There are some who stand up and refuse to be part of the Hungarian Holocaust charade

I would like to share two documents with you. Both are reactions to the Hungarian government’s resolve to rewrite twentieth-century Hungarian history. The first is a letter sent by Steven J. Fenves, a Holocaust survivor and one of our readers.

Steven and I met thanks to Hungarian Spectrum. We exchanged a couple of e-mails from which I learned that he was born in Subotica/Szabadka (Yugoslavia) where his father, Lajos Fenyves, was the manager of Minerva Kiadó which published, among other things, Napló, the largest-circulation Hungarian language daily in Vojvodina.

The other day I received a new e-mail from him. It contained a copy of a letter he addressed to Professor Randolph L. Braham. I was very moved and admired him greatly for the sacrifice he made for the sake of truth. I asked permission to publish his letter here. You can learn more about Steven Fenves from his account of his trials after the family was deported to Germany. 

* * *

Dear Professor Braham,

This note is to let you know that your moving Open Letter has prompted me to act accordingly, albeit on a much more modest scale.

Subotica, in Serbia – also known as Szabadka – won funding for two projects in the competition for Hungary’s fund for the 2014 commemorations: one for opening a Holocaust Information Center by the Subotica Jewish Community organization and one for an exhibition in the Subotica City Museum. For the first, I was asked to authorize the use of my mother’s name, Klara Gereb (Geréb Klári), for the Holocaust Information Center. (She was a  locally well-respected graphic artist between the two world wars and perished in Auschwitz.) Initially, I assented to this request. The second project, not surprisingly, was to mount an exhibition of my mother’s work in the City Museum. For this, I promised to lend an unspecified number of artworks. (Because of the extensive looting during the deportations in June 1944, the Museum owns only 7 pieces of her work; I, however, own over 200 works on paper because in 1944 our former cook waded in among the looters and saved a large binder of her works, which she returned to my sister and me when we came back from the camps to Subotica in 1945.)

My resolve to support these two projects was badly shaken when I saw in Hungarian Spectrum a photograph of Sándor Szakály. There, facing him, was a bust of a Hungarian csendőr, complete with the black Bowler hat embellished with the flying black cock-feathers, exactly as worn by those gendarmes when they herded us into the makeshift ghetto and soon thereafter loaded us into the boxcars destined for Auschwitz. The map behind Mr. Szakály showed, of course, the pre-World War I map of Hungary, with Subotica well within its borders. It was extremely painful for me to realize that the Hungarian government that sponsors this man also funds the two 2014 activities in Subotica.

And then came your open letter requesting the removal of your name from the Data and Information Center (Téka és Információs Központ) at the Holocaust Memorial Center (Holokauszt Emlékközpont), reprinted in Hungarian Spectrum.

So I took action. First, I asked the director of the Jewish Community organization to remove my mother’s name from the name of the center. He responded that he had ordered the name to be erased (“töröltetem a nevet a központ nevéből” – a harsh expression that I have not read since the 1940’s). Second, I informed the Museum that I will not contribute in any way to the exhibition: no loans of artwork and no written contributions to any catalog or other printed material. I have not yet received a reply.

As I said at the beginning, these are two small actions not comparable to your momentous one.

Sincerely yours,
Steven Fenves
University Professor Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University

subotica2Hungarian Art Nouveau synagogue in Subotica/Szabadka

Interestingly the second document also comes from outside of Hungary. From Slovakia. To be precise, from Nové Zámky/Érsekújvár. By now the great majority of the city’s population is Slovak, but it seems that the Jewish community is still attached to its Hungarian roots. The Orthodox synagogue of Nové Zámky is registered as a historic landmark. It is one of only four synagogues in Slovakia that are still used for religious purposes by the local Jewish community. This community received 1.5 million forints as a contribution from the so-called Civic Fund  (Civil Alap) for events planned in connection with the Holocaust Memorial Year. Tamás Lang, president of the board of the Nové Zámsky Jewish Community, sent the money back accompanied by a scathing letter condemning the falsification of history and also the systematic revival of the cult of Miklós Horthy. Here is an abbreviated version of the letter.

