Miklos Horthy: Hungarian patriot or traitor?

August 6, 2014


The following Facebook exchange between Mr. Vidacs of Reykjavík, Iceland, and the Budapest Beacon offers insight into the attitudes and mindset of Hungarian nationals living (or at least hailing from) Hungary’s “near abroad”, that is, areas formerly belonging to Hungary that were awarded at the Paris Peace Conference to neighboring countries in the aftermath of the First World War — attitudes shared by a large number of Jobbik and Fidesz supporters both at home and abroad.

Robert Vidacs: Who are you people? Budapest Beacon only couple of days ago managed to slip in Horthy’s name in regards to these notorious deportations, this time had to swallow its own words since it can’t back it up with reliable records. It’s clear that Bp Beacon, Eva Cutler, Micheal A. Krapek and many others are led by hatred towards this nation and nothing else. Your hatred is worse than that of the Nazis for at least they had some agenda while all you nurse in yourselves is pure evil.  Seek a professional help, no need to expose yourselves like this in public.

Budapest Beacon: Admiral Miklos Horthy served as Hungary’s head of state from March 1920 until October 1944, when he resigned in favor of Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szalasi. To the extent state sponsored persecution of Roma took place during this period, they took place while Horthy was head of state. In this matter the historical record is clear.

Robert Vidacs: You can twist this around as much you like, we both know the deportations (mainly Jews) took place during the Nazi period headed by the Nazi Germany and its Hungarian representatives the Arrow Cross led by Szálasi. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong but I really can’t recall if your administration was this eager in reporting the suffering of the Hungarians after the WWII in the victorious, previously Trianon treaty created, countries. Up to 40,000 Hungarians (civilians, children included) are reported to be wasted only in Yugoslavia while the entire German population got expelled, that is the ones who were fortunate enough to survive the victors’ bloody orgy.This had happened AFTER the war. That must be the reason why it never gets any mention or, god forbid, listed as genocide.

Budapest Beacon: You are mistaken. Hungary deported 437,000 Hungarian Jews (mostly women, children, the elderly, and the infirm) to Auschwitz-Birkenau in May, June, and July 1944 when, succumbing to international pressure, Horthy himself ordered the deportations stopped. Horthy did not resign as head of state until 16 October 1944. Upon his resignation, Horthy appointed Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szalasi “Nemzetvezeto” (Hungarian equivalent of Fuhrer, combining the positions of head of state and head of government).

The deportation was meticulously organized and documented by the tens of thousands of Hungarian government officials and civil servants entrusted with its execution, as a result of which we know exactly how many Jews were deported and from which city, town, or village on any given day. The fact that there were reprisal killings of Germans and Hungarians after the war does not change the fact that Admiral Miklos Horthy was a traitor and a coward.

Robert Vidacs: What you call him only describes your state of mind, beliefs and intentions. It is a fact that Admiral Horthy Miklós lead the country in one of its worst times in history; post Trianon and WWII and that he was loyal to the nation. Who am I to decipher every bit of his political move or the state of his mind at certain times? I’m not a political analyst neither a psychologist. However, the simple fact that Jews weren’t deported all the way until 1944 can be attached only to his determination not to do it. He wasn’t a Nazi and it’s widely known. Why you wouldn’t admit to that is your personal truth-denying choice. His older son was, very likely, assassinated by the Nazis and the younger was later kidnapped by the same which lead to his resignation as regent of Hungary while the Nazi leader Szalasi spent most of his time in prison while Horthy was in power. You are accusing him for the faith (sic) of 437,000 Jews but he wasn’t even charged with this at the end of the war. So, who are you to spread rumours and claim the truth?

Are you the product of the same agency that has been reporting 6 million perishing Jews since 25 yrs before the nazis even came to power? Check the New York Times for that. As for the last, it does make a difference; to know that Horthy was fighting for Hungary and not for some extreme right wing ideas. He was fighting so his nation won’t be served out as they were during the mentioned ‘reprisals’ which would be more correct to call a genocide.

According to Horthy’s daughter-in-law, Countess Ilona Edelsheim Gyulai, Hungarian Jews also supported Horthy’s family in exile covering their living expenses,[55] including industrialist Ferenc Chorin and lawyer László Pathy.[57]” Wikipedia.

