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Corrosive Comparisons and the Memory Politics of “Saming”: Threat and Opportunity in the Age of Apology

Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(3), 167;
Submission received: 1 February 2024 / Revised: 5 March 2024 / Accepted: 12 March 2024 / Published: 14 March 2024


This article contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of memory and historical justice studies by analyzing one, particularly troublesome kind of competitive comparison that sometimes happens in memory politics in the so-called age of apology. The article calls this kind of competitive comparison, “saming”. Saming involves the attempt, via far-fetched or otherwise wrongheaded comparison, to exploit the recognition of some well-known case of historical injustice. Further, saming involves pursuing this comparison in ways that both trivialize the original injustice and undermine the framework from which the recognition of that injustice derives. The article develops its arguments and analysis by studying Budapest’s House of Terror museum and two Canadian redress campaigns, which sought historical recognition for the wartime internments of persons of Italian and Ukrainian ancestry, respectively. Saming is a recurrent problem, ubiquitous and probably inevitable in memory politics because the recognition of historical injustice brings with it unavoidable and indeed often valuable incentives to comparison. Thus, the overall aim of this article is to analyze the threat of saming in order to better defend the cause of comparison in introspective collective remembrance.

1. Introduction

This article contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of memory studies and historical justice studies by analyzing the politics of competitive comparison in relation to what memory scholars Wüstenberg and Stierp (2020) would call the “transnational memory space” of the post-Holocaust “age of apology” (Gibney et al. 2007). The analysis focuses specifically on one particularly aggressive kind of competitive comparison, which this article calls saming.1 Saming has affinities with the almost unhinged online simulacra personas explored by Naomi Klein (2023) in her recent bestseller, Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World, which chronicles an algorithm-fuelled online realm of shameless exploitations of the respectable and familiar. As this article shows, and as students of Holocaust commemoration might sense immediately, the competitive comparisons in memory politics treated here under the rubric of saming have a much longer history than online doppelganging. Indeed, the longstanding problem of distortionary Holocaust comparison and the more recent phenomenon of online doppelganging fused during the COVID-19 pandemic, as far-right opponents of public-health measures shared memes about “Faucism” or declared of their lockdown experiences, “I know how Anne Frank felt” (Parnell and Stuckey 2023).2
Saming is a troubling and sometimes desperate mnemonic strategy. Frustrated actors in historical justice and memory politics deploy it when they hope to convince others to recognize some particular event or experience as unjust by comparing it, speciously, to some other event or experience that is already widely recognized as unjust. As this article will show, these actors may include governments, political parties, public institutions, or organizations or movements representing distinct sociocultural groups. In terms of Bourdieusian capital theory (1977), memory politics actors engage in saming to counter problems of disadvantage in relation to symbolic power. The relevant symbolic disadvantage that appears to drive saming can be understood more specifically as a lack of what political scientist Kate Korycki (2023) theorizes as mnemonic capital. Korycki’s analysis focuses on political parties in the postcommunist transitional context of Poland, where formations associated with anticommunism, although weak in conventional political resources, had access to “a symbolic capital rooted in memory” (p. 27). Their anticommunism endowed them with moral status and they found success in using morally tinged historical arguments and comparisons to delegitimize their foes and to structure the terms of political debate.
By contrast, saming is a strategy of the mnemonically disadvantaged. The actor engaging in it wishes to focus the attention of others on a historical injustice that is of concern to them, but finds that injustice to be significantly overshadowed by other, more prominent past wrongs, typically, ones that have been already addressed with significant acts of reparation, apology, or regretful commemoration. Thus, the actor lacking mnemonic capital turns to extravagant or even outright false comparison in an attempt to exploit the recognition already accorded to some other, more widely lamented suffering. But saming goes well beyond the relatively banal phenomenon of erroneous, self-serving comparison or the commonplace rhetorical tactic of “whataboutism.”3 Saming also involves somehow attacking the recognition that others have accorded to the injustice whose relative prominence the problematic comparison seeks to exploit. In doing this, saming tends to cast dangerous aspersions on the original victim community, on those who recognize that community’s suffering, and on the mnemonic resources and traditions that have helped in the honouring and remembrance. The hideous “I know how Anne Frank felt” meme encapsulates these troublesome social and rhetorical dynamics.
The following pages explore illustrative instances of saming by analyzing the cases of Budapest’s House of Terror museum, which addresses Hungary’s experiences of fascism and communism, and two Canadian campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s that sought historical redress for the Second World War internments in that country of persons of Italian and Ukrainian ancestry. The article’s overall purpose is twofold. The first is to offer a diagnosis that will help others to understand what is concerning about saming and how to identify instances of it, particularly in terms of distinguishing saming from mere instances of bad mnemonic comparison. The second purpose is to provide a comparative context that underscores both the ubiquity and the at-least occasional solvability of the problem. To this end, the article shows that the same moves of competitive, distortionary, and mendacious comparison favoured by the House of Terror, instituted by a neo-authoritarian regime troubled by liberal-democratic proprieties and norms, were also recurrent in the more placid circumstances of inter-group competition for historical recognition in 1980s and 1990s Canada.
The Hungary–Canada comparison is thus particularly useful because observers may otherwise wrongly equate the saming strategy with today’s “new authoritarian” (Renton 2019) resurgence and the hyperbolic online world of “rage-farming” that often fuels it. This equation may lead to misguided responses and mistaken solutions. Instead, this article contextualizes saming as a recurrent and probably inevitable accompaniment to introspectively remembering historical injustices. As the next section will argue, developing a deeper understanding of saming is important, not only because historical justice politics seems to bring with it significant incentives to competitive comparison, but because the future-facing utility of such a politics requires us to make comparisons, in order that learning about past wrongs might be a way of preventing or ameliorating new ones. Thus, the point is adamantly not to denounce injustice comparison tout court, but rather to diagnose the specific threat that saming poses to introspective collective remembrance and to consider how it might be more effectively confronted.

