Online Module: The Holocaust and Fundamental Rights

Doc. 7: Protest of historians and Hungarian civic society

About

In the last chapter various reactions of Hungarians to the new Memorial of German Occupation in Budapest are documented.

Sources

  • Open letter from Prof. Randolph L. Braham in the Hungarian Spectrum.

  • Daniel Nolan: German occupation memorial completed under cover of darkness, in: The Budapest Beacon (21 July 2014).

Hungarian Memorial with protest banner
Inscription of the monument: “Memorial to the victims of the German invasion”.
On the Protest Banner: “Forgery of history”, Source: 
The Budapest Beacon

Outstanding scientists, religious and public figures criticised the symbols used for the memorial. Protests of civic society groups have continuously been held against the statue plan for over a hundred days.

One of the first, who gave the protest an important voice, was Randolph L. Braham, highly regarded in Hungary as the foremost interpreter of the Holocaust.

Open Letter from Prof. Randolph L. Braham, 26 January 2014 

Rudolph L. BrahamProfessor Randolph L. Braham is highly regarded in Hungary as the foremost interpreter of the Holocaust, and therefore he was honored by both the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest and the Hungarian Government. In 2011 it was the Orbán government that bestowed upon him the Medium Cross of the Republic of Hungary, which is the highest decoration that a Hungarian government can grant. The Library and Information Center at the Holocaust Memorial Center bears his name. At least until now.

  
26 January 2014
Professor György Haraszti, Chairman of the Board
Dr. Szabolcs Szita, Director
Holokauszt Emlékközpont
Páva utca, 39
H-1049 Budapest

Dear György és Szabolcs:
I am writing to request that you remove my name from the Téka és Információs Központ [Library and Information Centre] at the Holocaust at the Holokauszt Emlékközpont [Holocaust Memorial Centre]. I reached this decision with a heavy heart, having followed the recent developments in Hungary with great concern. The history-cleansing campaign of the past few years calculated to whitewash the historical record of the Horthy era, including the changes in the constitution that "legalized" the sinister measures that were subsequently taken to absolve Hungary from the active role it had played in the destruction of close to 600,000 of its citizens of the Jewish faith, have left me, and I assume many others, stunned. The straw that broke the camel’s back in my decision was the government’s resolve to erect a national statue relating to the German occupation – a cowardly attempt to detract attention from the Horthy regime’s involvement in the destruction of the Jews and to homogenize the Holocaust with the "suffering" of the Hungarians – a German occupation, as the record clearly shows, that was not only unopposed but generally applauded.

I realize that for a variety of political and economic reasons the leaders responsible for the operation of the Holokauszt Emlékközpont would or could not speak out against the brazen drive to falsify history. I, on the other hand, a survivor whose parents and many family members were among the hundreds of thousands of murdered Jews, cannot remain silent, especially since it was my destiny to work on the preservation of the historical record of the Holocaust.

I hereby also return the Medium Cross of the Order of the Republic of Hungary, together with the scroll signed by President Pál Schmitt with the request that you forward them to the appropriate Hungarian authorities.

Randolph L. Braham
Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Source: Hungarian Spectrum

20 July 2014 The Associated Press reports

The move came just hours after the Capital Court had ruled against a referendum on the statue filed by the one-time District V Socialist mayor Pál Steiner, citing a government decree that classified the construction as "of outstanding importance for Hungary’s economy". Steiner called the decision "shocking" and argued that Hungary has no economic interest in the memorial, which will only "damage the country’s reputation, infuriate democratic states, and divide and offend Hungarians".

Despite Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s recent claim that the monument is "morally precise and immaculate", it emerged on Monday that the Hebrew inscription of the monument had mistranslated the word “victims” as "sacrificial animals". Chancellor János Lázár said if reports of the error were true, the government will correct it and apologise.

[...]

Riot police arrived on the scene when opposition politicians and two hundred civilian protesters tore down the protective fence around the memorial and pelted the statues with eggs on Sunday morning. The demonstrators included politicians from the Socialist Party (MSZP), Together-PM and the Democratic Coalition (DK). Hundreds have left trinkets, candles and other objects to express their opposition to the memorial, while a large banner proclaims “Forgery of History, Poisoning of the Spiritual Well”. The monument is reportedly now the most protected object in Hungary, according to a police source of ATV.

Source: The Budapest Beacon 

Sunday afternoon

Posters, photographs and other memorabilia depicting victims of WW2 surround a monument recently unveiled for the 70th anniversary of the German Nazi occupation in Budapest, Sunday.

 

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