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Hungary's Holocaust 2014 Memorial Committee Holds Founding Session


The Hungarian Holocaust 2014 Memorial Committee held its founding session on 17 January 2013. The Government set up the body, which is responsible for preparing the commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 2014.

Permanent delegates to the Committee include Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, former Prime Minister Péter Boross, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences József Pálinkás, as well as the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Péter Feldmájer and the Ambassadors of the United States, Israel, Germany and Austria.

The chair of the Committee, Minister of State heading the Prime Minister's Office János Lázár, said in his address that the Government decided to set up the body because it regards it as particularly important to face the past, something which could not take place under the Communist regime, and to offer apologies as the Hungarian state was also guilty of the Holocaust. He added that the Government decided to set up the Committee at the initiative of Jewish organizations and would like its memorial events to be determined by civil organizations.

The Committee considers addressing youth its main objective, the Minister of State explained. Minister Zoltán Balog also highlighted that education on the Holocaust has a special role in the national curriculum, and Jewish organizations contributed greatly to the elaboration of the teaching material. Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics also stressed the importance of the education of future generations. The importance of teaching Holocaust history was reinforced by Head of the March of the Living Foundation Gábor Gordon and Director of the Holocaust Memorial Centre Szabolcs Szita.

János Lázár added that the Cabinet also seeks to inspire the world of science to reveal the past. Furthermore, the Committee intends to support settling the situation of some historic synagogues throughout the country.

Péter Feldmájer expressed his gratitude to the Government for setting up the Commission, adding that this sign of solidarity means a lot to the roughly 8000 Holocaust survivors living in Hungary, and Head of the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment György Szabó called the steps that the Hungarian Government had taken towards the Jewish community significant.

International Jewish organizations also welcomed the establishment of the Commission, a sentiment conveyed by Director of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities Gusztáv Zoltai.

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor underlined his commitment to assisting the work of the Commission. American Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis congratulated the Government and promised to participate actively in the Commission's work, while her Austrian counterpart Michael Zimmermann emphasized the importance of international cooperation in dealing with the Holocaust.