Hungarian Holocaust 2014 Memorial Commission - remember the Roma!

Dear Government,

Dear János Lázár and Zoltán Balog,


Two years ago, referencing a speech given by Viktor Orbán when he introduced the Europen Roma Strategy Enikő Győri, State Secretary for European Affairs, on behalf of the incumbent European Union Presidency, pointed to the importance of the remembrance of the Roma Holocaust, the Pharrajimos. Lívia Járóka, Member of the European Parliament for Fidesz also said that ”I would like to express my satisfaction and gratitude that, for the first time, the European Parliament is commemorating the Roma victims of the Holocaust.”[1] A year later she herself, on a similar occasion, pointed out that “lack of knowledge regarding the history of the Roma contributes greatly to prejudices against the Roma and may be an obstacle to acceptance. Thus, she is of the opinion that research showcasing the centuries-old coexistence of the Roma and the society-at large has to be supported.”[2] In accordance with this respectable approach, in recent years representatives of the Government – and Zoltán Balog in particular – did not fail to commemorate the Roma Holocaust.[3]


According to the government decree 1005/2013. (I. 10.) published in the recent days, however, the Government had not invited representatives of Romani organizations to the Hungarian Holocaust – 2014 Memorial Commission led by János Lázár, created in order to “duly commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry” (though, of course, not all Hungarian Jewish victims of the Holocaust were deported, many of them were killed by Hungarian Arrow Cross members in the vicinity of their homes, or by the skeleton crews on the front or in forced marches).[4] While Zoltán Balog is a member of the Memorial Committee, and while following its first session he spoke favorably of the help provided by Jewish organizations in developing Holocaust education, adding that “based on this the Ministry will rely on the Roma elite in elaborating the history of the Roma community,” according to the report the issue of inviting Roma organizations to the Memorial Committee was not raised. [5]


Considering that the Government of Hungary, in accordance with the spirit of the Avowal of National Faith of the Fundamental Law and Article XXIX of the Fundamental Law, acts at all times in the spirit of respect towards the constituent nationalities living in Hungary, I ask you to consider representing the Roma Holocaust in the work of the Memorial Commission, and to invite Roma organizations to become members of the Memorial Commission. Taking into account that – along with antisemitism – hatred of the Roma and anti-Roma discrimination is gaining ground in our homeland, and with a particular eye to the fact that Roma have been killed merely on account of their origins in recent years, it would be a task of particular urgency to point to the nation-destructing nature of anti-Roma sentiments. In addition, with regard to historical authenticity, it would be unacceptable if the Roma were excluded from among the victims of the Holocaust and thereby from their due commemoration.


With trust in your judgment and a swift resolution of the matter,


Mihály Kálmán