Csanad Szegedi hated Jewish people until he learned that he himself was a Jew. Szegedi was a Hungarian politician who believed that Jews were a greedy and scheming people who stood in the way of Hungary being a proud Christian nation.
He made his feelings clear on talk shows, stages, and in the country’s parliament. He became the Vice President of a radical nationalist party, which encouraged hatred of other cultures. He even co-founded a militia, which was later disbanded for generating ethnic tension and threatening public order through its militaristic demonstrations.
He sold nationalist products in his store and pushed nationalist propaganda in his media company. His entire professional reputation was built on his hatred and fear of other cultures. As his nationalist party grew, so did his fame.
In 2012, something happened that Szegedi could never have expected. An acquaintance, who held a grudge against Szegedi, somehow found his maternal grandmother’s birth certificate. He informed Szegedi that his blonde haired, blue-eyed grandmother was actually Jewish.
When Szegedi confronted his grandmother about being Jewish, she confirmed his fear. She was a survivor of Auschwitz. She had covered the concentration camp number tattooed on her arm her whole life. She had hidden her heritage because she no longer wanted to be Jewish. His late grandfather, it turned out, had also been a survivor of the Holocaust.
Szegedi’s identity was shattered. He no longer knew who he was and he fell into a depression. After hiding the knowledge for a few months, the story broke. The cat was out of the bag. His political career was in ruins.
These days, Szegedi says he has learned from his mistakes. He has visited Auschwitz. He has burned copies of his nationalist biography. He has even converted to an ultra-orthodox form of Judaism. And to add to the absurdity of his life story, he claims he is now an activist against anti-semitism in Europe. Not everyone is convinced though. Szegedi has been welcomed by some, but has been turned away by others who are not so quick to forgive his past. Some even question whether he was truly ignorant of his Jewish heritage while he was spreading hate as a nationalist politician.
A leopard can’t change his spots is an English expression that means we are who we are. Even if a person pretends to change on the outside, their true nature remains the same. Others believe that even the most depraved can turn over a new leaf. What do you think?