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A warning against ‘Holocaust-angst’

February 1st, 2021

In an unusually blunt article even by the standards of a proud iconoclast, a pundit known for his highly opinionated column suggests that Hungarian Jews have not processed the trauma of the Holocaust. This is why, he believes, the Shoah remains a political topic in Hungary, although there are no real dangers threatening the Jewish community.

In a full-page article in Magyar Hang, Róbert Puzsér complains that many Jewish people cannot distinguish between preserving the memory of the past and keeping neurotic fear alive. He knows that such remarks may draw accusations of anti-Semitism, therefore he starts his article relating the story of his mother who was a Holocaust survivor, and whose angst he carries within himself as a heavy burden. Nevertheless, he finds it harmful that the Holocaust is still one of the central topics of political conflicts in Hungary. The reason is that many people still instinctively believe that the Holocaust may one day be repeated. That is an irrational fear, but one is not supposed to say so because such a remark may immediately trigger the accusation of offending the memory of the Holocaust. One might expose oneself to even more passionate accusations by saying that it is immoral to use the memory of the Holocaust to gain political profit at a time when Hungarian Jewry is safe. In any case, the political class, especially the left-liberal political and media elite, bring up the Holocaust in their political controversies instead of discussing topical and vital issues. They accuse their adversaries of right-wing extremism and blow up insignificant and peripheral events into some kind of imaginary Nazi threat, he continues. Puzsér warns Holocaust survivors and their descendants that Holocaust angst is a disorder, and it is wrong to project one’s own fear onto society because by doing so, one involves ever newer generations into that irrational fear-game. Suffering from angst is not a virtue, and healing is not a sin – Puzsér writes.

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