By Eliezer M. Rabinovich
In 1944, Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy saved more Jews than anyone else in the world. Yet today, next to the efforts of heroic diplomats like Carl Lutz and Raoul Wallenberg, Horthy has become a forgotten footnote to history.
The reason? At first glance, Horthy—a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and anti-Communist—was not exactly a hero for the textbooks. But the truth isn’t so simple. Closer examination shows that Horthy paid lip service to the Nazis while privately strategizing how to prevent deportation of the Jews. Horthy defied Hitler, took back partial power and forbade further deportations, ultimately preventing a quarter-million Hungarian Jews from perishing in the Holocaust.
According to the Treaty of Trianon signed on June 4, 1920, Hungary was deprived of two-thirds of its territory and one-third of its Magyar population. On March 1, 1920, the National Assembly voted to restore the Kingdom of Hungary, but the victors did not want to hear about the return of the Habsburgs, so the Assembly offered Admiral Horthy the position of the Regent, or the Governor.
During this period, Hungary became madly anti-Semitic. When the country allied with Germany, the anti-Jewish measures became a part of the package. The Germans demanded limiting Jewish rights across the board, so Horthy and his conservative circle believed that by instituting some anti-Jewish measures, the Hungarian government could prevent Jews from being deported; many Jews shared this opinion. Two laws prepared by rabidly anti-Semitic Bela Imredy aimed at reducing the Jewish part in the economy were passed by the parliament in 1938-1939. In general, these laws, though bad, were frequently ignored, and, as Istvan Deak wrote, even in March of 1944, “many Jewish factory owners and bankers in Budapest had made immense profits from manufacturing arms for the German and Hungarian armies.”
Was Horthy personally an anti-Semite? It seems that he unequivocally answered this question in his private letter to Prime Minister Teleki dated October 14, 1940:
“As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life. I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theater, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad. Since, however, one of the most important tasks of the government is to raise the standard of living, i.e., we have to acquire wealth, it is impossible, in a year or two, to replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands, and to replace them with incompetent, unworthy, mostly big-mouthed elements, for we should become bankrupt. This requires a generation at least … I cannot look with indifference at inhumanity, senseless humiliation, when we still need them.”
But again, the bare facts prove misleading. Horthy’s statement that he had “never had contact with Jews” is laughable; he played bridge with them, invited them to his table, and encouraged them in commerce. But in this particular moment of history he was a leader of the nation that had chosen anti-Semitism as a way of life. In the 1939 elections, “The Arrow Cross” and other right-wing parties received a quarter of the votes. So is it possible for the leader of an anti-Semitic democracy not to at least pay lip service to anti-Semitism in order to protect the Jews?
Let’s take a closer look. Hungarian historian Krisztián Ungváry wrote: “Proposals to place the entire Jewish population in ghettos had been floated in Parliament as early as 1941, and it was only the tactical maneuverings of Prime Minister Miklós Kállay and Miklós Horthy, the head of state, that had stopped the proposals coming to a vote.” No doubt the letter to Teleki was a part of these “tactical maneuverings.” (A minor error of Ungvary’s: Kallay assumed premiership in March 1942.)
On June 7, 1942, Hungary joined Hitler in the war with the USSR. Believing it was a fault of his prime minister Laszlo Bardossy, in March of 1942 Horthy approached a liberal friend Miklos Kallay and asked him to take over the government. Kallay asked the leaders of the Government Party on what conditions they would support him governing. They replied that their views were “dominated by a desperate fear of the Soviet Union and so these people wished for a German victory … That fear was the basis of their attitude towards the Jews, too. If Germany won the war, and we continued our tolerance towards the Jews, the Germans sooner or later would treat Hungary as a Jew-ridden enemy country … The Western powers … would hand us over to the Soviet Union …” It would be wrong to say that these leaders were mistaken in their fears. Therefore, the conditions of their support were that Kallay “made concessions to public opinion on the Jewish question” and “made a pro-German declaration.” Kallay reluctantly promised.
On April 16, 1942, Kallay visited Hitler. He told Der Führer that in Hungary, with 10% of the population being Jewish, their elimination from the economic life could be achieved only gradually. Upon return, Kallay made a report to the party committee coordinated with the leader of the Jews that “a final settlement of the Jewish problem could only come after the war, when the only solution would be to expel the 800,000 Jews.”
What this really meant, of course, was that until the end of the war the Jews were safe.
On August 15, 1942, the Hungarian ambassador to Germany, Döme Sztojay, reported that Hitler disagreed with postponement and demanded immediate anti-Jewish actions, and on October 8 and 17 Joachim von Ribbentrop, Germany’s foreign minister, elaborated German demands in a letter and an official note sent to Kallay. On December 5-14, 1942, the Hungarian government flatly rejected the demands.
On April 17, 1943, Hitler summoned Horthy and demanded that Kallay be dismissed. Horthy firmly rejected. Kallay wrote: “Horthy declared … once and for all, that just as he had never dreamed of trying to influence Hitler or the German government in their choice of ministers so he would accept no prompting, nor even the expression of a wish or an observation, that his premier, who enjoyed his full confidence, should be replaced.”
On March 18, 1944, Hitler summoned Horthy again and told him that he had ordered the occupation with the purpose of dismissing Kallay and installing a friendly (read: obedient) government. Horthy understood that in case of his resignation, the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party would be immediately put in charge. Germans occupied without resistance, and only then Horthy was allowed to depart.
On March 19, Kallay met the Regent at the station. The leaders assembled the Crown Council where the Regent told the ministers about his trip. Hitler gave him two reasons for the occupation: “reluctant, indeed sham military cooperation” and that “Hungary is not taking the necessary steps against the Jews. Our crime is, therefore, that I have not fulfilled Hitler’s wish, and have not allowed the Jews to be massacred.”
After that the two exhausted men had a long talk. The Premier was convinced that the Regent was making a grave error agreeing to stay in his post. There was no Parliament, and Hungary had ceased to be a constitutional state. Kallay “begged him to abdicate as a demonstration.” “I cannot,” Horthy said, striking his chair, “leave this chair empty … I have sworn to this country not to forsake it … Who will defend the Jews or our refugees if I leave my post? I may not be able to defend everything, but I believe that I can still be of great, very great, help to our people.”
Randolph Braham noted that “the occupation virtually ended Hungary’s existence as a sovereign state.” The next day Kallay found refuge at the Turkish legation. Horthy remained completely alone. He had no choice but to appoint a pro-German government headed by Sztojay. That Horthy was very difficult for the Germans to deal with we see from the German ambassador Edmund Veesenmayer’s telegram to Ribbentrop where he described the Regent as “a liar, physically incapable of discharging his responsibilities, constantly repeating and contradicting himself, and at times speaking haltingly.”But he was mistaken: Horthy biographer Thomas Sakmyster wrote that Horthy knew how to deceive and to create an impression described by Veesenmayer if he wanted to avoid a discussion; he could even bring up his poor hearing.
Adolf Eichmann arrived in Budapest the next day and immediately started organizing the deportations. Sztojay appointed Andor Jarossas as his Minister of Interior and László Endre and László Baky as his two deputies. The speed of the process was amazing. Starting on May 14, four trains with 12,000 Jews on board departed daily from Hungary; 437,000 thousand were sent out of the country in 145 trains by July 6. Upon arrival in Auschwitz, 10-15 percent of them were selected for work; the rest were sent directly to the gas chambers. Eichmann had only a small group of Germans with him, and they could not have done the job if not for active help from the Hungarians under the command of Jarossas, Endre and Baky. Istvan Deak stated that nearly 200,000 Hungarians helped deport the Jews. On the other hand, as Deak wrote:
“Considering, however, that in Budapest most everyone was capable of detecting a Jew and also that most of those in hiding were not denounced, it is likely that at least a hundred thousand Gentiles gave active assistance to the Jews, while many more simply looked the other way.”
The utter stupidity of killing people instead of using them for labor in the war time was incomprehensible, and people refused to believe. Hitler told Horthy that he needed the Jews for the building industry. Still, Horthy tried to stop the deportations. On June 25-30 he received pleas from Pope Pius XII, President Franklin Roosevelt, and King Gustav of Sweden to stop Jewish deportations, and on June 26 he shouted at the Crown Council meeting:
“I shall not tolerate this any further! I shall not permit the deportations to bring further shame on the Hungarians! Let the Government take measures for the removal of Baky and Endre! The deportation of the Jews of Budapest must cease! The Government must take the necessary steps!” All was in vain. Nobody obeyed the Regent. On July 2 the Allies bombed Budapest, in vain.
In April of 1944, Walter Rosenberg and Alfred Wetzler escaped from Auschwitz and wrote a detailed report with drawings of the gas chambers, called “Auschwitz Notebook.” Here we encounter a terrifying detail that makes one’s hair stand on end: the Budapest Jewish Council headed by Samu Stern received “Auschwitz Notebook” no later than beginning of June, and they hid it from Horthy and the Jews until the end of June. A Hungarian biologist George Klein, then a teenager in Budapest, received the report in early June and showed it to his uncle, a well-known physician, who almost hit the youth for spreading such “non-sense.” Author Sándor Török, a Christian member of the Jewish Council, said: “I visited various leading people with our documentary material… most had the opinion that they were not true, merely ‘Jewish exaggerations.”
On July 3, Sandor Torok found a reader who believed him instantly.
Horthy’s daughter-in-law countess Ilona Edelsheim-Gyulai (Mrs. Ilona Bowden) recalled:
“Sándor Török … brought all kinds of news with the purpose of informing the Regent. Fortunately, I wrote a diary, in which the memorable day is marked: on July 3rd, 1944, he delivered the ‘Auschwitz Notebook’ to me. I read this tremendously shocking description of the gas chamber-equipped extermination camp in his presence. One could feel that every word of it is true, as something like this could not be fabricated. I immediately brought this to my father-in-law’s chambers. Three days later, on July 6th, the Hungarian Government halted the deportation of the Jews.”
This is how it was: she believed immediately, and she brought it to the Regent’s attention immediately. How many more lives could have been saved had Torok come to the countess 10 days earlier?
The Admiral understood that without a military showdown nobody would listen to him. On July 4, he found a loyal military unit commanded by Colonel Koszorús, who confronted Baky and stopped the deportations on July 6. A quarter-million of the Budapest Jews were saved at that point. Later it became known that Eichmann planned to deport all of them over just two days starting that day. With his iron will, the Regent restored partial power and influence, and we may say that nobody in the world saved as many Jews as he did. In Sakmyster’s words: “Horthy’s action was unprecedented in the history of the Holocaust: never before had a leader successfully used the threat of military force to halt the deportation of Jews to the death camps.”
Wallenberg arrived in the city on July 9. If not for Horthy’s actions, he would have had nothing to do: all the Jews would have already been deported by that time. He understood it well, and on July 29, 1944 reported to his government: Horthy’s “position is illustrated by the very real fact that the deportations were canceled per his order, but also by a number of smaller interventions. Among them, two verified instances of trains loaded with prisoners being ordered to turn back just before reaching the border.”
In the Budapest suburb of Kistarcsa the Germans set up a camp for the Jewish intelligentsia whom they deported from there. The Hungarian commandant Vasdenyei helped the Jews as much as he could. A witness on the Eichmann trial, Dr. Brody, testified:
“Vasdenyei notified me on the evening of 12 July, in confidence, that on the 14th of the month the Germans were preparing to take an additional 1,500 persons from Kistarcsa, and that the Germans had ordered a special train to Kistarcsa … When I got to know about it, I got in touch, that same evening, with the directors of the Jewish Council … The Regent gave an order that the train should not proceed. Since the train had already left, the Regent ordered a major of the gendarmerie, Lullay, to halt the train while it was still in Hungarian territory … This was the sole deportation train in the eleven years of Nazi domination, ever to be turned back in its tracks.”
The Germans demanded the resumption of the deportations and Horthy, conspiring with the Budapest Jewish council’s leader Sami Stern, seemingly agreed for a deportation on August 25. However, the Regent again assembled loyal troops and cancelled the deportations for good. On August 24, Horthy executed a coup: he dismissed the Sztójay government and appointed anti-Nazi general Geza Lakatos as his new prime minister.
