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Siege of Budapest anniversary

February 13th, 2020

75 years after an attempted breakout by over twenty thousand German and Hungarian troops besieged in Buda Castle only two per cent of whom made it to the German lines, opinions diverge about the commemorations held on the anniversary.

A few hundred neo-Nazi sympathisers held a commemoration on the anniversary under the pretext that they had nothing in common with the annual ‘Day of Honour’ Nazi celebrations honouring the troops who broke out from besieged Buda Castle. An equal number of ‘anti-Fascist’ protesters gathered around them, but the two crowds were kept safely apart by police. Later, a memorial trek through the Buda hills was joined by more than a thousand people, following the route of the few hundred survivors. HIRTV called their commemoration peaceful, but said they were attacked by left-wingers, whereupon Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony said he would boycott HIRTV until they apologise.

On HVG online, Zsófia Kisőrsi writes that unlike the participants at the far right march and rally on Sunday, most of those who joined the trek across the Buda Hills were not nostalgic for the Nazi era. She accompanied them and heard no pro-Nazi remarks during the entire march, although here and there she did meet a few people dressed in wartime German uniforms.

On 888, Tamás Horváth authors an eulogy for the defenders of Buda Castle, whom he describes as heroes who gave their lives in defence of Europe against the Bolshevik hordes. Remembrance policies have taken a positive turn over the past years, he writes, making it possible to hold worthy commemorations on the anniversary. He compares the fallen German and Hungarian soldiers to the heroes of the the Battle of Thermopylae, and concludes that they should never be forgotten.

On Mandiner, Áron Máthé remarks on the other hand, that Hungarian soldiers were fighting in early 1945 on both sides. Some units changed sides because they wanted to put an end to the fighting which brought unprecedented destruction to Budapest. He acknowledges the suffering of the soldiers who ran for their lives in the winter of 1945, most of whom were easy prey for Soviet machine guns. Nevertheless, he adds, ’they were not Europe’s heroes, nor were they ours’. Theirs, Máthé writes, was a Nazi nightmare. Nor does he see the Russian soldiers as heroes. He believes Hungary fell prey to two barbarian powers fighting each other. He says the real heroes were the people of Budapest who after three months of terrible bombardment and fighting, rebuilt their capital from the ruins.

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