* * *
The events and statements of the last few days make the sincerity of the Civic Fund’s  intentions highly questionable…. We can’t accept that Miklós Horthy, who is fully responsible for the destruction of Hungary’s Jewry, can have a statue in Hungary…. We can’t accept such statements as “we–Hungarians, they–Jews” even if it is uttered as “we Hungarians defend our minorities.”… We don’t forget that prior to the [German] occupation there were already 60,000 victims of anti-Semitism in Hungary. … We contest the statement that the only sin of the government at the time was that “it didn’t defend the country’s Jewish citizens and provided material supplies for their persecution” … [when] that government mobilized 200,000 civil servants against us. … It is true that Tibor Navracsics, deputy prime minister, and Bence Rétváry, undersecretary,  talked on international forums about Hungarian responsibility, but the direction of official statements and actions belies their words….  We cannot lend our names to the falsification of history and the whitewashing of the Horthy regime. The veneration of the memory of our parents, grandparents, siblings stands above everything else and hence we cannot take part in the events. The Board of the Nové Zámky Jewish Community therefore unanimously decided not to take the financial assistance of 1.5 million forints already granted and thus will not sign the contract that would have sealed the act.
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68 comments

  1. And as regards the decision of Mr Fenves not to cooperate with the museum in Subotica, it is obviously a huge sacrifice as it would have been such a satisfaction to see people commemorated that had to go through this unbelievable low point of civilisation. And whether or not the money comes directly from OV does not matter, the gesture is powerful nevertheless as the number of people that OV can point to in support of his crude claims about what the current government does to account for the past and to arrive at “historical truths” is diminishing.

  2. Ovidiu :

    wolfi :
    Orbán aka “Chief Forked Tongue” …

    But either way it works as well for undermining US’s moral authority in the world.As if US still has much left of it, there has been a free falling in the last 10 years.
    You can’t get lower than having American rights activists/political dissenters taking refugee in Putin’s -”free world”.

    To call a spy an “activists/political dissenter” is someone of an exaggeration. Many say that there is no proof that the NSA activities stopped one terrorist act. But the fact that there weren’t any such acts in the US after 9/11 (except the one in Boston) speaks for itself. I wonder what would those who defend Snowden say, if their families would be killed by undetected terrorists?

  3. @Isvtan & Tappanch
    I particularly love the article 7 about the supply and the treatment of nuclear fuel.
    It says: “The obligation to supply is a minimum of 20 (twenty) years, with the option of extension” – but without any reference, of the cost, or have I missed something?
    Furthermore, the life-span of the whole stuff is much longer, and as we all know, it won’t work without the enriched Uranium fuel – or whatever it is.

    So, what are we going to do, after the contract ran out, and the powers that be decide, that they have no interest any longer to sell the damned thing, or if they do sell for some exorbitant price?

    Another lovely part:
    “2. the Parties shall ensure that…they will conclude an agreement regarding the treatment of the used fuel-cell blocks.” it means, that the used fuel cartridges going to be transported to the territory of the Russian Federation, where whatever happens to them (either reprocessing or disassembly or just as nuclear waste) but after they’ve been stored there at the same amount of time (remember, twenty years!) what the contract contains, then they will be returned to Hungary! And the agreement isn’t even ready yet, so, it may look quite different from the proposal, yet we are going to oblige ourselves buy a power plant, with no guaranteed handling of the nuclear waste.

    Once more: We are going to have guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel in a twenty years time frame for undefined cost, thereafter we should renegotiate, whatever the circumstances will allow, and about the same time we are going to get back the nuclear waste what we produced too, to have something memorable, I guess.

    What was it, the greatest business of the last forty years?
    Seem pretty much, that it was correctly estimated by Lázár, so it’s true!

    A pity, that the beneficiary isn’t Hungary…
    Well, you can’t have it all, can you?

  4. @MarcelDé:

    We’re just watching the film Oldás és kötés (internationally known as Cantata profana) by Miklós Jancsó – it is really moving.

    My wife just told me that two of the film’s stars committed suicide …

    What does that tell us about Hungary?

  5. Forgot, it’s on M1.

    The actors are Latinovics Zoltan and Domján Edit.

    PS:

    Shouldn’t we once also have a discussion on those marvellous Hungarian films that were produced under Kadar?