2. Saming vs. the Age of Apology

Regretful Holocaust commemoration has had liberalizing effects on how states are enjoined to approach the exercise and supervision of political authority and public power. Early notable examples were the establishment of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the postwar development of international norms against torture, discrimination, irredentism, and wars of belligerence. The subsequent age of apology (Gibney et al. 2007), with its insistence that decent communities and nations must examine, repudiate, and learn from their past injustices, lends a particular emphasis on cosmopolitan, introspective reflexivity to these earlier developments (Barkan 2000). The key practices that mark the “age of apology” include but go beyond the sorts of official regretful utterances associated with the notion of political apology itself, encompassing also such responses to historical injustice as material reparations for past wrongs, transitional justice measures, and introspective revisions to traditionally nationalist narrative and commemorative choices. Following the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly (2005) of “The right to restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for victims of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” international law recognizes this reparatory, age of apology toolkit as obligatory in the wake of significant injustice.
Although the “age of apology” thus encompasses more than the mere practice of political apology, recent political apologies scholarship (Zoodsma and Schaafsma 2022) gives us a suggestive sense of its particular emphasis on introspective declarations of regret. Seventy-five percent of the 329 political apologies in the comprehensive Political Apologies Database are from the years after 2002 (441). The vast majority of these apologies were issued by wealthy countries in the global North; for example, whereas Germany has twenty-eight entries in the database and Canada has fifteen, the entire region of Eastern Europe has only twelve and Southern Asia only six (442). Lastly, in terms of substance, the three most common foci of political apologies in the database are (1) injustices occurring in the context of war (38%), such as “murder, executions … massacres … [and] crimes of aggression” (444); (2) peacetime injustices against domestic minorities (13.6%); and (3) injustices stemming from colonial rule (11.9%). In short, the turn to introspective regret associated with the age of apology seems to be associated temporally with the first two decades of the twenty-first century, geographically with the wealthy, consolidated democracies of the global North, and substantively with the symbolic, if not practical or material, repudiation of war crimes, race discrimination, and colonialism.
However, as sociologists Levy and Sznaider (2006) explain, countries engaging in a politics of apology or regret also display significant variation in engaging the norm of introspective contrition for histories of military aggression, antisemitism, colonialism, and racism. In particular, distinct national and even subnational and local actors vernacularize the age of apology as they seek to make the classic “never again” injunction resonate with their own histories and concerns. As humanities scholar Michael Rothberg (2009) shows, this wide-ranging, “multidirectional” resonance of Holocaust-derived memory discourses and norms has helped a range of subordinate or marginalized actors forge more satisfactory public narratives and understandings from their sufferings. It is precisely in this illuminative adaptability of injustice memories that we find both the great promise of the age of apology and its incitement to the corrosively competitive mnemonic strategy of saming.
Recall that saming involves a comparison that is somehow incorrect, inappropriate, or extravagant. Because wrongheaded comparisons are ubiquitous, in memory politics and otherwise, to qualify on this analysis as an instance of saming, a second condition must be met. By attending to this second element we can more readily understand the dangers of fully-fledged saming. The actor engaged in saming goes beyond mere wrong-headed comparison to make a further allegation or insinuation about what is causally responsible for the relatively low profile or putatively misunderstood nature of the issue or problem with which they are concerned. This latter move can be referred to as the “rotten mnemonic system” aspect of saming.4 The actor engaged in saming, that is, imputes responsibility for the low profile or misunderstood nature of their suffering to bias, corruption, prejudice, or wickedness in the memory culture that is responsible for the salience and prominence of the injustice on which their wrong-headed comparison relies. There is thus an inherent element of bad faith in saming. It attempts to capitalize on the sociopolitical recognition of some original memory of injustice and its relevant underlying mnemonic culture or system at the same time as it works to trivialize, besmirch, and degrade them.
For example, when Vladimir Putin claims that Russia’s war on Ukraine is a “denazification” operation (Domańska and Rogoza 2021), he is not only making a risible comparison between the latter country’s current regime and actual historical Nazis. He is visiting extreme disrespect on the memory of the Holocaust’s Jewish, Roma, and other victims, while suggesting that others are uninformed and malicious in their anti-Russian failure to understand the supposed Nazi character of the contemporary Ukrainian regime. This example helps to illustrate what can be so corrosive about saming. Putin sows moral confusion by seeking self-serving benefit from the regretful commemoration of the Second World War in countries beyond Russia while deliberately obscuring the important connection between that commemoration and the same contemporary norms against violent revanchism and wars of belligerence that his regime so blatantly disregards. While extreme, this example illustrates the mendacious tendency of saming to threaten the coherence and instructive capacity of the memory culture or space that the actor engaged in saming seeks to exploit.

3. The Approach of the Article

The following analysis establishes saming as a strategy deployed by actors who find themselves chafing against disadvantages in mnemonic capital that arise from memories, norms, and stipulations associated with the age of apology, such as Holocaust awareness, antiracism, national introspection and reflexivity, and civic inclusivity and pluralism. Throughout, the core analytic focus of the article is twofold, consistent with the dual nature of saming as a mnemonic strategy. Thus, we proceed on the one hand by examining the argumentative and affective comparisons and equivalences deployed by the mnemonic actors in the cases: Budapest’s House of Terror museum, which the relevant scholarly literature understands as a significant instrument of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party (e.g., Kovács 2017; Petö 2022), and organizations representing Canadians of Italian and Ukrainian ancestry. On the other, we study also the “rotten mnemonic system” aspect of saming, examining, that is, the complaints and inferences made by the mnemonic actors under study about the alleged under-recognition of their constituency’s suffering by others. Further, to aid in the reader’s overall understanding of the cases, the sections below establish for each case its historical context, the nature of the injustices concerned, and the problems of mnemonic capital in relation to the age of apology that appear to have been affecting the actors.
The research base of the article is diverse. Because the House of Terror has received significant scholarly attention, its case analysis draws on secondary works in anthropology, history, political science, and sociology that have studied the museum and the mnemonic strategies of its sponsor, Hungary’s Fidesz regime. By engaging this scholarship, the article shows that the present analysis accords with the key literature on the topic while demonstrating more specifically the centrality of saming to the museum’s engagement of the transnational memory space of the age of apology. Because the relevant literature focuses primarily on the museum as an intervention in Hungarian domestic politics, I supplement the analysis with site observations from an English-language tour provided by the museum for a delegation of foreign scholars and students of which I was a part. Because the Canadian cases are less well-known, that section of the article features original primary research, utilizing redress campaign materials, which include pamphlets, briefs to government, and books aimed at non-specialist audiences, as well as media interventions and parliamentary committee appearances from campaign representatives. The section also draws on the author’s site observation of an exhibit commemorating the Italian-Canadian internment at the Columbus Centre in Toronto. Lastly, our treatment of the Canadian cases relies on relevant secondary works from political scientists, historians, and cultural studies and heritage scholars.

