BUDAPEST (JTA) – Hungary’s president dedicated a restored memorial plaque for the late chief rabbi of Makó, which had been smashed in an anti-Semitic attack.
President László Sólyom on Wednesday also paid tribute to Israeli descendents of Makó’s Jews who have retained their Hungarian culture.
Ármin Kecskeméti (1874-1944), a prominent intellectual, served the once vibrant Jewish community of the south Hungarian city for 46 years until his death in the Holocaust. The city erected the plaque and named a street in his honor after the collapse of communist rule in 1989.
The memorial was destroyed late last month and its setting defaced with the message: “What six million? Lying swine!” A single culprit was arrested shortly afterwards and convicted of a drunken night-time assault. He was sentenced last week to 20 days of community service.
National and local community leaders as well as survivors of the rabbi’s family were present at a wreath-laying ceremony. Sólyom said he wanted to send a message about the importance of the intertwined history of the Jewish and Hungarian communities of Makó.
Sociologist Zsuzsa Ferge, a granddaughter of the rabbi, blamed the outrage on the recent upsurge of neo-Nazi organizations and a prevailing ignorance over the history of the Holocaust.