Jewish Leaders and U.S. Condemn Hungary for Statue of Nazi Ally Miklos Horthy; as Antifa Put Hungarian Neo-nazi Jobbik Party On The Run In London.
The United States on Thursday strongly condemned a far-right party for unveiling a statue of wartime leader Miklos Horthy, who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany, an event which stoked concerns about a wave of anti-Semitism in the country.
The Jobbik party unveiled the statue on Sunday in Budapest.
Jobbik's 'Neo Nazi' Supporters Trapped In London's Holborn Station
Antifa Put Hungarian Neo-nazi Jobbik Party On The Run In London
On Twitter, Unite Against Fascism wrote: “After scuttling around London #Jobbik Vona pops up in rainy Hyde Park. No venue wants a fascist rally. So much for the master race.”
“Those who organised and participated in the event, including members of Hungary’s parliament, promoted not only their own intolerance, but also a dramatically negative image of Hungary,” the U.S. embassy said in an e-mailed statement.
“Although the significant number of counter-demonstrators showed there is strong opposition to the organizers’ views, and members of the Hungarian government have expressed disapproval, an event such as this requires swift, decisive, unequivocal condemnation by Hungary’s highest ranking leaders,” the statement said.
The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s centre-right Fidesz party has acknowledged Hungarians had a role in the Holocaust and pledged a policy of zero tolerance against racial hatred and anti-Semitism.
Hungary still has one of the largest and oldest Jewish communities in Europe, mostly in the capital.
But while there is a revival of Jewish culture, the far-right has remained strong and anti-Semitism, as well as hatred toward other minorities like homosexuals or Roma, is still a serious problem.
Jobbik has vilified Jews and Israel in parliament, where it is the third-biggest party. It is set to win 8-9 percent of the vote at parliamentary elections next April or May, according to the latest opinion polls.
Jewish population: 35,000-120,000
Jewish population: 35,000-120,000
The Hungarian Jewish community is the largest in East Central Europe. Most Hungarian Jews live in the capital, Budapest, which has some 20 working synagogues and a plethora of other Jewish institutions, both religious and cultural. There are also a number of smaller Jewish communities in provincial cities, including Debrecen, Miskolc and Szeged, with an active religious and cultural life. Before the war, Hungary had a Jewish population of 450,000 and Budapest was home to over 200,000 Jews, who accounted for some 20% of the city's habitants. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarian-speaking Jews lived in territories in the neighboring countries that had once been under Hungarian rule. Beginning in 1938, some of these territories were restored to Hungary. During World War II, Hungary allied itself with Nazi Germany and initiated a series of repressive moves against its Jewish population. These culminated in the deportation to Auschwitz of nearly the entire Jewish population of the provinces. Of Hungary's wartime Jewish population of some 800,000, fewer than 200,000 survived. Immediately after the war, as the country moved into the Soviet orbit and was confronted by acts of anti-Jewish violence, many of the survivors elected to leave. Another wave of emigration followed the abortive 1956 uprising. Eventually the situation stabilized and the ultimate collapse of Communism hastened the revitalization of Jewish communal life. Today, despite antisemitic rumblings, Hungary Jews have every facility to express their Jewish heritage and religious life. More from the World Jewish Congress
The statue stands on the grounds of a Reformed Church. The bishop of its diocese has launched an inquiry into why the local priest allowed the statue to be erected there.
Orban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, on Monday condemned all racism and anti-Semitism, saying the 24 years of Horthy’s rule were a complex period that historians, not politicians, should discuss.
“The (deportations of Jews) in 1944 were clearly despicable while other aspects of the era, like the creation of the social security system, were decent and were worthy of being continued,” he said.
Horthy ruled Hungary for 24 years and gradually introduced laws that penalised the country’s Jewry. Soon after he took power in 1920, some laws were introduced limiting Jewish enrolment at universities, while Jewish rights were restricted severely when Hungary entered into the alliance with Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.
In March 1944 the Nazis occupied the country and with Horthy still in power, over a 56-day period Hungarian gendarmes helped the Germans deport 437,000 Jews, most to their deaths, according to Budapest’s Holocaust Memorial Centre.
The total number of Hungarian Jewish victims of the Holocaust exceeds half a million.Read more: