Hungarian culture czar retracts article comparing Soros to Hitler

Government-appointed cultural commissioner says he will retract anti-George Soros article "independently of what I think".

Ben Ariel ,

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A Hungarian commissioner on Sunday retracted an article comparing American-Hungarian billionaire and philanthropist George Soros to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis after coming under fire for it, reports The Associated Press.

Szilard Demeter, a government-appointed cultural commissioner, wrote in an opinion piece on Saturday in the pro-government Origo media outlet that "Europe is George Soros’ gas chamber. Poison gas flows from the capsule of a multicultural open society, which is deadly to the European way of life."

Demeter is the ministerial commissioner and head of the Petofi Literary Museum in Budapest. In the article, he compared Soros to Hitler, writing he was "the liberal Führer, and his liber-Aryan army deifies him more than did Hitler’s own."

The comments drew outrage from Hungary’s Jewish community, including the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, which called the article "tasteless" and "unforgivable."

"(It's) a textbook case of the relativization of the Holocaust, and is therefore incompatible with the government’s claim of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism," the group said.

The Israeli Embassy in Budapest also condemned Demeter’s comments and tweeted, "We utterly reject the use and abuse of the memory of the Holocaust for any purpose … There is no place for connecting the worst crime in human history, or its perpetrators, to any contemporary debate."

In a statement Sunday published on Origo, Demeter said he would retract his article "independently of what I think" and will delete his Facebook page.

"I will grant that those criticizing me are correct in saying that to call someone a Nazi is to relativize, and that making parallels with Nazis can inadvertently cause harm to the memory of the victims," he said in a statement quoted by AP.

Soros has frequently been criticized by the Hungarian government over his alleged support for migration into Europe.

In recent years, Hungary has been in a protracted conflict with the European Union after Prime Minister Viktor Orban criticized the immigration policy and announced that Hungary would not accept more Muslim immigrants to its territory.

Jewish groups in Hungary have sometimes accused Orban's right-wing government, in power since 2010, of downplaying Hungary's role in the Holocaust during which some 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished.

Orban has also come under fire for failing to condemn the anti-Semitism of the extremist Jobbik party.

In 2015, Orban admitted his country’s role in the Holocaust, saying many Hungarians chose "bad instead of good" in helping deport Jews to Nazi death camps.



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