The day falls on April 16th because on that day in 1944 the Hungarian Holocaust began with the process of sending Hungarian Jews to ghettos. The Day of Remembrance was established in 2001 by the First Orbán Government – along with the Hungarian Holocaust Museum – and has been observed every year since.
The 1941 census showed a Hungarian Jewish population of 725,000. Two-thirds of them died as a result of forced labor, deportations, and genocide. The Jewish communities in the countryside were completely destroyed; only about 100,000 of those living in Budapest survived. Historians estimate that between 5,000 and 70,000 Hungarian Roma also lost their lives in concentration camps as victims of the Holocaust.
“Hungary didn’t fulfill this moral and political duty during World War II,” Prime Minister Orbán has said, acknowledging Hungary’s terrible role. “Hungary sinned when instead of protecting the Jews, we chose to collaborate with the Nazis.”
In addition to establishing the Day of Remembrance, the Orbán Governments have taken a number of important steps concerning Hungary’s Jewish community and the ongoing effort to eradicate anti-Semitism. Promulgated in 2012, our constitution, the Fundamental Law, recognizes Hungarian Jewry as an inseparable part of the Hungarian nation. The government also passed some of the most far-reaching provisions in Europe to punish Holocaust denial, hate speech and the display of hate symbols; and established a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism and effectively banned paramilitary groups that were intimidating Jewish and Roma citizens.
Hungary has also become one of the staunchest supporters of the state of Israel in the EU and the United Nations.
Minister of Justice László Trócsányi, will speak at the day’s central commemoration ceremonies, which start at 2:00 p.m. at the Holocaust Memorial Center. From 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. history lessons and guided tours will be also held for students.
A day-long commemoration will take place at the Memorial Wall and at the “Shoes on the Danube Bank” memorial, people can pay their respects to the Holocaust victims killed on the banks of the Danube.