Hungary postpones controversial monument’s unveiling


(JTA) — Hungarian authorities postponed a ceremony commemorating victims of World War II following protests by Jewish groups that said it obfuscated Hungary’s Holocaust-era role.

The ceremony, which had been planned for March 19, was organized around the inauguration of a monument which the government has described as “dedicated to the memory of the German occupation.”

But on Wednesday, a government spokesperson said the ceremony had been postponed to May 31, according to the French news agency AFP. The  monument also will be “dedicated to the memory of the victims of German occupation,” a statement by the Hungarian cabinet said.

Hungary’s Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, said earlier this month that it would boycott the ceremony.

Hungarian President Viktor Orban sent a letter Thursday to Mazsihisz reiterating the government’s request that Mazsihisz reconsider its decision to boycott the ceremony. But Mazsihisz’s head, Andre Heisler, said the letter failed to address and offer a solution to the issue that caused the rupture in the first place.

The planned monument depicts Hungary as an angel being attacked by a German eagle, which critics say absolves Hungarians of their active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths.

The Hungarian Government Information Center announced plans for the monument last month in Budapest’s Freedom Square as a tribute to “all Hungarian victims, with the erection of the monument commemorating the tragic German occupation and the memorial year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust.”

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