A memorial day for the Hungarian victims of the Holocaust was marked at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest on Sunday. Addressing the event, State Secretary Bence Rétvári stressed the importance of ensuring that Hungarian Jews feel secure every day, “today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, too”.
The state secretary said that protecting lives is “our perennial duty” while acknowledging those who worked to save Jews during the Holocaust, such as the Hungarian nun and MP Margit Slachta. Citing a survey by a Jewish policy research institute, Rétvári said Hungary is runner-up, after Italy and followed by Denmark, in a ranking of European countries in which Jews feel the most secure. He noted that a new wave of anti-Semitism has appeared in Europe parallel with an increase in illegal immigration. In Germany, five anti-Semitic crimes are committed each day, according to local authorities, while synagogues have been shot at in France on a number of occasions, and Holocaust memorials have been vandalised in the Netherlands. Andor Grósz, who heads the board of trustees of the Holocaust Documentation Centre and Memorial Collection Foundation, highlighted the importance of educating young people about the Shoah. He commended the government’s declaration of a zero-tolerance policy for anti-Semitism, but warned of “stealthy forms” that can influence the public “under the radar”. Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Yacov Hadas-Handelsman, and András Heisler, the head of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ), also attended the memorial event. Participants said Kaddish, lit candles and placed stones near the Wall of Victims. Parliament declared April 16 the memorial day of the Hungarian victims of the Holocaust in 2001, marking the anniversary of the formation of the first ghettos in Hungary, in 1944.