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Hungary official criticized for comparing Soros to Hitler

December 2, 2020

A Hungarian cultural commissioner has retracted an op-ed in which he said George Soros was "the liberal Fuhrer." The article was lambasted by Jewish and Holocaust memorial groups in the country.

George Soros
Image: Getty Images/AFP/F. Coffrini

A Hungarian cultural commissioner retracted an article on Sunday in which he compared George Soros to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

An opinion article on Saturday from Szilard Demeter, a ministerial commissioner head of the Petofi Literary Museum in Budapest, in the pro-government Origo media outlet drew outrage from Hungary's Jewish community for calling Soros "the liberal Fuhrer."

Demeter, 44, said in a statement Sunday that he would retract his article "independently of what I think."

"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.

Soros, a Hungarian born billionaire and Holocaust survivor, is a frequent target of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government for his philanthropic activities that favor liberal causes.

What did Demeter's op-ed say?

In his opinion article, Demeter said Europe has become "the gas chamber of George Soros," a blunt reference to gas chambers used by the Nazis to undertake mass killings of Jews.

"Poison gas flows from the capsule of a multicultural open society, which is deadly to the European way of life," Demeter wrote.

Demeter compared Soros to Hitler, writing he was "the Liberal Fuhrer, and his liber-Aryan army deifies him more than did Hitler's own."

Hungary: Culture and education under attack

The article also referenced the budget conflict between the European Union and Poland and Hungary. Demeter said the two countries, which are under EU investigation for undermining judicial independence and media freedom, as "the new Jews."

"These 'liber-Aryans' are now aiming at excluding us Poles and Hungarians from the one last political community where we still have rights," he wrote.

How was the article received?

Jewish and Holocaust memorial groups in Hungary and abroad condemned Demeter's article. The Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation 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 American Jewish Committee in Central Europe called the article "horrendous" in a Twitter post.

The Democratic Coalition, Hungary's main leftist opposition party, called for Demeter's immediate dismissal.

"The Democratic Coalition expects from the government that Szilard Demeter should be unemployed by the end of today. A man like him has no place in public life, not just in a European country but anywhere in the world," it said.

dv/rs (AFP, AP)