Hungary makes historic apology for its role in the Holocaust
Hungary, 27.1.2014 14:41, (ROMEA)
Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Hungary has apologized for the first time ever for the role the country played in the Holocaust. News agency MTI reported today that the apology was made last Thursday by the Hungarian Ambassador to the UN, Csaba Körösi.
“Until today at this forum, no one has ever expressed, on behalf of the Hungarian state, its responsibility for its role in the Holocaust,” MTI quoted Ambassador Körösi as saying. The ambassador went on to say he would be making two separate statements of Hungarian responsibility that Thursday.
The ambassador made the apology during an event held at the UN on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary, whose victims were Jewish and Romani people. He then repeated it at the opening of an exhibition called “Remembrance of the Holocaust in Hungary” which was put together by various organizations with the participation of the Hungarian mission to the UN.
“We owe the victims an apology because the Hungarian state was guilty of the Holocaust, on the one hand because the state did not manage to protect its citizens from annihilation, and on the other hand because it aided their mass murder and provided financial resources for it,” Körösi said during a press conference at the New York headquarters of the United Nations to launch a series of events dedicated to the Holocaust. Hungary is commemorating the 70th anniversary this year of the transport of more than 430 000 Hungarian Jews to the Nazi death camps, deportations that began shortly after the German invasion of the country.
The problem of anti-Semitism is currently alive again in Hungary due to the controversial ultra-right Jobbik movement there. Its members reject Hungary’s responsibility for the murder of Jewish people during WWII and are notorious for making anti-Semitic declarations.
Recently the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán generated even more bad blood with a plan to erect a large monument in Budapest to be unveiled on the anniversary of the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944. Representatives of Hungary’s Jewish communities protested the move, which critics consider part of efforts to obscure the responsibility of the former representatives of Hungary and its local security forces at the time for the deportation of the Jews.
ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Hungary: Life in prison for murdering Romani people
Yesterday the Associated Press reported that a Hungarian appeals court has upheld the sentencing of four men responsible for attacks on Romani people during which six individuals, including a five-year-old boy, died in 2008 and 2009. Three perpetrators were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2013 and the appeals court has now agreed with that verdict.
The court also upheld the original 13-year sentence for the fourth man involved. According to the indictment, the three perpetrators attacked Romani settlements near small villages in central and eastern Hungary from July 2008 to August 2009, setting Romani dwellings on fire and shooting people dead as they fled.
There were reportedly nine such attacks during which the perpetrators used firearms, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. The fourth defendant drove the getaway car during the group’s last two attacks.
The racist violence shocked the entire country and led to accusations that the police were not sufficiently protecting members of the Romani minority. In addition to the fatalities, five Romani people were seriously injured during these anti-Romani pogroms.
According to the indictment, the men shot 78 rounds of ammunition, threw 11 Molotov cocktails and endangered 55 people total. The victims are still feeling the consequences of the attacks to this day.
As the sister of a 45-year-old woman who was murdered by one attack in the village of Kisleta said, their 81-year-old mother “still cries three times a day” over the attack that took her daughter’s life. The victim’s 13-year-old daughter was also seriously wounded when the village was assaulted.
The group of culprits was arrested on 21 August 2009 in the town of Debrecen. In the indictment, the prosecutor said the perpetrators were motivated by racial hatred during all of their crimes and prepared their attacks “with military precision” because they wanted to terrorize the entire Romani community.