Hungary has a Jewish population of 100,000, the largest in Central Europe.
An anti-Semitic member of the Hungarian parliament called for Hungarian Jews to be registered as national security threats. After being criticized in Hungary and condemned around the world, the legislator alleges that he only meant Hungarian Jews who also held Israeli passports.
That this person and his extremist party are not marginalized and instead have won a seat in parliament is another symptom of Hungary’s failure to come to terms with its history as an ally of Nazi Germany and an active participant in the Holocaust.
Four months ago a 97 year old wanted Hungarian war criminal who was hiding in Hungary was arrested. That he was able to hide for so long raises very serious questions about continuing Hungarian complicity.
Hungary’s hiding of a war criminal, continuing suppression of history, and avoidance of acknowledgement of direct participation in the Holocaust is almost as serious as outright Holocaust denial.
In 1940 the Hungarian government voluntarily allied with Nazi Germany.
Hungarian anti-Semitic fascists were not coerced by the Nazis to participate in the Holocaust. Hungarian fascists with the support of the Hungarian government eagerly, enthusiastically and violently rounded up their fellow Hungarian citizens who were also Jews to be shipped to Nazi death camps. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was attempting to save Hungarian Jews not from Nazi Germans but from Hungarian fascists.
Of Hungary’s estimated pre-WWII Jewish population of 455,000, 265,500 were killed.
During the Cold War, The Soviet Union and the Hungarian Communist Party created the fiction that the crimes of Hungary were those of capitalists and fascists. They shielded Hungary from consequences of their Nazi alliance and participation in the Holocaust.
The Soviet Union has fallen, the Cold War is over, and Hungary is independent.
The time has long passed for Hungary to follow the example of Germany and acknowledge its history.
The time has come for Hungary to start behaving like a mature member of the family of civilized nations by taking responsibility for their share of the Holocaust.
Hungarian Official’s Call to List Jews Draws Condemnation and Protests By REUTERS, November 28, 2012, The New York Times.
War Crimes Suspect Is Detained in Budapest By PALKO KARASZ, July 18, 2012, The New York Times.
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