that Wehrmacht was here, did not compel Hungary to do anything or mean that Hungary has lost its sovereignty.

We did not lose our independence with NATO’s presence, neither did we with the Wehrmacht’s presence in March 1944.

Is this more or less clear?


@ Topf:

Thanks again and now for something completely


I had to smile because you made the same mistake in English as my Hungarian wife’s son often does, writing “his husband” and “her wife” – seems many Hungarians have this “gender problem” with English and it gets even worse with German: Der, die, das / er, sie, es/ sein, ihr …

He told me that his teacher didn’t think it was important, so he never learned the correct use of this …

But you can be assured I have similar or maybe worse problems with Hungarian grammar!


Schmidt talks a lot. Lies a lot. Mixes up NATO with Wehrmacht.

What a lilliputing lady?

cheshire cat
Hi Bowen, you ask: “Is Hungary’s role in the Holocaust taught in schools in Hungary? (It ought to be, regardless of how painful it might be).” I don’t know about now, but I was in grammar school in Hungary in the late 80s, and it was taught. In fact, the whole story of WW 2 was taught in a way that highlighted the tragic mistakes the Hungarians made. Starting with the false accusations of the Soviets bombing Kosice and the subsequent Hungarian attack on Russia. Hungary’s role in the Holocaust was explained, indeed in very dark terms. The whole Holocaust was presented with a “learn from this, never again!” background message. We also read and discussed poems by Radnoti eg., whose poems were written in a concentration camp. My class dramatized the second world war and performed it on stage in front of the whole school in 1988. I remember it very clearly: there was no romantic nationalism in it, no kitsch patriotism, it hit and it hurt. It is true that in the schoolbooks there was a “this is all in the past and we are very different people now, it could not happen again” message with it. I… Read more »
cheshire cat

OFF By the way Bowen, is it taught in British schools how Britain got “involved” in the world wars? Because the Germans did not in fact declare war on Britain in neither of them, it was Britain who sent Germany ultimatums (-a?) and then announced that “we are now at war with Germany”.
I’m asking because many Brits I speak to are somehow convinced that the Germans “attacked” their country – this is not to decrease the amount of tragedy Hitler and Nazi Germany started and caused in the wars (not to mention the Holocaust), but start a war with Britain they did not. (As far as I know.)


Cheshire cat, I do not know of course what is taught in Britain, but the question of who actually sent the declaration of war does not appear so important to me. The circumstances were provocation and destabilisation to a degree that something had to be done. Currently (and hopefully I am speaking entirely hypothetically), we do not know what our politicians, the NATO, the United States will feel compelled to if Russia will not stop destabilising the region West and South to it. They will probably not declare war either and yet they are creating a situation where something has to be done about it.