To confront and be confronted: with such objectives we began our journey together. Our aim is to tell the unveiled truth about the darkest chapters of recent European history as seen through the universal human values of the New Testament Gospels.
In Hungary, as in some other countries, in-depth confrontations with the past have been avoided to a dangerous degree. This lack of truthful remembrance has led to a comprehensive crisis of human and social values.
Our particular starting point is the paradoxical historic role of European Christian history. The genocide of the Holocaust took place on a continent that called itself Christian. Within this context, our own country, Hungary, has boasted of being the country offered to the Virgin Mary. The genocide against the Jewish people was directed against the very people who gave us the personalities and the writings considered holiest by once pagan, now “Christianized” societies.
In our research we recognized how, during the time of the holocaust, the opinion forming leaders in the churches became subservient to the political systems of the times, providing the ideological basis for nationalism, racial theory, exclusion, outlawry, robbery and genocide.
We met and started an active exchange of ideas with citizens of 5 European nations. We realized that we did not have to go as far as Auschwitz (or Jasenovac) to recognize the atrocities of fascist ideology. We can stay in our respective countries, in Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland and others where we can see parallel lines and identical developments. We have also concluded that genocide in Eastern Europe did not start in 1944-45 but came to a conclusion then.
We have also found another stream of ordinary church figures who – on the basis of their personal faith – stood up against ideologies of exclusion in their churches, church press and official politics. They set an example for posterity by their words and deeds and by saying “No” to exclusion and racism. In many cases, they too became victimized.
In this paradoxical historic space, we have sought out survivors of the Holocaust and locations that are often hidden from the general public. (e.g. locations of mass murder committed in “Városmajor” or “Zugló” by the Arrow Cross in Budapest, or other sites of mass murders in Hungary such as Pusztavám, Gönyű or Kiskunhalas, etc.)
In the course of our work, we have associated with European (German, Austrian, Polish, Slovakian and Hungarian) individual Christians and groups that have already traveled a long way on the road of self-reflection. They have done amazing work in the field of self-critical remembrance; holding up the highest possible moral standard even in the face of the silence of their own churches and denominations.
We have provoked a wide-ranging dialogue and analyzed the road leading to genocide. We have not only identified the responsible players and institutions on political and individual levels, but we have responsibly related to the past and present political situation in our country.
Our approach has encouraged others to engage in a similarly courageous self-reflective look at their own histories. We, Hungarians, Poles, Slovakians, Austrians, Germans, and Hungarian survivors living in Israel, were able to examine, reveal, and discuss the effects of unprocessed history in our day. Apart from politics, religion and languages, we have found common human and moral points on which to relate.