On October 15, 1944, Horthy attempted capitulation to the Soviet Army but was overthrown and arrested. The fascist “Arrow Cross” party took power. Eichmann came back on October 16, but he already had no way to murder on the previous scale: on October 6th Auschwitz stopped gassing–Horthy had managed to save the Budapest Jewry up through that moment.
A ghetto near the central synagogue was established. It was intended for 200,000 people, but during 50 days of its existence only 70,000 to 80,000 Jews moved there. Bandits of Arrow Cross killed 10,000 to 15,000 Jews near this place, and most of them were buried in the cemetery next to the synagogue. The Red Cross and the diplomats Carl Lutz, Raul Wallenberg, and many others tried to help; many books have been written about this. It is likely that 80-90 percent of Budapest Jewry survived.
Had we been secretly present at conversation of Horthy and Kallay on March 19, we would have thought that Kallay was absolutely right, and the vain old man simply didn’t understand the situation. Of course, he should have accepted the advice of his friend and used the opportunity to retire with honor at his age of 77!
But had he done so, an additional quarter-million Jews would have become Holocaust victims and the majority of the Budapest Jews would not have survived the war. Had he done so, the actions of the diplomats and the righteous people in the Arrow Cross government’s period would have been fruitless; there would have been no Jews left to save.
“What Horthy did,” noted George Friedman, “was the dirty work of decency.” But perhaps American prewar ambassador John Montgomery best articulates Horthy’s true place in history: “This world would be a better, more decent place, if the leaders of the English-speaking nations developed a tiny part of the courage shown at that time by Admiral Horthy.”
This article is adapted from a longer piece published in Russian in “Evrejskaya Starina” (“The Jewish Antiques”), #1, 2014, pp. 4-102.
31 thoughts on “How “Anti-Semite” Miklos Horthy Saved the Jews of Budapest”
I’ll reserve judgement on this Horthy whitewash until I’ve seen the footnotes. I have my doubts.
When I started my research, I had my doubts as well. What you read here is a 3000 words’ note, and it is a hugely abridged version of a 9000 words original that you may read in my Live Journal page on:
Part 1: http://emr37.livejournal.com/1767.html
Part 2: http://emr37.livejournal.com/1807.html
and I prefer you’ll judge after reading the full version. But even that version, deprived of References, is adapted from my 100 pages’ article in Russian published in “Evrejskaya Starina”, #1, 2014, pp. 4-102 on:
There (at the end) you may find in English the Table of Contents and 75 references including: 1) memoirs of: a) Miklos Horthy with 600 footnotes of professor Andrew Simon; b) Horthy’s daughter-in-law Ilona, Countess of Edelsheim-Gyulai (Mrs. Ilona Bowden); c) Nikolas Kallay, Hungarian Premier-Minister in 1942-1944; d) prewar ambassador of the USA to Hungary John F. Montgomery; e) the Chairman of the Jewish Council of Budapest Samuel Stern; f) a survivor Steven A. Colman; other recollections; 2) Records of interrogations and of trial of Adolph Eichmann; 3) A magisterial biography by Thomas Sakmyster – Hungary’s Admiral on Horseback – Miklos Horthy, 1918 – 1944; 4) Books and articles of major historians in the field: Randolph L. Braham, Istvan Deak, Mario D. Fenyo, Kinga Frojimovics, Raul Hilberg, Lévai Jenö, Laszlo Karsai, Istvan Lazar, Raphael Patai, T. Zane Reeves, Krisztian Ungvary and others.
Unfortunately, if you research further, it was not the sympathy for the Jews that urged Horthy to act so “courageously”, it was the fact that he knew that the Germans were losing the war, he was pressured by other world leaders and specifically told that if nothing was done to stop the deportations, he would also be tried as a war criminal and executed by his own country. That is why Horthy died in exile not at home. He only became this heroic person when his own life was at stake. Some may still be thankful to him for making a move instead of sticking a gun in his mouth and this way he was somewhat able to save face. He however, was no hero, he had the ability to stop the deportations much before July, but did not, he was still hopeful for a German victory. Only when all hope was lost did he do the right thing. This whitewashing of his name is a disgrace!
