Two short statements about the Hungarian Holocaust Memorial Year

Although the following statement from the Tom Lantos Institute is available elsewhere, I thought it important enough to republish here. A lot of people had been unhappy about the Lantos Institute’s silence, but finally Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, spoke up.

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Recent days have seen considerable controversy in Hungary over the remarks of Sandor Szakaly, Director of the Veritas Institute. His statements regarding the tragic and unforgivable 1941 deportation of thousands of Jews from Hungary to Ukraine where they were massacred in the notorious Kamenets-Podolskii atrocity have sparked outrage and deep concern across Hungary and beyond.

The Lantos Foundation is aware that Mr. Szakaly has acknowledged that his statements were wrong and ill informed. This is an important step and we welcome it. Nonetheless, questions remain as to whether Mr. Szakaly is the appropriate person to serve as the Director of an institute of historical research.

We are also aware of the statement issued by the Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s office, Mr. Janos Lazar. This very brief statement merely asserts that the views Sandor Szakaly expressed do not reflect the opinion of the Prime Minister’s office. One would hope that this was self-evident, and while appreciated, this modest comment is by no means an adequate repudiation of the offensive and inaccurate comments of Mr. Szakaly.

The deeper question remains regarding Hungary’s willingness to come to terms with its complicity in the deportation and murder of over half a million Hungarian citizens during the Holocaust. This painful issue is one that must be honestly faced, not only for the sake of Hungary’s past, but more importantly for the sake of Hungary’s future.

The Lantos Foundation sincerely appreciates the powerful and courageous speeches of Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsis and Foreign Minister János Martonyi at the October 2013 conference on resurgent anti-Semitism that was sponsored by the Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest. We also appreciate the eloquent and strong remarks of Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi at the recent opening of the United Nations exhibit commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust. Such speeches reflect the integrity and decency of the Hungarian people. Furthermore, going back a decade, the Hungarian government established the Holocaust Memorial Center on Pava Street, which is one of the most impressive such museums anywhere in the world. In addition, many important initiatives are planned to memorialize this tragic 70th time in Hungarian history to a new generation.

However, we believe it is vital for the Hungarian government to speak with a unified voice on these issues and avoid the danger of sending mixed messages. That is why we urge a stronger condemnation of Mr. Szkaly’s statements and encourage the Hungarian government to re-consider the design of a proposed monument to the German occupation of Hungary. Any such memorial should reflect the complexity of Hungarian collaboration with the occupation as well as the heroism of those who resisted. The current design seems to show utter amnesia regarding the role of the Hungarian government in the worst atrocities of that tragic occupation.

Such public monuments can play an essential role in educating the population and providing an honest narrative of a nation’s history. The people of Hungary deserve such honesty and history demands it. The Lantos Foundation urges the Hungarian government to remember both the imperatives of history and the future as it moves forward to resolve these issues.

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I would also like to share with you a declaration in support of the protest by Hungarian historians.

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We, scholars of various aspects of Hungarian history, support the protest of our Hungarian colleagues, dated 22 January 2014, against the planned design of an occupation memorial on Liberty Square in Budapest. As important as it is to point to the destructive impact of the German occupation in 1944-45, the most tragic consequence of that occupation – the murder of about 500,000 Jews from Greater Hungary – was also the result of the actions and attitudes of many Hungarians, officials and others. Hungarian troops committed atrocities abroad. While there were also non-Jewish Hungarians victimized by German occupation forces, it is historically grossly inadequate to present all Hungarians as a community of victims, minus the Arrow Cross Party. We call on the Hungarian authorities to stop plans for a monument of such a design. Furthermore, we ask diplomatic representatives of foreign countries to reconsider their participation in sessions of the Hungarian Commission for the Holocaust Memorial Year 2014.

28 January 2014


Joëlle Allouche-Benayoun, Paris
Eva S. Balogh, New Haven
ehuda Bauer, Jerusalem
Nora Berend, Cambridge
Donald Bloxham, Edinburgh
Randolph L. Braham, New York
Holly Case, Ithaca, New York
Tim Cole, Bristol
Regina Fritz, Vienna
Christian Gerlach, Bern
Heiko Haumann, Basel
Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Vienna
Eleonore Lappin-Eppel, Vienna
Louis D. Levine, Ashley Falls, Massachusetts
Gerhard Milchram, Vienna
Dieter Pohl, Klagenfurt
Andreas Pribersky, Vienna
Julia Richers, Bern
Jon Rush, Ann Arbor
Tanja Schult, Stockholm
Georg Sessler, Stockholm
Michaela Sidenberg, Prague
Judith Szapor, Montréal
David Tréfás, Basel
Carsten Wilke, Budapest
Susan Zimmermann, Budapest and Vienna


  1. “Jews, jews, jews! So bloody many jews. How come they’re all professors?
    Why don’t they sweep streets or something?”

  2. petofi :
    “Jews, jews, jews! So bloody many jews. How come they’re all professors?
    Why don’t they sweep streets or something?”


  3. Actually, I’m quite curious about any statistics on the demographics of the current Hungarian Jewry. My personal guess is that they are not any better off these days than the average non-jewish Hungarian and I don’t think they would be all professors. Can anybody point me to such data?

  4. @Jano

    You can see a decline to the mean in income.

    R:= taxpayers that indicated on their returns that they want 1% of their taxes to go to a religious denomination.
    M:= the amount of money people of R directed to religious denominations.

