Holocaust Historian Returns Hungarian Honor Over 'Whitewashing' of Shoah

Hungary Plans Memorial to German Occupation in Budapest

Members of the Hungarian Jewish community march in commemoration of the Holocaust. The country, however, has recently moved away from honestly reporting its involvement in the Shoah.
getty images
Members of the Hungarian Jewish community march in commemoration of the Holocaust. The country, however, has recently moved away from honestly reporting its involvement in the Shoah.

By JTA

Published January 26, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Noted Holocaust historian Randoph L. Braham is returning a high honor granted him by the Hungarian state.

The action is a protest against what he called the government’s falsification of Holocaust history and attempts to whitewash Hungary’s role in the Holocaust.

The Hungarian state news agency MTI on Sunday quoted a letter from Braham, 91, in which the Bucharest-born scholar, a Holocaust survivor and expert on the Holocaust in Hungary, said he was handing back the Cross of the Order of Merit “with a heavy heart” following recent developments in Hungary. He also said he would no longer permit the Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center to use his name for one its research departments.

Braham, an emeritus professor at the City University of New York, wrote in the letter that: “The campaign of history falsification which aims to whitewash the (Miklos) Horthy era, has shocked me.” Horthy led Hungary into World War II as a Nazi ally.

Braham said the “last straw” had been the decision by the government to erect a memorial in downtown Budapest to the 1944 German occupation of Hungary. This, he said, was a “cowardly attempt” to exonerate Hungarians from their own role in the Holocaust and confuse the issue by placing all blame on the Nazis.

Hungarian Jewish leaders, historians and others have sharply criticized plans for the memorial.

“The events of 1944 are, to say the least, more complicated than a story of ‘bad’ Germans fighting ‘good’ Hungarians,” the prominent historian Krisztian Ungvary wrote in the HVG.hu news magazine. “Eichmann himself was thrilled by his experiences here, observing that the Hungarians must surely be descended from the Huns since nowhere else had he seen so much brutality ‘in the course of solving the Jewish question.’”

Hungary’s conservative government, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has designated 2014 as Holocaust Memorial Year, with a series of events and initiatives planned.

In October, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics told an international conference that the country’s leaders recognized Hungarian involvement in the Holocaust and vowed that the state will combat anti-Semitism and racism. Hungary’s ambassador to the United Nations made a similar statement last week.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.