Former Prime Minister Péter Boross, Fidesz MP and deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Sándor Lezsák, and Veritas Institute (a government institute devoted to historical revisionism) executive director Sándor Szakály will officiate a mass in Budapest hosted by the Association of Christian Intellectuals in commemoration of the 150th birthday of Admiral Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s notoriously anti-Semitic wartime leader. The event is scheduled for 10am on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, that is, on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp to which more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews, mostly women, children and those unsuited to work in forced-labor battalions, were deported in 1944. Over 100,000 Jews died in forced-labor battalions during the Second World War or were summarily executed by members of the Arrow Cross following Horthy’s resignation in October 1944. Altogether an estimated 600,000 Jews living within Hungary’s 1943 borders perished during the Second World War.
Horthy, who was the Hungarian head of state between March 1920 and October 1944, was actually born on June 18, 1868. However, as there will be a general election on April 8, celebrating Horthy on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is more expedient* with regard to currying favor with Hungary’s increasingly right-wing, ultra-nationalist, and xenophobic general public.
(*There will be another big event on January 27. Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona will hold his State of the Nation address at 2pm.)
A Facebook event page has already been launched to announce a protest outside the church where the mass will take place.
A note on the special guests
Péter Boross, who succeeded József Antall (Hungarian Democratic Forum, MDF) as prime minister upon the former’s death in 1993, insists Hungary was not anti-Semitic during the interwar period, despite introducing the first anti-Semitic laws in Europe in the 20th century. Boross has also made waves before with his racist comments on immigration and earlier attempts to erect busts of anti-Semitic leaders.
Sándor Lezsák is a Fidesz MP and deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. He was a founder of MDF but later joined Fidesz. He has served in the Hungarian parliament continuously since 1994. Most recently, at an obscure state-funded college he founded with his wife, he organized a conference for the comparative analysis of the political system change of 1989. The invitees included representatives of Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. In 2016, Lezsák gave an award to infamous migrant-kicker Petra László.
Sándor Szakály is the executive director of the Veritas Institute, a government historical institute created in 2013 for the purpose of rewriting the history of the past 150 years in a manner that will strengthen national identity and support the creation of a national historical body of knowledge. In January 2014, Szakály stirred controversy by referring to the deportation of some 16,000 Jews from Hungary subsequently massacred along with some 7,600 Ukrainian Jews at Kamianets-Podilskyi, as a “police action against aliens,” implying that the incident was simply part of an immigration procedure and that anti-Semitism played no role in the decision to deport undocumented Jews to German-occupied Ukraine. The revisionist historian later apologized, saying he did not mean to offend anyone by using the “historically correct terminology.”
In 2013, together with Jobbik, far-right Reformed Church clergyman Loránt Hegedűs, Jr. held his own mass to celebrate the life of Horthy with the unveiling of a bust in front of his church in Budapest’s central Freedom Square. No stranger to controversy, Hegedűs 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 ceremony, which was officiated by a number of Jobbik politicians, prompted a flash mob demonstration and widespread international criticism.
The following year, in an apparent attempt to win over radical right-wing Jobbik supporters in the run-up to the 2014 general election, the second Orbán government announced controversial plans to erect its own statuary in Freedom Square – this one devoted to the “victims of the German invasion of Hungary,” the implication being that hundreds of thousands of Hungarian officials and civil servants, ranging from police and gendarmes to medical doctors and train drivers, were not complicit in the rounding up, deportation, torture, and murder of their fellow countrymen. The memorial was hastily erected over the objection of Hungary’s Jewish and German communities and despite international condemnation.
Most recently, with the refugee crisis, the government – Prime Minister Orbán included – has painted the crisis as a grand scheme by globalists and seculars to Islamize Europe, import terrorists, and undermine Europe’s Christian nation states. To help drive the point home, the government has spent tens of millions of dollars blanketing the country in billboards and posters, as well as print and online advertisements featuring a black and white image of a menacing-looking George Soros, and encouraging Hungarians to reject the “Soros Plan.” Critics point out that such propaganda bears a striking resemblance to anti-Semitic propaganda of the interwar period.
If you would like to read more about Fidesz’s own political anti-Semitism, check out the following links:
- Orbán calls Horthy an “exceptional statesman”
- “Consider the case of Hungary” – US official warns about rise of political antisemitism
- Hungary to erect statue to convicted war criminal Bálint Hóman
- PMO undersecretary behind Hóman statue idea
- Israel ambassador to Hungary calls “intolerable” Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer’s anti-semitism
- Political anti-semitism and the Fidesz-KDNP alliance
- Horthy bust to be unveiled in village of Perkáta
- Protestors disrupt unveiling of statue to anti-semitic Hungarian politician
- Hungarian government green-lights controversial memorial to “victims of German invasion”
- Hungarian Jewish organizations protest government’s actions