4. Saming at Budapest’s House of Terror

Budapest’s House of Terror commemorates Hungary’s experiences under twentieth-century fascism and communism. Striking for its oversized metal overhang stencilled with the word TERROR, the museum is located at 60 Andrássy Avenue; the street is a UNESCO heritage site and one of the city’s most storied shopping venues. I visited the House of Terror on 15 June 2023 with a group of visiting Canadian scholars and students, receiving a roughly two hour English-language tour from a museum staffer.5
The building once housed the headquarters of the Arrow Cross, a homegrown fascist party that replaced the regime of Admiral Miklós Horthy upon Germany’s March 1944 invasion of Hungary in the Second World War. Despite its alliance with the Nazis from 1940, which included numerous antisemitic laws, killings, and deportations, the Horthy regime had earned Hitler’s ire for being insufficiently enthusiastic in the late stages of Germany’s war effort. Thus, its Arrow Cross successor went further, sending over 400,000 Jews to Nazi death camps in just a little over a year to produce one of the highest Jewish death rates in wartime Europe. After the German defeat in 1945, the House of Terror building became the headquarters of the ÁVH, the KGB-allied secret police of the new communist regime. The reformist government of Imre Nagy dissolved the ÁVH prior to the country’s ill-fated revolution in 1956; the building was then taken over by the State Security Department of the Ministry of the Interior. Although the reconfigured Interior Ministry continued to harass and imprison suspected dissidents, the ÁVH had been far more repressive, using the building as its base for interrogating and torturing all manner of real and imagined foes.
The House of Terror was established in 2002 by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing, neo-authoritarian, populist government. Although Orbán and his Fidesz party lost to a left-liberal coalition that same year, they re-emerged victorious in 2010 and, at the time of writing, seemed set to govern for the long term, owing to their high levels of rural support, cooption of grassroots nationalist formations, and state-facilitated stranglehold over the country’s mediascape. The House of Terror’s basic program and approach were developed by the Fidesz-appointed conservative historian, Mária Schmidt, whose directorship continued at the time of writing. English-language scholarship on the institution is resoundingly critical. In particular, analysts agree that the museum’s commemorative pedagogy reflects Fidesz’s twofold concern to delegitimize the party’s left-wing and liberal opponents and maintain hegemony on the right. According to sociologist Amy Sodaro (2018), for example, the museum presents communism as a continued and ever-present threat not only because doing so helps to sidestep questions about collaboration and antisemitism but because it serves to “vilify … by association all left-of-center politicians and politics in Hungary today” (p. 58).
English-language analyses (e.g., Kovács 2017; Petö 2022; Sodaro 2018) also see the House of Terror as a kind of nationalist riposte to external, and particularly European Union, pressures for mnemonic reflexivity. The age of apology expectation that decent countries are ones that come to terms with their antisemitic and collaborationist pasts irks many in Hungary, who resent the relative indifference of Western Europe’s Holocaust-focused regretful memory culture to their decades of suffering under Soviet communism. Thus, although the House of Terror claims to be dedicated equally to remembering communism and fascism, only two of its roughly 25 rooms deal directly with the Arrow Cross era; none address its Horthy predecessor; and none inform visitors about Hungarian antisemitism, collaboration, or even about the number of Hungarian Jews deported or killed (Sodaro 2018, p. 79).6 Indeed, by dedicating an entire room to the communist ÁVH leader, Gábor Péter, who lost his post in a 1952 Stalinist anti-Jewish purge, the House of Terror gives a single communist perpetrator who happened to be Jewish roughly half of the time and space allocated to the fascist Arrow Cross, an entire regime responsible for the deaths of more than 400,000 Jews. As historians Berend and Clark (2014, n.p.), explain, “This pattern of representation makes sense only if one bears in mind the widespread if often implicit equation in today’s Hungary of communists and Jews. First ‘we’ were terrorised by the Germans, then ‘we’ were terrorised by the communists/Jews”.
This message of victimization by foreigners is central to the museum’s overarching narrative of Hungary’s so-called double occupation. Constitutionalized by Fidesz in the preamble to Hungary’s Fundamental Law of 2014, this narrative declares that Hungary lost sovereignty upon the Nazi takeover of 1944 and regained it only with the fall of communism in 1990. Repeated throughout the museum, the narrative ignores the collaborationist Horthy era and collapses fascism and communism into a single period of depredation under “two successive foreign occupations,” as the House of Terror Museum (2024) website puts it. The stress on moral equivalence treats the physical genocide of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews as no worse than the torture and harassment of dissidents; the emphasis on victimization by foreigners invisibilizes Hungarian culpability; and the relative disproportionate attention paid to communism dismisses fascism as a relevant contemporary concern.
The House of Terror delivers its message with the sensorially vivid approach used by institutions courting audiences impatient with the text-heavy pedagogy of yesteryear (De Caro 2015). Under Hollywood-quality lighting, accompanied by a soundtrack of industrial metal composed by the Hungarian musician, Ákos Kovács, the visitor moves through reconstructed show-trial courtrooms, police offices, interrogation rooms, and torture chambers. As anthropologist Maya Nadkarni (2020) explains, this “immersive curatorial strategy” (116) prioritizes affective responses of fear, revulsion, and sympathy over intellectual or moral reflection. It also incites the visitor to identify and sympathize with Hungarian rather than Jewish suffering, an incitement made particularly troubling by the fact that the museum relies on “the very norms and practices that are known to derive from the Holocaust model of memory” (Petö 2022, p. 246), such as the imperative to honour victims and the need to build from victim experiences a public archive of totalitarianism’s evils.
The authors on whom this section has relied illuminate the House of Terror as a key site for promulgating Fidesz’s nationalist, double-occupation narrative.7 This narrative stresses foreign perfidy and Hungarian innocence in an institution that pays formal but not substantive obeisance to the age of apology’s Holocaust-derived, victim-centred stress on “never again”. Highlighting the narrative’s role in Fidesz’s struggles against its EU foes and domestic rivals, the museum’s English-language analysts locate the institution’s broader, strategic significance in the context of Orbán’s bid to build a self-proclaimed illiberal democracy capable of withstanding the pressures of liberal pluralism while retaining EU membership and Western diplomatic and security ties.
