Krisztián Ungváry on the memorial to the German occupation of Hungary: “The Living Horror”

Ungvary KrisztianBelow is the English translation of an article by Krisztián Ungváry entitled The Living Horror (Az élő borzalom) that appeared in the original Hungarian in HVG (January 21, 2014). It is about the memorial the Hungarian government insists on erecting despite very strong opposition by historians, the Jewish community, and all those who would like the Hungarian officialdom and people to face historical facts instead of hiding behind a falsified history of the Hungarian Holocaust.

A few words about Krisztián Ungváry. Born in 1969, his interest in history was already evident in his high school days. He won several nationwide history competitions with his writings on history.

After graduating from high school in 1988 he worked for a few months at the Military History Archives cataloging documents pertaining to the Hungarian military in the 1920s. He entered ELTE (University of Budapest) to study history and German in 1989. While still an undergraduate he spent a semester at the University of Freiburg where he did research in the military archives at Freiburg and the allied archives in Koblanz.  He graduated from ELTE with first-class honors in January 1995. 

Right after graduation he began working on his Ph.D. His doctoral dissertation was on the siege of Budapest (1944-45) which was published in Hungary and has had several printings. It was translated into German a year after its appearance in Hungary (Die Belagerung Budapest [1999]). The first English translation of the book  (The Siege of Budapest) appeared in England in 2003 and in the United States in 2006. We discussed Ungváry’s latest book entitled  A Horthy-rendszer mérlege: Diszkrimináció, szociálpolitika és antiszemitizmus  [The Balance Sheet of the Horthy Regime: Discrimination, Social Policy and anti-Semitism in Hungary] (Pécs: Jelenkor, 2013) only recently.

For anyone interested in Krisztián Ungváry’s list of publications, it is available on the Internet. Among them there are several that are also available in German or in English.

This translation is the work of someone who remains anonymous, but it was made public by “Gabi Nagy” on Facebook. Gabi wrote: “Please share. People must know.” 

* * *

On January 17, the Hungarian government decided to erect a monument commemorating the German invasion of Hungary. (…) I would hope that more will be said about the aesthetic qualities of Imre Párkányi Raab’s work – more precisely, its lack of aesthetic qualities. Here, I am concerned only with how he and the Budapest Gallery are falsifying history to ensure that this … sculpture is erected in a public space. This focus is justified because the government, which commissioned the monument, has omitted to consult professional historians before selecting the proposed work. I would like to fill the gap left by that lack of consultation.

The artist says his work “uses the methods of art history and evokes figures from cultural history with allegorical forms. (…) Two cultures are represented: one, which thinks itself stronger, and which is certainly more aggressive, towers above a more tranquil and softer-lined figure, that of the Archangel Gabriel, who represents Hungary. Gabriel, in cultural and religious tradition, is God’s servant or God’s power personified.

“On Heroes’ Square, the Archangel Gabriel sits atop a column, among the clouds. In my composition, he has been laid low. … He is depicted as handsome and tranquil. His body is perfect, and there is no fear in his eyes. His face is tranquil, his eyes are closed. The monument explains that his dream will turn into a nightmare. A culture, its wings broken, is being crushed by a greater power: the Third Reich and the symbol that represents it: the Imperial Eagle. The depiction of the eagle is the exact opposite of the Archangel Gabriel’s. The Imperial Eagle is an assemblage of mass produced icons and symbols. It sweeps in flight across the world. Soon it will reach us and engulf Hungary, putting its inhabitants in chains.”

In the view of the sculptors Miklós Melocco and György Benedek, the work described above is “unique and outstanding in the way it conveys meanings that go beyond the unmistakable message of the explicit symbolism. … The way it reflects history is also remarkable. … We accepted more than 200,000 Polish refugees. Our country was at peace until 1943. The German army massacred as it arrived, and their Hungarian servants in the Arrow Cross movement murdered the country. At most, they intended to leave behind a few Hungarian slaves, temporarily. This lends a terrifying naturalness to the sculpture’s stylised depiction.”

