2014, Holocaust commemoration year, must be the year of confronting the past and asking for forgiveness" the State Secretary heading the Prime Minister's Office told Hungarian news agency MTI on Wednesday following the founding session of the Holocaust Memorial Committee. According to János Lázár, facing the past means the incorporating into law of the command to remember and the prohibition of forgetting, while asking for forgiveness must be made part of the national identity.

The Holocaust 2014 Commemoration Memorial is responsible for preparing the commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 2014.

Speaking to MTI following the founding of the Committee, János Lázás stressed that Holocaust commemoration year is not a time for individuals or intellectuals to face the past and ask for forgiveness, and should not be a time for serving legal or political justice, but is instead a time for the whole nation to face the past an apologise for its past actions.

"The past twenty years of freedom would have made it possible for us to disassociate ourselves from the everyday lies, shady deals and untold truths of communism and for the nation come to terms with its guilt in relation to the Holocaust. For us to call the sin by its name, to search for the guilty, who included Hungarians, and to make amends to the victims", the State Secretary explained, noting that the past two decades had also failed to live up to expectation in this regard.

"However, this painful anniversary will no longer remain incomplete and unprocessed with regard to one of the darkest chapters of Hungarian history", he stated, adding that facing the past cannot be only the internal affair of historians, and asking forgiveness cannot be only the "civil" atonement of good-minded people.

According to János Lázár, facing the past means that "we do not have two different history books depending on our political preferences and world view, but a single, Hungarian history book, learning from which future generations can grow up such in a way that the national memory, of which they become part while at school, and the memories that they hear from their parents and grandparents no longer contradict each other".

"Facing the past means the incorporating into law of the command to remember and the prohibition of forgetting", said the Head of the Prime Minister's Office, according to whom "this is the least we can do as the descendants of the victims and the guilty for each other, for the community and for our homeland".

"In addition", he continued, "we also owe the victims an apology" as the Hungarian state was also guilty of the Holocaust. Guilty in two respects: firstly because it did not defend its own citizens from extermination, and secondly because it assisted and provided resources for the genocide", stressing that this apology must be made a part of the national memory and identity by the Hungarian state.

"Let it not be possible to be Hungarian in the 21st century without bearing our part of confronting the past and asking forgiveness – this is the goal of the commemorative year", said János Lázár.

Closing his statement, he mentioned that international Jewish organisations had welcomed the founding of the Memorial Committee, adding that these sentiments had been conveyed by Director of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) Gusztáv Zoltai during the inaugural meeting.

(MTI/The Prime Minister's Office)