Tens of thousands of Jews and Jewish supporters participated in the 12th March of the Living Hungary in Budapest.
Sunday’s event, considered the largest civil anti-fascist event in Hungary, was held on the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation of Jews from Hungary by the Nazis.
Holding posters saying “Never again” and “History cannot be re-written!,” the participants marched from the Danube River to the Eastern Railway Station in Budapest to commemorate the loss of Hungarian Jewry in 1944, when two-thirds of Hungarian Jewry — nearly 600,000 people — were deported and killed.
Dozens of Hungarian Holocaust survivors were the guests of honor at the march.
“We go to Auschwitz, but this time we will return,” Ilan Mor, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, said in an emotional speech.
Mor will be part of the Hungarian delegation in Monday’s Auschwitz commemoration, where Hungarian President Janos Ader will deliver a speech at the Auschwitz memorial site of Hungarian Holocaust victims.
The International March of the Living Conference was part of weekend memorial events in Budapest, including a panel discussion on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe with the participation of members of parliaments from Poland, Greece, Spain and Canada.
Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian justice minister and lawmaker, as well as a human rights activist, chaired the panel.
“Jews died in Auschwitz, but anti-Semitism did not die, and we are experiencing anti-Semitism yet again,” he told JTA. “Now the time to mobilize all of humanity against this anti-Semitic phenomenon that again has come.”
Cotler visited the Budapest site of the daily protest against a monument being constructed to honor the country’s victims of World War II. Jewish and non-Jewish groups, mainly liberal intellectuals, have protested that it obfuscates Hungary’s Holocaust-era role.
“I hope that the Hungarian government will cease and desist from putting up this memorial as it now stands because in the end of the day, it will not serve neither the interest of remembrance nor the truth, or not even the interest of the Hungarian government, which I don’t believe want to be seen as mischaracterizing the Holocaust,” he said.