Hungary Jewish Group Threatens Memorial Boycott

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities said Sunday it will boycott all government events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary unless the government cancels some of the planned memorials.

The dispute stems from historical and ideological differences between the federation and Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government about the yearlong series of remembrances centered on the 1944 deportation of more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews to Nazi death camps.

“The known plans do not take into account the arguments or the sensitivity of the victims of the horrors of the Holocaust,” the group said, adding that there had been “no substantive progress on the government side in the dispute over the Hungarian Holocaust Memorial Year.” The federation voted 76-2 in favor of the boycott, with three abstentions.

Mazsihisz, the federation’s Hungarian acronym, wants the government to abandon plans to build a memorial of Nazi Germany’s 1944 invasion of Hungary and a project dedicated to the child victims of the Holocaust.

The “House of Fates” memorial is being built at a Budapest railway station from which Jews were deported to Nazi death camps. The memorial honoring children will include an exhibit and education center, and Mazsihisz said it has been sidelined from the project, whose “historical approach remains unknown” to the federation’s experts.

Mazsihisz fears both memorials will downplay the role of Hungary and Hungarians in the Holocaust.

Mazsihisz also is demanding the dismissal of Sandor Szakaly, a historian appointed by the government to lead a new historical research institute, because of disputed remarks he made about the 1941 deportation to Ukraine of Jews from other Eastern European countries who had sought refuge in Hungary. Some 15,000 of them were killed by Ukrainian militias and German SS troops.

Mazsihisz and leaders of other Hungarian Jewish organizations met with government officials on Thursday, and Orban is expected address their concerns next week.