Zoltán Balog denies aspects of Roma Holocaust and says “victimhood” leads to schizophrenia

One day after the commemoration of the Roma Holocaust (also known as Porajmos) Hungarian Human Resources Minister Zoltán Balog denied that Hungarian Roma were deported from Hungary and went on to warn the community that they must be careful not to  focus as much on these Holocaust experiences as the country’s Jewish population has focused on the Shoah, for fear that they too may end up displaying signs of “schizophrenia.” Mr. Balog had called in to Kossuth Rádió, a public radio station in Budapest, in what appeared to be little more than an attempt to whitewash the experience of the Roma community in Hungary during the War.

Zoltán Balog. Photo: fidesz.hu

Zoltán Balog. Photo: fidesz.hu

“There was no deportation of Roma from Hungary; they were deported from Austria. I have witnessed the process through which the Gypsy intelligentsia has begun to say:  ‘pardon me, but we too have a Holocaust, and as such we too are part of this history.’ Yet I would still like to caution my Gypsy friends from concentrating too much on this element of their identity. Because even among the Jewry, many have come to the realization that if the experience of the Holocaust and the knowledge that ‘we were victims’ are the only (or the most important) aspects of Jewish identity, then this creates internal confusion and schizophrenia. And this does not help these communities look towards the future”–remarked Mr. Balog on Kossuth Radio.

Mr. Balog’s comments on how Hungarian Roma were deported from Austria, rather than from Hungary, did not explain how those deported arrived in Austria in the first place, nor did it take into account that Austria was not an independent entity during World War II. Following the Anschluss of March 1938, Austria was fully annexed by, and incorporated into Germany.

The Roma Press Centre responded diplomatically to Mr. Balog, by simply quoting eyewitness and victim testimony, including the one translated below:

“In the evening, the Arrow Cross arrived and took all boys and men between the ages of 14 and 78. They said goodbye, and my poor father told my mother that they didn’t know where they were taking them, and to take care of the children. We only found out fifty years later what had happened to him: he was taken to Germany.”

Mr. Balog is known for questioning (perhaps denying) the Holocaust and questioning the memories of survivors. In 2009, Mr. Balog suggested after a speech given in Parliament by Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, that the “accusation of antisemitism was being used as a weapon in political communication.” In reference to the history of the Holocaust, Mr. Balog added in a television interview that “it has been revealed that some things believed to have been facts were not facts at all.”

A caricature of Mr. Balog appearing in Monday's Népszava. "This is so dark, that I can't see a thing."

A caricature of Mr. Balog appearing in Monday’s Népszava. “This is so dark, that I can’t see a thing.”

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