Hungarian Government Marks Holocaust as Jewish Group Boycotts

Hungary’s government marked the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust as the country’s largest Jewish group boycotted official commemorations for what they called an effort to whitewash responsibility in the events.

Hungarian President Janos Ader and Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics were among those to pay their respects by a monument in downtown Budapest, the state news service MTI reported today. The memorial, depicting bronze shoes scattered on the Danube bank, is a reminder of Hungary’s Nazi-allied authorities killing Jews on the river’s edge. More than 500,000 Hungarians, mostly Jews, were killed in the Holocaust, according to the Budapest-based Holocaust Memorial Center.

“We don’t consider the Holocaust a matter of a distant European country, but a part of Hungarian history,” Zoltan Pokorni, a ruling-party lawmaker, said at the commemoration, according to MTI. “The murderers were Hungarian and the victims were Hungarian too, so this is our matter.”

Tensions between the government and Jewish groups rose over the cabinet’s plan to build another monument to commemorate Hungary’s occupation by Nazi Germany in 1944. The statue, which would depict the country as the Archangel Gabriel being swooped down upon by an imperial eagle representing Germany, deflects responsibility by putting Hungarian victims and perpetrators on the same side, according to the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz.

The group voted in February to boycott state Holocaust commemorations. Orban, re-elected April 6 to a new four-year term, rejected a request by Jewish groups to hold talks about the plan. Construction began days after his victory, sparking daily protests to stop it. The government has said the monument would be dedicated to all victims.

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