Last month, Dovid Katz wrote in Tablet Magazine about “Holocaust obfuscation”: The phenomenon, in various Eastern European countries that fell under Soviet rule after World War II, of equating the suffering of Jews under the Nazis with the suffering of locals under the Communists. Focusing on Lithuania, Katz wrote,
Holocasut obfuscation does not deny a single Jewish death at the hands of the Nazis. Instead, it uses as a starting point the idea that the Nazi genocide was not a unique event but rather a reaction to Soviet “genocide” (and antecedent to further Soviet genocide) in which the same elements of Lithuanian society that often sided with the Nazi invaders were persecuted and imprisoned by the Communist regime, whose officials included Jews.
Now, in Hungary—whose Jews experienced a unique but no less brutal iteration of the Holocaust—legislators from the country’s center-right majority have passed a law equating the crimes committed by the Communist regime to those committed by the Nazi-affiliated one, and criminalizing those who depreciate the Communists’ crimes.
Significantly, the bill seems to be a fairly direct response to a law passed this past February by the country’s earlier, left-majority that criminalized Holocaust denial.
Katz argues that Holocaust obfuscation “originates in the desire to airbrush the Holocaust out of history. This wish,” he continues,
is intimately intertwined with Eastern Europe’s special kind of anti-Semitism, which maintains a love for Israeli, American, and other Western Jews, as well as for the prewar Jewish heritage but loathes present-day Jewish communities. At the heart of that loathing is the sin of memory: Local Jews know that the few Jews who survived usually did so thanks to the Soviet Union, while local nationalists sided with Hitler and carried out much of the killing.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.