Saturday, 25 January 2014


Another strand to Hungarian politics

For a little while now I have have been puzzling what to make of an emerging public row in Hungary that initially seemed paradoxical, certainly to a mere non-Magyar – and perhaps to many row-weary Magyars too, both in Hungary itself and round the world.

Briefly, the Hungarian Government has announced that it will erect a memorial in Budapest that will bear the legend –

German occupation of Hungary, March 19, 1944
To the memory of all victims

At first sight this seemed reasonable to me. It will stand in Szabadság tér (Freedom Square) in Budapest, where also stands the Soviet War Memorial to the eighty-odd thousand Soviet troops who died liberating the city in the terrible winter of 1944-5. Perhaps a political point is being made by this location but it is also arguably a reasonable reflection of the sheer complexity of Hungary's past.

Fast upon the official announcement, however, came powerful rejection of the plan by Jewish, other minority and left-wing groups, along with thrtests to boycot the forthcoming Holocaust Day ceremony.

A recent major feature article by historian Krisztián Ungváry published in the social-political weekly HVG sheds some light. This article is now available in English translation too:

The story of course continues to unfold. The next news of it will probably come on Holocaust Memorial Day. After that, one has the possibility of a peek at what the memorial actually looks like (Krisztián Ungváry's account makes it sound fairly extraordinary).

(Maybe some future Hungarian regime will open a Fidesz Sculpture Park to house the cultural curiosities of these times, including this particular memorial, statues of Admiral Horthy, and by then who knows what.)

Two dates in April

The Hungarian General Election will be on 6 April.

A month ago, Conductive World reported the general-release date (US) for the forthcoming Hollywood film on the Siege, Walking with the Enemy. This will be on 25 April. It also wrote –
The film is inspired by the real-life story of Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum. His name has been changed in the film, as has the fact that he did not use a Nazi uniform but that of the Arrow Cross to exercise his deception.
Perhaps the film-makers thought the political situation in Budapest at the end of 1944 and during the Siege of Budapest confusing and morally ambiguous enough for Western audiences, without including this level of complexity, especially in the light of current attempts in Hungary to rehabilitate Admiral Horthy.
No news yet of when or even whether it will be released in Hungary. It looks sure to provoke another political row.

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