Their opinion is a surprise, because students have been failed at university for less egregious historical distortions. Not to mention that the symbolism is unfortunate. It has already been pointed out that the “Nazi” eagle is actually a German national symbol – making its use in this monument both artistically and politically tasteless. (…)

But the tasteless execution is nothing compared to the historical distortions. Let’s take them in turn:

1. The events of 1944 are, to say the least, more complicated than a story of “bad” Germans fighting “good” Hungarians. Eichmann himself was thrilled by his experiences here, observing that the Hungarians must surely be descended from the Huns since nowhere else had he seen so much brutality “in the course of solving the Jewish question.” So much for the “more tranquil, softer-lined figure”.

2. The German invasion did not put the country’s population in chains. Rather, it opened the way for the country’s right-wing elite to redistribute the possessions of some 800,000 people. Very many people received some share of the spoils, and for that reason they are unlikely to have felt oppressed.

3. Not 200,000 but 70,000 Polish refugees arrived in Hungary. This is also a very large number and a positive story, but it has nothing to do with the German invasion.

4. Hungary was indeed an island of peace for many people until 1944, but not for its Jews. Apart from the more than 100 laws and regulations passed against Jews, there were pogroms in several places (in Kisvárda in 1938, and in Munkács and Máramarossziget in 1942), mass murders (a total of 700 Jews died in Southern Hungary in 1942), the mass deportation of some 17,000 people to Kamenets-Podolskii, continuous deportations of those who escaped until autumn 1942, not to mention inhumanely forced labour, which itself caused the death of more than 10,000 people by 1944. This isn’t as much as the millions of deaths elsewhere, but I wouldn’t call it a small number either.

5. The German army did not commit massacres as it arrived in Hungary. What we refer to as massacres were exclusively planned by the Hungarian authorities and partially carried out by them. Proposals to place the entire Jewish population in ghettos had been floated in Parliament as early as 1941, and it was only the tactical maneuverings of prime minister Miklós Kállay and Miklós Horthy, the head of state, that had stopped the proposals coming to a vote. But by March 1944, Hungary’s state bureaucracy had made the necessary preparations for bringing several hundred thousand people’s lives to a close, making sure that they had fully paid their water, electricity and gas bills before they were loaded into the cattle trucks.

6. Here it’s worth recalling that Hungarian authorities were not just implementing ideas they had got from the Germans. Some anti-Semitic measures were enacted over the protests of the Germans, as with the deportations to Kamenets-Podolskii, where in their eagerness, Hungarian authorities caused a humanitarian catastrophe by sending 10,000 robbed and starving Jews to an already devastated area. Some of them were immediately killed in ‘amateur’ pogroms carried out by local Ukrainian anti-Semites. It was only after this that the Germans decided to kill the Jews in order to ensure there was enough food for the local Ukrainian population, reduce the risk of an epidemic and to further their own anti-Semitic programme. This was the first mass murder in the history of the Holocaust whose number of victims ran into five digits. But the Hungarians behind the deportation had known from the outset that their actions would result in mass murder. Miklós Kozma, government commissioner for Carpatho-Ruthenia, the man principally responsible for the action, wrote as early as 1940 in his diary that “Himmler, Heydrich and the radicals are doing what they want to do. In Poland, people are being exterminated … The Polish Jewish ghetto near Lublin is partially solving the Jewish question, so vast is the scale of the deaths.” In July, news arrived of executions, but this did not stop the perpetrators – symbolised in the present monument by the Archangel Gabriel – from carrying on.

7. The “Arrow Cross servants” had nothing to do with the German invasion. A coalition government was formed in Hungary after the invasion, in which the former government party played a central role alongside Béla Imrédy’s Hungarian Renewal Party and a smaller national socialist party. But the Arrow Cross was NOT part of the government. Indeed, Szalasi, the Arrow Cross leader, criticised the deportations of the Jews, saying it was a waste of the nation’s labour reserves. One current ruling party politician said that the Hungarian state’s sovereignty was limited at this time because “a large part of the cabinet had been arrested.” Let’s count: two members of the Kállay government were arrested by the Gestapo – the prime minister himself and the interior minister. Nine ministers were not just free, but members of the new cabinet. Put it differently: there were only two members of the new, post-invasion government who had not been ministers before 1944. To be sure, one of the exceptions was the Döme Sztójay, the new prime minister, but both exceptions had been part of the pre-1944 Hungarian upper elite. Hardly “a large part of the cabinet”.

