Radical right-wing leaders unveil memorial to Hungarian gendarmes

August 19, 2014


Radical right-wing organizations inaugurated a statue commemorating Hungarian gendarmes, or Csendőrség, in the village of Csókakő, central Hungary on Saturday.  The former guardians of law and order in the countryside are best remembered for their role in rounding up Jews and Gypsies during the Second World War. The Csendőrség was disbanded in 1945 and its symbols banned.

The memorial was erected on the initiative of a local civil organization called “Children of Vértesalja” and funded by private donations from far-right party Jobbik’s Bács-Kiskun organization and its Érpatak Initiative, among others, according to the regional news website feol.hu.

Among the speakers were Loránt Hegedüs, a well-known Jobbik supporter and Reformed Church preacher, István Mészáros, the self-styled “Captain” of the New Hungarian Guard (Új Magyar Gárda), which is the successor organization to the banned Hungarian Guard, and Mihály Zoltán Orosz, Jobbik mayor of the north-eastern village of Érpatak, known for his outlandish clothing and political performances, 444.hu reported.

Levente Murányi, a participant in the 1956 Uprising against the Soviets, praised the “nation-unifying” Russian President Vladimir Putin in a speech, calling him an example to Hungary’s “national forces”.

Despite the banning of Hungarian Guard, scores of similarly uniformed members attended the event. The unveiling of the statue and speeches were followed by a group recitation of vows by the uniformed Gárda members.

The Fidesz mayor of Csókakő, György Fűrész, told The Budapest Beacon: “I personally do not have anything against such a monument. I think it is not even that political, as it is only a way to raise awareness to the fact, that – despite our government’s best efforts – there are still serious problems with crime and public safety in the north-eastern regions of the country.”

According to his information, around 25 people had taken vows to join the New Hungarian Guard on Saturday, although the ceremony “could have just been a reading of the old Gendarmerie vow…”. Fűrész said that while he had been abroad on Saturday, the event had been overseen by both police and the local council because although the statue has been unveiled on private property, the plot had been too small to contain the whole crowd.

The Hungarian Gendarmerie was founded in 1881 as part of a process to reorganize countryside law enforcement in the Dual Monarchy era. In its early years, applicant gendarmes went through a strict selection process, and were mobilized against criminals and political opponents alike (for example the Agrarian Socialist peasant movement of the 1900s). Later they were the primary active body in the deportation of some 437,000 Hungarian Jewish citizens on trains to Nazi concentration camps in 1944. After the country’s Soviet occupation in 1945, the new government disbanded the Csendőrség and banned its symbols.

Since its founding, one of Jobbik’s main goals has been to achieve official recognition of the Magyar Gárda and various successor paramilitary organizations founded and supported by Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona, including the ones that attempted to ethnically cleanse the northern town of Gyöngyöspata of its Roma inhabitants in the spring of 2011.

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