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Nazi invasion memorial completed

July 23rd, 2014

The leading left-wing daily accuses the government of arrogance and the falsification of history, as the monument commemorating the victims of the 1944 Nazi occupation of Hungary is completed. A pro-government columnist, on the other hand, believes that the memorial is a good visualization of the national tragedy caused by the loss of its sovereignty, without whitewashing Hungary of its own historical responsibility.

On Friday, the Budapest Court ruled that no local referendum can be held on the memorial commemorating the victims of the Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1944. The referendum was initiated by left-wing politicians in order to prevent the completion of the memorial. After the Court’s decision, the construction of the statue was completed by Saturday morning with the police securing the site. As the fences were removed on Sunday, left-wing demonstrators threw eggs at the memorial.

In a public statement on Monday, PM Orbán said that the memorial reminds Hungarians of the importance of their national independence, noting that the horrendous crimes under the Nazi and Soviet occupations would not have happened if Hungary could have retained its sovereignty.

János Lázár the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office announced that no opening ceremony will be held, as a gesture of respect towards the sensitivity of those who protested against the memorial. Lázár added that the memorial expresses the fact that the Hungarian Holocaust would not have taken place without the Nazi occupation of Hungary, which, at the same time, does not acquit Hungary of its own crimes and responsibility.

Népszabadság in a front page editorial accuses the government of intending to demonstrate by completing the memorial that it can do whatever it wants and suppress any criticism. “The monument stands as a reminder of the government’s arrogance, stupid bullying and sneaking efforts to falsify history,” the leading left-wing daily fulminates.

Magyar Hírlap editor-in-chief István Stefka finds it hard to understand why anyone should protest against the memorial. Those persecuted under Nazi occupation, he argues, included conservative intellectuals and politicians, so there is good reason to jointly commemorate the tragic day and its consequences. Stefka notes that “no one wants to whitewash Hungary of its own responsibility”, despite the fact that without Nazi Germany’s invasion, Hungarian and other Jews seeking refuge in the country would not have been deported to death camps. “A monument that was designed with good intentions and which offers an essential depiction of our history should not cause resentment, unless such artificial and hysterical reactions are whipped up by money sent from abroad”, Stefka concludes.

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