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Finance Minister accused of falsifying history

February 7th, 2013

A left-wing columnist believes that Finance Minister György Matolcsy has joined the chorus of right-wing politicians and intellectuals who try to blame the Holocaust purely on the Nazi German occupiers of Hungary.

Historian Krisztián Ungváry accuses Finance Minister György Matolcsy of falsifying history, when he wrote in Heti Válasz that “we [Hungarians] failed to protect one million Jews and Germans between 1944 and 1956”. According to Ungváry, the minister with this sentence implies that before 1944, the year when Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany, Hungarian Jewry was protected, and by implication he thus acquits Hungarians of the crimes against Jews and other minorities. Ungváry adds that Matolcsy, “must be aware that he is lying”, since his uncle, Mátyás Matolcsy, an anti-Semitic MP of the Arrow Cross party in the 1940s “played an important role in the economic extermination” of minorities. Matolcsy rejected the accusations, called the historian a liar and attacked Ungváry for denouncing him for the statements of his ancestors. Ungváry then claimed that he was not accusing Matolcsy of collective crime, but of historical falsification. He also admitted that the ill-famed Matolcsy was not the Minister’s uncle but a more distant relative.

Although unlikely, it is possible that Mr Matolcsy was not aware of his uncle’s (sic!) involvement in anti-Semitism. But then his knowledge of basic Hungarian history is rather imperfect, Ákos Tóth writes in Népszabadság. The left-wing pundit suggests that Minister Matolcsy toes the official line when claiming that the extermination of Hungarian Jewry was orchestrated by the Nazi invaders. Tóth believes that this approach is fully in-line with what he considers the government’s efforts to whitewash the interwar period and use the authoritarian governor Miklós Horthy as an iconic symbolic personality.

In Magyar Hírlap, Péter Szabó Szentmihályi finds it peculiar that a liberal historian criticizes someone for the crimes of his ancestors. The pro-government columnist points out that Mátyás Matolcsy died in prison in 1953 – two years before Minister Matolcsy was born. Szabó Szentmihályi contends that Ungváry’s accusations are part of an orchestrated campaign by the leftist and liberal opposition to paint the current government in the same colours as those of a right-wing interwar era dominated by the personality of Miklós Horthy.

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