  6. spectator and Tappanch, I had to take a break from reading it. Did either of you see the estimated costs and anything about financing? Or will that be revealed as some type of appropriation bill, I really don’t grasp the Hungarian legislative process. Of course most people here in Chicago don’t grasp our legislative process either which I guess is why I have a job.

  7. Istvan :

    I really don’t grasp the Hungarian legislative process. Of course most people here in Chicago don’t grasp our legislative process either which I guess is why I have a job.

    I’m not surprised. It is the unorthodox type Orbán introduced. Nothing is clear and transparent. Everything is done in secret.

  8. Istvan :
    spectator and Tappanch, I had to take a break from reading it. Did either of you see the estimated costs and anything about financing? Or will that be revealed as some type of appropriation bill, I really don’t grasp the Hungarian legislative process. Of course most people here in Chicago don’t grasp our legislative process either which I guess is why I have a job.

    I am on the move right now, but I think I have seen some reference to a separate document which would contain the financial agreements.
    Actually I am as far of the legal- and/or financial world as anyone could get, so you are on your own, I’m afraid, as far as I am concerned, but I trust Tappach will have all the answers as usual.

    This business just stinks, from whichever angle I look at.
    As I’ve heard today, even the studies are secret what used to aid the decision making – if ever existed, or precisely for that reason. Guess it was totally unnecessary, the decision-maker knew everything, already made up his mind, what would any kind of factual data good for, anyway?

  9. To be honest I wasn’t as unnerved as most of the readers of Eva’s blog have been about the deal, granted I don’t like nuclear energy for many reasons. But that section on Russian secrets really sort of amazed me, I know there are trade secrets that have to be kept relating to technology and we don’t want terrorists getting access to nuclear related stuff but it seems clear to me that the EU commission should have access to everything without Russian approval if they want to see it.

  10. Good old Orbán – now, not only can the Russians turn the gas supply off, they can switch the electricity off as well.

    What was that bit about ‘Russians go home’ back in 89?

  11. @Marcel De – “Valéry was speaking about the way History had been mostly elaborated and read in his time”

    “The more it changes the more it is the same thing”

  12. Re: Paks

    I have heard the flippant reassurance on the radio that “the interest rate will not be higher than 5.5%”

    If I saw it correctly the other day, the Russian loan of Paks 1 had an interest rate of 2%.
    Say, Hungary has to repay the loan after 20 years.

    I have a little approximation for the Orbanchiks:

    1.054^20 / 1.02^20 = 1.93

    So the amount of money Hungary has to repay at 5.4% interest is almost twice as much as the money Hungary has to repay at 2% interest.

  13. Notwithstanding whether we are talking about the Hungary-Rosatom deal-of-the-century, (sparked out of Orbans own micro-brain…) or the cost of refurbishing metro cars or once again, Orban’s double-tongued approach to historical facts and the building of inappropriate monuments, stadiums et al… you have a massive ETHICAL GRIDLOCK which is also a reflection of the whole of Hungarain society and business. And this, going back therough the various administrations over the past 80+ years !!!!

    Most Hungarian politicians and business persons expect their pockets lined every step of every process.

    No matter how much salary he or she makes, If you are part of the gear mechanism, you expect more than just a drop of oil… And I get the feeling the Orban maffia has upped the ante. The previous % on the take is no longer sufficient. Its a new MEGA INFLATIONARY CYCLE IN THE BAKSHISH MARKET.

    Typical tools of the trade: Fake and pre-arranged tenders; pre-planned “last minute” projects that leave no time for fair tenders.

    The whole country is into the BAKSHISH BINGE. And any resemblance to ETHICAL BEHAVIOR has been thrown to the wayside. Those are considered niceties that no longer fit into the scheme of normalcy.

    And it is all managed in coat-and-tie… often by folk who have never worn these accoutrements previously, MANY NORMS ARE NOT EVEN KNOWN as standard proper behavior. The reverse, the inappropriate, the unlawful, the “behind the other’s back” routine has been the norm in most people’s adult life.

    Its like as if Hungary is issuing drivers licenses to politics and business with no training preceding inititation. You have children from kindergarten and 14 year old immatures driving “Boeing and Airbus Jets” and “flight controllers” who have NO training.

    Guess what is likely to happen in Hungary in 2014… !!!!!

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