Hungary and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

As the controversy over the historical interpretation of the Hungarian Holocaust rages on, we should not forget that Hungary is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Hungary is a signatory to the Stockholm Declaration of January 2000 in which the Hungarian government pledged “to strengthen … efforts to promote education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust” and “to share a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust.”

The idea of setting up a forum of governments interested in discussing Holocaust education came from former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. In January 2000 23 heads of state or prime ministers and 23 deputy prime ministers or ministers from 46 countries attended the forum. Those present signed the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. Hungary was one of these countries.

Keep the date in mind. In 2000 the prime minister of Hungary was Viktor Orbán. I suspect my readers will not be surprised to hear that the Hungarian prime minister was not present at the gathering. Hungary was represented only by a minister, István Stumpf, who was running the prime minister’s office in those days. According to Randolph L. Braham, Stumpf “misled the audience of the Forum when he talked about the Hungarian government’s role in those events. For example, he did not mention any of the anti-Jewish laws enacted between 1938 and 1945.” Not a very good beginning.

Hungary became a full-fledged member of the organization in 2002. Currently there are 31 member countries. Each country sends a delegation, comprised of both government representatives and national experts, to meetings. The IHRA has an annually rotating chairmanship, and the appointed chair is responsible for the overall activities of the organization.

Between 2002 and 2006 the Hungarian delegation to IHRA was headed by Bálint Magyar, minister of education, a high-level and appropriate choice. After all, one of the aims of the organization is the education of children and young people about the Holocaust. Hungary was voted to be chair of IHRA in 2006.

Today the Hungarian delegation is headed by an assistant undersecretary of foreign affairs, Gergely Prőhle. Quite a change from the 2000-2006 period. Since the delegation is not led by the minister responsible for education, the connection between the Hungarian government and IHRA is most likely more pro forma than in the days of Bálint Magyar’s chairmanship. I don’t know what kinds of “national experts” are sent to the meetings nowadays. I hope not those who support Viktor Orbán’s confused views on Hungary’s role in the events of 1944.

Gergely Prőhle, second from the right, with a delegation of the IHRA in Budapest /

Gergely Prőhle, second from the right, with a delegation of the IHRA in Budapest

I understand that Hungary was chosen to take the rotating chairmanship for 2015. I think it would be ironic if the current Hungarian government were to lead the international effort of educating future generations and the public in general on the true history of the Holocaust given the current battle being waged in Budapest between the Hungarian government and the Jewish community over the role of the Hungarian state in the Holocaust. Entrusting the rotating chairmanship to Hungary, under the present circumstances, would be a travesty.

As for Gergely Prőhle, the head of the current Hungarian delegation to IHRA. He has the reputation of being a moderate member of the Orbán government. Prőhle has certain qualities that make him an ideal spokesman. He speaks German and English very well and in general makes a good impression. He is very good at explaining away some of the worrisome features of his populist and autocratic prime minister. Here and there, however, he gives himself away. For example, when a few months ago in an op/ed piece he argued the government’s case in the following manner: “It doesn’t matter who says what, the government didn’t declare 2014 to be the Holocaust Memorial Year because it wants to sweep Hungary’s responsibility under the rug. Given the amount of money allocated to the events, to talk about a ‘falsification of history’ and declare ‘a boycott’ is an overreaction.” So, it seems that in Prőhle’s head, because the Hungarian government gave a sizable amount of money to establish a new Holocaust center and to organize a Holocaust Memorial Year no falsification of history could possibly take place.

Having seen the new movie about Hannah Arendt, he added something about the Eichmann trial in the same article. It “becomes clear from the film,” he wrote, “how risky it is to show certain elements of historical truth that don’t fit the concepts contrived ahead of time.” If I understand Prőhle right, he claims that Eichmann was the victim of a show trial.

And while he was at it, he accused Mazsihisz, an umbrella organization of Jewish communities, of criticizing the government of historical falsification for material gain. This is how he argued: “Regardless of how legitimate Mazsihisz’s misgivings are, it seems that its main aim is to mobilize and gather the Jewish community around it in order to receive more of the 1% offerings of taxpayers to Mazsihisz.” (Taxpayers can designate that 1% of their taxes go to their favorite cause.) This is Prőhle, the moderate who might lead an international effort “to promote education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust.”