8. Eliminating the Hungarian nation did not feature among the goals of the German invasion or even long-term Nazi plans. The claim that they would have “temporarily left behind a few enslaved Hungarians” is completely false. The Nazis intended to exterminate Slavs and Jews, not others. Finally, it is exceptionally sneaky to argue that the monument “is dedicated to the memory of all victims,” as government party politician Antal Rogán has claimed. The German occupiers were responsible only for a relative handful of victims. Easily 99 percent of the deaths were caused by the Hungarian authorities who enthusiastically deported the Jews, and it was also the Hungarians that profited. When the unfortunates finally arrived in Auschwitz, everything had already been taken from them, including their wedding rings.

It is very wrong to try and pretend that both victim and murderer were on the same side. But this is what is being done. Authorities didn’t even consider building a central Holocaust memorial – and that’s no coincidence, since it would then be necessary to discuss Hungarians’ roles in all this. It would be very noble if someone whose grandfather died as a soldier on the banks of the Don river or had been killed while carrying out forced labour, were to mourn alongside someone whose grandfather had been driven out in 1944 and then been killed by German or Hungarian authorities. But this monument excludes that possibility by showing no empathy for a group of victims in whose death Hungarian authorities played a central role.

88 comments

  1. One remark regarding the aesthetic values – or the lack of it – of the planned monument, I hardly think that Párkányi Raab is the only one to blame.
    Looking at his previous works, while he represent a certain taste, artistic- and even ideological line, (what personally I dislike, but it is beside the question) he couldn’t be that retarded all by himself.
    Indeed, the guidance and taste of Kerényi left a strong mildewy odour behind, just as we experienced in his previous involvement in art, or: what is supposed to be art.

    All in all it’s a kitsch again in a multimillion class.
    If I would really be a respectless bastard, I would recommend the live performance of the song on the opening ceremony, can be listened with the help of the link bellow – it represent the intellectual level of our great leader quite well. But, of course, I wouldn’t do that, oh no, never.
    Here is the link, what I don’t recommend, anyway:
    http://piroslapok.blog.hu/2013/10/26/orban_in_vino_veritas_neven_uj_tortenelemkutato_intezetet_grundolt

  2. I read this on politics.hu this morning. Very powerful indeed from a real historian. Ungváry is a masterful scholar – his Siege of Budapest is the definitive account and well worth a reading. His credentials are impeccable.

  3. May I recommend another article, unfortunately in Hungary, by János Széky, on the same subject. It appeared in a Hungarian-Language Slovak site called Parameter?

    http://m.parameter.sk/rovat/paravelemeny/2014/01/24/egy-emlekmu-eloelete?fb_action_ids=10203240604241613&fb_action_types=og.recommends

    It includes a close reading of the appropriate passages of the new constitution. In addition, he talks about Ungváry’s latest book which tells a lot about Hungarian a government’s systematic discrimination of Jews all through the Horthy regime in order to limit their influence intellectually and economically. Ungváry calls it “administrative discrimination.” The whole book is fascinating and I will try to cover the most interesting parts of it here for those who can’t read it but I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be soon out in German and in English.

  4. I can only praise the Hungarian UN Ambassador Csaba Korosi.
    I wish that such people can reach leadership positions in FIDESZ or any other colors.
    This my give us hope that the new generation will liberate Hungary from the failed traditions.

  5. “In the view of the sculptors Miklós Melocco and György Benedek, the work…Their opinion is a surprise, because students have been failed at university for less…”

    Is this a translation mistake or did the original article really quote the opinion of sculptors like Melocco and then said that they would fail at university?

