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“A love story” – Mária Schmidt on ‘House of Fates’

Hungary Today 2014.10.05.

Mária Schmidt is a well-known historian and the director of the House of Terror museum located in the infamous building at 60 Andrássy Avenue, Budapest. As the government started to prepare for the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary, Mária Schmidt, former advisor of PM Viktor Orbán, has been assigned to the role of leading a professional project team which builds up the ‘Memorial to the Child Victims of the Holocaust – European Education Center’ at the site of the former Józsefváros Railroad Station.

The House of Fates at the site of the former Józsefváros Railroad Station, Budapest - Hungary Today (photo: fesz.hu)

The House of Fates at the site of the former Józsefváros Railroad Station, Budapest – Hungary Today (photo: fesz.hu)

The new museum known as ‘House of Fates’ will be opened by the end of this year, and since the beginning of the project it has become highly controversial in the public media, unfortunately rather from political and ideological than historical and educational points of view. Project leader Mária Schmidt, in order to defend the massive work her team has done so far, published a long and very interesting article in weekly magazine ‘Heti Válasz’ this week. In today’s blog post, we have picked up a few strong quotes from the text, but it is highly recommended to read the full story in English on Hungarian Globe/Mandiner.

About the relationship of Jews and Hungarians:

If I get it right, this is a love story. A story of love between Hungarian Jews and non-Jews. A love that has survived everything. As a result of which there is still a large Hungarian Jewish community living in this country.

About the structure of the museum:

The House of Fates is made up of three parts, namely an exhibition, an education and a training section. Moreover, it has an up-to-date, well-equipped conference room, a room for hosting and staging temporary exhibitions and the required infrastructural background.

About the aims of the project:

Bringing as close as possible to members of the “Y generation” the very feeling and experience of being excluded, outcast and persecuted, while drawing their attention to the importance and inevitability of making a choice between good and evil and individual responsibility.

About the attacks against the ‘House of Fates’:

The same individuals and circles, with the same vehemence, started the same ruthless attack driven by the same motives both in Hungary and abroad, against me and the prospective memorial site, unleashing that orgy of hate which is so characteristic of them.

About the MAZSIHISZ (Federation of Hungarian Jewish Faith Communities)

They bombarded the members of the International Advisory Board with e-mail messages, as well as anybody else whom they could contact. They spread their accusations all over the place both in Hungary and abroad. In collaboration with certain leaders of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington – who have, to be honest, been rather negatively biased against us in the first place –, they turned Yad Vashem against us.

About the international pressure regarding to the possible interpretations of history

Ambassadors of a number of western countries feel compelled to lecture me on how to interpret, indeed, how we all Hungarians should interpret our 20th century history, with a special focus on the role of Miklós Horthy. I have had to sit through countless lectures delivered by western diplomats about Horthy, Hungary’s “revisionism”, the collaboration of Hungarians etc., and all of them represented countries whose history offers at least as many, if not even more, very good opportunities to raise uncomfortable questions.

About minister of PM’s Office János Lázár’s decision to appoint Gusztáv Zoltai as advisor

Mr. Lázár apparently fails to understand that this time we are dealing with our very identity. This is not about practices in wielding power or safe bargains concluded in the background, but about principles, belief, all of the things on which our whole life, including our political community rests and is built. We have seen lots of examples during the past 25 years how disregarding principles and moral convictions lead to the loss of all values and then the collapse of entire political communities. When politics appear to be reduced to all-pervasive cynicism and bare immorality, the countdown will immediately start.

source: Heti Válasz and hungarianglobe.mandiner.hu


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