Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of Holocaust commemoration over anti-Semitism

January 21, 2014

(A boat sails past a memorial on the banks of the Danube river in Budapest January 27, 2006, symbolizing shoes of Hungarian Jews who were shot at the riverside during World War II. International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is being marked around the world today. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)

Hungarian Jewish leaders said on Tuesday they may stay away from commemorations of the Holocaust in 2014 because of resurgent anti-Semitism in a nation that has struggled to come to terms with a wartime role in deporting Jews.

The Hungarian government is planning to mark the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks. In total, about half a million Jews perished before the Budapest ghetto was liberated in 1945.

Since the war, anti-Semitism has remained a big problem in the central European nation, which is home to the largest indigenous Jewish community in Europe. And Jewish leaders feel the country has not fully faced up to its wartime past.

In November, for instance, Hungary earned international scorn after the far-right Jobbik party unveiled a statue of wartime leader Miklos Horthy, whose regime was allied with Nazi Germany, vilified Jews and helped deportations.

“We sought out the Prime Minister with our concerns because if this year of Holocaust remembrance is not a success then that will be the failure of all of Hungary,” Andras Heiszler, chairman of the Hungarian Jewish Congregations’ Association (Mazsihisz), told a news conference.

“There is a limit. If things don’t get back to normal we will consider withdrawing from the commemorations,” he said.

Read the full story by Marton Dunai here.

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