  6. tappanch :
    The Biszku trial will start on March 18.
    http://www.magyarhirlap.hu/marcius-kozepen-kezdodik-biszku-bela-pere-0

    Another arrow in the Fidesz arsenal of ‘deflect and inflame’. The timing is to coincide with the central campaign period of the elections. Consider how Biszku is being ‘used’–shameless and disgusting Fidesz politics–as opposed to the treatment of Csatary who was shielded and left to
    enjoy the confines of his wealthy Buda apartment, until he died (from what, we don’t know).

  7. The German memorial statue is ready, the sculptor has prepared it.

    All the government decree to order it, all the supporting paperwork, all the municipal support are only there to create the legal basis for it.

    It’s a show, played in order to ‘lepapirozni’, to create a legal paperwork, so that the project could not be challenged from a legal point of view in the future, which is pretty important after all we live in a Rechtsstaat do we not?

    Like it was mentioned, Fidesz has an army of are smart lawyers working for them, who are always 10 steps ahead of any socialist politician or liberal observer.

    Fidesz never, repeat never lets the public to interfere in its plans. Only suckers would do that and they are winners.

    Fidesz works and prepares always in secrecy (after all, top Fideszniks are lawyers for whom that is natural and loyalty is anyway sacrosanct) and prepares everything for the ready, so then when something is announced there can simply be no turning back, since the thing is already made, what would they do now with this giant statue? They have to pay the poor sculptor, and already other involved people spent the kickback too. There are too many vested interests at play. They always create a situation beforehand which in the background (unseen by the public) makes change impossible.

    This statute has been in the work for long, as with everything with Fidesz. People say Fidesz politicians do ad hoc things, perhaps, sometimes, as with any politicians, but in most cases they execute a long term plan. However this kind of thinking is just impossible to comprehend for an open-minded liberal, because they are naturally always open to changes, if a better argument comes up, that is only rational.

    At Fidesz, they follow plans and that works in the long-term. See exhibit A on the current state of the Hungarian Left.

    Most certainly Fideszniks would never let themselves influenced by some “whining urban liberals” as they could not sleep well at night if they did that.

    Now that the statue will not be part of the Official Holocaust Memorial Year (as if being a part would mean anything in practice), it can be unveiled with all the media attention. It will be yet another victory over the “Jewish, urban lobby”. By this taking out of the Official Year ceremonies Fidesz allows Maszihisz to save face so they can participate in the Official Year ceremonies, and can still receive the all-important state subsidies and everybody will be happy. Most of all, of course, Fidesz. As always.

    Did I mention that the rewriting of the history and indoctrination of the youngsters as well as of adults will continue unabashedly? Well, yes, but as some important person once said, you should have staged a revolution.

  8. The new Civil Code, PTK, in force on March 15, will create a kind of “lèse majesté”.

    The outgoing ombudsman asked the Constitutional Court to rule about it last summer.

    Click to access 201302249Ai.pdf

    Is there any development on this issue since then?

  9. German military data about the occupation:

    Number of soldiers in Hungary (outside Carpatho-Ukraine & Northern Transylvania) :

    3,825 on May 1,
    4,826 on June 1

    I think this debunks the Orban government’s attempt to claim that the Hungarian government acted under duress to deport the Jews in 1944.

  10. tappanch :

    German military data about the occupation:

    Number of soldiers in Hungary (outside Carpatho-Ukraine & Northern Transylvania) :

    3,825 on May 1,
    4,826 on June 1

    I think this debunks the Orban government’s attempt to claim that the Hungarian government acted under duress to deport the Jews in 1944.

    Where did you get the numbers?

  11. Ránki Gy: 1944 Marcius 19, Kossuth Kiado 1978, p. 157
    quotes

    OL Filmtár 13972/57 kk

    There were also front line troops in Carpatho-Ukraine & Northern Transylvania.

    53,425 on May 1
    41,661 on June 1

  12. Good news is that apparently MSZP does not support Paks II. So it is now ‘only’ Fidesz and Jobbik.

  13. “There were also front line troops in Carpatho-Ukraine & Northern Transylvania.
    53,425 on May 1”

    That is nonsense I am sorry to say. The front was nowhere near norhtern Transylvania on May 1. This is just a historical fact.

  14. As you can see from the map, Hungary had a real chance to switch sides and turn history in early April 1944, since the German were routed.

