Hungarian Church Cancels Plans to Honor Nazi Ally on Holocaust Remembrance Day
New York City—Human Rights First today welcomed reports that a Hungarian church had cancelled plans for a memorial mass honoring Hungarian leader and Nazi ally Miklos Horthy originally scheduled for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27th, following public outcry from Hungarian and American Jewish and human rights groups, including Human Rights First. The organization had previously condemned the ceremony and the planned participation in it of figures affiliated with Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party. It also applauded U.S. State Department officials for engaging their counterparts on the matter.
“While we can all be thankful that a memorial ceremony honoring a man responsible for the deaths of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews won’t take place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it’s an outrage that leaders within a European ruling party would support such an horrible event,” said Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski. “We should make no mistake: by vilifying minorities today and attempting to rewrite the past, nationalist governments and parties like Fidesz are leading Europe down an exceedingly dark path. The U.S. government needs to be unequivocal in its rejection of antisemitism in all its forms, particularly when such bigotry is effectively state-sanctioned.”
Upon announcement of the ceremony to honor Horthy, Human Rights First worked with State Department staff, congressional offices, and other human rights and Jewish advocacy groups to express significant concern over the event.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrated annually on January 27th, memorializes the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Miklos Horthy served as leader of Hungary from 1920-1944. According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other authoritative sources, he was a vocal, life-long antisemite, and bears “direct culpability” for the deportation and murder of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews, most of whom were killed at Auschwitz.