KRAKOW – A court in Hungary ordered a Holocaust denier to serve a most
unconventional punishment. He was instructed to visit either the Budapest
Holocaust memorial center, the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp or the Yad Vashem
memorial in Israel.
Gyorgy Nagy, a 42-year-old unemployed computer
technician, is the first Hungarian convicted under the country’s Holocaust
denial law, which came into effect in February 2010. The court also gave him an
18- month suspended jail sentence.
If Nagy chooses to visit the local
Holocaust memorial center, he will have to visit the place three times, and
write down his thoughts and observations after his visits in order to complete
Nagy was arrested at a political rally in Budapest in 2011
when the local police read on the banner he was holding: “The Shoah didn’t
Holocaust denial is a crime in Hungary punishable by a maximum
The law criminalizing it was submitted by Attila
Mesterhazy, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party. The law passed two years
ago 197-1 with 142 abstentions.
Earlier attempts to ban Holocaust denial
were rejected by the Hungarian courts for infringing on freedom of
Despite the new law, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has
been sharply criticized recently by many world Jewish organizations for
pandering to nationalists and tolerating anti-Semitism. In one of the most
notable cases, Orban’s government was accused of approving the naming of a park
in Gyomro, a small town on the outskirts of Budapest, after Miklos Horthy, the
country’s wartime leader and a close ally of Adolf Hitler.
Orban was also
accused for not condemning the anti-Semitic statements made in recent months by
some members of the far-right Jobbik party, including a call to count the number
of the Jews living in the country “and who represent a hazard for national
security” and the demand for the resignation of Hungarians MP’s with both
Hungarian and Israeli citizenship.
Last June, Elie Wiesel, Nobel peace
laureate and Holocaust survivor, returned Hungary’s highest state honor, the
Grand Cross, accusing Hungary of “whitewashing” its history and its
collaboration with the Nazis.