Nadkarni (2020), Sodaro (2018), and particularly Petö (2019, 2022) also call more specific attention to the museum’s tendency to subvert the conventions of Holocaust remembrance in the course of mimicking them. The museum self-consciously positions itself as a “moral compass” (Sodaro 2018, p. 59), akin to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: a public-education institution, based on serious historical research and inquiry, that revisits past horror in order to say “never again” to totalitarian evil. It also adopts the contemporary, trauma-culture approach of narrating injustice from the sympathy-generating, morally authoritative standpoint of victims (Fassin and Rechtman 2009). However, the museum belies these familiar echoes of the age of apology mainstream with a strident, even irredentist nationalism that eschews the more customary Holocaust remembrance emphasis on introspection, cosmopolitanism, and minority protection (Levy and Sznaider 2006). The following section aims to highlight the nature, dynamics, and significance of this particular mnemonic strategy by analyzing it through the lens of the concept, saming.
Recall that saming involves two elements. The first is an overstretched, implausible, or otherwise faulty comparison between two different injustices, one widely recognized and the other not. What distinguishes saming from mere instances of faulty or even offensive comparison is thus the second element: a direct claim or strong insinuation that the memory culture responsible for the prominence of the original injustice, the injustice to which the lesser-known, actual or alleged wrong is being compared, is somehow biased or corrupted. What this claim or insinuation of memory-culture bias or corruption adds in instances of saming is the distinguishing whiff of bad faith. Striving to capture the resonance and symbolic capital (Bourdieu 1977; cf. Korycki 2023) associated with some widely recognized injustice, the actor engaged in saming hopes to benefit from that injustice’s prior recognition by others. Yet, they seek this benefit while working simultaneously to undermine, with connotations of perfidy and invidiousness, both the recognition of the original injustice and the memory culture that produced it.
The House of Terror abounds with wrongheaded comparisons and identifications. It conflates fascism and communism. It collapses Jewish into Hungarian suffering. It incites the visitor into a position of unproblematized identification with totalitarianism’s persecuted victim. It claims fidelity to the cosmopolitan, “never again” remembrance tradition while defying that tradition’s call to pluralism and introspection. But the problem is not merely that the museum’s equations are untrue, faulty, or offensive. It is, more specifically, that the museum pursues them in the course of striving to undermine the memory culture from which it seeks benefit.
For example, although the museum claims equivalence between fascism and communism, its decision to devote only two rooms to the former and roughly 25 to the latter stands as an implicit rebuke to the presumed over-recognition of the Holocaust elsewhere. This rebuke became particularly evident during the English-language tour of the exhibit room, “Changing Clothes”. As Sodaro (2018) explains, although the empirical evidence for the basic historical claim is lacking, the room presents Arrow Cross members as transforming into communists after the war; the exhibit does this in order to stress the interchangeability of fascism and communism and their common victimization of “innocent Hungary” (p. 73). The tour guide summarized the “Changing Clothes” message by saying that, once the Arrow Cross left, “the communists came [to the House of Terror building] and did the exact same thing”. With an almost accusatory truculence, he repeated for emphasis, “the exact same thing”. The present writer’s interpretation of the truculence is that it was directed against the perceived role of Western Holocaust awareness in impeding the sympathetic understanding of Hungarian suffering, even as, or perhaps precisely because, the exhibit was relying on that awareness to make its message resonate for foreign visitors.
Another moment on the tour served to highlight this dual stance of decrying and exploiting Holocaust awareness. Near the end of the tour, the guide placed the museum’s double-occupation narrative in the longer-run historical context of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. Trianon is the subject of significant nationalist and even revanchist energies in contemporary Hungary because the treaty, imposed by the First World War’s Allied victors, deprived the former imperial power of the majority of its prewar territory, population, and indeed all of its former coastline (Kovács 2016). Although the tour guide admonished that Trianon had robbed Hungary of lands that had been its “for a thousand years,” he did not explain that regaining those lands was precisely Hungary’s motivation for allying with Nazi Germany in the first place. Indeed, he did not explain how Trianon was relevant to the museum at all. Thus, rather than exploring the themes of collaboration and complicity, which the mid-twentieth century history of Trianon raises so acutely, the point seemed rather to protest the indifference of outsiders to the historical wrongdoing visited upon Hungary.
These site visit observations are useful because they convey how the House of Terror presented itself to foreign academic visitors versed in the norms and exhortations of age of apology memory culture. In contrast, the relevant English-language scholarship tends to focus on the museum as an intervention in Hungarian political questions and disputes; indeed, that scholarship often notes the paucity of textual information at the House of Terror addressing foreign visitors (e.g., Nadkarni 2020, p. 116; Sodaro 2018, pp. 70–71). Thus, the vantage point of an English-language scholarly tour helps more specifically to point up the commingling of Holocaust reliance and resentment that appears to drive the museum’s reaction to the remembrance expectations of the age of apology.
Comparing injustices is always fraught, delicate, and complex. The strongest position on the uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust is that any comparison of anything to it is an offence against the memory and human specificity of the victims (e.g., Katz 2009). This position is deeply problematic. It has been used to provide justification and cover for innumerable injustices (Micieli-Voutsinas 2014). At the time of writing, it was being used to argue against even considering the possibility that Israel’s brutal response to the Hamas terror attacks of October 2023 might include or lead to acts of genocide (e.g., Abella 2024). Furthermore, and in contrast, it is precisely through the illuminative prism of Holocaust remembrance that many individuals, groups, institutions, and countries have come to see productive analogies with their own wrongdoings, prejudices, and systemic violences (Rothberg 2009).
Analyzing the House of Terror as an instance of the mnemonic strategy of saming helps us to see more clearly the institution’s threat to such illuminative remembrance. By collapsing fascism into communism and overidentifying Hungarian with Jewish suffering, the museum serves unwittingly to strengthen the argumentative hand of extreme versions of the Holocaust uniqueness thesis. At the same time, the museum deploys the trappings of vigilant, victim-centred humanitarian remembrance to advance the kind of belligerent, self-exculpatory nationalism that such remembrance, at its best, works to expose and decry. Indeed, the House of Terror relies on the “never again” conventions of the age of apology while implying at the same time that they reflect invidious patterns of bias and control. This “rotten mnemonic system” insinuation goes beyond suggesting that the age of apology has shortcomings and hypocrisies, which it most certainly does (Bagdonas 2018). Instead, by painting the age of apology as little more than a corrupt framework for special pleading in a rigged system, the insinuation uses the emphasis on regretful, introspective remembrance to serve a politics of fear, resentment, and distrust.

