(MTI) – There will be no unveiling ceremony for Budapest’s new monument dedicated to the victims of Hungary’s 1944 German occupation, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office told a press conference on Monday.
Answering a question, Janos Lazar said that the government is aware of disputes and “misunderstandings” surrounding the monument, respects the grief of people opposing the structure, and decided to drop plans of an inauguration ceremony.
Lazar insisted that the monument was not designed and erected “against some people” but to ensure remembrance. “We have tried to act in a fair, honest and consistent way. There may have been mistakes, in coordination, which have cast a shadow on our decisions,” he said.
The government’s motivation was “to make it clear for the present generation and for posterity that the Hungarian Holocaust, the deportation of Jews from Hungary could not have taken place without the country’s German occupation”, the minister said. He added he regretted that “there had been no sober dialogue” concerning the responsibility of both Hungary’s administration and Germany for the Holocaust. Stressing that there would have been no Holocaust if Hungary had not been occupied does not mean denying the responsibility of the Hungarian governments or their officials at the time. “The crimes Germany committed against Hungary does not relieve us of the responsibility for the crimes we committed,” Lazar said.
Socialist Party leader Jozsef Tobias criticised the monument and told commercial InfoRadio on Monday evening that “the government has lost control” and had made a political decision when it went ahead with its plans for the monument despite “signals from external players”.
The plan to set up the monument for the 70th anniversary of Hungary’s Nazi German occupation was announced at the end of last year and has been heavily criticised by opposition parties and civilians ever since, saying that it distracted attention from the nation’s role in the Holocaust.
Civilians and politicians staged a protest at the contested monument on Sunday after it had been erected overnight.
Photo: MTI – Zoltan Mathe