U.S. calls for Hungarian dialogue over Holocaust memorial

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The U.S. embassy in Budapest called on the Hungarian government to resume dialogue with Jewish, national and international groups over plans for its Holocaust memorial year.

In a statement issued Tuesday directed at the newly reelected government of Viktor Orban, the embassy wrote: “As a fellow democracy, we continue to urge the government to seek an honest, open, and factual assessment of the Holocaust in Hungary.  This includes soliciting and considering the opinions of all segments of Hungarian society, and especially those who are rightly most sensitive to the government’s plans during this 70th anniversary year.”

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Such a dialogue, the embassy said, “is a hallmark of good democratic governance.”

Hungarian President Viktor Orban in February postponed a ceremony commemorating the country’s victims of World War II following protests by Jewish groups that said it obfuscated Hungary’s Holocaust-era role.

The ceremony, which had been planned for March 19, was organized around the inauguration of a monument which the government has described as “dedicated to the memory of the German occupation.”

The planned monument depicts Hungary as an angel being attacked by a German eagle, which critics say absolves Hungarians of their active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths.

Hungary’s Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, said after the announcement that it would boycott the ceremony.

Earlier this month, government employees began constructing the contested monument, which is now scheduled to be unveiled on May 31.

Several Jewish, civil and political groups are holding daily demonstrations at the construction site, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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