5. Saming in Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian Redress

This section analyzes two extended instances of saming in Canadian memory politics, namely, the recurrent use of the strategy by Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian community organizations, respectively, throughout the 1980s and 1990s. When set against the strident illiberalism of the Hungarian case, the Canadian cases may seem comparatively benign, but the similarities are instructive. Indeed, the differences in severity aid the comparison. Fidesz is a far-right, neo-authoritarian, populist party; its forays in memory politics are bound to offend leftists, progressives, liberals, centrists, and even many conservatives. Thus, studying the saming of relatively mainstream actors in a liberal-democratic context helps to isolate for more effective understanding, beyond the extreme House of Terror case, the nature of the problem and some of its apparent causes and potential solutions.
From the 1980s to the mid-2000s, groups representing Canadians of Italian and Ukrainian ancestry sought government redress for prior experiences of unjust, wartime internment. Both campaigns were unsuccessful, striving but failing to match the victory of the National Council of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), which, in September 1988, received an official apology and a $450 million compensation package from the Canadian federal government for injustices of internment and dispossession in the Second World War (Kobayashi 1992). The Japanese Canadian redress campaign was the first and arguably most significant step in Canada’s vernacularization of the age of apology. Its messages of introspection, pluralism, antiracism, couched in the discourse of “never again,” resonated in a domestic climate of increased Holocaust awareness (James 2022), eliciting the country’s first ever political apology, a precedent that led to many other Canadian instances in the ensuing decades (James 2007).
However, as this section will show, Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian redress movements encountered significant disadvantages in Canada’s nascent instantiation of the age of apology. They responded to these disadvantages by undertaking mnemonic strategies of saming. Most notably, the Italian Canadian campaign organized itself around an extravagant claim of equivalence with the Japanese Canadian case, while its Ukrainian Canadian counterpart made inappropriate comparative references to the Jewish Holocaust. Both, but particularly the Ukrainian Canadian campaign, paired these wrongheaded comparisons with resentful accusations about bias in Canada’s memory culture.
However, the two redress campaigns would significantly change tack in the early 2000s. The federal government responded positively, recognizing both internments in 2005 (Henderson and Wakeham 2013), providing significant commemorative funding for the affected communities between 2008 and 2013 (Gordon-Walker et al. 2018), and apologizing officially for the Italian Canadian internment in 2021 (Canada. Office of the Prime Minister 2021). Thus, after studying the two campaigns as instances of saming extending from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, the article turns in its penultimate section to explain the circumstances that led to the strategy’s abandonment. The article’s conclusion then distills some overall conclusions from the analysis. But first, before embarking on our analysis of the two Canadian instances of saming, it is necessary to understand the underlying historical injustices at issue.
During the First World War, the Canadian federal government interned approximately 5000 Ukrainian Canadians on the false ground that, given Canada’s role in the Allied military effort against the Austro-Hungarian empire, their status as former Austro-Hungarian subjects made them national-security threats (Kordan 2002). The internees were exploited as unpaid labour, confined in abusive conditions, and forced to surrender cash and valuables, which were in many cases never returned. Then, between the years 1940 and 1943, Canada interned approximately 700 Italian Canadians for their alleged leadership roles in Fascist organizations, citing the security exigencies of the Second World War conflict against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (Ramirez 1988). Internee bank accounts were often frozen, some properties were seized that were never returned, and many business enterprises never recovered. Although no internee was ever charged with a crime, some were certainly supporters of fascism and the Mussolini regime.
Understanding saming in the Italian Canadian redress campaign also requires a preliminary understanding of the Japanese Canadian internment. From 1942 to 1949, the entire ethnic-ancestry Japanese population of coastal British Columbia (BC), numbering approximately 24,000 persons, the vast majority of whom were Canadian citizens, was treated as an enemy collaborator group (Miki 2005; Stanger-Ross 2020). For decades prior to the war, the BC provincial government had denied Japanese Canadians the franchise, excluded them from the liberal professions, and otherwise harassed them with measures restricting their endeavours. Then, under the wartime policies of the Liberal federal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, group members were either interned in the province’s interior, dispersed and subjected to unfree labour in other provinces, or “deported” to Japan, a country to which most had never been. Concerted lobbying by Vancouver officials also led Ottawa to seize and sell off all Japanese Canadian homes, properties, and businesses in BC at fire-sale prices to whites. The Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement provided a parliamentary apology from Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, $21,000 in individual compensation to each internment survivor, a $12 million community development fund for the NAJC, and a $24 million endowment to establish the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (Kobayashi 1992).
The National Council of Italian Canadians (NCIC) pursued its claims from the outset by claiming identity with the Japanese Canadian case. For example, the NCIC official redress brief (1990), a document titled, “A National Shame,” insisted that, because “Japanese Canadians … and Italian Canadians were [both] treated as enemies in their own country,” Italian Canadians should be given “the same … redress as was given to the Japanese Canadian community” (p. 23). However, two leading Canadian historians (Iacovetta and Ventresca 2000), both of Italian heritage, argued in an edited volume that was deeply critical of both the Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian campaigns that the “National Shame” document “drew on selective evidence, ignored competing interpretations, and offered a simplified version of the past” (p. 381). Other contributors highlighted the Fascist organizing of individual internees (Perin 2000) and called attention to camp photos that showed internees with Fascist paraphernalia and making Fascist salutes (Scardellato 2000).
Notwithstanding the equivalencies claimed by campaign spokespersons, the key differences between the Japanese Canadian and Italian Canadian internments were as follows. The entire BC Japanese Canadian community, numbering roughly 24,000 people, was interned from shortly after Japan’s December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor until 1949; Canada also permanently dispossessed the community of all of its real estate and movable property (Stanger-Ross 2020). By contrast, only between 600 and 700 Italian Canadians were interned, a tiny fraction of the Italian Canadian population at the time (Iacovetta and Ventresca 2000). Their periods of confinement were for the most part of comparatively short duration. Although Ottawa designated them, “enemy aliens,” that designation rested not on the categorical basis of “race” or ethnic ancestry but rather on Italian nationality. Further, authorities made these internment decisions on the basis of suspected participation in Fascist organizations, even if anti-Italian prejudice surely coloured their indifference to due process and the presumption of innocence in these cases. Two key differences between the Japanese Canadian and Italian Canadian internment cases, the basis of the decision to intern and the severity of the internment, are rendered visually on the horizontal and vertical axes, respectively, of Figure 1 below.
