Hungary Cancels Holocaust Exhibit
Sep. 09, 1999
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Hungary's Jewish community is angry about the government's decision to halt a controversial new exhibit dedicated to the 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust, news reports said Thursday.
Jewish community representatives say the exhibit was canceled because they complained that text accompanying the photos avoided Hungarian responsibility for the persecution of Jews.
The controversy began when Chief Rabbi Schweitzer, a member of the panel convened by the government for the project, quit because of the text. The Ministry of Culture then killed the whole project.
``Chief Rabbi Schweitzer quit in protest, but this does not mean we want this project halted,'' Gusztav Zoltai, director of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, told TV3 on Thursday. ``We just want to see it done right.''
An earlier Hungarian exhibit was opened in 1979, in Auschwitz, Poland, where millions of Jews were killed.
It needed a facelift and a new text to accompany the photos. But Jewish groups and some historians say the new text, developed by the Ministry of Culture, passes the buck on Holocaust crimes and blames only the Germans.
``The planned text avoids the issue of Hungarian responsibility,'' said historian Laszlo Karsai. ``There is no mention of the role played by the Hungarian gendarmes.''
In many instances, historians say, Hungarian officers surpassed the Nazis in their zeal to round up Jews _ a fact mentioned by Adolf Eichmann, the German charged with overseeing the Nazi death machine.
Historians also say the new text makes no mention of anti-Jewish legislation adopted by the Hungarian parliament in the 1920s and 1930s.
More than 60 percent of the 1 million Jews who lived in Hungary before the war died in the Holocaust. Today, 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, the largest Jewish population in the region.
The Jewish community already was at odds with the government over a Holocaust compensation measure that led to survivors or their next of kin receiving $125 _ a sum many considered insulting.