Banner Tribute to Recently Deceased ‘Most Wanted’ Nazi Laszlo Csatary Displayed at Hungarian Soccer Match
A banner honoring the memory of recently deceased “most wanted” Nazi, Laszlo Csatary, was displayed at a Hungarian soccer match Saturday, earning sharp condemnation from prominent Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff. The banner which was held by fans of the Ferencvárosi TC soccer club read “In memoriam Csatary Laszlo.”
“My message to them is go back to the history of World War II and see where your hate took your predecessors and if that is what you support then we’ll know how to deal with you,” Zuroff said, in an interview with The Algemeiner.
The club’s opponents for the match were MTK Budapest, a team that is considered to be Jewish because of past Jewish affiliations. Ferencváros won the match by two goals to none.
Csatary who died just over a week ago at the age of 98 while awaiting trial in Hungary was accused of torturing Jews and sending over 15,000 to their deaths at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp. In 1948 he was convicted in absentia in Czechoslovakia for war crimes and sentenced to death. Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center labeled Csatary as the world’s ‘Most Wanted’ Nazi.
“If anyone had any doubt about how important it was to prosecute Laszlo Csatary in a Hungarian courtroom on criminal charges, the football supporters of Ferencvaros supplied the answer in bold letters yesterday,” Zuroff told The Algemeiner.
“For far too many Hungarians people like Laszlo Csatary are heroes not war criminals,” he said.
In explaining what steps could be taken to ensure that such banners would not appear at soccer matches in the future Zuroff was uncompromising.
“One thing for sure” he said “is that I am going to turn to the Hungarian Football Federation and demand that action be taken against these fans and that they act immediately when banners of this sort are shown.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center was partially responsible “for the fact that Hungary was punished by FIFA, when in a friendly match against Israel, people turned their backs on Hatikvah saying ‘Jews to the gas’ and things like this,” Zuroff said, “they have a whole match scheduled against Romania which will be played without fans, and it is a big, big loss for them, in other words it hurts their chances, so the punishment is very serious.”
Because of his activism Zuroff has become somewhat of a public enemy among Hungarian and other European Neo-Nazis. A recently surfaced photo which a Hungarian source told The Algemeiner is at least two years old, shows fans of Ferencváros holding a banner which reads “Efraim Zuroff, your mother is a whore.” Zuroff told The Algemeiner Sunday that he had not previously seen the picture, and that his success in hunting Nazis has earned him many enemies.
“The more successful I am, the more hated I am by the horrible people who are sympathetic to the people who I am trying to bring to justice,” he said, “There is a direct correlation between whatever success I have had and the number and nature of the threats against me. The more successful I am the more dangerous the threats are and the more numerous the threats are.”
“It should be clear to everyone that there are specific segments of Hungarian society that refuse to recognize the complicity of Hungarians in Holocaust crimes and will do anything to try and delegitimize those who seek to bring those responsible to justice,” Zuroff concluded.