The Israeli Embassy in Budapest spoke out against a bust of Hungarian leader and Nazi collaborator Miklós Horthy being installed in Hungary’s Parliament this week.
“It is hard to imagine that in modern Hungary in the heart of Europe,” the embassy said in an official statement on Wednesday, “there are still political circles that are busy glorifying a person who was also responsible for the inhumane sufferings and death of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian citizens, among them the majority of the Jewish community.
“There is no room and tolerance for antisemitism and antisemitic ideas, period,” the embassy stated.
The far-right Mi Hazánk (“Our Homeland”) Party announced the bust’s installation in the office of the party’s vice president Dóra Dúró on Tuesday, saying they were repaying a historic debt, according to Hungarian news site Telex.
The move was not coordinated with Hungarian House Speaker László Kövér, Telex reported, and he did not allow the party to use an official conference room to make the announcement.
Who was Miklós Horthy?
Horthy was a fascist leader of Hungary who aligned the country with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, killing 63,000 Jews before the Nazi occupation. When it looked like the Nazis would lose, Horthy tried to change sides to the allies, and Germany invaded Hungary, deporting 437,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, gassing most immediately.
Horthy directly approved some of the massacres and deportations of Jews and other populations that were carried out by the Hungarian armed forces during the Nazi occupation.
A Mi Hazánk lawmaker claimed on Hungarian TV that “grateful Jews” laid a wreath on Horthy’s grave, and that there have been “historical falsifications” about his legacy.
Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities president András Heisler said in response that “75% of Hungarian Jews cannot be grateful to Horthy because they were murdered in World War II and the Holocaust.
“The largest Hungarian cemetery is in Auschwitz,” Heisler said. “To say that grateful Jews are laying wreaths on Horthy’s grave, I think that is not true on the one hand, and on the other hand, it is disgusting cynicism.”
"75% of Hungarian Jews cannot be grateful to Horthy because they were murdered in World War II and the Holocaust."András Heisler
The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities said in an official statement that placing the bust in parliament was illegal, and called on Kövér to remove it.