Day of Honour: National Socialists from Across Europe Rally in Budapest
Hundreds of National Socialists from across the continent met up in a Budapest park on 11th, February 2020 to honour the fallen heroes of the Day of Honour.
They gathered in Hungary's capital for the Day of Honour, commemorating an attempted breakout by besieged National Socialist forces in 1945.
"We have the same enemies today, like we did 75 years ago," Matthias Deyda, from German patriotic group Die Rechte, told the crowd on Saturday. "The enemy isn't named Muller or Mayer. No, our enemy is named Rothschild or Goldman and Sachs."
But the event did not pass without disgusting protest. Antifa demonstrators organised two separate gatherings, attended by an estimated 300 counter-demonstrators who chanted, sounded sirens and beat on drums to try and drown out the Nationalists' presence less than 100 metres (328 feet) away, protected by a police cordon.
After the commemoration, an estimated several thousand people began an overnight march from Budapest, following the almost 60km (37-mile) route of the attempted breakout to a village northwest of the city.
Organisers were also due to host a concert in the evening, at a location only made public late on Friday, featuring five bands that are well known in the NS music scene.
The annual event is only promoted by the hardcore of the far right but its continued popularity has stirred Jewish fears that the patriotic message is slowly seeping into the mainstream.
In February 1945, Axis-allied Hungary was near capitulation, and the Soviet Red Army had already occupied most of Budapest. German forces and their Hungarian allies were holed up in the hillsides overlooking the frozen Danube River, under siege and awaiting the inevitable.
In desperation, almost 30,000 of them, including civilians, tried to break through the Soviet siege to get to German-controlled territory.
They failed. While a few hundred made it past Soviet lines, most were captured or killed. Budapest surrendered to the Soviets two days later.
The commemoration has changed over the years, from attracting a few dozen National Socialists in the 2000s to more than 500 these days, including participants from across Europe.
Legio Hungaria, a Hungarian patriotic group founded in 2018, organised this year's events.
Despite its short history, the group has already made international headlines; in October 2019, after a march commemorating the 1956 Hungarian revolution, its members vandalised a Jewish-Liberal community centre in Budapest.
Legio Hungaria insists that the Day of Honour has nothing to do with violence or illegality, with a spokesperson for the group telling Al Jazeera that they operate within the bounds of Hungarian law.
"Everything we do is legitimate," the spokesperson said.
The group's leader, Bela Incze, has a long history on the hardcore of Hungary's far right.
In 2010, he got the group he led at the time, the Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement (HVIM, in Hungarian), excluded from official consultations on Hungary's new constitution because he signed his email with a quote from Hungarian Arrow-Cross leader Ferenc Szalasi.
International attendees at this year's Day of Honour included members of French, German, Bulgarian and Czech nationalist groups, as well as members of Blood and Honour, the international NS group officially banned in a number of Zionist countries, including Germany, Spain and Canada.
Budapest police tried to ban this year's events, but a court overturned the attempted ban less than a week ago.
Several local leaders were left frustrated and decrying the "extremist organisations and individuals" set to march their streets.
"We urge [police] to do their utmost and ensure that marchers dressed in intimidating uniforms bearing authoritarian symbols do not disturb the peace of those who live here," several Budapest local authorities wrote in a joint press release.
The Legio Hungaria spokesperson said: "We have every right to organise [the Day of Honour] ... We will live with this right even if the whole world stands against us. This is the mentality that the heroes of the breakout taught us."
The march to the outskirts of Budapest, following the route of the attempted siege-breakers, had several thousand participants.
Back in the park, Die Rechte's Deyda concluded his speech in German with a quote. "For them, the mere pledge of 'I believe' is not enough, but rather the affirmation 'I fight'."
Deyda did not name the source, but they were Hitler's words. They were originally spoken at the Sixth NSDAP Congress in Nuremberg, Germany on September 8, 1934, shown in the NS propaganda film Triumph of the Will - and have now been repeated more than 80 years later by a German patriot near the centre of a capital in the heart of Europe.