One of the worst incidents in the Second World War in Budapest was when Hungarian Fascists stormed the Jewish hospital in 1944 and butchered to death all its sick and disabled patients, and doctors and nurses. It is chronicled in the excellent Jewish Museum in the City.
While I would not say modern Hungarians are as brutal towards disabled people now, their attitude was still described as ” being in the Middle Ages” by the manager of the Jewish Museum.It shows in a lack of regard to help even if facilities are provided.
The most outrageous example is the country’s national airport outside Budapest. As you can see it is a modern airport. All airports I have used since my wife had a stroke and lost her mobility provide a decent and efficient service.
But Budapest Airport was different. Like all international airports it has a help line at its entrance but in this case it was worse than useless. When I contacted the people for a wheelchair they said they would assist but only when the person had checked in at the British Airways desk. when I pointed out that this was not normal practice, they said it was standard practice at the airport.
I complained to the Viking River Cruises rep ( we were coming to an end to a very well organised Viking cruise down the Danube from Nuremburg) she was little better. She said it was also the airport’s policy and she could do nothing about it. She then said she had to meet another coach party and left. When I pointed out that this made it very difficult for the disabled to use the airport and wouldn’t want to visit Hungary she suggested they came by train.
We then had to queue up for 30 minutes to get to the check out and if ti had not been for the help of two other kind people on the Viking trip, Polly and Russell Dymock, I would have had to leave my wife stranded. As it was I was able to go away and purloin a chair from a cafe so at least Margaret could sit down in the queue.
When we got to the check out they did summon assistance but we still had to walk across the airport to some designed seats for disabled people – which were being used by able bodied people at the time. the airport has hardly any seats. If my wife had not been recovering her mobility – so she can walk short distances I don’t know what we would have done.
We also had a bad experience during our visit to the Great Jewish Synagogue in Budapest which does have a disabled toilet. But unfortunately the two women attendants were occupying it as their own rest room and had blocked the entrance with a mop. When I remonstrated about this they just laughed and obviously thought disabled people were joke figures. We complained to the manager of the synagogue and found that this had happened before. She admitted that in general Hungary was living in the Middle Ages in its attitude towards disabled people – and promised the two would be disciplined about it.
We managed to use trams and buses in the city – believe it not, Mr Farage,because Hungary is in the EU , all pensioners from EU countries can travel free on them – and people gave up their seats for her when they saw she was in difficulty.
Frankly it is time Budapest was forced to change its attitude – and the airport to change its policy. Hungary relies on tourism to boost its economy – and big tour operators like Viking could put pressure on the authorities to do so. They should do so They have the clout and should use it. Disabled people deserve dignity and help wherever they are.