Saturday, December 29, 2018

Is Victor Orban the Worst Person in the World? Ethnic, Cultural, Nationalistic Cleansing - Plus Rewriting History

Hungarians Fume as Statue of Former Leader Is Downgraded  ---

The statue of Mr. Nagy, who was at once a reformist and a dedicated communist, is expected to be moved and replaced with a memorial to the victims of the Red Terror, a purge of anti-communist forces in 1919. The commission is led by the National Assembly’s speaker, Laszlo Kover, a member of Fidesz.

The Red Terror memorial was originally erected under the regency of Admiral Miklos Horthy, who was Hungary’s de facto leader from 1920 to 1944, a period during which severe legal restrictions were placed on Hungarian Jews.

--- NY Times, Dec. 28, 2018 - full article closes this blog post.

With Prof Kiraly, Oct. 2006
From today's Times about the removal of the statue of a major hero in Hungary, the Communist leader Imra Nagy, who defied the Soviets and led the Hungarian Revolution.

My late and great Brooklyn College history Professor Bela Kiraly, a hero of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, one week before the 50th anniversary celebration in Budapest in October 2006, told my wife and I when we visited him at his home in Budapest that Imre Nage was one of Hungary's greatest heroes, if not the greatest. A week later, after we had already left, Kiraly was one of the main speakers at the memorial of the revolution, not far from Nage's statue. What is funny is that many of the people I associated with on the left maintained that the revolution was CIA inspired, which I often scoffed at. But that night Kiraly did confirm that the CIA did play a role in his escape to the USA. He became a voice against the Soviets but also was passionate about democracy.

We had witnessed a right wing demo at Parliament earlier that day. He told us that we had witnessed the early stages in 2006 of the right wing anti-democratic movement -- he was concerned and he turned out to be right.



I wrote about that evening on July 8, 2009 when he died at 98 -- A Memorable Evening with General Bela Kiraly

Nage statue
Kiraly told us the story. How the Soviet leader himself had told Kiraly if they put down their arms, Nage would not face punishment. Lies of course as they executed Nage and buried him in an obscure grave. When the Soviet Union fell, Kiraly, who had been under a Stalin death sentence, was invited to return and was elected to parliament. Nage's body was moved to an honored
position and the statue erected.

Kiraly himself was a hero to Jews when as a Hungarian officer during WWII, he defied the pro-Nazi Hungarian leaders referenced in the NY Times piece and helped save Jews:
BUDAPEST (JTA) — Bela Kiraly, a Hungarian soldier who saved hundreds of Jewish lives during the Holocaust, has died. Kiraly died in his sleep earlier this month. He was 92 [error - he was 97] . Kiraly served on the Eastern front in the murderous 1943-44 campaign of the 2nd Hungarian Army that deployed tens of thousands of Hungarian slave laborers in inhuman, dangerous and humiliating circumstances.
www.jta.org/2009/07/26/obituaries/righteous-gentile-bela-kiraly-dies-at-92
 The Righteous Among The Nations - Digital Collections
db.yadvashem.org/righteous/family.html?language=en&itemId=4015627
The Jews who served in the labor unit later testified that Király’s policies saved their lives. They recalled how Király made sure that his troops treated the Jews “like human beings, and not like we were human dust,” as they had before Király took charge of the division.
Kiraly was venerated not only by Jews he save but by the general population of Hungary. What next? Will Orben obliterate his history? Kiraly gave us a whole stack of books he had written on Hungarian history, which I have kept.
Mr. Orban has repeatedly called for Hungary to regain the status it held before losing much of its land and population following the First World War, and often expressed a preference for a racially homogeneous society. “We do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others,” he said in a speech in February. ------On the Surface, Hungary Is a Democracy. But What Lies Underneath?
     ..... NYT,  Dec. 26, 2018 --
This above statement in the article caught my eye. All over Europe and here in the states the issue of nationalism and racial purity has been raising its head. Let's not forget this was Hitler's mantra. And religious purity has led to two millennia of massive conflict. Orben has been one of the most open anti-semites. His statement - “We do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others, goes way beyond Jews but it is certainly inclusive.

Today's article in the NYT on December 29 was telling and is a must read:

Hungarians Fume as Statue of Former Leader Is Downgraded - The ...



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/world/europe/hungary-statue-nagy.html
1 day ago - BUDAPEST — A statue of Imre Nagy, who was prime minister during the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule, has stood since 1996 in ...
BUDAPEST — A statue of Imre Nagy, who was prime minister during the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule, has stood since 1996 in Martyrs’ Square, adjacent to the country’s National Assembly in Budapest.

