The Fidesz Facebook page shared a meme that depicted Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony as nazi-backed Arrow Cross Party leader Ferenc Szálasi. While Karácsony was outraged, according to Fidesz, it was the editor’s mistake.
In the original, iconic photo taken in 1946, Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szálasi can be seen standing handcuffed next to the ruins of the Chain Bridge, taking a last look on the ruined capital before his trial in the People’s Court, which eventually sentenced him to death (he was hanged on March 12, 1946).
Head of the Nazi-backed Arrow Cross Party – Hungarist Movement, Ferenc Szálasi was 'the leader of the Nation' for the final six months of Hungary's participation in World War II, between October 16, 1944 and March 28, 1945 after Germany occupied Hungary and removed governor Miklós Horthy by force. Szálasi's men are responsible for the murder of around 10,000–15,000 Jews.
In the meme that Fidesz used, Karácsony’s head is photoshopped on Szálasi’s body with the caption: “a bicycle lane should be put here too.” Apparently, the meme was first used by satirical Two-tailed Dog Party’s Baranya county division (it has since been deleted from their page as well) probably to mock Fidesz politicians and pro-government outlets constantly blaming Karácsony for the critical state of the Chain Bridge. The green liberal mayor is a known advocate for bicycle use in the city.
Gergely Karácsony was outraged. He said it was “unacceptable” to joke about the devastation of war and the arrow cross terror, and to use a photo that symbolizes the murder of thousands of people and the suffering of millions in the communication aiming to discredit political opponents. “This is not politics, this is not debate, this is vile and foolish, that kind of sloppy hatred that has no place in Budapest, no place in the country, and no place in any kind of political debate,” he wrote.
In addition, Karácsony also referred to the Chain Bridge renovation (in the background of the photo) and wrote that between 1947 and 1949 it was rebuilt from total collapse in a mere two years.
“For Fidesz, nine years weren’t even enough, that is why we’re going to renovate it,” he concluded.
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In their reaction, the Budapest faction of Fidesz said that they weren’t aware of what the original image shows, they just took over the meme from the internet. In their Facebook post, they claim it was the editor who didn’t notice the match (“but a normal person doesn’t wake up in the morning with a picture of Szálasi,” they added) and as soon as they became aware of it, the post was removed. The rest of the message is about criticism of Karácsony, who, in their view, “slandered” them, generates “fake trouble,” “solely deals with party political debates,” and “is constantly shifting responsibility.”
featured image via Facebook