Many Roma demonstrators were visible among hundreds of anti-fascists who protested noisily to disrupt the neo-Nazi ‘Day of Honour’ gathering in Budapest. Every year, far-right groups from Hungary are joined by Nazis from all over Europe to lay wreaths in commemoration of the failed breakout attempt by 28,000 German and Hungarian troops, as Soviet forces encircled Budapest in January 1945. Most were captured or killed; Budapest was liberated a couple of days later, bringing an end to the frenzied terror inflicted on the city’s Jews by Arrow Cross militias.

This year, the police prohibited the march, but a judge overturned the ban in a move that was condemned by local governments, who issued a press statement urging law enforcement to “do their utmost” to prevent gangs wearing intimidating uniforms bearing authoritarian symbols from disturbing the peace. In advance of the ‘Day of Honour’, local authorities in three districts booked key squares for exhibitions and events to prevent the neo-Nazis gathering there. In a Facebook post, the left-green mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony stated: “Due to our anti-fascist commitment, it is our duty to speak out against those who falsify our history, incite hatred and exclusion.”

The fascists were prevented from marching in the streets, and were confined behind barriers in Városmajor park in the capital’s twelfth district. German, Bulgarian and Czech far-right groups were in attendance, as well as members of Blood and Honour. As Al Jazeera reported,  Matthias Deyda from Die Rechte declared “We have the same enemies today, as we did 75 years ago. The enemy isn’t named Muller or Mayer. No, our enemy is named Rothschild or Goldman and Sachs”. Deyda concluded his speech with a Hitler quote: “For them, the mere pledge of ‘I believe’ is not enough, but rather the affirmation ‘I fight’.” 

What makes all of this especially obscene is the fact that the Városmajor site chosen by fascist scum to lay their wreaths in memory of the fallen SS and Wehrmacht troops, is the location of the atrocious massacre of patients and staff from the Jewish hospital in Maros utca. Between the 12th and 19th of January 1945, in the final days of the siege before the Soviets liberated Budapest, this neighbourhood witnessed some of the most barbaric atrocities by Arrow Cross militias. Under the command of the Catholic monk Father András Kuhn, the fascist militia launched raids against three Jewish health care institutions. The Arrow Cross slaughtered more than 300 mainly sick and elderly people while the Red Army was only a few blocks away. 

What is different on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Budapest, is that the defeat of Fidesz in the municipal elections has meant an end to the blind-eye attitude to this ‘day of dishonour’ by local authorities. Credit goes to the police who tried to have the event banned, and shame on the judge that permitted this disgraceful assembly to go ahead. Most important of all, the largest anti-fascist demonstration in Budapest for years ensured that neo-Nazis could not own the streets, and were harried and hemmed-in behind barriers and police cordons.