Lauder: Budapest decision puts Hungarian government’s pledge to act against anti-Semitism into doubt

City of Budapest plans to name street after Horthy-era anti-Semitic writer Cécile Tormay

Lauder: Budapest decision puts Hungarian government’s pledge to act against anti-Semitism into doubt

NEW YORK – World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder today reacted with consternation to the news that Budapest’s city government is planning to name a street in the Hungarian capital after the nationalist writer Cécile Tormay (1876-1937), who was openly anti-Semitic. “This decision by the Budapest city government, which is headed by a member of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, puts into question the pledge given to the Jewish community that anti-Semitism will be fought vigorously by the Hungarian authorities.  However, it seems that they need to be reminded that Cécile Tormay was not only one of Miklós Horthy’s favorite writers. She was also a notorious anti-Semite,” Lauder said.

During the Horthy era from 1920 to 1944, several anti-Jewish laws were passed, Hungary became an ally of Nazi Germany and the deportations of Hungarian Jews to the Nazi death camps began. Cécile Tormay’s book ‘An Outlaw’s Diary’ (Bujdosó könyv), published in 1921, is full of anti-Semitic stereotypes and blames the Jews for the crimes committed during the Hungarian revolution of 1919.
Ronald S. Lauder declared: “Earlier this month, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the WJC Plenary Assembly in Budapest that anti-Semitism is ‘unacceptable and intolerable’ and that ‘history taught the Hungarians that anti-Semitism must be recognized in time.’ Let’s hope that the authorities in Budapest realize that it was the political and intellectual climate and the open anti-Semitism of Horthy and his disciples, such as Cécile Tormay, that preceded the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to the Nazi death camps.
“We urge Prime Minister Orbán to speak with the mayor of Budapest, who is a member of his party, and to persuade him to withdraw the plan for the naming of a street after Cécile Tormay,” the WJC president added.
About the World Jewish Congress
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations. The WJC recently held its Plenary Assembly in Budapest, which was amongst others addressed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, amongst others.
Media contact

Michael Thaidigsmann
Director Media Relations, World Jewish Congress (Brussels Office) 

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