Hungary's New Holocaust Museum Omits National Culpability, Critics Say

Critics say exhibits fail to acknowledge period before 1944, when more than half a million Hungarian Jews had already been deported.

Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center

Hungarian Jewish leaders are criticizing a new Holocaust museum under construction in Budapest for omitting the culpability of Hungarians in the attempted genocide of the Jews.

The museum in Budapest, called House of Fates, is nearly complete. But the planned exhibition focuses only on the last period of the Holocaust in Hungary, starting in 1944, when the ghettoization and deportation of over 500,000 Hungarian Jews was already complete.

It fails to deal with the earlier persecution against Hungarian Jews, starting with the passage of anti-Jewish laws in the 1920s, local Jewish community leaders and historians complained.

Community leaders said they were not consulted about the planned exhibition.

Judit Molnar, a well-known Hungarian Holocaust historian, slammed the museum for not explicitly mentioning the responsibility of Hungarian authorities in the killing of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

“The responsibility for what happened here during the Holocaust, according to the new Holocaust exhibition concept, were only the German Nazis and the members of the Hungarian Nazi party, the Arrow Cross Party — excluding the responsibility of the then-Hungarian Horthy regime,” Molnar said.

In response, a minister for the Hungarian government, János Lázár, said the exhibition will not be completed without approval of the Jewish community.

Budapest already has a Holocaust museum built inside an old, abandoned synagogue building.

The new museum project, which originally was meant to be finished ahead of last year’s 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust, is dedicated to remembering the Jewish child victims of the Holocaust in Hungary.

About 150,000 of the estimated 600,000 Hungarian Jews murdered during the Holocaust were children. About 180,000 Hungarian Jews survived the Holocaust.