Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Holocaust, Revisionism And Antisemitism In Hungary

Hungary Arrow Cross Nazi fascism genocide accountability history crime politics war revisionism

In 1941, around 825,000 Jews lived in Hungary, including the newly acquired territories; by the end of the war, there were only 260,000 survivors. Seventy-five years on, Viktor Orbán regularly declares “zero tolerance for antisemitism”; yet the Holocaust Remembrance Project gave Hungary a ‘red card’ for revisionism, rehabilitation of war criminals, and minimizing official complicity in the genocide. In a country where a significant percentage of the population is overtly antisemitic, this nativist-authoritarian government has no qualms about pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable; no qualms about failing to censure antisemitism from within its own ranks; and no qualms about engaging in brazen historical revisionism.

On the Danube riverbank, close by the Hungarian Parliament, set into the concrete is sixty pairs of rusting shoes; at three separate places, cast-iron signs read in Hungarian, English and Hebrew: “To the memory of victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-45.” Created by the sculptor Gyula Pauer and film director Can Togay, the memorial was installed on the Pest embankment in 2005. Modelled on actual pairs of men, women and children’s shoes from the 1940s, the memorial bears silent testament to the frenzied butchery of the fascist Arrow Cross units who herded their terrified Jewish victims to the banks of the Danube and forced them to take off their shoes before shooting them directly into the frozen waters of “the Jewish cemetery”. Shoes had become valuable wartime commodities for murderers to trade on the black market.

Survivor Zsuzsanna Ozsváth recounted:
“I heard a series of popping sounds. Thinking the Russians had arrived, I slunk to the window. But what I saw was worse than anything I had ever seen before, worse than the most frightening accounts I had ever witnessed. Two Arrow Cross men were standing on the embankment of the river, aiming at and shooting a group of men, women and children into the Danube – one after the other, on their coats the Yellow Star.”   (more...)

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