Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of official Holocaust events

Sun Feb 9, 2014 12:33pm EST
 
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By Sandor Peto

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's main Jewish group voted on Sunday to boycott official Holocaust commemorations this year unless they more clearly show the role of local citizens in the Nazi deportation and killing of Hungarian Jews.

The Hungarian Jewish Congregations' Association (Mazsihisz) decided to stay away from events marking the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks, and set conditions for a change of position.

In total, about half a million Jews perished before the Budapest ghetto was liberated in 1945.

Mazsihisz chairman Andras Heisler said the group objected to plans for a Holocaust monument and memorial center in Budapest as well as the appointment of a new history institute director who seemed to excuse the Holocaust deportations.

"If we do not get a real answer from the government on these issues, our decision (on the boycott) will become final," he told journalists, adding he expected a reply within a few days.

A lack of consultations about the projects have upset Jewish communities, he said, adding: "The unity that Hungarian Jews showed in that respect is unprecedented since the war."

Almost seven decades since the end of World War Two, anti-Semitism remains a sore point in Hungary, whose 100,000-strong Jewish community is one of the largest in Europe. Jewish leaders feel the country has not fully faced up to its wartime past.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's center-right government, which has publicly pledged zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, is set to win reelection in April and a boycott will not change that.   Continued...