Fact Check: Barbed-Wire Fence, Incinerators Do NOT Prove Budapest Film Studio Is FEMA Concentration Camp


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Fact Check: Barbed-Wire Fence, Incinerators Do NOT Prove Budapest Film Studio Is FEMA Concentration Camp Movies & Trash

Is a film studio in Budapest actually a concentration camp run by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, as proven by its inward-angled barbed wire fence and the presence of incinerators? No, that's not true: There is no evidence that the complex is anything but a filmmaking site. The barbed wire fence surrounding it angles inward in compliance with Hungary's construction code, not to prevent purported inmates from escaping, and the incinerators belong to a neighboring plant that combusts household garbage, not human bodies.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-language video (archived here) on TikTok on December 19, 2023, under the caption (translated from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff) "Listen to all of this, because I have visited here and I THOUGHT IT WAS A NEW PRISON !!!!!!!!" It shows parts of an interview (archived here) with Hungarian author János Drábik (archived here) that appeared on the YouTube channel of online portal VNTV on September 24, 2015. Drábik discusses an industrial facility in the Budapest district of Rákospalota, saying (as translated):

We are not only talking about the garbage-burning power plant, but about the totally closed off, so-called film studio next door ... surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire that is also angled inwards ... It has a double function, because there are parts that they actually do use as a studio. But you have to know that there are massive rooms beneath the film studio, and you have to know that underground, the garbage incinerator and the film studios form a single structure ... It is clear that, here, a large-capacity crematorium exists. It was built with technology that far exceeds -- far exceeds -- the kind used in Auschwitz.

At the 1:17 mark, a subtitle appears that says (as translated):

FEMA annihilation camp in Hungary

The video then cuts to a series of still photos showing the facility's exterior from different angles under eerie music. An image of the barbed wire barrier surrounding the facility appears at the 1:51 mark, with a subtitle reading (as translated):

The fence. Noteworthy: It impedes movement from the inside out!

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Jan 4 12:28:52 2024 UTC)

The "FEMA camp" conspiracy theory, which has been percolating among right-wing devotees since at least 1982, argues that the U.S. government is building concentration camps to imprison problematic political activists, according to a 2010 article (archived here) that appeared on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a U.S. civil rights organization.

The claim that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) operates an "annihilation camp" disguised as a movie studio in Budapest's Rákospalota district has been doing the rounds since at least 2015, as demonstrated by conspiracy-oriented blogs (archived here) and YouTube accounts (archived here).

The purported FEMA gulag that appears in the video is actually Origo Studios (archived here), as shown by geo-tracking on Google Maps. The filmmaking facility opened under the name Raleigh Studios in 2010, according to a company press release (archived here). It has turned out dozens of major movies such as "Dune" and an installment of the "Die Hard" franchise, according to its websites.

A Google search for the keywords "Origo Studios," "Budapest" and "concentration camp" conducted on January 5, 2024 (archived here), did not turn up any evidence of political prisoner sightings by the many actors, directors or crew members who have passed through Origo's gates.

The barbed wire atop Origo's outer fence is indeed angled inward, as the street-view image on Google Maps shows. There is no evidence that this is to prevent prisoner escapes: Article 44 of the Hungarian government's 1997 decree on construction (archived here) mandates that barbed wire must be turned inward if a fence abuts public property, such as a sidewalk or road. It reads (as translated):

A configuration that endangers the use of public space (e.g. barbed wire) on a fence that is on the perimeter of a property may only be used at a height of at least 2.00 m above pedestrian level and on the inner side of the fence.

Drábik accurately states that Origo Studios is physically linked to the neighboring FKF Waste Utilization Plant, which incinerates as much as 420,000 tons of garbage a year and captures the energy for use as district heating, according to the plant's homepage (archived here). However, Origo Studios explains that the connection is used to heat its buildings, not to dispose of dead dissidents, according to its website (archived here):

The studio uses the steam generated by the waste incinerator located nextdoor ... The thermal energy generated by the incinerator is circulated through a steam boiler with two heat exchangers, through a [pipe] on the primary side, to the studio area, where the steam heats the water.

The FKF Waste Utilization Plant occasionally gives public tours of its facilities, according to its website (archived here). This is not typical behavior for a company that is participating in a clandestine mass murder plot.

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