Hungary Tension Rises on 'Ultimatum' by Jews Over Holocaust Commemoration

Community Sees Whitewash of Collaborators Role

Budapest Bust: A bust of Hungary right-wing wartime leader Miklas Horthy is among the issues that has led Jews to distance themselves from commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation.
getty images
Budapest Bust: A bust of Hungary right-wing wartime leader Miklas Horthy is among the issues that has led Jews to distance themselves from commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation.

By JTA

Published March 01, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A Hungarian official said a planned Jewish community boycott of Holocaust commemorations could harm relations between Hungarian Jews and non-Jews.

The government’s commemoration plans “face failure because of the absence of Mazsihisz,” Janos Lazar, chief of staff of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said at a press conference Tuesday, referring to the country’s Jewish umbrella organization.

“They issued an ultimatum to the government, and this is causing more anxiety than a positive impact on the coexistence of Jews and Hungarians,” he said. He added these actions will ultimately not harm coexistence, the Hungarian MTI news agency reported.

It was the latest escalation in an unusually harsh war of words between the Jewish umbrella group and the government over a ceremony in memory of Holocaust victims, which critics say absolves Hungarians of their active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths.

The ceremony, marking 70 years since the near annihilation of Hungarian Jewry, was scheduled for March 19 but has been postponed over Mazsihisz’s opposition to the inauguration of a monument which the government has described as “dedicated to the memory of the German occupation.”

The planned monument depicts Hungary as an angel being attacked by a German eagle. The monument would be unveiled near another monument in memory of the victims of communist oppression. Critics object to the failure to name Hungarians as culprits in the deportation of the Jews. Mazsihisz also believes the location creates a false equivalence between the two periods, the group’s president, Andras Heisler, told JTA.

Government officials had until now refrained from leveling public accusations at Mazsihisz over the issue.

In an interview this week with InfoRadio, Heisler said Mazsihisz’ boycott of the commemorations as proposed by the government did not amount to an ultimatum. He added that Hungarian-Jewish coexistence was not in danger, because Mazsihisz’s argument is with the government, not with society.


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!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • 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.