World Jewish Congress urges Hungary to reconsider WW2 memorial

February 15, 2014

(A Holocaust memorial of metal shoes fixed to the Danube embankment in memory of Jews executed at the riverside during the wartime occupation. Photo taken on February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo)

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) urged Hungary on Friday to reconsider plans to erect a monument commemorating the German occupation in 1944 and to seek greater dialogue with the country’s Jewish community.

Hungarian Jewish groups say the monument is part of an official drive to obscure the role played by Hungarians in the deportation and murder of the country’s Jews during World War Two.

The Hungarian Jewish Congregations’ Association decided this month it would boycott events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the June 1944 decision to send 437,000 Jews to Nazi death camps unless Prime Minister Viktor Orban heeded their concerns.

WJC president Ronald Lauder said in a statement he fully supported the Hungarian group’s boycott decision.

“If Viktor Orban and the Hungarian government seriously believe that the statue should also be a memorial for the Jewish victims, at the very least they should listen to the Jewish community’s concerns, take them into account, and reconsider their plans,” Lauder said in an op-ed to be published in Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszabadsag on Saturday.

Lauder also expressed concern that the issue of Hungary’s role in the Holocaust had taken center-stage as the country prepares for parliamentary elections on April 6.

“Extreme-right forces must not be allowed to exploit this issue for electioneering purposes. The remembrance of the Holocaust and of the atrocities committed during World War II ought to unite Hungarians, not divide them,” he wrote.
Read the full story by Krisztina Than here.

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