26 Jan 2018

Commemorating Holocaust victims and anti-semitic leader on the same day?

Some saw no problem in scheduling a mass in honour of Miklos Horthy on January 27, widely known as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Horthy, a wartime leader, contributed to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Commemorating Holocaust victims and anti-semitic leader on the same day? - NewsMavens
Horthy Miklós . Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Tomorrow many around the world -- and in Hungary -- will commemorate the Jews killed in the Holocaust. On the same day, a mass was planned in Budapest “in honour” of Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s controversial wartime leader.

The organizers claim that each year the mass is held on a different day, therefore it was just a coincidence that January 27 was chosen. As priest Zoltan Osztie put it -- they did not even remember that it was the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

After a wave of criticism, two days before January 27, the organizers called off the event. However, the priest denied any wrongdoing and blamed the scandal on those "who incite hate".

It has been three years since I visited Auschwitz, but I still remember what a staff member of the Memorial and Museum told me -- that the biggest challenge now is to keep the spirit of remembrance alive. As years pass by, less and less survivors are there to tell the new generations about the darkest period of the 20th century.

Time is not the only challenge though. The revision of history, a popular phenomenon these days, may pose an even bigger challenge.

politics, history, fascism

Details from the story:

  • Zsuzsanna Toronyi, the director of the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, commented on the issue on Facebook -- “Auschwitz is the biggest cemetery of the Hungarian history. Every third victim (in Auschwitz) was Hungarian. It could not have happened without Horthy.” 
  • Miklos Horthy is a controversial figure in Hungary. He ruled the country from 1920 to October 1944.
  • Although Horthy initially refused Nazi demands to deport Jews, he passed four anti-Jewish laws that had fatal consequences. Many Jews were killed in forced labour camps in Hungary, while almost half a million were deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.
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