Several Jewish organizations in Hungary as a form of protest will not accept government grants for memorial events marking the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust.
The groups are protesting what they consider the state’s whitewashing of Hungary’s role in the Holocaust.
The organizations turning down the grants from the Civil Fund include the Frankel Leo synagogue in Budapest, the Budapest Jewish Summer Festival and the Jewish community in Nove Zamky, which is located over the border in Slovakia.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Frankel Synagogue Foundation said it decided to reject the funds to “draw attention” to several instances of what it called the state’s distortion of Holocaust history and the role of the regime of Miklos Horthy, who led Hungary into World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany.
The incidents, the synagogue statement said, “are incompatible with granting support for memorial events that pay tribute to the victims of mass murders or an honorable way of thinking.”
The synagogue, which is popular with young families, will hold memorial events, but does not “wish to use support from a government that displays turncoat behavior, arousing the indignation of the majority of Hungary’s Jewish community as well as the democratic international community.”
Hungary has named 2014 as Holocaust Memorial Year, marking the 70th anniversary of mass deportations of some 450,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. As part of the observances, the Civil Fund issued monetary grants to about 400 projects linked to commemoration, Jewish heritage or Jewish life.
In declining the grant, the president of the Nove Zamky Jewish community, Tomas Lang, wrote to the Civil Fund that while some Hungarian leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics, had recognized Hungarian responsibility in the Holocaust when speaking in international forums, “the direction of official statements and actions belies their words.”
Lang also wrote last week, “We cannot lend our names to the falsification of history and the whitewashing of the Horthy regime.”
A number of Jewish organizations are meeting with government representatives on Thursday. On Sunday, a special assembly of Hungarian Jewish communities will decide whether to stage a general boycott of state-sponsored events.