There is no one correct word in your posting, but to continue disputing is useless, if you are so convinced. I did research further, and my original article is 100 pages long. All what you write are emotions and not facts. And the fact is that 250,000 Jews were not alive if not his actions.
Thank you, Eliezer for pointing out the truth. I never believed that Regent Horthy was complicit in the Holocaust. I always believe he was innocent and the 2014 film, Walking with the Enemy convinced me more that he did everything he could to protect Hungary and the Jews.
Dear Dr Rabinovich, I should be grateful if you do not dismiss other views as ‘untrue’ or ’emotions’ … You do not have that right, no one does… As a well qualified and experience research professor, equally well published and recognised in my own field, I know how easily good research can become biased… may I remind you about the Hebrew anecdote about the ancient Jew seeking the truth, on his way to Jerusalem, who meets some Rabbis, who claim to be increasingly right… until just outside the city gates, one claims to be 100% right…??? The man turns back home, a truly lost and disappointed Jew… Your research has its place in the great debate about Horthy, Hungary and the murder of Hungarian Jews: in Hungary as well as their occupied land, in Transylvania… For you, perhaps, these might just be numbers and/or statistics… Unfortunately, however, for some of us, these represent family members and the related anger and emotion about their loss… Personally, I would like to correspond with you on this topic, please indicate how I could obtain your email address… If, you are too busy to debate in detail, I would understand…
They have stayed alive, including my parent, but horthy has acted only to save his own skin. You can dispute it as long as you like, can bring up any kind of contemporary realpolitic issues, still that man is no hero, always have been a mediocre weekling talented only in one thing: his own narrow self interest. Your saracenwashing attempt is stomach churning.
Every word of yours is true, don’t bother with this old fool, however much he tries to dress it in scentific clothes.
Please allow me to bring a rarely mentioned yet very very important fact which greatly influenced Horthy in his actions/lack of actions btw 19 March-early July. that on the 18-19 March meeting Hitler did draw out his scariest card for Horthy,. He, along his troops, will call in the Slovaks, Romanians and Croatians against Hungary. Think about this: what could Horthy do, if that happens????? What could happen to the whole country, including the hiding refugees and all the jews?
Completely true. I did mention it in my large article.
Absolutely a needed article, especially in the disturbing rise of fascist romanticism in Hungary. The Jews of Hungary bled for the Magyar nation, considered themselves patriots of the nation, and the troglodytes in Jobbik must be fought every day until they are relegated to dust.
Horthy made alliances with Benitto of Italy and Hilter of Germany in the early 1930’s. This clearly shows no concern for human rights and minorities. That at the end of the day it led to Hungary being occupied at the end of the war doesn’t excuse Horthy’s behavior. IN the early 1930’s he appointed Gombos that helped make these alliances while publically claiming he repudiates his openly anti-Semitic views which Hitler liked him because of his open anti-Semitism.
Is the full article avaliable anywhere, like all 100 pages ?
Horthy was a Nazi collaborator and an active participant in the Genocide of close to 600,000 Hungarian jews who were also Hungarian citizens. Eichman could not have carried out his deportations of 437,000 Hungarian jews to Auschwitz without the active participation and complicity of 20,000 members of the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie who robbed and brutalised their jewish victims prior to deportation on the cattletrucks.
Horthy placed over 100,000 Hungarian troops under the command of the Germans in the invasion of Russia and forcibly conscripted more than 60,000 jewish slave labourers most of whom were killed on the Russian front.
Under him antisemitic laws were imposed that forebade jewish participation in civil service, in the professions and stripped them of their wealth and prevented them achieving higher education. The deportation of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian jews and citizens took place under his premiership and he only stopped when the US airforce bombed his palace and the vatican, swedish PM and Redcross threatened him with war crimes trial. In short Horthy was a Nazi collaborator who should have faced trial at Nuremburg for his complicity in Genocide.
Horthy was saved from being charged as war criminal, by Joe Stalin. You know some one who hated Nazis more ?
A big praise to the Author for writing this article. It is time to speak about this subject and stop dismissing Horthy as a fascist mass-murderer when as his actions show, he was quite the opposite.
