On the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, Zoltan Balog, the minister of human resources, condemned anti-Semitism and Roma baiting, but said accusing a person of being racist was a sin equal to racism itself.
Speaking at a commemoration held in the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Pava Street in Budapest, Balog said when political rivals slung accusations of racism around for political gain this merely harmed the real victims of racism.
Also, when lawmakers in parliament denigrate someone else on the basis of their origin, people must speak up, he said. In the age of the internet, bandying about racist slurs was easier than in the past, he added.
Balog said it was important that the next generation should learn: “we will never form alliances with such ideologies.” At the same time it is essential, he said, to come to an agreement with Jewish organisations on how to teach the history of the Holocaust in a worthy and fair manner.
He noted that the history of the Roma had been included in the national curriculum for the first time under new education legislation.
Balog also emphasised that the founding of the Holocaust Memorial Centre had been at the initiative of the first government of Viktor Orban (1998-2002), and when the centre opened in 2004, officials of Fidesz, then in opposition, had attended.
Today’s event was also addressed by 105-year-old Elza Brandeisz, who earlier received a Righteous Among the Nations award for saving the life of the mother of philanthropist Gyorgy Soros. In a video link, she said it had been natural to help people in trouble.
Also present was former chief rabbi of Hungary Jozsef Schweitzer.
The Council of the Righteous and the Holocaust Public Foundation established on the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of Wallenberg an award for Hungarians who saved the lives of others. The award was created after consultations with Yad Vashem, to be given to Hungarians not meeting criteria for the Righteous Among the Nations title, mostly due to a lack of surviving witnesses.