Planned Holocaust monument angers Hungarian Jewish groups

German and Hungarian forces gathering Jews for deportation in Budapest in 1944. Credit: The German Federal Archives.

( The Hungarian government is planning to erect a memorial statue in honor of the country's 1944 Nazi occupation. Hungarian Jewish critics view the memorial as an effort by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to diminish Hungarian responsibility for the deportations of Jews that were assisted by Hungarian authorities. This year is the 70th anniversary of the deportations of more than 430,000 Hungarian Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

The planned monument will portray Germany's imperial eagle swooping down on the archangel Gabriel, a symbol for Hungary. But after Germany invaded Hungary, Hungarian officers had assisted the Nazis in deporting Jews. The Budapest-based Mazsihisz, a major Jewish group in Hungary, has threatened to boycott this year's Holocaust commemorations in Hungary due to this monument.

“There’s only one thing that doesn’t fit into the many ways one can commemorate the Holocaust... if someone lies about it or tries to distort it,” Mazsihisz President Andras Heisler said, Bloomberg News reported. 

Hungarian authorities, however, denied that they do not acknowledge Hungarian responsibility for Jewish deportations. "We know we are responsible for the Holocaust and we also know that Hungarian state institutions were responsible for the Holocaust... Hungarians were the perpetrators and Hungarians were those who suffered. Hungarians did the shooting and Hungarians died," Hungarian Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics said in the country's parliament, according to the Associated Press.

Posted on January 22, 2014 .