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Monument to mark Nazi occupation nears completion

May 3rd, 2014

Left-liberal commentators reject the Prime Minister’s statement, which justifies the controversial statue project as a gesture to remember all victims of Nazi occupation. One even calls the statue a Nazi monument that will be blown up. A pro-government columnist says it is obvious that the monument expresses the condemnation of Hungary’s occupation by Hitler’s army and that the government has expressed its grief over the Holocaust and admitted the guilt of Hungarian collaborators in no uncertain terms.

In its front page editorial, Népszabadság mocks Prime Minister Orbán’s argument that the monument under construction in Szabadság (Freedom) Square is a tribute to all victims. The number one left-wing daily says that in his letter to a veteran art historian, Mr Orbán ignored the description the sculptor himself gave of his monument, in which the main figure of the memorial, Archangel Gabriel is clearly said to be representing Hungary, not the victims, as the Prime Minister contends.

In Népszava, János Dési condemns the leaders of Mazsihisz, Hungary’s Neolog Jewish religious umbrella organisation for agreeing to meet the Prime Minister who told them “he had no elbow room” to heed their request and cancel the statue project. Dési sees their presence as “a mere sham” at the service of the Prime Minister, whom he calls “Dear Leader” (defunct North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s official epitaph).

In Magyar Narancs, Zsolt Zsebesi blusters against the “democratic opposition”, which he accuses of failing to energetically support the small group of protestors who have staged a sit-in at the site of the monument. He says opposition leaders have thus “spat in the face of this country”. In his concluding sentence he addresses a threat to those he calls “dear Fidesz comrades”: “We shall blow up that monument, possibly even before it is built… We owe that much to the victims of Hungarian Nazism”.

In Magyar Nemzet (print edition), Ágnes Seszták scrolls through a series of recent gestures by the government to commemorate the Holocaust and to admit the guilt of the Hungarian authorities of that period. The latest was the inauguration of a monument to the “March of Life”, held each year in remembrance of the Holocaust. She calls it a rude move on the part of “certain political groupings” to describe the Nazi occupation memorial as containing an anti-Semitic message. On the contrary, she argues, the monument expresses the obvious condemnation of Nazism. Very much unlike the column erected on the same square after World War Two to the Soviet soldiers, she adds, which ‘glorifies’ an army that brought horrible suffering and imposed a totalitarian dictatorship on Hungary.



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