Hungarian and world Jewish leaders recently commemorated the 51st anniversary of the deportations of Hungarian Jews during World War II.
At least 25 memorial services were held across Hungary during the past two months, Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Central Board of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, said in an interview.
No one representing the Hungarian government attended the July 2 ceremony at the Tabac Street Synagogue in Budapest, the largest in Central Europe. Among the guests were representatives of the World Jewish Congress.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Holocause memorial behind the synagogue. The memorial, called “Tree of Life,” was created by Hungarian sculptor Imre Varga. Each leaf on the tree represents a Jewish victim.
This year, many smaller synagogues in Hungary are being reconstructed and restored, Zoltai said.
The restoration of the Tabac Street synagogue also is under way.
But a couple of weeks before the Holocause commemoration, the Hungarian construction firm Galilea, which is fixing up the synagogue, received a neo- Nazi propaganda leaflet via fax.
The leaflet — decorated with two big black swastikas — was sent to the firm from a fax number in New York City. Dated June 11, it said that all “Jews, Gypsies and niggers” should “voluntarily” leave Hungary now, because “tomorrow” will be too late.
The leaflet appears to be tied to the Lincoln, Neb-based National Socialist German Workers Party-Foreign Organization. That group is headed by Gary Lauck, an American who currently faces charges in Germany of smuggling banned hate literature for two decades.
This is not the first time that the Jews here have been targeted by the rightist organization, Zoltai said.
Meanwhile, in connection with the nationwide commemorations, Jews in the small Hungarian town of Salgotarjan inaugurated a new synagogue at the site that the old synagogue was demolished about two decades ago.
And at the site of the former ghetto in Budapest, the Emmanuel Foundation held a memorial service. The foundation was established by U.S. Jewish actor Tony Curtis to remember his father, known by the name Emmanuel.
Most of the Hungarian deportations started 51 years ago in the months of May and June, when about 450,000 Jews were taken to ghettos and concentration camps.
Of the 825,000 people considered Jews in the 1942-1945 period in greater Hungary, about 565,000 died and about 260,000 survived the Holocaust.