Aside from unsupportable comparisons to the Japanese Canadian case, Italian Canadian redress campaigners also referred occasionally to “concentration camps”; one even spoke of “cultural genocide” (Iacovetta and Ventresca 2000, p. 395). However, the Holocaust-connoting terminology of “concentration camp” was much more prominent in the Ukrainian Canadian campaign. While the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (1988) put the phrase in quotation marks in its official redress submission to Ottawa, this was a telling outlier instance. Until the early 2000s, it was the movement’s preferred terminology, which it wielded in ways that both traded on and seemed to disrespect Holocaust memory. For example, when the Canadian national parks service proposed a restaurant and gift shop at a popular tourist site that had housed internees in the First World War, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association protested the plan to sell “cupcakes and Coca-Cola in a concentration camp” (Memorial plans 1995).
Both movements also pursued their faulty comparisons while protesting the unjustly imposed stigma of wartime enemy collaboration. The most prominent Ukrainian Canadian organization to pursue redress at the time, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA), was formed in 1985 to fight what it called “defamatory accusations” (Himka 2005, n.p.) from Canada’s Deschênes commission, which had concluded that some postwar Ukrainian immigrants were Nazi war criminals. The UCCLA also protested Canada’s indifference towards the Holodomor (Himka 2005), the famine imposed by Stalin on Ukraine in the 1930s, which resulted in the deaths of millions, and which the Canadian federal government would officially recognize as a genocide in 2008 (Canada. Department of Justice 2008). Prior to this recognition, and in remonstration against Canada’s indifference, the UCCLA opposed plans to memorialize the Holocaust in a new Canadian human rights museum (Love 2011). Thus, much as we saw in the case of saming at the House of Terror, the Ukrainian Canadian campaign engaged not merely in overstretched comparison; it hurled accusations of favouritism and bias against the memory culture whose symbolic resources it sought to exploit.
For its part, the Italian Canadian redress movement was concerned to confront the stigma resulting from what one community publication called a “Legacy of Shame” (Zucchero 2012). Children of former internees were pained by the “enemy alien” label imposed on their fathers in a country that continued to take pride in its role in the mid-century fight against fascism. For example, in a community publication remembering the internment, the daughter of one internee protested that her “father wasn’t against the Canadian government” but had simply spoken out against “the disorder … the communists, the strikes” of pre-Mussolini Italy (quoted in Pillarella 2012, p. 34). Another insisted that her father, while certainly “patriotic and proud to serve Italy,” was motivated solely by opposition to “socialism and communism” (quoted in Pillarella 2012, p. 33). Thus, as the National Council of Italian Canadians ([1990] 2013) redress brief put it, the campaign was concerned “to restore the positive image of Italian Canadians as significant contributors to this country in this century” (p. 23).
While both campaigns fought against stigmas of fascism and collaboration in a memory culture that made those stigmas particularly burdensome, Ukrainian Canadian representatives were more vocal in their “rotten mnemonic system” complaints. A particular target was Canada’s policy of official multiculturalism or, more specifically the policy’s then newfound emphasis on antiracism. As a term and an idea, multiculturalism had been brought into Canadian politics in the 1960s by Ukrainian Canadian representatives as part of a broader “white ethnic” (Lupul 1989) reaction against the preoccupation of Canadian elites with relations between the country’s French- and English-speaking communities. The official 1971 multiculturalism policy responded by stressing the equality of all ancestral cultures in Canada and by providing funding for grassroots initiatives aimed at helping communities to maintain, celebrate, and share those cultures. However, concerns about discrimination and hatred led to significant changes in multiculturalism discourse and policy in the 1980s (Uberoi 2016). The main herald of change was the 1984 report of the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons Special Committee on the Participation of Visible Minorities in Canadian Society (Canada Parliament. House of Commons 1984).8 Indeed, Japanese Canadian lobbying had a significant influence on the Committee’s Equality Now! report, which recommended that Ottawa pay reparation and apologize to Japanese Canadians in reflection of what it stressed as the larger imperative to reorient Canadian multiculturalism around the politics of antiracism.
The subsequent 1988 Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement appeared to spark an adverse reaction to this antiracist reorientation among Ukrainian Canadian representatives. Of particular concern was the Agreement’s commitment to create a federally funded entity called the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. While applauding the Foundation’s antiracist mandate, longtime Ukrainian Canadian leader Manoly Lupul (1989) argued that the mandate had an unfortunate consequence: by giving “racial minorities … their fund,” it slighted the “white ethnics … the catalysts of the multicultural movement” (8). While Lupul’s criticism was relatively tempered, other Ukrainian Canadian spokesmen were more vehement. For example, one attributed the redress movement’s lack of success to its principled refusal to match its allegedly less ethical counterparts: “Ukrainian Canadians are not interested in playing the victim game [and] monopolizing [people’s] empathy circuits” (Paul Thomas, quoted in Moore 1999). Another grumbled, “the media seems determined to hear from ‘visible minorities’ … I will not apologize for apparently being invisible” (Luciuk 2004).
Frustration with the antiracist turn also led some Ukrainian Canadian representatives to launch rhetorical attacks on Indigenous peoples.9 For example, one redress advocate complained that Ottawa regarded the “Canadian concentration camps [as] ancient history [while] spending billions annually in redress to native Canadians for wrongs done to their ancestors centuries ago” (John Gregorovich, quoted in Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association 1999). Another lambasted the government’s stance against Ukrainian Canadian redress by stressing Ottawa’s contrasting willingness “to pay billions of dollars, apparently in perpetuity, to aboriginal Canadians” (Luiciuk 1995). Jews also seemed to become targets on occasion. For example, when the multiculturalism ministry rebuffed Ukrainian Canadian redress demands in 1993, a UCCLA spokesman turned his ire on the Liberal multiculturalism minister, Sheila Finestone: “Of Jewish heritage, as was her … predecessor, [the Progressive Conservative] Gerry Weiner, she nonetheless seems insensitive, as he was, to the fact that thousands of civilians … were thrown into Canadian concentration camps” (quoted in “Ottawa sidesteps”, Lubomyr Luciuk 1995). Similar themes resurfaced when the UCCLA cited, as justification for its opposition to “federal funding for a Jewish Holocaust museum,” Ottawa’s refusal to officially acknowledge “that Ukrainians … were unjustly imprisoned in Canadian concentration camps” (Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association 1999).
Italian Canadian representatives expressed no comparable rancour towards other minoritized communities in their “rotten mnemonic system” complaints. But their memory politics claims-making was certainly suffused with a sense of unjust disadvantage. Community leaders conveyed it in their insistence that there was something nefarious about Japanese Canadian success in redress, given that Italian Canadians had been rebuffed. As the NCIC’s president put it, “It makes me wonder, why the disparate treatment between us and the Japanese community? We too suffered the same injustices, so why deny us the compensation afforded the Japanese” (Annamarie Castrilli, quoted in Iacovetta and Ventresca 2000, p. 386)? Thus, although the faulty comparisons and insinuations of memory-culture bias of the Ukrainian Canadian campaign were more numerous, problematic, and strident, both redress movements throughout the 1980s and 1990s engaged in saming. They made faulty and sometimes offensive comparisons in the course of attacking with accusations of indifference and bias a nascent age of apology memory culture whose symbolic resources they sought simultaneously to exploit.

