Hungarian Christian Democrats desecrate Yellow-Star House in Budapest

Politicians and activists of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) decided that it was time to affix labels to buildings and houses in Budapest that serve as homes to NGOs, which work with legal immigrants and refugees. The stickers affixed to the entrances of these buildings read: “An organization that supports immigration” (Bevándorlást támogató szervezet, in Hungarian). Note that KDNP is not going after NGOs that reach out to undocumented or irregular migrants, but rather every NGO that offers programming to legal immigrants.

One such building labelled Thursday morning by party activists was Népszinház utca 16, in the 8th District (Józsefváros). This is the home of an NGO called Menedék–an organization that helps to integrate refugees that have been accepted by the current Hungarian government. KDNP was not bothered by this detail.

Flóra Tiskóczki affixes a label to the former Yellow Star House at Népszinház utca 16. Photo: MTI / Zoltán Máthé

The other detail that was of no concern to them was that Népszinház utca 16 was one of the so-called Yellow Star Houses (csillagos házak, in Hungarian) as of June 1944. Black signs bearing bright yellow stars of David (with dimensions of 51×36 cm) marked the entrances of apartment buildings in Budapest housing Jews. There were some 1,840 Yellow Star Houses in Budapest, housing more than 170,000 Jews, in cramped, inhumane conditions. Hungarian Jews were essentially being kept under house arrest and were only permitted to leave their buildings during specific hours. A key goal of concentrating Hungarian Jews in these buildings was to expedite their eventual deportation to death camps, although plans to begin this in July 1944 were halted as a result of international protest.

Most of the Yellow Star Houses were in four central Budapest districts–namely: Erzsébetváros, Józsefváros, Újlipótváros and Terézváros. The vast majority of these buildings still stand today in Budapest and some bear plaques in memory of the Holocaust. In other cases, one will find Stolpersteins, or stumbling stones in front of the building’s entrance. These are cobble stones bearing a brass plate, with the names of Holocaust victims who lived in the given building, designed by German artists Gunter Demnig.

This map marks the location of yellow star houses in Budapest.

As KDNP activists like Flóra Tiskóczki affixed their label to Népszinház utca 16, they were either oblivious to the history of Yellow Star Houses in Budapest and specifically to the history of this house, or they are now so desensitized that none of this makes them flinch.

When journalists of the website asked Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, what he thinks about this initiative during the government’s standing Thursday press conference, he simply said that he is good friends with the KDNP politician, István Hollik, who organized this, and refused to offer any comment on the labeling.

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