Also when Poland was under siege by the Germans and Hitler wanted to use Hungary to speed up the siege Prime Minister Count Teleky and Admiral Horthy refused Hitler’s demand and told him that he would “rather blow up our own railways than to let the German use it” to attack the Polish so they refused it in the name of “Hungarian honor”(referring to Polish-Hungarian brotherhood). The result of this was that Hungary have opened up it’s borders and a lot of Polish; Jews, Christians, the Military fled through Hungary. Would an evil man do such a thing?
To Leonard Herman: The soldiers did no such thing, they were actually ashamed and been asking to be sent to the front instead of doing this. Horthy didn’t have a trial in Nuremberg because they had nothing on him, he was trying to do his best in the difficult situation he was in, if you can tell a better one please share it with us, but remember Hungary didn’t have a military after WWI so fighting the Germans weren’t an option to begin with. Also What about the the Genocide of the Hungarians after WWI,WWII, during Communism, today? Look up who were in office in that 40 years, all of them were Jewish. They tortured a Christian bishop in the basement of today’s House of Terror. Did the Jewish community ever apologized to the Christians, the Hungarians for doing what they did during and after ’56 like executing Imre Nagy or a 15 year old boy? I don’t think so…
@ Nimrod D; Evil is evil no matter who commits it. BUT do NOT make any group of people look guilty in case a few are the partakers. So, never say ” all of them…” !
He tried to help,but the for Jews He is guilty.I wish He wouldn’t do anything,than in my eyes He would be guilty.
So you wish that 250,000 people would have died so that history can be more black and white so as to not hurt your little pathetic brain?
Of course he isn’t completely guilt-free many Jews did die whilst he was in power. However he was in accept difficult situation and he was trying to protect Hungary and try to save as many Jews as possible. Jut think about this, if he had refused all the demands of Hitler earlier on he would have inevitably been forced out of power and replaced with the arrow cross or a government who were far right pro-Nazi and wanted the Jews out. Therefore the Hungarian Jews would have been sent to concentration camps at a much faster rate than before and as a whole conditions for the Hungarian Jews would have become a lot worse under a fascist rule like this. Consequently many more Jews would have died. This shows us that it was impossible for Horthy to protect all the Jews and stand up to Hitler and he knew that if he refused all the nazis requests he would have been replaced from power and many more Jews would have died. So although many Jews did die under his rule this was inevitable and he saved many more Jews from being sent to concentration camps. So for the people who say he was a horrible nazi sympathiser what would you have done in his situation?
That is true but that he ended up being tied with Germany and Hitler was not because of any “difficult political decision” but because during the depression decided to align his country with facists not just Germany but Italy and Mussolini and appointed Gombos who had openly anti-Semitic views which he publicly recanted but this attracted Hitler and helped make alliance with Italy. That at the end of the day it prevented Hungary from being occupied earlier in the war is not something that you can claim that Horthy knew. He had some pragmatism after he made his of his decisions that supported dictators but why was he making alliances with Italy and Mussolini.
How true is the old saying that ‘ we all have 20/20 hind-site’
We will never know what may have been in the old man’s mind or heart, but if we do think back those years, just what any one could have done in his place to at least hope, even if not to assure a more desirable outcome and to save every a single life.
Yes, the Hungarian Parlament has passed “anti-Jewish laws”, even before the war against the Soviet Union. Seemed mostly to throw off Hitler. My Grandfather and my father had a bank.The law forbid more than 5% Jewish people involved in banking. But the law was going to take effect only in 5 years. I, as a kid, remember they often saying with a joke, ‘how did MPs knew Hitler was going to be dead in 5 years. He sure was.
But let’s consider honestly, just what could Horthy have done like in 1940. Most of Europe was at Hitlers absolute and unopposed disposal.
The case of Poland sure must have been a lesson for him. The west has encouraged Poland to resist. France, England pledged to help them. Yet, help never came. They did resist bravely, for about two weeks, than the nazis had unlimited opportunity to carry out their anger on Poland, and mostly on the Jewish people. Those who could not leave the continent, the only chance they had ,if they had any, to escape to find refuge in Humgary, till 1944. While those 5 years Nazis had unlimited time to kill and destroy all they wanted to.in Poland. And they sure did.
