A bomb scare forced hundreds of extreme right-wing demonstrators to relocate their “day of honour” ceremonies from Clark Ádám tér on Saturday. After clashes with anti-fascist activists were quelled by a heavy police presence, demonstrators proceeded to lay wreaths and hold speeches to commemorate a 1945 battle against the Soviets.
Tourists crossing the Chain Bridge at noon were surprised to find a police line surrounding Clark Ádám tér. Their irritation was shared by groups of far-right activists wearing combat boots, military fatigues or black hoodies emblazoned with phrases like “Blood and Honour”. Some carried Hungarian flags or wreaths they hoped to lay as part of the annual “day of honour” ceremonies, an important event for extreme right-wing movements in Hungary.
Police at the scene reported that a suspicious object had been found in a garbage can on the square, which would remained closed until “examinations” could be conducted. Suddenly, a giant banner was unfurled from a cliff face: “No pasarán,” it read. This Spanish phrase, meaning “They shall not pass,” is a popular slogan of anti-fascist movements opposing far-right and neo-Nazi demonstrations.
“We’re here to honour the soldiers,” said a bearded man dressed all in black, referring to the tens of thousands of Hungarian and German soldiers – including members of the Waffen SS and the Arrow Cross – who died fighting their way through Soviet lines during the siege of Budapest. Many on the far right consider the soldiers heroes, and blame the “liberal” media for transforming them into murderers. “They fought for their lives and their nation, and against communism,” said another man in black clothing.
Events like this are the far right’s attempt to flip history on its head, recasting the parts of hero and villain. While most participants deny they are fascists or neo-Nazis, preferring terms like “nationalist,” many are apologetic for the role of the Axis powers in the Second World War. “Those who fought with Hungarian uniforms or German uniforms, both of them gave their lives for their country and for freedom,” said a young man dressed in full military uniform. “They fought against Marxism and Bolshevism, which is a very big cancer for the world.”
He went on to argue that liberalism and European integration are part of the same movement, a path that would eventually end in a one-world government.
As it became clear that Clark Ádám tér would not be reopened, the demonstrators journeyed up the hill to the Castle District’s Kapisztrán tér, where loudspeakers and a podium had already been set up. Soon after, a group of anti-fascist activists arrived, carrying banners of smashed-up swastikas and pictures of concentration camp inmates with the words “Remember this??” written above.
Creating a decidedly festive atmosphere, they beat on drums and danced in the streets. It didn’t take long for this to attract the attention of the angry nationalists, who rushed up to confront them. The anti-fascists locked arms and refused to budge for several minutes. Police used limited force to separate the two sides until the anti-fascists eventually left the scene.
One of the anti-fascist musicians had travelled from Romania to express her opposition to the day of honour rally. “I’m against fascism in any country, so I’m in solidarity with the people here, who are unfortunately only a few,” she said. “They’re struggling against the dominant voice of nationalism and fascism. I just want to show my solidarity by making some noise.”
She is afraid that as nationalist movements grow in power there is a danger of increasing persecution against minorities, and of a return to the horrors of the past. “They must construct their scapegoats – anyone who’s different – anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, cisgendered,” she explains.
Once peace returned, several hundred people assembled behind the banners of various far-right movements. The Hungarian National Front (Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal), a self-described “national socialist” paramilitary group that has referred to a “final solution of the Gypsy problem” in past statements, was particularly well represented.
Members carried flags eerily similar to that of the Arrow Cross, the fascist party that took power in Hungary at the end of the Second World War and carried out mass killings of Jews. Others wore black uniforms with leather sashes and armbands.
They were joined by other groups from Hungary and elsewhere in Europe, including the Hungarian, Dutch and Bulgarian sections of the international white supremacist movement “Blood and Honour”.
Everyone stood at attention as patriotic hymns were played and various orators spoke from the podium. Then the wreaths were laid before a cross and a black military helmet. Tattooed skinheads were joined by old men and even families with children, a testament to the persistence of extreme nationalism in Hungary.
I for one am glad to see that nationalism is finally returning to Hungary, after the generations long hibernation due to the occupation by the Bolshevik Soviet forces. In my view having pride in ones nation is healthy for the country. It is sad to see that there are still “antifa” demonstrators in Hungary who would stop at nothing to squelch any and all events that are planned in remembrance of our fellow countrymen and loved ones who died as heroes defending Hungary against Bolshevism during the world wars. If the “antifa” groups want to remember their own fallen relatives, they should do it on their own at a different location, and not to intentionally cause confrontation by disturbing the peaceful remembrance of Hungary’s fallen soldier heroes.
The Fascist regime used antisemitic propaganda for the Spanish Civil War from 1937 to 1938 that emphasized that Italy was supporting Spain’s Nationalist forces against a “Jewish International”.
Thanks for the info!