Bust of Admiral Miklos Horthy to be unveiled on Sunday

October 31, 2013

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A bronze bust of Admiral Miklos Horthy (pictured here with Adolph Hitler) will be unveiled this Sunday at the Hungarian Reformed Church’s Hazatérés Temploma (the “Homecoming Temple”) in Budapest’s 5th district.  The event coincides with the 75th anniversary of the First Vienna Award and the laying of the temple’s foundation.

The bust was made by Hungarian sculptor Bela Domokos who told us it took 5 months to create and will be placed at the entrance to the temple’s atrium (the Reformed Church does not allow statues to be placed inside temple sanctuaries).  Until recently four of Domokos’ busts could be seen in the temple’s atrium: Lajos Kossuth, Albert Wass, Dezso Szabo, and Admiral Horthy. A bust of John Calvin by Domokos can be seen at the Reformed Church of Kalvin square in Budapest’s 9th district.

The bust of Horthy was commissioned by the temple’s minister, Lorant Hegedus, Jr.

No stranger to controversy, Hegedus is an outspoken anti-semite and ardent supporter of the Hungarian radical right-wing party Jobbik.  His wife is a Jobbik member of parliament.

The Hungarian Reformed Church has not officially distanced itself from Hegedus.

After Hegedus delivers an opening sermon, a celebratory speech will be made by Jobbik MP Marton Gyongyosi.  Earlier this year Gyongyosi was heavily criticized both at home and abroad for delivering a speech in parliament calling for a list to be compiled of all Jewish MPs and government members.  Gyongyosi’s speech prompted Laszlo Kover, President of Parliament, to forbid Gyongyosi from visiting Rome as part of a Hungarian delegation (Kover himself was banned from entering Israel just a few months earlier when the Israeli Knesset made him a “persona non-grata” for officiating the reburial of convicted WWII Hungarian war criminal Jozsef Nyiro).

Admiral Horthy (1868-1957) served as Regent of Hungary from 1920 to 1944. It was under Horthy’s rule that Hungary introduced modern Europe’s first anti-Jewish laws, the Numerus clausus law of 1920. It was also under Horthy’s rule that Hungary introduced its own version of Germany’s Nuremberg Laws in 1939.

Although the degree of Horthy’s hostility towards Jews has been the subject of some debate, he wrote the following to Hungarian Prime Minister Count Teleki in 1940:

Concerning the Jewish question, for all my life I have been an anti-Semite.  I have never made any contact with Jews.  I have found it intolerable that here, in Hungary, every single factory, bank, asset, shop, theater, newspaper, trader, etc. is in Jewish hands.

Some 600,000 Hungarian Jews lost their lives during the Holocaust, nearly two-thirds of Hungary’s Jewish population.

The Vienna Awards returned parts of Slovakia and Romania taken away from Hungary in 1920 per the terms of the Treaty of Trianon.

In 1938 the First Vienna Award forced Czechoslovakia to cede southern Slovakia and its Subcarpathian region (now part of western Ukraine) to Hungary. In 1940 the Second Vienna Award forced Romania to cede the Hungarian part of Transylvania to Hungary.

One of the first and largest Holocaust mass-murder events took place following the Second Vienna Award in August 1941 near the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi. Approximately 24,000 Jews were killed, most of them Hungarian.

Since 2010 the Fidesz-KDNP government of Hungary has quietly “rehabilitated” controversial WWII personalities by erecting statues in their honor, making their writings mandatory reading in Hungary’s public schools, and by renaming streets and squares in their honor.

The unveiling of Horthy’s bust comes at a time when there is growing international concern over the rise of nationalism and anti-semitism in Hungary.