I very much enjoied John McCormik’s book ( The Unwilling Ally, that I dare to recommend), who was FDR’s Minister to Hungary (as they called Ambassadors back than. The old man, in the Opera House, as some nazis demonstrated and demanded Szalsay’s release from prison, he alone, at age 72, punched 2-3 nazis to ground and was choking them.
I could never in my years have been able to come up with any possible solution in Horthy’s place in those years and circumstances. Could you think of any better possibilities ? Hope you share it !
He could have built up an army to help defend Poland, and maybe Britain and France could have stopped being pacifist, war-hating idiots and actually helped Poland. It wasn’t horthy’s fault the polish Jews were sent to death camps, you can thank Neville Chamberlain. Or going back even further, thank Woodrow Wilson and the people at Versallies in WW1, for leaving Germany in such a pitiful state that a monster like Hitler could rise to power from. Or you could blame the one British soldier who decided not to kill one German soldier whose name just so happened to be Adolf Hitler. But that isn’t fair, is it? Horthy couldn’t have changed any of these things. If only somone had done something. But they didn’t, and now we’re here arguing about whether the actions of one man were justified or not.
I agree with most of this article except the beginning. There is absolutely no way Hungary could have possibly defended poland, or atleast have helped prevent the invasion. For a few reasons:
1: The Hungarian Army was handicapped by Trainon, and was extremely weak.
2: Hungary and it’s people would have never supported a war. While Poland and Hungary are indeed good friends, the people sympathized with Germany in the case of reclaiming ethnic land taken from them in treaties from the first war. And lets not forget the fact that Austria alone (which they had occupied in the Anschluss) was just about the exact same size of them. Let alone the entirety of Germany aswell. It wouldve been simply impossible to win.
3: The Hungarian Airforce was practically nonexistant until 1938 (Again, due to Trianon)
4: Hungary lacked modern equipment and materials to rival Germany’s mechanized and industrial capabilitie.
5: Almost none of Hungary’s generals had experience with managing armored formations.
My bad, I didnt mean article. I meant your reply.
Uh, When Horthy appointed a know anti-Semite who promised to recant his anti-Semitism but made alliances with countries like Italy and Mussolini in 1932 was Hitler in 1933 this isn’t troubling. That at the end of the day it led to Hungary not being occupied till the end of the war there is no way Horthy could have know the consequences back in the early 1930’s and to make alliances with know Facists like Benito is not something suggests goodness on Horthy’s part. Making alliances that don’t respect human rights early on shows that Horthy wasn’t simply doing this as a temporary political alliance for short term gain.
Id hope you realize that around the time these alliances were formed, foreign leaders had almost no knowledge of the Holocaust. Especially in the early 30s. Horthy made such alliances with Austria and Italy, because he saw it as a good defense against nations that werent so friendly toward Hungary. Like Yugoslavia or Romania, for example.
Remeber that Oscar Shindler was a member of the Nazi party too…
An excellent Article. A thing I absolutely hate about articles regarding Horthy is when he is directly blamed for the deaths of 600,000 of Hungary’s Jews.
People apparently forget that Szalasi Ferenc and his Arrow Cross Regime were the ones who sent a vast majority of those 600,000 to their deaths. It’s quite saddening how despite Ferenc being the literal Nazi and main proprietor of the Holocaust in Hungary, Horthy is however given such a disgraceful title, despite the fact that Historical references say the exact opposite.
Horthy, in my opinion, is an unfortunate example of why history must be well preserved. Because his name is given such discredit where it is not entirely deserved. Youd not believe how many biased articles there are that dont even mention the Arrow Cross takeover, or the kidnapping of Horthy Jr.
While Horthy cannot be rendered blameless, his role in this horrid event in human history is blown way out of proportion.
Both of my parents, Hungarian Jews, lived through the Holocaust partly because of Horthy. My mother died with the belief that his actions helped her survive when she’d moved to Budapest. Her parents, sisters and in-laws, who lived in small towns were not so lucky. It was Eichmann who carried out the orders for them to be deported to Auschwitz. Regardless of the blame others listed above, I will always be grateful to this man.