Anne Applebaum, journalist, writer, Pulitzer prize winner for her book Gulag: A History and the author of the new book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944–56, member of the Moscow School Advisory Council and one of the School’s oldest experts.
Anne is telling the story of one of the leaders of the Jobbik (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom – Movement for a Better Hungary, far-right political party). Like many other Eurosceptic partices, Jobbik objects to the multinational European project, and to criticisms of any sort from Brussles. When once popular anti-Roma rhetoric began to wear thin, Jobbik turned their minds to Jews, or to be accurate, against them.
Szegedi joined the Party when it was founded, in 2003 and became its active member in all the anti-semitic fascist-style campaigns when suddenly discovered he was jewish himself.
Anne meets Szegedi soon after his resignment from Jobbik in a company of a rabbi and looking for a different way to live.
Szegedi somehow managed not to know a thing about the Jews and their tragedies. When he studied at School in the post-Communist nineties, the teaching of history was in turmoil. He thought of Holocaust as another Communist exaggeration. On the othr hand a newly resurgent brand of xenophobic nationalism was giving “a strong feeling of belonging somewhere”.
Ironically, the only verifiable, fully documented part of Szegedi’s story is his conversion to Orthodox Judaism.
Szegedi is still proud of the campaign to put Old Hungarian runes on the street signes and to help Hungarians living outside the country’s borders. But he now knows that he got some things very very wrong.
“When you are in politics, you cannot see yourself clearly from the outside. You tend to repress the feelings and also the facts that prove you are wrong”, says Szegedi.
Read the whole story at New Yorker