Ordinary Hungarians — Őcsény, Fidesz and the Holocaust

András Siewert, the director of Migration Aid, wore a t-shirt with a yellow star bearing the words “Jude,” and underneath it the line “I am a refugee” when he arrived to give an interview to the HírTV news network. He was speaking with prominent journalist Olga Kálmán right after shameful events in the village of Őcsény, where the Orwellian government-sponsored hate campaign against migrants, refugees, George Soros and NGOs bore its fruit. Local residents of this sleepy village of 2,300 in southwestern Hungary went into collective panic mode over news that six or seven refugee children may be brought to Őcsény for a brief vacation and that a local guesthouse owner offered rooms in his establishment to the children and their chaperones from Migration Aid. Ordinary Hungarians slashed the tires on the guesthouse owner, Zoltán Fenyvesi’s cars, because he had agreed to help refugee children, who the local residents claimed were “animals” non-human and would rape the ethnic Hungarian children of Őcsény.

“If I can accommodate poor Hungarian children, and among them very many Gypsy children, I would add, then why not suffering refugee families with children?”–asked the guesthouse owner. His life was threatened by the villagers.

“Get lost, or we will burn down your house!”–roared a village resident during a townhall meeting, according to an account in Magyar Nemzet. Mr. Fenyvesi is not going to flee his village yet, but the community’s mayor has since resigned over the behaviour of locals.

When Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose party is solely responsible for a level of hatred and paranoia not seen in Hungary for decades, was asked about the incidents in Őcsény, he said: “It was quite right that they expressed their opinions categorically, loudly, and clearly.”

When Migration Aid’s András Siewert showed up in HírTV’s studios wearing a yellow star reminiscent of the Holocaust, some people expressed displeasure. Right-wing publicist András Stumpf, for instance, wrote:

“He destroys the credibility of everything that he is talking about. And not by what he says, but by what he arrived in. The good man is shining in a t-shirt bearing a yellow star in front of the cameras. For the less astute, the six pointed yellow star bears the words “Jude,” or Jew,  and next to it in large letters: “I am a refugee.” So what are you trying to say? Perhaps you are a Jew, maybe a Parisian Jew? Maybe you fled to Hungary because of Muslim immigrants? In this context, all of this might be logical. But it isn’t. Siewert speaks Hungarian too well for this. But then what does all of this mean? That the era of the yellow star is coming for the migrants of today? What’s the connection between the 1945 ghetto of Budapest to the Afghani goatherd of today, who has decided to leave his home? I’ll tell you: nothing.”

András Siewert

Except that Mr. Stumpf is mistaken. There is a connection between what happened in Őcsény and the Holocaust. Christopher Browning wrote a book entitled Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. The book, published in 1992, argued that when brutalised by a violent environment or hateful propaganda and given the right circumstances, ordinary humans are capable of committing the most horrific atrocities. Mr. Browning looks specifically at the activities of the German police officers–mobile killing squads–in Poland in 1942. These German police officers were for the most part completely average Germans–lower middle class or working class men, often middle-aged, and with families of their own. Nothing in their past would have suggested the incredible evil that they would engage in, massacring entire communities of Jews.

Obviously, what happened in Őcsény was not a massacre, but I would be much less comfortable ruling out that a massacre could not occur in Hungary today against any identifiable group, and those helping such a group, that the government of Viktor Orbán has decided to systematically demonise. In Őcsény, ordinary grandmothers, grandfathers, parents and everyday Hungarians roared out threats against a local who simply wanted to help refugee women and children, they vandalized his property and threatened to burn his house to the ground, if he chose not to flee his home.

Those who committed mass murder against their fellow compatriots during the Second World War were ordinary Hungarians. And from what we saw this week in Őcsény, many ordinary Hungarians are working themselves into a violent frenzy, seeing women and children as subhumans. For pure electoral gain in 2018, Prime Minister Orbán and his government not only condones this hatred, but is responsible for creating it and for further deepening it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *