BUDAPEST (JTA) — Hundreds protested in downtown Budapest against a vandalism attack on a memorial to the nearly 600,000 victims of the Holocaust in Hungary.
The unknown vandals tore photographs on display at Liberty Square and damaged or removed objects donated to the Living Memorial by survivors and their descendants.
The memorial is located opposite a statue commemorating Hungary’s time under the rule of Nazi Germany. Unveiled in 2014, the statue erected by the center-right government of Victor Orban shows an angel being attacked by a German eagle – a design that critics say glosses over Hungary’s active role in sending its Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust. The Hungarian government disputes the interpretation, arguing the figure attacked represents all victims of fascism and not only the Hungarian state.
Among the protesters on Sunday were Holocaust survivors, who worked to fix and re-exhibit their torn personal objects, documents of their past and pictures of their murdered families.
One was Aniko Heller, 88, who told JTA that she was deported in June 1944 from her family home in a Budapest suburb, Rakospalota, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp with her family. She was the only one to return.
Heller said she again brought the photo of her family that was torn down last week, and will bring it again if vandals destroy it.