    Jewish denominations:

    2002: 1.17% R, 2.33% M, ratio = 1.99
    2007: 0.88% R, 1.74% M, ratio= 1.98
    2012: 0.79% R, 1.30% M, ratio= 1.65

  5. Mr. Paul :

    petofi :
    “Jews, jews, jews! So bloody many jews. How come they’re all professors?
    Why don’t they sweep streets or something?”


    You obviously haven’t seen many of my submissions: actually, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool jew.
    Here, I’m just channelling Vona Gabor and die-hard, Hungarian anti-semites…”

  6. Petofi’s statement echos my father’s in 1948, when he realized the editors of my school newspaper were both jews. And surely he was not the first to have this thought.

  7. The Mensch Foundation International concurs with Katrina Swett Lantos statements and feels that she has expressed our sentiments as well. We certainly hope that the Hungarian government shall take notice and act appropriately..

    Steven A. Geiger
    Founder of the Mensch Foundation

  8. Gretchen :
    And I told him that they were the best kids for the job.

    Good for you, Gretchen.
    And did you also tell him that, in modern times, we hardly ever use the blood of 8 year old virgins in the making of matzo?

  9. IHRA, the international body which monitors Holocaust Education,
    will likely reconsider the 2015 Presidency for Hungary. In a similar
    manner, the present UNESCO support for the seat is threatened. I
    had written of these dangers to Fenyvesi Zsigmond, Chief Advisor
    to the Year to Lazar Janos, asking that the mistakes around both the
    statue be undone and the statements by Szakaly serve to dismiss him
    from his office. The “graceful” and realistic moment would have
    been to mobilize the 5th District to vote down the statue.

    The list of historians reflecting the new “scientific base for history”
    which draws on convergent validation, I agree, would have been
    strengthened by Chinese and Japanese scholars also adding their
    names. This may yet be done before approaching the Board of
    IHRA. Why? What has transpired has real, and profound negative
    effect on the lives and development of youth. Teens resist lies. This
    is one clearest characteristic of their life-phase. If teachers must lie to
    teens, and the students can not spit it back, but must swallow, the
    revisionist dresses them in the rags of their own shame. In various
    ways, anti-social personality disorders are forged of their students.

    It is in this manner that “history and cross-generational trauma”
    repeats itself.

    One sees the destructive hands of “Chargé Election 2014” Kövér
    Laszlo, behind this new gaff. As in 2002, days before the election
    when Fidesz led all polls by 6-8%, he added to self-destruction by
    yowling, „Half the nation should hang itself.”

    His good wishes are becoming real –1.5 billion for the Civil Tender
    befouled, 5 billion for the new House of Fate questioned, and far
    worse, the 25 billion “pocket money” for the US-based, Friends
    of Hungary Foundation/Lobby, seriously damaged.

    Spitting on each other may be productive political tactic in Hungary,
    but surprise, surprise, when friends of Köver, Jobbik and crew, get
    beat up on “diplomatic forays” to London and Canada.

  10. I am not surprised about the praise of Mrs. Lantos for the Hungarian Ambassador at the UN in New York, who made a declaration. He made the declaration for Mrs. Lantos and those who are ready to absolve the present Hungarian Government from responsibility for the widespread antissemitism.
    But I am sursprised that nobody told her the fact that MTI (Hungarian News Agency) did not translate that declaration and so Hungarians do not know about it.
    As far as Mr. Martonyi is concerned he would declare also that the earth is a triangle if Orbán would expect him to do that.
    All those declarations about the Holocaust have no value as long as they are not published on ECHO TV, Magyar Hirlap, Demokrata, Magyar Nemzet and Heti Válasz.

  11. @Karl. Can u share the link with the UN Ambassador’s statement? “Sins of past and all to come,” from the anthem may have bearing on Wiesel’s statement, “Guilt is not inheritable.” The cross-generational trauma of forging personality disorders by forced feeding youth lies is the strongest argument not only for “truth telling of history,” but for the upgrading of modern history texts in this area. The Arady Martyrs was tragic, true, and maybe correctly seen as the Magyar Golgotha from the 1800’s but gains a much fuller treatment than the Holocaust.
    Agree about outreach to the media, and am content at present to have contacts at the Cabinet level. Right now, must content myself with impacting locals in an interactive walking tour from Rumbach from when my father started putting the persecuted, assigned as patients, 1941, into hospitals prior to transport. So Kallay’s froth is all the more troublesome, as is Kövér’s clearest orchestrations. The highly effective tour will be preserved digitally and I will hit the road to give talks to gain support for the Wallenberg Association desires for a venue at his old office on Ulloi u. Their educational method is sound and wholesome. Let’s renew contact drlpetrovicsí Wishing you health and success in the New Year. respectfully, Laszlo

  12. Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) :
    @Karl Pfeifer
    As a matter of fact the MTI full dispatch quoted Kőrösi accurately. In their paper editions, both MN and MH used only a news brief format, yet MNO published the full MTI piece online.
    Such “minimum service” in the dailies often means the weeklies won’t publish anything at all the following days.

    I believe I have seen a statement on Galamus, that the declaration of K. was not translated immediately and therefore the Hungarian media at the time did not report it.

    I looked at Magyar Hirlap and found a very short statement.

    Such statements are spoken out of the windows for export to gullible foreigners.
    In Hungary they stick to Szakály and Biró and put the nazi collabos Nyirö and Wass into the curriculum.

    The fact that Orbán speaks about we Hungarians and the Jews as a separate ethnic group shows the reality more than any declaration of Martonyi or Lázár.

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