BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — Tens of thousands of Hungarians, mostly Jews, marched against anti-Semitism in a torchlight procession on the banks of the Danube River.
State, civic and religious dignitaries, as well as diplomats, academics and artists, were among those who participated in the rally Sunday night.
The March of Life, which took place at the scene of the murder of thousands of Holocaust victims by the Fascist Arrow-Cross in the winter of 1944-45, was the largest among several commemorative events taking place over the weekend to mark the 66th anniversary of the incarceration of Hungarian Jews in ghettos. The process launched the final and deadliest phase of the Final Solution involving the deportation and murder of more than a half-million Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz and elsewhere.
Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai in a message to the marchers Sunday declared that “Fascist paramilitary organizations will never again be allowed to march on the streets of Hungary.” Bajnai was referring to the nascent Hungarian Guard, a banned paramilitary organization modeled on the notorious Arrow-Cross and sponsored by Jobbik, an extreme nationalist party that made major gains earlier this month in parliamentary elections.
The weekend rallies at the sites of various Holocaust atrocities drew unusually large crowds. Speakers called for national unity to confront the current rise of anti-Semitic agitation.