    But the Hungarian leaders were busy collecting and deporting the Jewish population instead.

  15. tappanch :
    As you can see the Soviet troops reached the Carpathians. They were pushed back later.

    Can you read your own map? That you linked? They did not reach the Carpathians on your map. Maybe they reached within 500 km of the Carpathians. Can you read the country labels on it, on your own map? See the front? See the distance between the front and Hungary on your (not very high quality but it is what you brought) map? It is at least 500 km. There is a whole country (called Romania) that is in the way between Transylvania and the frontline. We cannot change history it already happened. There were no front line in Hungary in 1944 May 1. That is a historical fact that cannot changed.

  16. tappanch :
    German lines on March 30:
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-EF-Defeat/maps/USA-EF-Defeat-24.jpg

    Once again on your second map you prove my point. The front never even touches Hungary not even for 1 cm… So it was impossible that the German troops in any part of Hungary were doing any amount of “front line combat”. The front was never in any Hungarian territory during this time, and your own two maps prove it as well as any historical research. All the main line fighting during this period took place in Romania many hundred KMs from Hungary. June even more so. July too.

    And you were talking about May…

  17. Mr. Paul :

    tappanch :
    German lines on March 30:
    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-EF-Defeat/maps/USA-EF-Defeat-24.jpg

    Once again on your second map you prove my point. The front never even touches Hungary not even for 1 cm… So it was impossible that the German troops in any part of Hungary were doing any amount of “front line combat”. The front was never in any Hungarian territory during this time, and your own two maps prove it as well as any historical research. All the main line fighting during this period took place in Romania many hundred KMs from Hungary. June even more so. July too.
    And you were talking about May…

    ” On the 27th [of March] Hungarian troops moving into the mountains reported meeting German stragglers from Army Group South.”

  18. It is very simple: there were almost no German “occupation” troops in Hungary when the deportations of Jews were carried out by the Hungarian authorities aside from the Carpathian defense lines.

  19. And it is also important to note the distinction between Ruthenia and Transylvania. My original sentence was that the front is nowhere near Northern Transylvania.

    Your second map illustrates this point very clearly “http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-EF-Defeat/maps/USA-EF-Defeat-24.jpg”

    For a short period the front comes close to Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), but it never comes close to Transylvania. The Frontline is near Iasi a city that is many hundred KM away. If you look at a map you can see that Iasi is right on the border of today’s Romania like on the very edge. It takes five hours in ideal conditions in a car to get from Iasi to Transylvania according to google maps it is several hundred KM away. For a frontline to move that distance that can take a long time.

    As in real history the frontline was near Iasi in March but it remained there in April, and In May and in June and in July. Many months later and it was still many hundred KMs away from Transylvania.

    Anyway I do not want to debate this any more. There was no front combat in Hungary during these months that is a historical fact and not open to interpretation it will not change no matter how much we debate it.

  20. I don’t get the importance of the “frontline”???

    Imho the point is that there were (almost) no German troops in Hungary at that time to force the Hungarian government.

    Now for something totally different:

    The English translation is really very good! Compliments to whoever wrote it!

  21. Eva S. Balogh :
    I was surprised when someone said here that the socialists would support Paks because that was not the information I received.

    While I don’t know about whether or not socialists supporting “Paks” as it is, I have to point out, that there is indeed a significant difference supporting a nuclear power plant – with all the associated negative connotations – and supporting Orbán’s way to handle it.

    I have heard quite a few remarks, that the real effects of the power plant might even be positive – since there is no publicly available studies regarding the whole – the method how it was implemented totally unacceptable.

    Could it be the question of interpretation what may- or may not the “support” initially meant, or intended for?

  22. Understanding rather well an absurdity of putting a controversial memorial to the national shame when the country was occupied without a slight resistance, I still do not see why the Hungarians should take all the blame: it should not be entirely German or entirely Hungarian. Yet in 1985 these two subjects found a detailed discussion in:

    György Ránki, The Germans and the Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, pp. 77-92 in The Holocaust in hangar – Forty Years Later, Ed. R.L. Braham & Baela Vago, Colubmia Univ., 1985;

    and Bela Vago, The Hungarians and the destruction of the Hungarian Jews, ivid., pp. 93-106.

