Nobel-prize winning novelist Elie Wiesel has informed Hungary’s parliamentary speaker that he is repudiating a Hungarian state honour he received in 2004.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Laszlo Kover and seen by MTI on Monday, the Holocaust-survivor Wiesel criticised the Hungarian government for participating in attempts for the reburial of ethnic Hungarian author Jozsef Nyiro.
“It is with profound dismay and indignation that I learned of your participation, together with Hungarian Secretary of State for Culture Geza Szocs and far-right Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona, in a ceremony in Romania honouring Jozsef Nyiro, a member of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Parliament,” Wiesel said in the letter.
He added that he was outraged that Kover had participated in a ceremony honouring “a fascist ideologue of the [interwar Regent of Hungary Miklos] Horthy and Szalasi regimes”. He said he was also distressed by news that public spaces were being named after Horthy, that Albert Wass and other figures who collaborated heavily with the wartime fascist regime were being rehabilitated and that authors with far-right ideas were included in the Hungarian school curriculum.
Elie Wiesel was presented with the Republic of Hungary’s Order of Merit, Grand Cross, by president Ferenc Madl in 2004.
In May, Nyiro’s reburial was postponed, however, Kover attended a religious commemoration in Romania’s Szekler Land held in honour of the writer. Kover said that the planned reburial of the controversial author and one-time Catholic priest would be “an act of piety”.
Editor’s Note: Below is the letter Wiesel sent. Also note that an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Wiesel as “Hungarian-born”; Instead, he was born in Transylvania after it was ceded to Romania.