Hungary / 23-05-2012
Whoever is not “for Hungary” is surely “a Jewish Traitor”
As the situation becomes more difficult, Hungary prefers to escape to its past – like, for example the memorial ceremony for the Horthy regime during the interwar years – including antisemitism.
Hungary is very sick these days. In the streets of Budapest almost every second house is for sale.
Houses of Hungarians who are unable to meet their mortgage payments are being sold. The homeless have also made headlines; this winter dozens froze to death.
Many people lost their jobs and those who still work cannot make a decent living with their salaries. While the forint loses its value every day compared to the euro, the prices of consumer products keep climbing up and are similar to those in Austria. The Hungarians have enough on their hands with what is happening to them. But what do you do when you prefer not to look reality in the eye? You dream about the past that looks in dreams more rose-colored than ever.
Viktor Orbán’s government likes to glorify the past. It hangs throughout the country maps showing Hungary’s borders according to the traumatic Trianon Treaty. On city signs names of places are rewritten in cuneiform. There is relishing of memories from the interwar period, when Hitler’s friend Miklós Horthy was in power. And there is one topic that always works: antisemitism. Because someone must bear the blame for what was lost.
During Horthy’s reign in Hungary following the First World War, Hungary was the first European country that blocked Jews from entering the Universities. In the wake of the Nurnberg laws the Jews were removed in 1939 from public life. Today, every few weeks the names of public places are being changed to “Horthy square/ street” and a short while ago there was a memorial plaque dedication ceremony honoring his memory in Debrecen University, with many people present.
When one group takes over the public space, others must retreat, hide and disappear. Take for example the founder of the republic, Mihály Károlyi, a liberal aristocrat. Until mid-March he stood in Kossuth square in Budapest, across from the Parliament, leaning on his cane, looking towards the horizon. First the fans of the extreme rightist party, Jobbik, put a yarmulke on him, called him “A Jewish traitor” and hung on his neck a sign saying: “I am to blame for the Trianon Treaty”. The mayor, who is from the Jobbik party, aimed a pistol at his temple and a picture of this incident was published in the press. Finally, a truck came, picked up the statue and took it away.
Today there is a fence that hides the Kossuth square. In the next two years the square is scheduled to undergo changes and “to be presented as a gift to the nation” as an “Homage to the past”, and “a monument commemorating the Hungarian tradition” will be erected. Most members of Orbán’s party want the place to look like it did in the past “Like before 1944”, when Horthy controlled the country.
There are those in Hungary who oppose the rewriting and the taking over of the Hungarian history, but they must take into account that they will be labeled “the Jewish Traitors of the Motherland”, because someone always must take the blame for Trianon and for all other things.