    And it was and is obvious that without occupation the thing would not happen and without well-oiled Hungarian help and infrastructure it would not happen either.

    And still we should not forget an Istvan Deak’s observation:

    “Considering, however, that in Budapest most everyone was capable of detecting a Jew and also that most of those in hiding were not denounced, it is likely that at least a hundred thousand Gentiles gave active assistance to the Jews, while many more simply looked the other way.”

    Professor Krisztián Ungváry writes:

    “Proposals to place the entire Jewish population in ghettos had been floated in Parliament as early as 1941, and it was only the tactical maneuverings of prime minister Miklós Kállay and Miklós Horthy, the head of state, that had stopped the proposals coming to a vote.”

    While I am surprised to see a positive sentence about Horthy from a historian who is generally against him, I’d permit myself a correction: Kallay had no influence in 1941 – he was sworn in on March 10 1942; also, he was not arrested in March 1944 but fled to the Turkish legation; he surrended on Nov. 16th. About “the tactical maneuverings” of Horthy in 1940-41 could it be that his famous “antisemitic” letter to Count Teleki dated Oct. 14, 1940, was a part of this “tactical maneuverings” and a kind of “lip service”?

    “Put it differently: there were only two members of the new, post-invasion government who had not been ministers before 1944.”

    Really? But what about the main perpetrators Andor Jaross, László Endre and László Endre – they also were members of Kallay’s government?

    Hungary was full of contradictions: if not the Hungarians, 60% of the Jews were not killed; If not the Hungarians, 40% would not be saved.

  23. Correction:

    Really? But what about the main perpetrators Andor Jaross, László Endre and László Endre – they also were members of Kallay’s government?

    I meant Laszlo Baky as the third, of course.

  24. Randolph R. Braham withdrew his name form the Information Center of the Páva street Holocaust Memorial Center and returned his state decoration – awarded him by Pál Schmitt, i. e. the Fidesz government. All of this just one day before the official inaugural event of the Holocaust Memorial Year. It will certainly be a PR catastrophe for the government outside the country, but still not necessarily enough to make Orbán yield some ground on the issue of the monument.

  25. Gabor, right, Orban will not yield among others because the monument is ready, it has been constructed by the sculptor.

  26. New resource!

    The map of csillagos (starred) houses where the Jewish population was ordered to move in Budapest for five months (June through November 1944) before the establishment of the ghettos.

    http://csillagoshazak.hu/

  27. @Tappanch

    If I’m not mistaken, the Germans had divided Hungary in two military zones, separated by the Tisza: Westungarn & Ostungarn (which included Transcarpathia & Northern Transylvania, but also part of pre-1938 / present-day Hungary). Does Ránki explain his calculation?

    @Mr Paul

    A rethorical point: the Red Army took Chernivtski in March 44, so at bird’s eye they were only 100km away from the border with Northern Transylvania.

  28. @Marcel Dé

    Ranki writes of
    “Kelet-magyarországi hadműveleti terület”, speaking of May 1 and June 1.

    On the other hand, we know that, on April 12, 1944, two areas were declared
    “hadműveleti terület” (combat area)

    1. Southern Hungary – southern parts of Zala. Somogy, Baranya and Bács-Borog counties.
    Deportations were carried out early and separately from the main deportations here.

    2. Eastern Hungary
    2a. Northern Transylvania, except Bihar, Szatmár and Szilágy counties.

    2b. Carpatho-Ukraine – Máramaros, Ugocsa, Bereg and Ung counties.

    So we can narrow down the significant presence of German troops (first 53, then 42 thousand soldiers) to area 2.

    I would like to see the exact locations of these troops, probably mainly in the Carpatho-Ukrainian regions, the closest to the front.

    Some of them must have been heading to Galicia to stop the Soviet advance that reached the Carpathians on March 30, some of them could have been the vestiges of the routed troops.