  1. Gergely Pröhle is also a supervisor of the evangelical church and he has used one of the oldest anti-Semitic stereotypes: “The greedy Jew”. The amount of tax payers money Mazsihisz rejected was much higher than the alleged gain by getting 1%. State-secretary Pröhle is applying the traditional notion of Jewish greed.

  2. Keeping political organizations unified to rob the populace of their economic freedoms. Thank you for sharing this informative post.

  3. As Obama is hellbent on leading blind Americans into Socialism, he want to encourage Orban to yield to the socialist/communist vision Obama has of fettered democracy, the nation in chains to the all knowing bureaucrats in Washington. He hates the American national anthem, born in the struggle of the British to regain their lost Amer5ican colony (as Putin in Crimea), and I’m sure he woul be happy if he and Orban could sing the Internationale together.

  4. Dear Eva,

    I agree with the concept of your opinion piece but found two points that I would like to amplify on, — these two items are central in the current argument about the government’s activity regarding the falsification of history by a State erected statue that spreads falsehood in every sense.

    From your text I would quote: …”I hope not those who support Viktor Orbán’s confused views on Hungary’s role in the events of 1944.”

    “Confused views” is a light expression to use for a leader who purposefully spreads confusing and mixed messages. “Confusing views”… or “Wantonly confusing views” are probably even more to the point.

    The other element that I would like to purely amplify on is the phrase: “… battle being waged in Budapest between the Hungarian government and the Jewish community over the role of the Hungarian State in the Holocaust.”

    Although it is certain that the principal forces in this fight for truth is being led by the remaining Jews evidently because they were the principal object of the pogrom – 400,000+ Jewish individuals, — I would say that the objectioners to the statue include many who are not of Jewish religion or background but intellectually sufficiently knowledgeable about history to know where the real truth lies. How many (or few) are willing to risk their jobs for standing up for this truth is something to reckon with.

    That the objecting party seems so much the Jews in isolation is in fact the tragedy of the facts that brought the concept of a State statue such as this into existence in the first place. It underscores the still ever-disputed fact that hisory is altered to seem as if the only antagonist was the German as opposed to the willing Hungarian “traitors”! to Internationalism, Human rights and dignity and Freedom of Religion and belief. These were well known criteria then but were brushed under the table — just as they are to this very day !!! – as proven by none other than Mr Orban, Prime Minsiter of Hungary who insists on falsifying History at any cost because he is too week to admit that what he has thought till now is INCORRECT…

    Of course I know that your intentions Éva were actually along the lines I expressed,

    I just used this little vacuum as a means to express myself in a dialogue that I am glad you brought up and for which you are making a most valuable contribution.

  5. @Kavé, I think he had that drinkie already.

    @Eva I think it would be appropriate to scrub a random comment that is not even remotely connected to this post or to the focus of this website.

  6. The Rev. Kovacs’ suspicion of Obama is completely justified. Just not in its socialist angle.

    He should be also suspicious of Orban’s colonialization of the defenseless Hungarian nation.

  7. Unfortunately, the Reverend Kovacs was wrong, Obama actually wants Stalinism.

    We’re on the verge of Stalinism in the US.

    I think the Tea Party was a great initiative but then they gradually sold out and now they are not much more than a bunch of tree-hugging hippies, sucking up to the socialist elements within the Republicans.

    Where is real conservatism these days, if I may ask, Reverend? Who can we trust?

  8. Dr. Wong
    May 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm
    Unfortunately, the Reverend Kovacs was wrong, Obama actually wants Stalinism.
    We’re on the verge of Stalinism in the US.

    You are on the wrong forum This is HUNGARIAN spectrum. This forum is not here to debate war is going on in the USA. At any case since you and the Rev. brought this up. I think most sane people would choose the USA over Russia. Orban evidently sides with Russia. What a predicament with Orban. Isn’t it?

  9. Somebody forgot to lock the looney bin tonight. Scary dudes…

  10. Bringing in Obama was relevant because he sent a letter to Orban, noted by Eva Balogh, in which Socialists here suggested that Obama questioned Orban’s “commitment” to democracy. It is absurd for him to question it. Orban’s government faces continued attacks and pressure from EU bodies, many of which are loaded with Socialists (or outright Communists) or hard core secularist/atheist advocates, who resent Hungary’s assertion of its religious heritage as the foundation of its culture.

