Nazi hunter slams Hungarian soccer fans for celebrating accused war criminal

Fans of Ferencvaros soccer team hold up sign commemorating recently deceased war crimes suspect László Csatáry.

August 19, 2013 23:10
2 minute read.
EFRAIM ZUROFF, director  Simon Wiesenthal Center

Efraim Zuroff 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Significant segments of Hungarian society are in denial of complicity in war crimes, a well known Nazi hunter said Monday. The statement was in response to fans of Hungary’s Ferencvaros soccer team holding up a sign commemorating alleged war criminal László Csatáry during a match on Saturday.

“If anyone needed any proof why it was important to prosecute Csatáry for his crimes during the Holocaust in a Hungarian court, the Ferencvaros fans provided it this past Saturday,” Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office told The Jerusalem Post.

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Csatáry died earlier this month while awaiting trial for torturing Jews and deporting thousands of them to their deaths during World War II. A former police commander of the Kassa internment camp in Slovakia, he was sentenced to death in absentia for his crimes in 1948 by a Czechoslovakian court after he fled to Canada.

He was deported back to Hungary in 1997 and arrested last year in Budapest, the capital, after the Sun daily newspaper in London published his picture and whereabouts.

The sign, which read “In memoriam László Csatáry,” was flown during the annual bout between Ferencvaros and MTK Budapest FC, a team popularly identified as Jewish due to its historic ties to members of the Hungarian Jewish community.

According to Zuroff, Saturday’s game marked the third year in a row in which an anti- Semitic banner was flown at a match between the two clubs.

It happens “every time they face MTK,” he said.

“The year before, the banner said ‘Efraim Zuroff, your mother is a whore’” and in 2011 “they commemorated a famous blood libel.”

The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ), he accused, “has never said a word to stop them or force them to take them down and this is a real outrage.”

The MLSZ posted a statement on its website condemning the banner on Sunday, stating that such a message “has no place” at a sporting event.

The Mazsihisz, an organization representing the Jewish community of Hungary, has not yet responded to the incident due to a long weekend, Robert Frolich, Rabbi of Budapest’s Great Synagogue, told the Post.

Anti-Semitism is a grave concern in Hungary, which has one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe and is facing a rapid rise in the fortunes of the far right.

Jobbik, which has accused Israelis of “buying” up Hungarian land and which has called for the compilation of a list of Jews serving in government due to concerns over disloyalty, is the country’s third-largest party.

JTA contributed to this report.

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