World Jewish Congress advises Hungary not to erect controversial memorial
On 14 February the World Jewish Congress (WJC) called on the Hungarian government to reconsider its unveiling of a memorial on the anniversary of the occupation of Hungary by Germany in March 1944. The plan has sparked a tiff between the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Hungarian Jewish communities.
Critics consider the erection of such a memorial as part of the government's efforts to obscure the responsibility of former representatives of Hungary and its local security forces for the deportation and death of many Jews during the Holocaust. In June 1944, not long after the occupation, Hungarian authorities decided to send 437 000 Jews to Nazi death camps.
The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (FHJC) announced last week that it would not be attending this year's official event commemorating the Holocaust unless the role played by the Hungarians in the deportation and murder of Hungarian Jews was more clearly presented there. One reason for the boycott is the intended memorial referencing the occupation of Hungary by Germany.
WJC chair Ronald Lauder declared Friday that he fully supports the FHJC's decision and called on the government to take the Jewish organizations' uneasiness into consideration and to reconsider their plan to build the controversial memorial. Lauder also expressed concern that raising the question of Hungary's role in the Holocaust prior to the parliamentary elections scheduled for 9 April in Hungary could make it possible for the ultra-right to exploit the issue to promote themselves.
The problem of anti-Semitism in Hungary is alive once more today thanks to the country's controversial ultra-right Jobbik movement. Its members reject Hungary's responsibility for the murder of Jews during WWII and are infamous for their anti-Semitic statements.
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