Jewish groups are calling for the resignation of the recently appointed director of the Veritas Historical Research Institute, Sandor Szakaly, for referring to the 1941 deportation and subsequent murder of Jews as a “police action against aliens,” thereby implying that it was not part of the Hungarian Holocaust.
In the summer 1941, the Central National Authority for the Inspection of Foreigners instructed that “aliens” be rounded up and handed over to the Eastern Galician German authorities. The “police action against aliens,” as Szakaly put it, resulted in the deportation of between 13,000 and 18,000 Jews to Galicia and Ukraine, where they were murdered by German SS units at Kamianets-Podilskyi in August 1941 along with much of the local Jewish population.
Szakaly told MTI on Friday that in the summer of 1941 between 15,000 and 35,000 Jews of Slovak, Polish, German, and Austrian origin were living in Hungary whose citizenship was “uncertain.” What Szakaly neglected to mention was that many of the deportees were, in fact, Hungarian Jews living in former parts of Hungary that had been ceded to neighboring countries after the First World War, but then returned to Hungary by Hitler as part of the Vienna awards, or subsequently occupied by Hungary, as in the case of Carpathian Ruthenia. Unable to prove they were Hungarian citizens, Hungarian Jews were rounded up and deported along with Jewish refugees from other parts of Europe.
The constitution written and adopted by the current Fidesz-KDNP government states Hungary’s national sovereignty was lost the day German troops entered Hungary on 19 March 1944. Jewish groups have objected to the implication that Germany, and not Hungary, was primarily responsible for the deportation of 437,000 Hungarian Jews in May, June, and July of 1944 to Auschwitz where the majority were gassed upon arrival.
Unfortunately for Szakaly and other revisionist historians on the government’s payroll, Kamianets-Podilsky happened nearly three years before German troops invaded Hungary. How does one exonerate the Hungarian government for the first mass murder of Jews prior to that? By claiming the deportation of 13,000 to 18,000 Jews to Carpathian Ruthenia was a legitimate “police action” and not as part of “the final solution to the Jewish problem”.
In response to Szakaly’s statement, the Association of Hungarian Jewish Organizations (Mazsihisz) issued the following statement:
Mazsihisz is shocked and confused by the Veritas Institute’s government-supported position. The institute’s leader, Sandor Szakaly, attempted to diminish the then-government’s responsibility by referring to the Kamenyec-Podolszkyi deportations and massacre as a ‘ police action against aliens’. We believe this attempt to falsify history warrants the resignation of the institute’s leader.
Mazsihisz calls upon political leaders to not let the Hungarian Holocaust’s 70th anniversary become part of election campaigning and to cease the rewriting of our past. If Hungary’s government takes what happened during the Holocaust seriously, then it must immediately stop the impious attacks that seek to ruin the 2014 remembrance of the Holocaust.
Ferenc Gyurcsany’s Democratic Coalition announced that it had reported Szakaly to the authorities for publicly denying the Holocaust before a large audience and called on the government to rescind Szakaly’s appointment.
On Sunday Szakaly apologized for his earlier statement, saying he did not mean to offend anyone by using the “historically correct terminology”. He noted that “once the Hungarian authorities learned what was happening there, a number of the deported were allowed to return and the deportation was suspended.”
Szakaly told ATV on Sunday he did not think there was any reason for him to resign but that, given the controversy surrounding his statement, he would not participate in an upcoming conference on the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust at which he was scheduled to speak.
“I don’t have a guilty conscience, because I don’t think I did anything wrong. Perhaps I made a mistake.”
Referenced in this article: