Budapest (MTI) – A commemoration was held in the Budapest Holocaust Memorial Centre on Wednesday to pay tribute to Hungarian Holocaust victims.
There have been a great number of disasters in the history of mankind which have claimed millions of lives. But man’s brutality during the Holocaust was beyond any measure experienced in any natural disaster or epidemic before, Defence Minister Istvan Simicskó said.
He said that Nazi leaders built an “empire of fear, a civilisation of death with a systematic, meticulous method,” but their elevation to power was helped by many people’s indifference, as well as neglect by western leaders, which he called “an enormous mistake”.
“Now, today, the European Union is committing a huge error when it is preparing to abandon Jewish-Christian values and its faith” Simicsko said, adding that “as history has demonstrated, the collapse of civilisations is usually brought about by radicals, fanatics and non-believers”.
Slomó Köves, the chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH), said that commemorations of the Holocaust had become part of “general routine” of mainstream society over the past 10-15 years.
But the question must be asked, Köves said, whether commemorations are held in the right form, pointing out that the number of those denying the Holocaust had risen by ten percent over the past ten years.
Szabolcs Szita, director of the Memorial Centre, said that the names of Holocaust victims have been compiled for the past 23 years and there are currently 176,652 of them recorded by the centre in its data base. Marking the Holocaust Memorial Day, the centre unveiled three new plaques listing 4,500 names, most of them from Subotica (Szabadka), now in northern Serbia.
Since 2001 Hungary has marked as Holocaust Memorial Day April 16, when in 1944 the incarceration of Jews into ghettos began in Transcarpathia (now western Ukraine). This was followed by the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews into concentration camps in Austria, Germany and Poland.