Hungary Pressured to Arrest WWII Suspect (NY) TIMES) By MELISSA EDDY BERLIN, GERMANY 07/18/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
NEW YORK TIMES Articles-Index-Top
BERLIN — The authorities in Hungary came under increasing pressure on
Tuesday to take action against a 97-year-old man accused of
overseeing a Jewish ghetto during World War II and helping to deport
thousands of Jews to Auschwitz.
Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem,
said he had informed prosecutors in Budapest last year that the
suspect, identified as Laszlo Csatary, was living there and was
believed to have played a role in the deportation of 15,700 Jews in
the spring of 1944.
Mr. Csatary, who the center says remains fit enough to drive, is also
suspected of having served in 1941 as the chief of police and
commander of a Jewish ghetto in the city of Kosice, now in eastern
Prosecutors in Budapest said that they had opened an investigation
for war crimes against Mr. Csatary in September 2011 but that the
shifting of international boundaries and passage of time had slowed
News about Mr. Csatary comes amid international concern over moves by
the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to introduce laws that
have been viewed by its European partners as compromising the
independence of democratic institutions, including the judiciary and
the news media.
While the government, led by Mr. Orban’s center-right party, Fidesz,
has taken steps to meet international demands to revise some of the
changes after demands from European Union leaders, there are still
concerns over a shift to the right.
At the same time Hungary’s president, Janos Ader, was in Israel on
Tuesday for a ceremony at the Knesset to honor Raoul Wallenberg, the
Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from
perishing in the Holocaust by issuing them with Swedish “protective
An invitation to the speaker of Hungary’s National Assembly was
rescinded after it was learned that he attended a memorial service
for an anti-Semitic writer.
In an open letter to the Hungarian president, Mr. Zuroff wrote that
the detention of Mr. Csatary could send a strong signal that Hungary
remains committed to Europe’s democratic principles.
“One of the most effective ways to combat the rising wave of anti-
Semitism, racism and right-wing extremism in Hungary is to bring to
justice those who were inspired to commit Holocaust crimes by the
same ultranationalism that is once again rearing its ugly head in
your country,” he said.
Mr. Ader’s office in Budapest refused to comment on the letter. But
Hungary’s opposition Socialist Party has called on the country’s head
prosecutor to charge Mr. Csatary “immediately,” and students this
week have held demonstrations outside of the building where he is
believed to be living.
Also Tuesday, Mr. Orban’s government opened talks with the
International Monetary Fund over an agreement for a loan of €15
billion, or $18 billion. Negotiations had been put on hold amid
concerns about the independence of the country’s central bank.
Myra Noveck contributed reporting from Jerusalem and Palko Karasz
from Paris. (Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company 07/18/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY