Monument to WWII Jewish Forced Laborers Vandalized in Northwest Hungary, Says Report

Three stones smashed at Balf memorial site; prime minister's office condemns attack

The vandalized stones in the memorial at the National Literary and Historic Memorial Site, Balf, August 2017.
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A monument commemorating Jewish forced laborers during World War II has reportedly been vandalized in northwestern Hungary.

Website Politics-hu reported that the Gyr-Moson-Sopron County police department are investigating damage to the monument, which is situated at the National Literary and Historic Memorial Site in Balf.

The police said they were told last Friday that three stones at the memorial had been shattered, but did not reveal any more details about the incident.

Politics-hu reported that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's office had condemned the alleged vandalism and expressed sympathy to the families of all those killed in the labor camps that operated in Hungary during World War II.

Forced labor was introduced for Hungary's Jews in 1939, with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum stating that "between 25,000 and 40,000 Jewish labor servicemen perished before the German occupation of Hungary" in March 1944.

The right-wing Hungarian government has been criticized by the country's Jewish community in recent months. First, in June, Orbán praised Miklós Horthy, the country's leader during World War II, calling him an excellent statesman, despite Horthy being an ally of Hitler.  

That sparked a minor diplomatic crisis between Israel and Hungary, which was magnified when the Hungarians ran what many saw as an anti-Semitic campaign against Budapest-born George Soros. That was triggered by strong criticism from Israel's ambassador to Hungary over concerns the campaign's anti-Semitic overtones. It only ended when the Hungarians agreed to remove all the Soros posters prior to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyay's visit in July.

Viktor Orbán at the judo world championships in Budapest, August 28, 2017.
Akos Stiller/Bloomberg