Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull speaks about Hungarian atrocities during the Holocaust

Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister, is angry. He says those who accuse his energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, of being a dual Australian-Hungarian citizen just do not understand the history of the Hungarian Holocaust.

Josh Frydenberg’s mother Erica Strauss was born in 1943 in the Budapest ghetto. That is where the fascists had pushed all the Jews in together, as a prelude to sending them to the gas chamber, Turnbull said. He added:

“She wasn’t a Hungarian citizen when she was born, neither were her parents – you know why? The Hungarian fascist government, allied with Hitler, stripped Jews of all of their rights, the right to citizenship and the right to life. Her family fled Hungary at the end of the war. It was a miracle they weren’t killed as so many of their relatives were…. Three-quarters of all the Jews in Hungary were murdered in the Holocaust and the prelude to murdering them was depriving them of their citizenship, rendering [them] sub-humans in the eyes of the fascists and the Nazis…. I wish that those who make these allegations about Josh Frydenberg could think a little deeper about the history of the Holocaust. So Erica Strauss came to Australia as a stateless person. She had no citizenship. She came to Australia, she became an Australian citizen and she is Josh’s mother.

Has this witch-hunt become so absurd that people are seriously claiming that Josh Frydenberg is the citizen of a country which stripped his mother and her family of their citizenship and would have pushed them into the gas chambers had it not been that the war was ended before they had time to do so?”

Josh Frydenberg (left) and Prime Minister Turnbull in the Australian Parliament.

In order to understand Turnbull’s passionate words we have to examine Australia’s politics today. The Australian Constitution of 1901 states in Section 44.1 that “any person who is under acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”

In July senator Scott Ludlam was forced to resign after it was revealed that he was still a citizen of New Zealand. Ludlam said that he believed that his citizenship had been revoked when he became an Australian citizen as a teenager. Queensland senator, Larissa Waters, was born in Canada; she was forced to resign. Matt Canavan, another senator and resources minister, discovered that his mother had applied for Italian citizenship on his behalf, without his knowledge. He also had to resign. Josh Frydenberg, the government’s 46-year-old energy minister is just the latest target. He is accused of being a “Hungarian citizen” because Frydenberg’s mother Erica was born in Hungary in 1943.

Joshua Anthony Frydenberg was born in 1971 in Melbourne, Australia. His father, Harry Frydenberg has Polish-Jewish roots but his family arrived to Australia before the Holocaust. Josh’s mother, Erica was born in Hungary in 1943.

Dead bodies in the Budapest Ghetto. Frydenberg’s mother survived there.

Here is her family history. Erica’s father, Sámuel Strausz, was born in 1908 in Makó in southern Hungary. After marrying Etelka, the family had three daughters: Judith, born in 1941, Erika (later Erica) in 1943 and Ágnes in 1949. Etelka Strausz with her two daughters survived the horrors of WWII in the Budapest ghetto. The family were reunited after World War II and left the country. They lived in a refugee “displaced persons” camp until 1950 when they were able to sail to Australia. They were admitted as stateless refugees.

The Strausz family was lucky to survive. Although World War II was already coming to the end, pro-Hitler and anti-Semite Admiral Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s wartime dictator, was determined to send the remaining Budapest Jews to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. They were saved because US President Roosevelt and the King of Sweden gave Horthy an ultimatum to cease deporting Jews by June 30, 1944, or Hungary would be subjected to a fate worse than any other warring country. Roosevelt’s ultimatum was delivered to Horthy by Swiss Minister, M. Jaeger.

Horthy failed to stop the deportations and over 400,000 Hungarian Jews from outside Budapest were killed. When the ultimatum expired, British and American planes started to bomb Budapest on July 2 to stop the senseless mass murder. The next day, Admiral Horthy told Jaeger he had ordered the deportations to cease.

In 1945 Horthy was arrested by the Americans but never tried. Today Hungary’s right-wing strongman, Viktor Orbán, calls Horthy an “exceptional statesman.” US politicians and organizations objected the Horthy-cult, historians say that Horthy, his associates and his regime bear responsibility for the mass murder of Hungarian Jews. The Horthy-cult is distasteful and it should be stopped.

Horthy was arrested by the Americans. He stopped the deportations after British and American planes started to bomb Budapest.

Incidentally, Hungary’s Ambassador to Australia Mr. Attila Gruber served as the vice chairman of the Hungarian Parliament’s Hungarian-Iranian Group led by Mr. Márton Gyöngyösi, a representative of the far-right Jobbik party. Mr. Gyöngyösi grabbed headlines when he urged Hungarian lawmakers to draw up lists of Jews who pose a “national security risk” for the country.

I wonder what Ambassador Gruber would think of Prime Minister Turnbull’s statement about the Hungarian Holocaust. We’ll ask him.

György Lázár

-You may watch the video of Prime Minister Turnbull’s statement about the Hungarian Holocaust here. (Click here)

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