Rabbi Köves says Maria Schmidt will not take part in House of Fates project

As we have reported earlier, Rabbi Shlomo Köves, head of the Hungarian Unified Jewish Communities (EMIH), the Chabad-Lubavitch affiliated Jewish community organization that was appointed to take over the project of House of Fates, presented the new concept of the museum to the board of the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance (IRHA) in Luxemburg this week.

The new concept was designed and the project will be led by a team of international experts, historians and curators with expertise in history of Holocaust and design of museums across the globe. The team is led by professor Yitchak Mais, former director of history of the Yad Vashem and professor David Marwell, former head of the Museum of Jewish Heritage of New York along with world-renown Israeli historian Esther Farbstein.

The new concept was presented and approved by the Hungarian Government as well as the IRHA. Historian Maria Schmidt, who stirred much controversy in the Jewish communities in Hungary due to her previous statements that may be understood as some sort of relativization of the role of the Hungarian government in the destruction of over 600.000 victims of the Hungarian Holocaust, was not part of the team, that designed the new concept – assured Rabbi Köves. It seems though, that Schmidt was not completely removed from the project, at least according to the statement by Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, yesterday, although he did not indicate what her role would be or whether she will be active or contributing in any way.

After the minister’s statement Rabbi Köves reiterated, that presenting the Holocaust in a credible and historically accurate fashion has to be the most important goal of anyone working on the House of Fates, and it has to trump over any personal controversy.

Maria Schmidt or any of her colleagues did not take any part in the work of the past 6 months in the design and planning the new concept of the House of Fates, not even on a consulting level. The new concept was accepted by the Government of Hungary. As per the request of the Hungarian delegation, we have presented the new concept in Luxemburg to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IRHA). The fundamentals of the new concept enjoyed much openness and acceptance by the representatives of IRHA. The delegation and the board of directors of IRHA agreed, that they will keep close focus on the further development of the concept

— explained Rabbi Köves.

He added that

EMIH is absolutely committed in preparing the exhibition and the educational program with utmost inclusivity and transparency, therefore the new concept will shortly be presented to the broader public. It is in the best interest of both the Jewish communities and the Hungarian society at large, that this most horrible of tragedies, be handled with the utmost sensitivity towards historic authenticity instead of personal enmity. It is also important, that this view is the position of the Hungarian Government as well”.