Refugees crisis: Fisking the Hungarian Nazis for signs of a Holocaust
Writing in the Independent, Robert Fisk talks abut Hungary, a land that “must look to its own history for migrant guidance”. The part of Hungary’s history Fisk wants the people to hack back to is a very narrow era:
Funny what a weather-vane the Second World War becomes in the hands of politicians and journalists. Europe faces the biggest refugee crisis since the 1939-1945 conflict, we are solemnly told. And there are the Hungarian police standing before the crowds of poor and desperate souls – most of them Muslims – outside Budapest’s main railway station, where even ticket-holders could not board the trains. Funny how the old memory buds don’t kick in at this point. For just 71 years ago, the Hungarian police were forcing tens of thousands of Jews on to trains out of Budapest, desperate to get them to Auschwitz on time. Adolf Eichmann was setting the rules.
See what he did there: Fisk likened the refugees fleeing Syria and hoping to reach Germany on a open train to the Jews sealed inside wagons being sent to death camps. These refugees are not being forcibly transported to their murders. They are people who have escaped Syria. They are also migrants who want better opportunities in Germany. The comparison between the industrial murder of Jews who held Hungarian citizenship and the plight of Syrians refugees is emotive reporting. It reduces the Holocaust. And it demeans the Hungarians, presenting them as a backward people who have failed to learn from past horrors.
And don’t think that the Hungarians were just unwilling tools of Germany’s march into Hungary towards the end of the war. The Hungarian police actually escorted the Jewish deportation trains right up to the border of Austria – which was then part of the Großdeutsches Reich – so that the Nazi authorities could speed them on to the extermination camps…
The Hungarians are not consigning the refugees to certain death. They are erecting barriers to passage, just as the British do at Calais, the Spanish do in Melia, the Americans do at every passport check point, the Saudis do at the border with Yemen, and so on.
Odd, isn’t it, how no one has made this particular connection with the Second World War.
No. It’s right they haven’t. To monster the Hungarians for dong what the British are also doing is unfair. To compare the Syrian refugees to Holocaust victims is ignorant.
Fisk sees the Syrian refugees arrive at Bicske rail station, a place “infamous for its police-controlled refugee centre”.
Nothing like 1944, of course. The cops offered the refugees bottled water and food. The last thing they wanted to do was to send the Muslims on to Germany. But they didn’t want them in Hungary either.
Fisk has turned the refugees into “Muslims“. Back in 1944 there was no Jewish State to guarantee the Jews safe harbour. But there are many so-called Muslim countries. If Islam is the issue, there are countries where you can be a Muslim.
We have, I suppose, to thank the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, for that – he who has presciently noted for us that “those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims.” Well, blow me down. The guy’s not just a politician – he’s a social historian.
Fisk then does something odd:
But while I grant that Eastern Europeans take their religion a bit more seriously than Western Europeans, this is taking Christian “culture” a bit far.
Why Fisk places “culture” in brackets is open to interpretation. It appears to be dismissive.
Fisk then provides a neat history of Hungary:
Like Bosnia and Serbia, Hungary was part of the Ottoman empire and Hungarian “patriots” have long regarded the “Turkish” period with extreme distaste.
Most people regards a period of occupation with intense distaste.
He then gets geopolitical:
But there is an eastern and central European problem – exemplified by Hungary – that no-one has yet felt able to discuss: the degree to which we at the time regarded their subjugation by the Soviet Union as a punishment for their Fascist history. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, however, we welcomed them into the EU, feeling ashamed to have left them to their fate as Moscow’s pawns after the Second World War…
I always thought we were a bit too quick to open our arms to them. But they’d paid a big enough price, we told ourselves, and what more valuable a reward for their endurance than membership of the EU? Now we are beginning to discover what the Hungarian state looks like. And so are the Muslim refugees of the Middle East.
You see. It’s all about us. The plight of refugees is chance for us to display our Western superiority. Having bemoaned racism, Fisk has cast East Europeans to a lower rung of humanity, with the EU members being the apogee of the civilised and morally correct.
If you want to debate how many people should be let in, it’s a good ides not to reduce the debate to bigotry.