Protesters in Hungary block work on second world war monument

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 10:56pm


Several hundred protesters blocked work from continuing on a controversial monument in Budapest that Jewish critics say glosses over Hungary's active role in the Holocaust.

About 300 people on Tuesday angrily tore down a cordon erected by workers and occupied the site of the planned monument, which the Hungarian government says will mark all the victims of Hungary's occupation by Nazi Germany in 1944.

Critics say the monument - which will depict Hungary as an angel being attacked by a German eagle - absolves Hungarians of their active role after the occupation in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths.

One protester, Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy, also an opposition politician, said volunteers would mount a round-the-clock guard to prevent the restart of building works. "It is an extremist memorial that covers up the past with a lie, and a gesture (by Prime Minister Viktor Orban) to the far-right," he said.

"We won't let it be built," he added, as police observed the protesters without intervening.

The monument was originally scheduled for unveiling on March 19 to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Jews after the Nazi occupation. After protests in Hungary and abroad, and a boycott of official anniversary commemorations this year by leading Jewish organisation Mazsihisz, the government postponed the construction until after Sunday's general election, in which Orban was re-elected to a second consecutive term.