Csanad Szegedi, poster boy of Hungary's fascist right, quits after Jewish roots revealed

Grandmother of MEP who gained notoriety with anti-Semitic party was Holocaust survivor

His vociferous anti-Semitism made Csanad Szegedi a popular politician in Hungary's notorious far-right Jobbik party – until he discovered that he has Jewish roots and his grandmother was a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust.

Now, a repentant Mr Szegedi has announced that he is to pay a visit to the site of the infamous Auschwitz death camp where his relative was imprisoned and several other family members may have been murdered.

Mr Szegedi, who disclosed his Jewish background in June, informed the Hungarian Rabbi Schlomo Koves about his Auschwitz plans.

"He wants to pay his respects to the Holocaust martyrs," Rabbi Koves told the Jewish news service JTA. The 30-year-old politician is also reported to have apologised profusely to the Hungarian Jewish community.

Just six months ago, Mr Szegedi was a star Hungarian far-right politician and Jobbik was proud to have him represent the party as an MP in the European parliament. As a leading member of the anti-Semitic party, he appeared at political rallies where he accused Jews of "buying up" Hungary and desecrating national symbols.

Mr Szegdi had plenty of far right credentials to join Jobbik. In 2007, he founded the neo-fascist Hungarian Guard. Its members paraded in black uniforms aping the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party, which ruled Hungary at the end of the Second World War and was responsible for the deaths of many of the 550,000 Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust. The courts banned the Hungarian Guard in 2009.

But since owning up to his roots, the former anti-Semitic agitator has been forced to give up all his positions and resign from Jobbik. Its leadership, which claims his exclusion from the party has nothing to do with his Jewish background, has also demanded that he give up his seat as a MEP. Mr Szegedi says he wants to keep the post.

Rumours of Mr Szegedi's Jewish origins emerged in 2010 during a secretly taped meeting between the politician and an ex-convict called Zoltan Ambrus, who confronted him with evidence of his Jewish roots. In the recording, Mr Szegedi sounds surprised and then appears to offer Mr Ambrus cash and favours to keep quiet.

Jobbik has since claimed that this was why it decided to expel Mr Szegedi from the party. Mr Szegedi has denied the claim and said the tape was deliberately doctored. He said that after his meeting with Mr Ambrus he had a long conversation with his grandmother who spoke at length about the family's past and orthodox Jews.

"It was then that it dawned on me that my grandmother really is Jewish," he said in a recent Hungarian television interview. "I asked her how the deportations happened. She was in Auschwitz and Dachau and she was the only survivor of an extended family," he added.

His experience is far from unique. During Hungary's decades of communist rule the Holocaust was virtually taboo. Many survivors chose not to talk about their ordeal for fear of further repression.

Mr Szegedi was brought up as a Presbyterian. But Rabbi Koves said his maternal grandparents were both Holocaust survivors who had an Orthodox Jewish wedding after the war. "They decided to keep it all a secret from their children and grandchildren and they succeeded for more than six decades," he said. "Their descendants have only recently discovered their Jewish roots," he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'