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Cabinet Minister accused of using Nazi terminology

March 14th, 2023

Pro-government columnists reject a remark by a historian who slammed Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyás for using what he interpreted as Nazi language.

In his regular weekly press conference last Thursday, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister in charge pf the Prime Minister’s office said the intention of the European Commission to exclude foundation-run Hungarian universities from the European Erasmus exchange programme was an act of ‘anti-Hungarian, racial revenge, to use an ugly word’. Later he added that there was only one human race and ‘if you find the expression disturbing, let’s agree that was an act of anti-Hungarian revenge’. (For the Erasmus dispute see BudaPost, March 8.) The following day , historian Krisztián Ungváry, a staunch critic of the government told RTL TV News that the Minister ‘managed to resort to Nazi terminology to express his thoughts’. The Minister’s office then explained to RTLTV that the exclusion was based on alleged rule-of-law noncompliance in Hungary, but on those grounds, financial sanctions can only be imposed if the correct use of EU funds is in jeopardy, which is not the case with the Erasmus scholarships, as they go directly to students.

Mandiner has devoted three articles to Ungváry’s comment since Thursday. László Bernát Veszprémy called the historian irresponsible and warned that wanton accusations of Nazism amount to relativising the Holocaust. In a similar vein, Mátyás Kohán cautions against ‘wasting anti-Nazi ammunition’ on people who have obviously nothing in common with Nazism. ‘Those rounds might be needed sometime in the future, don’t squander them’, he wrote. Mihály Nánai explains that Hungarian authors used to mean ‘people’ by the term ‘race’ in the past and it is in this strict sense that the minister spoke about ‘racial revenge’.

In Magyar Nemzet, Gyula Haraszti asks why Ungváry didn’t protest when liberal groups embraced Jobbik politicians who had made brazen anti-Semitic gestures in public in the not-too-distant past. He also remarks that the historian is an avowed collector of Nazi uniforms. Haraszti suspects that Ungváry feels ‘a morbid attraction’ to Nazi paraphernalia, which might explain why the historian sees Nazis where there aren’t any.

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