  11. FYI clues used: style of ‘thinking’ and expression, enjoyment of being noticed for extreme opinions, opinions beyond common sense, double takes, and finally, “Rev” and the “Dr” – the need to feel superior…

  12. I almost spilled my morning coffee reading the comments by the Rev and Dr Wong, what a nice way to start a day!

    (Btw I think Wong’s is satirical – at least I hope so …)

    @Rev Kovacs:

    You forgot to mention that Obama is a militant Muslim too …

    Totally OT:

    For the second day we have no running water – the water works switched it off yesterday afternoon, switched it on again in the evening – but it seems the work’s not finished yet.

    Now all our neighbours might have a slight inkling of how the Gypsies feel in that town (sorry, forgot the name) that was reported on here …

    Though to be fair, it ain’t as bad here because the water company sent a truck down the road for everybody to fill their buckets – a luxury that the Gypsies didn’t/don’t have!

    Anybody know whether work on the water line there has started? The Swiss offered to pay for it.

    Another sunny day in beautiful Hungary – if only it weren’t for those Fidesz loonies …

  13. Rev. Albert W. Kovacs – UCC
    A great lot of MSZMP members and functionaries found their way into Fidesz. And some conservatives in the EU also critizise your idol Viktor Orbán and his postcommunist maffiastate.

  14. @tappanch

    MSZP obviously must know a lot about Welsz. Yet, MSZPniks are silent.

    Of course MSZP is silent during the EU election campaign. But why would they campaign in any way, right?

    And MSZP has been silent in connection with any kind of scandals of which even an imbecile person could have taken advantage.

    I just don’t get it.

    Or it really is the Bethlen-Peyer pact all over again, as somebody suggested here

    MSZP will keep totally silent, in exchange for what? Not getting prosecuted? Getting some miniscule crumbs from some shady petty businesses (because they will not get close to the big dough, that’s for sure)?

    Mesterhazy and his friends will be saved by Fidesz and they will support Fidesz openly in a couple of years, when Jobbik will be stronger. All in the noble name of being bipartizan against the terrible threat of the extreme-right.

    Meanwhile within MSZP only the older generation cares about the developments (like the fact that Jobbik will prevail over MSZP in May, they accepted that, and that there is no strategy whatsoever for the municipal campaign either), otherwise nobody is interested. Of course there is no younger generation besides Mesterhazy because younger people don’t give a damn about MSZP.

    Péter Tölgyessy saw it clearly: the MSZP leadership has no vision and it consists of ineffectual, approval-seeking, dumb and totally empty people. And these people are supposed to be the leaders of the left-wing and engineer a rebirth of the left. Right.

    MSZP is so going down taking the entire left with itself.

  15. tappanch
    May 10, 2014 at 5:11 am
    Tamas Welsz, 41, who deceased in a police or secret service car just before the election, and Fidesz “party director” cum Ferencvaros soccer club chairman Kubatov were connected through a common close friend.

    I am not surprised at all. I think a political career is just a cover-up for “lobbying” for better businesses. I do not know of any other developed country where so many government officials and/or their friends became so rich, so fast while in office as Hungary.
    I think we have no idea how much money Orban, Lazar accumulated “on the side”. They wanted to bring Pinter down and the had no idea what they touched with Welsz.
    All the NAV investigations that are swept under the carpet, the Rogan deal, Orban’s family millions, the land deals, and so forth. There are so much money syphoned away. Welsz was a small potato in the whole deal and the weakest link.

  16. Orbán and Kövér did not vote for Orbán’s premiership. Two brave fideszniks. There are also 130 cowardly Fidesz MPs.

  17. I am sorry for the duplication, haven’t seen tappanch above, linking the same artlcle.

  18. Judith: there is one piece of allegation in the Gepnarancs article, interesting as it is. I am sure the MSZPniks could do (could have done) better with respect to Welsz or others. They are just fundamentally timid as we have seen from Molnar’s performance re the Rogán story, to name but one failure. Try to see how Heti Válasz or Magyar Nemzet works when they want to spread stories. They are pros. The left, well, you decide.

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