Hungarian neo-nazi organizations do not live on a big budget. Their expenses are met from member donations, small contributions from individual sympathizers, grants from civic organizations, and the profit of economic enterprise. Through certain channels however they also receive money from government sources – even neo-Nazi organizations that illegally operate in Hungary.
A study by the Athena Institute, an independent research institute dedicated to collecting data on the neo-nazi movement in Hungary issued a report in which they probe into the financial resources of the Hungarian far-right. They found that Hungarian neo-nazi organizations finance themselves from the following sources:
1. a program for donations administered by Hungary’s tax authority
2. members’ own expenses
3. financial contributions or services provided in kind by individual sympathizers
4. the profit of security firms and other questionable business enterprises
5. the budget of civil organizations
1. Tax Donations.
Hungary’s tax system allows every citizens to pick a “civil organization” to receive 1% of the amount he or she has paid in personal income taxes. Civil organizations register with Hungary’s tax authority for an account number which a tax payer who wish to donate to the organization then lists on his or her tax return.
Charitable organizations make these account numbers public (before the tax deadline, there is a veritable ad warfare between charitable organizations for the 1% tax donation). But it is probably little known by the average Hungarian that, besides organizations collecting money for animal shelters, human rights campaigns or the victims of the toxic red mud spill, one can also donate for maintaining paramilitary organizations or printing Second World War era anti-semitic literature.
Organizations that obtained financial support by these means include hungarist groups (hungarism is the Hungarian equivalent of Hitler’s ideology) and the Hungarian Guard’s successor organization.
These organizations were formerly banned, or they were never recognized as a lawful political association to begin with, because they had organizational charters or aims which explicitly discriminated against Jews, Romas and homosexuals, and because operating an organization for these purposes is currently unconstitutional in Hungary. Tax contributions are therefore channeled to these groups through organizations that do not bear the same name as the names under which they had been banned, but which are still listed with the original leader’s name, or with descriptions that make it easy to identify them as neo-Nazis groups.
2. Member Expenses.
Members of neo-nazi organizations donate their time and money generously. This might include member fees, training fees, military camp fees, or the purchase of uniforms and weapons used to intimidate their targets. Participant of the neo-nazi movement also purchase books and other publications from an organization that operates a printing press (and which also receives money from the 1% tax donations). The Athena Institute’s report also mentioned an event at which members of the movement purchased tickets to the showing of a Nazi propaganda movie in a private home (which they estimate could have brought in as much as USD 1,000 or more).
3. Supporter Contributions.
Neo-nazi sympathizers help out by transferring money to bank accounts made public by some of the extreme right groups. They also help out by donating free printing or copying services, by contributing their “expertise” in military training camps, or by posting advertisements for the organizations or forwarding their news letters. Allowing the use of one’s house or apartment makes organizational meetings and the above mentioned movie screening possible. In fact, the paramilitary groups occupying Gyöngyöspata and Hajdúhadház (they wanted to restore order there, by keeping the Roma population in terror) could not have lasted long without the food and the accomodation provided to them by the residents of these towns, usually local business owners.
Far-right organizations solicit sympathizer donations in interviews or publications. Their publications also openly carry a bank account number and list the services needed in support of the groups’ operations.
4. Business Enterprises.
One of the leaders of the guard organizations that kept Gyöngyöspata under terror, Tamás Eszes, operates a variety of security firms and has recently been arrested on public disorder, battery and tax evasion charges (though since then he also finished fourth in the special mayoral elections in Gyöngyöspata last weekend). Eszes is also rumored to have been the personal body guard of a famous head of a Hungarian crime organization (who himself was assassinated a few years ago). Eszes also owns a sports club specializing in self-defense, which has received contributions from the municipality in which the club operates.
5. Civil Organizations
The operational costs covered by civil organizations are from recipients of the 1% tax donation already described under point 1. The hardest part of obtaining funding in this way is of course that these organizations often engage in illegal (and constitutional) activity – and that as such they need front organizations for collecting their supporter’s money from the Hungarian state (note that this is money from the Hungarian state budget earmarked for a social cause individually selected by the taxpayer). The report does not mention specific numbers about the amount of money they manage to acquire in this way, with only one exception.
Hungarian taxpayers may in fact give specifications about where to send as many as 2% of their income taxes. The first 1% is given to a social charity, but each tax-payer can also specify a church organization to receive another 1% of any income tax paid. So it is probably not surprising that Hungarian neo-nazis maintain their own church too (called the Center for Metaphysical Tradition). Last year, this church received financial support to the tune of around USD 8,500 to fund the teaching of occult doctrines of the nazi ideology.
The Athena Institute’s report can be found here (in Hungarian only, though in a few days it will probably appear in English as well). Their English-language website is very much worth checking out for anyone interested in finding further information about the Hungarian extreme right.