Hungarians haven’t learned from history


I read with great interest Nancy Kirsch’s story about Budapest (See “Anti-Semitic acts in Budapest stun Habonim congregants” in the April 26 issue).

I lived through the Holocaust in Budapest in 1944 and still retain close contacts with relatives and old friends there; I can corroborate everything she wrote in her article. According to my friends, such incidences happen quite frequently; they were not at all surprised when I related the story to them.

In his May 10 letter to the editor, David Logan wrote, “There is indeed a wide gulf between catcalls from drunks on the street … and systematic government oppression.” He is absolutely correct; the question is, though, where will these catcalls lead?

Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is neither an anti-Semite nor a true democrat. He is a power-hungry demagogue whose principal objective is to concentrate and retain power in his own hands. There is no threat to him from the political center or the left, which are now very weak. The danger comes from the far right, openly anti-Semitic party, the Jobbik.

Orbán will do everything to prevent his own dissatisfied voters to run over to Jobbik, even if he has to sacrifice Jews, Gypsies, democratic principles, etc., to placate those, who, unfortunately, are more extreme right than he is. This points to the core of the problem: A large segment of the Hungarian electorate, which hasn’t learned anything from recent history and falls for cheap nationalistic slogans suggesting that beating up on minorities will solve all the country’s problems. Sound familiar?

Gabriel Lengyel