The head of one of Hungary's premier cultural institutions, the Petofi literature museum in Budapest, has been criticized after he wrote an article in which he likened U.S. billionaire philanthropist George Soros to Adolf Hitler’s genocidal Nazi regime.
Soros is the “liberal Führer” turning Europe into a “gas chamber,” wrote Szilard Demeter in an opinion piece for the Internet portal Origo.hu , a Hungarian pro-government outlet.
The American Jewish Committee in Central Europe condemned the comments about Soros, who was born in Hungary and is a Holocaust survivor, describing them as "horrendous." "Such ignorance of history and minimizing the Holocaust have to be called out," the organization said on Twitter. In the article, which addressed a dispute with Brussels over the EU budget, Demeter described Hungary and Poland as "the new Jews." "Poisonous gas flows from the capsule of a multicultural open society, which is deadly to the European way of life, and we, the nations of Europe, are doomed to try to fight for the last sip of air by climbing on each other," he wrote. Demeter is a Hungarian ministerial commissioner appointed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has repeatedly taken aim at Soros for his foundation's funding of liberal causes. Orban accuses Soros, a bête noire of the European right, of wanting to flood the continent with Muslim migrants and undermine national identity. Hungary and Poland are holding up negotiations over the EU’s multiyear budget due to a new rule-of-law mechanism. Both countries are under EU investigation for undermining the independence of the judiciary, media, and nongovernmental organizations, and they risk losing access to EU funding over the new mechanism. Demeter’s statement was also condemned by the International Auschwitz Committee. "Not only in Hungary are Holocaust survivors disgusted and appalled by this bizarre and hateful agitation," said Executive Vice President Christoph Heubner.
He said the vitriol signified a new low in a wave of anti-Semitic and anti-European campaigns in Hungary.