Prime Minister Viktor Orbán explains the symbolism behind the German occupation monument

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In a four-page letter written to art historian Katalin Dávid, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán explained the symbolism behind the German occupation monument currently under construction on "Szabadság" square.

In the letter the prime minister explained that the construction of the monument is not only the right thing to do but it is also a moral obligation of the government.

The prime minister stressed that without the invasion of Hungary by Germany in 1944 the deportation of Jews wouldn't have happened.

PM Orbán explained that in fact, it was not the Nazis that invaded Hungary in 1944 but Germany, therefore the imperial eagle in the composition of the artwork represents this irrefutable fact. The angel on the other hand, represents the innocent victims of war. (Notes: The centerpiece of the composition depicts an imperial eagle swooping down to grab an angel; the symbolism of this compositional element troubles Jews a lot. Every figurative artwork gives itself up to manifold interpretations; the German occupation monument is no different. Hungarians perceive the figure of the angel as a symbolic gesture representing the nation's torturous history, which goes counter to the Jewish claim that Hungary is a guilty nation and worthy of collective stigmatization).

The German military occupation of Hungary is a fact; everything that happened after March 19, 1944 Germany's responsibility. However, the Hungarian government's responsibility in collaborating with the occupying forces can also be established writes the prime minister.

Hungarians exhausted all avenues to promote reconciliation with Jews: We have apologized, even if we knew that collaboration with the genocidal crimes of the occupying forces unforgivable. We paid compensation to the victims of war; on the other hand, we can't assume responsibility for crimes committed by others writes Orbán.

We have to say clearly, without the German occupation the deportation of Jews wouldn't have happened. If we can't agree on these terms it will be hard to imagine any kind of trust and honest coexistence among our communities writes the prime minister.

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