Now, it’s gone.

This month, the National Memorial Commission, led by a member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s far-right Fidesz Party, decided to remove the statue of Mr. Nagy, who was executed two years after the uprising by a Soviet-backed puppet government.

The statue of Mr. Nagy, who was at once a reformist and a dedicated communist, is expected to be moved and replaced with a memorial to the victims of the Red Terror, a purge of anti-communist forces in 1919. The commission is led by the National Assembly’s speaker, Laszlo Kover, a member of Fidesz.

The Red Terror memorial was originally erected under the regency of Admiral Miklos Horthy, who was Hungary’s de facto leader from 1920 to 1944, a period during which severe legal restrictions were placed on Hungarian Jews.

The removal of Mr. Nagy’s statue is part of a broader push by Mr. Orban to resurrect Hungary’s right-wing authoritarian past, said Peter Kreko, director of Political Capital, a Budapest-based political think tank and consultancy.

“It’s the re-establishment of the symbolic politics of the Horthy era,” Mr. Kreko said, adding that the restoration of public areas around Parliament to reflect their appearance between the two world wars was a sign that the country’s political leadership was seeking to build on Admiral Horthy’s heritage.

It was not clear where the Nagy statue would go. Press reports said it would be placed on Jaszai Mari square, about a mile north of its former location, but a representative for the government could not be reached for comment.

The decision to relocate it drew fierce opposition from many Hungarians who revere Mr. Nagy as a national hero and have pushed back against Mr. Orban’s efforts to create what he calls an illiberal democracy.

“It is outrageous that they removed Nagy’s statue, and it is scandalous that they would remove this statue under the cloak of darkness in a manner the people would not see,” said Ferenc Eross, 72, a retiree. “Imre Nagy bothers them because he was the prime minister of a revolution, instead of a system like the kind we have here today.”

Since ascending to the office of prime minister for a second time in 2010, Mr. Orban has sought to remake Hungarian society through what European Union leaders have described as sweeping anti-democratic changes: rewriting the national constitution, reshaping the judiciary and shifting the electoral system to favor Fidesz.

The far-right leader is also reshaping Hungary’s cultural and civil society, and its education system. He has used the Hungarian-American Jewish philanthropist George Soros as a foil, accusing him of seeking to undermine Hungary’s sovereignty, and Parliament approved legislation to force the closing of a university founded by the financier. This year, Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations, under increasing pressure, left Hungary.

“The government’s goal,” Laszlo Miklosi, president of the Association of Hungarian History Teachers, has said, “is to create a version of history preferable to Orban.”

Mr. Nagy, who during the revolution broke with the Warsaw Pact and called on the West to recognize Hungary as a neutral state, was executed for treason in 1958. He and other leading figures in the uprising were buried in Budapest under fake names, as the government sought to erase the memory of 1956, and he came to symbolize the Soviets’ oppression of Hungary for generations.

Hungary, an ally of Nazi Germany during World War II, became a satellite state of the Soviet Union after the war. A Soviet-backed puppet government was installed, and authorities violently clamped down.

The 1956 uprising was set off by university students, who demanded, among other things, a free press, free and fair multiparty elections, just compensation of workers, and freedom of expression, all things that resonate with many of Mr. Orban’s opponents.

“He was a part of Hungarian history and they shouldn’t remove him from it by removing this statue,” said Marta Karpeta, 65, a retiree. “He took a stand against what was happening, and he took the lead when it mattered. And because of this he died the death of a martyr. He had to die for what he believed in.”

Mr. Kover defended the decision to move the statue, accusing the left-wing opposition of continuing what he called the former Communist government’s “historical forgery,” in an interview with a pro-government news website.

Decades after the failed uprising, and as the Soviet Union began to crumble, Hungary’s democratic opposition seized the opportunity to rehabilitate the former prime minister’s image.

On June 16, 1989, more than 100,000 Hungarians attended a public reburial of Mr. Nagy, a historic event that signified the end of Soviet oppression in Hungary. A young Mr. Orban delivered a speech that propelled him onto the national political stage.

“Now, 33 years after the Hungarian uprising,” said Mr. Orban, demanding that Soviet troops pull out of Hungary, “and 31 years after the execution of Hungary’s last responsible prime minister, we can peacefully reach all those things the ’56 revolutionaries fought for in bloody battles.”

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