6. Canadian Change: Historical Recognition in the 2000s

Yet both campaigns eventually abandoned the politics of saming. One important factor was criticism from Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian historians. The previous section noted the criticisms of the former (Iacovetta and Ventresca 2000; Perin 2000; Scardellato 2000). In terms of the latter, historian Frances Swyripa (2000) argued that the Ukrainian Canadian movement “sometimes exploited and even distorted history to meet a contemporary community agenda” (p. 356). The campaign acknowledged this line of criticism as it moved decisively to abandon the saming strategy. In 1999, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress commissioned two Ukrainian Canadian scholars to create a significantly revised official redress submission to the Canadian federal government, which the authors then expanded into a book (Kordan and Mahovsky 2004). The book avoided the “concentration camps” terminology, acknowledging on the second page of its Introduction, and citing Iacovetta and Ventresca (2000) and Swyripa (2000), that, “Not all of the [earlier] criticism is unfounded, uninformed, or off the point” (p. 4). And, whereas a movement spokesman had argued in 1987 that “any apology or redress offered to … Japanese Canadians would be discriminatory if it ignored the experiences of Ukrainians in Canada” (Lubomyr Luciuk, in Canada Parliament. House of Commons 1987, p. 49), Kordan and Mahovsky (2004) called the 1988 Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement “a major contribution to the dialogue on democratic rights and renewal … emphasizing principle and justice in policy choices” (p. 50).
A further relevant factor encouraging changed mnemonic approaches was the Canadian federal government’s $25M (CAD) Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP, 2008–13), which provided funding for community initiatives to recognize historical injustices. The program’s eligibility criteria restricted applicants to “commemorate[ing] the historical experiences” of groups affected by past wartime internments and immigration restrictions (Henderson and Wakeham 2013). Evaluated by government appointed committees, submissions were expected to contribute to “social cohesion … bring closure to affected communities and … [promote] integration” (Gordon-Walker et al. 2018, p. 92). Scholarly assessments have been negative. In particular, analysts have criticized the CHRP for its “assembly-line operations” (Wakeham 2010, p. 219), prioritization of social cohesion over antiracism (Gordon-Walker et al. 2018), and tight eligibility criteria, which excluded from consideration projects concerned with historical injustices such as disfranchisement and slavery (James 2013).
Although these criticisms are well-founded, analysts of the CHRP, including the present author, have ignored at least one possible benefit of the program. Following on the heels of the earlier, intra-communal criticisms, the CHRP’s tight government oversight and emphasis on social cohesion may have given the Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian campaigns additional incentive to abandon the false equivalencies and “rotten mnemonic system” attacks of the 1980s and 1990s. Consider the permanent, CHRP-funded exhibit at Toronto’s Columbus Centre, the largest Italian Canadian community space in Canada. Titled, “Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens: Memories of World War II,” the exhibit, which the present author studied in an observation visit on 5 July 2012, presents a stark contrast to Budapest’s House of Terror. Its overall narrative and accompanying explanatory materials explicitly embrace the insistence of the redress campaign’s critics on recognizing the significant differences between the Japanese Canadian and Italian Canadian internments. The exhibit directly addresses the question of fascism, acknowledging in text and photographs that the internees tended to be men of known, pro-Mussolini leanings and sympathies. It also embraces the multidirectional memory politics (Rothberg 2009) of introspective pluralism, using the Italian Canadian experience as a cautionary prism for viewing the historical and present-day mistreatment of other minoritized groups. For example, the Columbus Centre exhibit cites Canada’s harassment of Quebec separatists in the 1970s and its Islamophobic targeting of Arabs and Muslims in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It then proclaims in a concluding panel: “In a democratic society there is room for multiple political beliefs, opinions and religions. Holding views in favour of fascism, communism, or religious fundamentalism is not specific to certain communities; nor does this necessarily make a person or group of people a security risk” (quoted in Gordon-Walker et al. 2018, p. 98).
More generally, in providing roughly 5 million CAD and 10 million CAD, respectively, for recognizing the Italian Canadian and Ukrainian Canadian internments, Ottawa’s post-2008 historical recognition programming helped the two communities to “inscribe their own narratives in Canadian history” (Gordon-Walker et al. 2018, p. 82). Alongside other moves such as the 2008 recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide and an official apology to the Italian Canadian community in 2021, these federal responses both addressed and arguably stimulated beneficial changes in at least some aspects of Canadian memory politics.

