“Remembrance must comprehend that mankind is capable of committing the vilest inhumanities against its fellow man”, Minister of Defence István Simicskó said on Wednesday in Budapest at the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Páva Street.

At a ceremony held to mark the Day of Remembrance for the Hungarian Victims of the Holocaust, the Minister stressed that during the course of humanity’s history there have been many catastrophes that claimed the lives of millions and millions of people, but that during the Holocaust human cruelty had been more destructive and barbaric than any natural disaster or deadly epidemic during the course of history.

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“The Nazis systematically built an empire of fear and a civilization of death with engineering precision”, the Minister said. “But for the irreparable tragedy to come about not only required people of evil intent to gain power, it also needed the indifference of many people and the grave error of Western leaders, who closed their eyes and fell into the trap of self-deception”, he continued.

Mr. Simicskó also spoke about the fact that the European Union is making a grave mistake when “it is preparing to throw away Jewish-Christian values and faith, because history shows that the collapse of civilizations was almost always caused by the radicals, fanatics and nonbelievers”.

Executive Rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation and the Minister of Defence’s Chief Military Rabbi Slomó Köves pointed out: Commemoration of the Holocaust must not only express spiritual pain, but should be a “spiritual task required for our spiritual and mental health”, which we should perform throughout the year.

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According to the Chief Rabbi, during the past ten years Holocaust remembrance services have become part of the “daily routine” of the majority of society, because there are more and more state, local government and school commemorations. But we must also ask ourselves whether we are remembering correctly, because despite the increase in commemorations the number of people who call into question whether the Holocaust actually happened has increased by ten percent.

The Chief Rabbi also drew attention to the fact that the number of Holocaust survivors is falling “at a rapid rate”, meaning a generation has grown up that not only has no experience of the events, but which also knows fewer and fewer people with personal experience of the Holocaust, and accordingly it is increasingly important to fill commemoration with content and make it easier to humanly experience.

In his speech, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Holocaust Documentation Centre Memorial Collection Public Foundation Andor Grósz said: “Our dead will not be resurrected, their suffering cannot be erased. Commemoration is for the living and shapes the future”, adding that “We have no right to forgive in the name of the victims, but reconciliation is also our duty”.

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Director of the Holocaust Memorial Centre Szabolcs Szita spoke about the fact that the Memorial Centre is working to ensure that the memory of the martyrs is never forgotten in Hungary. The names of the martyrs have been collected for the past 23 years, and the commemorative plaques and the Centre’s database currently bears the name of 176 652 Hungarian Jews who were victims of the Holocaust, he told reporters. “Three new commemorative plaques with some 4500 names, most of them from Szabadka (Subotica) were unveiled to mark the Day of Remembrance”, he said.

At the end of the ceremony, the participants recited a Kaddish and placed candles and stones at the commemorative wall for the victims.

The event was attended by, amongst others, former Prime Minister Péter Boross and Deputy State Secretary Csaba Latorcai from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Following a decision by Parliament in 2000, the Day of Remembrance for the Hungarian Victims of the Holocaust has been held on 16 April every year since 2001. On 16 April 1944, Jews in Subcarpathia, which was part of Hungary at the time, began to be confined to ghettos.

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This year, the Day of Remembrance coincided with the Christian holiday of Easter and also with the Jewish Pesach or Passover, in view of which the official state ceremony was held three days later.

(MTI / kormany.hu)