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Hungary

Jewish groups threaten to boycott Holocaust commemoration in Hungary

Jewish groups have threatened to boycott 70th-anniversary Holocaust commemorations in Hungary. They accuse Budapest of not taking responsibility for its role in the genocide.

A planned Holocaust memorial statue in Budapest has angered Jewish groups, who say the sculpture does not acknowledge Hungary's willing participation in the deportation of some 437,000 Jewish people in 1944.

The planned memorial features the Nazi imperial eagle swooping down on the angel Gabriel, symbolically depicting Hungary as the victim of German aggression. But Budapest was allied with Berlin until 1944, when the Nazis invaded and occupied the country to prevent it from striking a separate peace agreement with the Allies.

Before the Nazi occupation, Hungarian authorities passed more than a hundred laws discriminating against Jews. There were also pogroms, mass deportations and forced labor before 1944.

"There is a limit, which if overstepped by the official memorial events, will force us to withdraw our participation," Andras Heisler, leader of Hungary's largest Jewish group Mazsihisz, told journalists on Tuesday.

Anti-Semitism has remained a problem in post-war Hungary. In November, the right-wing Jobbik party unveiled a statue of wartime leader Miklos Horthy, who - as a Nazi ally - vilified and deported Hungarian Jews.

"It wasn't the Germans that locked me up in the ghetto, but Hungarian soldiers and fascists," said Gusztav Zoltai, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor.

slk/dr (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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