  29. Randolph L. Braham indicated his intention to return the decoration (Magyar Köztársaság Érdemrend Középkereszt) he received from the Orbán government as a protest for the falsification of history that has been going on lately.

    http://nol.hu/kulfold/randolph_l__braham_holokausztkutato_a_kozepkeresztjet_is_visszakuldi?ref=sso#

    Also, there is a fascinating article by István Rév, director of the OSA Archives, on the efforts of the Orbán and to some extent the Antall government to change the historical narrative of Hungary’s role in World War II. The title will give you an idea about the content. “Breakthrough. How did Hungary win World War II?”

    http://magyarnarancs.hu/publicisztika/hogyan-nyerte-meg-magyarorszag-a-ii-vilaghaborut-87983

  30. According to Népszabadság Braham wrote the letter to Szabolcs Szita, director of the Holocaust Memorial Center, and told him that the decoration will be sent to him with the request to send it to the appropriate authority. So, yes he is sending it back for sure but it hasn’t arrived yet either at Szita or the Hungarian authorities.

  31. tappanch :
    On the other hand, we know that, on April 12, 1944, two areas were declared
    “hadműveleti terület” (combat area)

    Indeed, with retroactive effect from April 1st, though ‘operational zones’ seem more accurate to me. But the thing is, in Northern Transylvania for instance, neither the Honvéd nor the Wehrmacht were involved in the ghettoisation process (apart from one or two instances).

    This decree by the Hungarian council of Ministers, on the other hand, provided a rationale for the listing, rounding-up and even depossession of the Jewish population. Since the Reds were now officially approaching, ‘something’ had to be done eventually about ‘the Jews’, right? The same line of reasoning had already been used several times in the extensions of the forced labor service since March… 1939.

    Hence, while I have no doubt about the genocidal intentions of the Reich in 1944, and its ability to provide Hungarians with both expertise and transportation logistics for implementing the deportations, the casuistry often invoked to exonerate both the Hungarian State and society from their responsibility (‘had Germany not invaded’, etc.) seems entirely pointless to me. The unbelievable efficiency of the Hungarian administration, gendarmes, police and in many instances various civilian organisations are proof enough that the Holocaust in Hungary was a Hungarian affair, deeply rooted in the Nation’s History since 1920.

  32. The Czechs, Slovaks even the French had collaborated with the Germans, blaming everything on the occupation. Even Stalin acknowledged Horthy`s attempt(kiugras). Yet Hungary has faired badly after the war. Orban is a politician trying to see something positive in March 1944 for Hungary.

  33. @Joe Simon. Try again!

    Since Pdt Chirac’s speech in 1995, the French political class has consistently assumed the French State’s responsibility for the Holocaust – not an easy thing to do, considering there was a regime change (contrary to what happened in Hungary). Also, important official tributes to the victims of the German occupation are held together with German officials (contrary to OV erecting hideous statues all by himself). Finally, nobody is trying to whitewash Pétain’s legacy.

    The Fidesz kulturkampf is simply pulling this country backwards.

  34. Mr. Paul :

    “In the view of the sculptors Miklós Melocco and György Benedek, the work…Their opinion is a surprise, because students have been failed at university for less…”

    Is this a translation mistake or did the original article really quote the opinion of sculptors like Melocco and then said that they would fail at university?

    Let’s not quibble over words. You know as well as I do what it means. Ungváry talks about historical knowledge of the period.

  35. Ad Joe Simon January 26, 2014 at 11:32 am
    Yes. Bohemia, France and part of Slovakia were occupied by the German nacist army during 2WW.
    In Slovakia was Slovak National Uprising – it was broke and many citizens of Slovakia Slovak nationality died. After the war collaborators were convicted. Tiso was executed.
    Some people look at Slovak “state” during 2WW – reign of Tiso similarly to some people in Hungary on Horty “Hungary”.

  36. Eliezer :

    Correction:

    Really? But what about the main perpetrators Andor Jaross, László Endre and László Endre – they also were members of Kallay’s government?

    I meant Laszlo Baky as the third, of course.

    No, but Jaross was a member of Béla Imrédy’s government already in 1938. And it was Jaross who picked Endre and Baky. And, of course, it was Horthy who appointed all of them.

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