Budapest, April 27 (MTI) – The pain of the Holocaust cannot and must not be forgotten, Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a video message to Budapest’s March of the Living commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, on Sunday.
In his message, Peres said that the Holocaust should be used as a lesson and the younger generations must be taught that they should not let anti-Semitism, hatred, or racism enter their lives.
Hungary’s history is rich in magnificent moments, but “events of the Shoah are there as the taint of shame”. We must not allow room for any expressions that have anything to do with Nazism or anti-Semitism, Peres said.
A large crowd of people, including politicians and diplomats, participated in the March of the Living in central Budapest, held for the twelfth time. The marchers started off from the Pest side of the Erzsebet Bridge, where a statue called March of the Living was inaugurated, and walked along Rakoczi Avenue to Keleti railway station, where Peres’s message was presented on a giant screen.
At the station, the crowd was addressed by Douglas Davidson, special envoy for Holocaust issues of the US State Department, who referred to the deportation of 440,000 Hungarian Jews to Nazi death camps and said it was painful for Hungarians to admit that the Nazis did not act alone in the deportation, but used local help.
Eli Rubinstein, international director of Canada’s March of the Living organisation, noted that Hungary had lost some 600,000 Jewish lives, three quarters of the country’s Jewish community.
In another video message, author Gyorgy Konrad referred to a controversial WWII monument now under construction in central Budapest, and said that “the future cannot be built on lies”.
Participants in the march included the deputy head of governing Fidesz Lajos Kosa, Fidesz parliamentary group leader Antal Rogan, chairman of the Hungarian Liberal Party Gabor Fodor, former liberal and Socialist MP Imre Mecs, Socialist chairman Attila Mesterhazy, co-chairman of LMP Andras Schiffer and ex-premiers Gordon Bajnai and Ferenc Gyurcsany.
From Germany, former foreign minister Guido Westerwelle joined the march.
After the event, a 600-strong delegation left Budapest for Auschwitz-Birkenau, including 30 Roma students to commemorate Roma victims of the Holocaust.
At another commemoration at Budapest’s House of Terror Museum Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics said that the Holocaust was a tragedy of humanity, of Hungarians and of Jews. “Victims must be mourned and buried, perpetrators must be found and punished but one has to step forth to the 21st century”, he said.
House of Terror Museum director Maria Schmidt said there was “no excuse” for what had happened to European Jews during WWII, and to Hungarian Jews in the “black spring” of 1944. She said it was a tragedy not just for Jews but for Europe.
Polish ambassador to Hungary Roman Kowalski said the experience of the Holocaust showed that every society, no matter what their degree of cultural, scientific or technical development, could lose their ability to tell good from evil.
Meanwhile, speakers at an international conference in Budapest called for cooperation against a rise of anti-Semitic manifestations.