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Open letter to Mr István Hiller, Hungary’s Minister for Culture

Open letter to Mr István Hiller, Hungary’s Minister for Culture

Dear Mr. Minister!

Having worked for the preservation of architectural values in the old Jewish quarter of Budapest, members of the association ÓVÁS! have found it worrying that the Minister has refused to give his approval to the registration of – as far as we know – 22 buildings in the 7th district as protected monuments on individual rights.

The National Office of Cultural Heritage as the competent authority carried out the necessary procedures and found that indeed the buildings on the list did deserve to be classified as protected monuments. It was an unusual decision on the Ministry’s behalf, contradicting the usual European practice, that the Minister – by refusing or delaying to sign the document- overruled the professional proposal of the cultural heritage institutions.

The so called „old Jewish quarter” in Budapest has been classified as the protection zone for the city’s world heritage site since 2002, and in accordance with the legal regulations was registered as a monument in 2005. Despite the highest level of legal protection the area in the last five years has been severely damaged by the unjustifiable deconstruction of old buildings, for the sake of short term goals. So far 12 valuable houses have been knocked down – in the case of number 8 and 10 Síp utca, two protected monuments became the victims of uncontrolled „real estate development”. A further 16 houses may be destroyed or totally rebuilt. Among those 22 buildings waiting to be recognized as protected monuments there are several houses which may only be preserved by being classified as an individual monument. Listing a whole area as protected does not guarantee protection against the deconstructions because of defaults of the cultural heritage law.

It is unacceptable that the Hungarian state does not comply with its obligations prescribed by the UNESCO which expects countries to create a Handling Plan and the appointment of a Handling Association for the cultural heritage sites within seven years after their status was allocated. This deadline was missed in 2004.

The handling plan for the Budapest world heritage site and its protection zone was finished by the end of 2005, but it never became a law or a decree. Neither the above mentioned district councils nor the National Office of Cultural Heritage feels obliged to comply with these expectations when issuing deconstruction and building permits. In Pest’s old Jewish quarter and in its immediate neighbourhood quick and intensive changes have taken place since 2002, in some of its internal blocks up to 40% has been modified. The situation is scandalous! Carrying on this way Budapest may loose its world heritage title.

One of the outrages examples of this trend is that after the deconstruction of two protected monument buildings next to the synagogue of Dohány utca, 9 storey towers may be erected there. Next to such huge blocks the synagogue would look very small, its surroundings would resemble a housing estate, and the sight of the built in area would hurt and disturb the park created there for the memory of Holocaust victims. The view will be worst from next to the memorial weeping tree.

As Minister for Culture it is your responsibility to look after the old Jewish quarter’s protected area, the unique groups of houses built through the 19th and the 20th century, representing the common Hungarian and Jewish past should remain as a uniform and authentic quarter of the city.

For this ÓVÁS! Association asks you to sign the decree granting a protected monument status to the houses on the waiting list, and urgently make the necessary steps to get the Handling plan come into force. Please try and find a way to modify the present plans, so that the buildings to be built next to the synagogue should be worthy of the significance of the place.

21 October 2007 Budapest

Yours sincerely,


Association for the Protection of the Cultural and Architectural Heritage of Budapest


Alerté par Anna & Istvan PERCZEL de Budapest (OVAS), je m'insurge contre le sacrilège de destruction d'une grande partie, sinon la totalité de l'ancien quartier juif de Buda.
Ce quartier a été classé monument historique, donc il devrait être intouchable, ou restauré dans le style de l'époque.
Rescapé de la Shoah, toute ma famille a été assassinée en Pologne, Hongrie, Galicie et France. Interné politique en France moi-même, je connais bien ce quartier, et avec feux mes amis Georges et Soleilka CZIFFRA nous en parlions lors de nos rencontres.
Pitié pour Notre Patrimoine. N'avons-nous pas assez soufferts comme ça ? Nos ancêtres doivent se retourner dans leurs tombes. L'Homme ne saurait-il que détruire son passé ?
J'ai écrit à plusieurs personnalités, dont SARKOZY Miklos et à son (ex) épouse Cécilia. Je n'ai obtenu aucune réponse !
Veut-on continuer à nous assassiner ?
Maurice SCHIFF, alias La Baraka
- Poète, écrivain, journaliste, correspondant de presse...

Écrit par : Maurice SCHIFF, alias Maurice La Baraka | 06/11/2007

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