7. Conclusions

This overall trajectory is instructive, given the oft-expressed conviction of critics that redress and memory politics is a zero-sum battlefield of escalating recognition claims that erodes the respectful deliberation that liberal-democratic citizenship requires (Rothberg 2009). The point is emphatically not to offer Canada as a lesson in “respectable” public remembrance. It is instead simply to observe that the false equivalencies and bad-faith, “rotten mnemonic system” attacks of saming, seen also in the House of Terror, and in still more extreme form in the rhetoric of Putin and in far-right attacks on contemporary public-health measures, can also be found in a context that is both temporally and ideologically distant from today’s authoritarian populism and online doppelganger culture (Klein 2023).
The Hungarian case sits more complexly in relation to the age of apology. The Fidesz regime is enthusiastically illiberal rather than democratic, and the House of Terror’s victim narrative resonates domestically not with calls to reflexive introspection but with popular mythopoetic nationalism (Feischmidt 2020). Indeed, it is important to emphasize that, in contrast to the Canadian, community-group cases, the House of Terror represents the multifaceted memory politics of a party-regime that wields significant mnemonic capital (Korycki 2023) in its own domestic politics. Thus, while perhaps unusual for an entity possessed of such significant advantages, it is crucial to recognize that the saming strategy at the House of Terror reflects Fidesz’s specific difficulties in relation to the transnational memory space of the age of apology. From this recognition follows a key point of this article’s comparison. Despite vast differences in regime type, political context, political power, and even temporal location, all of the actors in this study encountered problems of mnemonic stigma and disadvantage in relation to the age of apology. All elected to react by undertaking the strategy of saming.
The age of apology’s call to regretful introspection asks states, communities, and citizens to consider the implication of their institutions and identities in historical acts of perpetration and complicity so as to diminish the likelihood of analogous wrongs in the future. For simple reasons of moral consistency, the call demands that previously unnoticed calls for memory and redress be heard. The point is not just memory for its own sake or even for the sake of victims. It is that regretful remembrance might help us to do better in comparable future situations. Thus, the age of apology positively demands comparisons—between then and now, here and there, them and us, and among all manner of wrongs of different natures and kinds.
But the incitement to comparison invites danger. As we have seen, saming was an immediate accompaniment to the arrival in Canada of the age of apology. Memory cultures are bound to favour some memories over others or to marginalize particular sufferings. The mnemonically disadvantaged fight back, and, in the course of doing do, may find themselves struggling to wield the resources of the memory culture that disadvantages them. As we have seen, this predicament can lead quite easily to the combination of ill-founded comparisons and “rotten mnemonic system” attacks that this article has explained and diagnosed as the strategy of saming. Racism, antisemitism, and chauvinism were no doubt at work in many of the specific individual instances examined in this article. But the Canadian case indicates that such tendencies can sometimes be made more marginal in memory politics. Effective criticism from group members; institutional forums that subjected community claims-making to external evaluation; appropriate responses to legitimate grievances—these developments appeared significantly to strengthen the hand of community actors favouring more responsible approaches.
In a recent analysis in this journal of national history museums in the three Baltic states, historian Beata Halicka (2023) identifies an additional relevant consideration. All three countries, Estonia, Lativia, and Lithuania, host commemorative institutions that, from the 1990s, featured nationalist, “dual occupation” narratives and strident denials of Holocaust complicity. Yet in the most recent decade, all of the institutions in Halicka’s study had made at least some positive narrative changes after encountering sustained criticism, from both international sources and domestic, particularly Russian minorities. A key difference with the Hungarian case is that the Baltic national history institutions benefited in the early 2000s from policies of “administrative decentralization, which granted the museums more autonomy in decision making” (Halicka 2023, p. 5), increasing their ability to respond to both foreign and domestic critics. In Hungary, by contrast, Fidesz has been able to use the House of Terror as an instrument (Sodaro 2018) of mythopoetic nationalism, with which that party has so successfully aligned itself to consolidate its hegemony on the country’s right (Feischmidt 2020).
Therefore, beyond such an extreme case of short- to medium-term immovability, we are left with the moderately reassuring finding that, in contexts of greater openness, a combination of external and internal criticism can sometimes push regressive mnemonic actors in more productive directions. However minor, the reassurance seems welcome amidst the pessimism of the current historical moment, in which the very idea of introspective remembrance is under sustained attack. Against pessimism, this article has offered the modest contribution of identifying, analyzing, and naming the false equivalencies and bad-faith mnemonic invocations that constitute saming. The contribution may be of at least some use in the fight for mnemonic approaches more consonant with the better aspirations of the age of apology.


This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, grant number 895-2022-1000.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author/s.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


I am indebted to Masumi Izumi for coining the term saming in one of several rewarding discussions about problematic rhetorical techniques in the politics of historical justice. Thanks also to my other colleagues on the Past Wrongs Future Choices project and to Sarah Stilwell for research assistance.
The insult, “Faucism,” is an absurd Nazi comparison targeting the public-health guidance of Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Chief Medical Advisor to the US president.
“Whataboutism” is a scattershot rhetorical technique that actors use to deflect attention away from their shortcomings or misdeeds by highlighting the alleged wrongdoing of their opponents. Saming is a mnemonic strategy.
Here and throughout I put this phrase in quotation marks to signal that, although the words are mine, I am attributing the sentiment and complaint behind it to actors who are engaged in saming.
While drawing on my own site visit observations, the following account of the House of Terror and its historical context and background relies on Berend and Clark (2014), Feischmidt (2020), Kovács (2016, 2017), Nadkarni (2020), Petö (2019, 2022), Sik (2015), and Sodaro (2018).
Although the museum does not make it clear to the visitor, its website acknowledges that “[a]lmost 440,000 of our compatriots were … transported”. However, the same page, titled, “Double Occupation,” denies Hungarian complicity or responsibility, calling the deportations a “bitter lesson” of “Nazi Germany’s occupation of our country”. See, accessed on 17 January 2024.
See, in particular, Kovács (2017), Nadkarni (2020), Petö (2022), and Sodaro (2018).
“Visible minorities” was then Canada’s official nomenclature for people of colour or racialized groups.
It bears emphasis that Canadian federal spending on Indigenous policy, which, at the time of writing was still insufficient to meet even minimal standards of community safety and welfare, stems from constitutional and treaty obligations and is not a form of historical redress (Manuel and Derrickson 2017).


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Figure 1. Distinguishing Japanese Canadian and Italian Canadian Internment.
Figure 1. Distinguishing Japanese Canadian and Italian Canadian Internment.
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James, M. Corrosive Comparisons and the Memory Politics of “Saming”: Threat and Opportunity in the Age of Apology. Soc. Sci. 2024, 13, 167.

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James M. Corrosive Comparisons and the Memory Politics of “Saming”: Threat and Opportunity in the Age of Apology. Social Sciences. 2024; 13(3):167.

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James, Matt. 2024. "Corrosive Comparisons and the Memory Politics of “Saming”: Threat and Opportunity in the Age of Apology" Social Sciences 13, no. 3: 167.

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