Antisemitic attack in Hungary — Holocaust memorial vandalised

The Living Memorial, a grassroots monument in Budapest’s Liberty Square, in memory to the 600,000 victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, was vandalised this weekend, shortly after the neo-Nazi Kuruc.info website published an article threatening to destroy the monument. Photographs displayed at the site were torn and other items of remembrance added to the Living Memorial by survivors and descendants of survivors were shattered or removed.

Budapest's Living Memorial vandalized late at night on September 9th. Photo: Péter Fávics

Budapest’s Living Memorial vandalized late at night on September 9th. Photo: Péter Fávics

Budapest's Living Memorial vandalized late at night on September 9th. Photo: Péter Fávics Budapest's Living Memorial vandalized late at night on September 9th. Photo: Péter Fávics.

Budapest’s Living Memorial vandalized late at night on September 9th. Photo: Péter Fávics.

The Living Memorial was established in March 2014 by activists and ordinary Hungarian citizens, as a protest against the controversial German occupation monument erected by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The government monument served as a way to deflect responsibility for the Holocaust in Hungary away from Hungarian authorities and onto the Germans. In contrast to the Living Memorial, which for more than two years has served as the site for regular talks, lectures, discussions groups, musical performances and commemorations, the government-erected monument was never so much as formally unveiled, was completed quietly in the dead of the night and remains entirely neglected.

“With the exception of a few smaller incidents, respect towards the victims of the Holocaust always protected the memorial from the worst attacks,” writes the Living Memorial group in their statement, which was also signed by two other partner groups, namely: the Szabadság Színpad (Freedom Stage) and TÉR-KÖZ Társaság. “But yesterday something happened, which until now nobody dared to commit”–added the activists. Unknown perpetrators vandalised the monument, a mere three weeks after the Kuruc.info website, the most vile neo-Nazi Hungarian publication, published the following:

“I promise that one night, in the beginning of September, I will walk by the Living Memorial and I will pack up four or five kilograms of  the display, which legally is considered to be garbage, into a strong bag.  And putting that into my car, I will take it to where it belongs. Naturally, I won’t dump it into the Danube, because that is already very polluted,” wrote someone using the alias of Alitea Guzmán on Kuruc.info.

Photo: Péter Fávics.

Budapest’s Living Memorial vandalized late at night on September 9th. Photo: Péter Fávics.

The Kuruc.info article mentions our publication, the Hungarian Free Press, by name, for having published pieces on the Living Memorial.

The Living Memorial group filed a police report immediately after the vandalism of the monument. The activists note that nearly the entire square is well-equipped with CCTV cameras, so the police should be able to identify the perpetrator(s). Yet they also add: “We do not expect any meaningful response from the state.”

As such, the Living Memorial group, along with its partners in the community, is organizing a flash mob on September 18th, 2016 at 4:00 PM, in Liberty Square. Participants are asked to bring votive candles, rocks, photographs and other items used for commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.

“Let’s show the provocateurs that we are not afraid,” notes the group’s statement.

The Kuruc.info website is registered in the United States, but it is widely believed to be affiliated with Jobbik. It has published daily hate speech since 2006. The editors and most authors publish pieces under pseudonyms. It is believed by many, however, that Előd Novák, a former Jobbik politician, is among the editors.

The website was launched by a Hungarian-Canadian–at the time living in California–by the name of Béla Varga. Mr. Varga appears to own the Kuruc.info domain and reportedly also controls Kuruc.info’s bank account. Mr. Varga, who owned a store called The Red Paprika in Healdsburg, California, had a $300,00 bench warrant issued for his arrest in 2014, after he did not show up at a San Francisco court for charges relating to uttering death threats, harassment and stalking. Mr. Varga, who is a Canadian citizen, fled California and according to reports ended up in Ontario. He is believed to be in hiding in Canada, along with his two sons and wife, to this very day.

10 Comments

  1. Worse than criminal these people are committing unconscionable acts and inducing the misguided to follow suit. Free speech is one thing, but hate propaganda is another. This will be a perfect opportunity for the government to show its true colours and find and prosecute the person(s) who committed this appalling act as a Holocaust denier, hate monger.

  2. Charlie London says:

    The desecration of this memorial – beautiful and poignant in its simplicity and eloquence – is an unfortunate bellwether indicator of the current state of antisemitism in Hungary.

    Orban’s government could do much more to close Kuruc.hu down but hides (and blames the US) behind the fact that it is hosted in America.

    The investigation by the police will be cursory and superficial – as ordered by Orban’s thug politicians and agencies.

    But the dignity and calmness of the guardians of the memorial will shine through and the monument will grow stronger.

    Life for Jews in Hungary must be becoming intolerable – with no publicity allowed in Orban’s controlled media.

    Shocking.

    Truly shocking.

  3. Poster Charlie London states “Life for Jews in Hungary must be becoming intolerable – with no publicity allowed in Orban’s controlled media.” I’d say that’s a pretty big stretch considering all we have is a few photos and such torn up. (Remainder of comment deleted due to anti-Semitism. — the editor.)

    • Charlie London says:

      Any desecration of this monument – which signifies so much – reflects on the people and society of Hungary.

      Sick as it is – it’s posters such as you who give clues to how deep seated it is.

      So often Hungary and its people take the side of evil.

  4. Chris, it’s your call. Are you happy for HFP to be bulletin board #2 for Kuruc.hu or are you going clean up the likes of the above comment?

  5. It’s not enough to find and prosecute the perpetrator for this sick, disgusting crime. Kuruc.info must be shut down and the full force of the law must be brought down on its editors, operators and writers, since they are promoting criminal activity in Hungary…and are doing so successfully, it seems!

  6. Just to add that the “above” in my above comment does not refer to Charlie but to two pieces of psychopathic trollery that Chris has since indeed deleted. Thanks, Chris! — S

  7. Pingback: Protest planned after anti-Semitic vandalism in Budapest

  8. Jews are the biggest [The remainder of this post has been deleted, due to antisemitic content and hate speech–the Editor.]

  9. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Steven Harnad

    I share your frustration about the level of hateful commentary that tends to seep into these pages – but I lament even more the absence of passionate and intelligent commentary here in defense of human dignity and in opposition to the affinity fraud, that’s being perpetuated on public opinion in Canada and elsewhere, by representatives of the Hungarian government. Here is an example: Hungary’s agile ambassadors, Bálint Ódor, is spending a great deal of time visiting synagogues in Canada, to disarm his government’s critics with his sympathetic smiles and a bit of loose change, while, his boss at home is handing out state decoration to people who are spreading hatred against the Jews, and for good measure, is ripping off European and Hungarian taxpayers by billions of dollars, and trampling on the rule of law. It’s not enough to preach the necessity of silencing Nazi sympathisers ! More people have to take a public stand, than the usual two or three out of 300,000, and raise the roof about the affinity fraud being committed by Orbán and his Canadian ambassador in this country on a range of public issues. Very often, judging by the commentary, it seems as if only the fanatic nazis are listening to what we are saying, whereas we know, thousands are reading our posts on these pages. It’s time to stop listening to the sound of one hand clapping. It’s time for people to stand up and speak up for democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and for the dignity of our fellow human beings.

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