Budapest Beacon: Sorry to refute your assertions with our facts. After the German 19 March 1944 “invasion” of Hungary (without a shot being fired), instead of ordering the Hungarian army to resist (the few thousand German troops in question were not battle ready and could readily have been defeated) Horthy appointed a prime minister acceptable to Hitler and instructed him to cooperate fully with the Germans with regard to the Jewish question. That makes him a traitor.

Until that time perhaps 50,000 Hungarian Jews had perished in forced labor battalions attached to the Hungarian army. Within four months of Horthy giving in to Hitler nearly half a million Hungarian Jews were dead. Horthy was terrified by the prospect of Slovak and Romania troops joining German troops in Hungary and was eager for the German troops to be withdrawn as quickly as possible. So he turned a blind eye to the deportation of Hungarian Jews from the countryside. Only after US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt personally appealed to Horthy to stop the deportations did Horthy finally order a temporary halt to them.

Furthermore, the success of D-Day was not lost on Horthy. He realized the war was lost and that it was merely a matter of time before Nazi Germany and its allies and puppet states were defeated and its leaders arrested. On 16 October 1944 Horthy signed a formal resignation transferring all executive power to the head of the Hungarian Nazi Party, the so-called Arrow Cross. He signed it so that his life and the life of his surviving son would be spared. That makes him a coward.

How many thousands of patriotic Hungarians sacrificed their own lives and the lives of their children to protect their country in the First and Second World War? As for certain individuals of Jewish descent intervening on Horthy’s behalf and supporting him at the end of his life, they felt they owed him their lives because he refused to allow the deportation of some 100,000 Jews living in Budapest (even deploying Hungarians troops at one point to prevent a trainload of Jews from leaving Budapest for Auschwitz-Birkenau). Furthermore, Horthy had seen to it that certain prominent industrialists of Jewish ancestry (including those whose efforts were crucial to the war effort) received special treatment, and they, in turn, reciprocated his “generosity”.

The aforementioned is based on historical facts, and not some subjective “mindset” you attribute to us. What do you call the head of state who does not resist invasion by a foreign power and sacrifices half a million of his citizens so that he and his son can live? A traitor and a coward, by any reasonable definition of the terms.

Robert Vidacs: You just admitted that Horthy did all he could to save as many Jews as possible. What you accusing him for then? For not fighting the Germans? Hungary was fighting Russia already :))) What’s the matter with you? Hungary fighting Stalin and Hitler at the same time?Lol You are hellbent to blame the regent for everything, impossible included.Either way you have no right, neither you or any of your readers here, to blame and accuse the entire nation when the same suffered the most. While one tragedy doesn’t lessen the other, it is true if I say that out of the three; Gypsies, Jews and the Magyars, the later ended up the worst. And nothing changed since, so get off the back of this nation with all the Gypsies and Jews and let us live.

Budapest Beacon: We did nothing of the sort. Emboldened by its successful invasion and annexation of Subcarpathia in 1939, Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union just four days after Germany launched operation Barbarossa, with catastrophic results for the country both in terms of loss of life (military and civilian alike) and political sovereignty.

Why do Horthy apologists persist in celebrating an individual whose actions directly or indirectly caused the death of nearly a million Hungarians and resulted in the Russian invasion and subsequent domination of Hungary for fifty years? Why should Horthy, who led Hungary during the critical interwar period and for most of the Second World War, be held to a different standard than the heads of state of other Axis powers merely because he tried to open peace negotiations with the Allies once it was clear the war could not be won? And how does the fact that Stalin insisted Horthy not be tried at Nurenberg for crimes against humanity exonerate the latter of all responsibility for the death of nearly a million Hungarians, Christian and Jew alike?

Robert Vidacs: We could start with Mohács or few hundred years later with the Austrian Hungarian compromise but let’s just stick to the Trianon treaty. Horthy did pretty good against all the odds. Trying to save what can be saved. I’m not going to go trough all the history and circumstances here, I believe you already know enough. As for Gypsies and Jews, as terrible as it might sound I can see it happen again. If you live in Hungary just take a stroll in a gypsie area and you’ll understand why. As far the Jews go check for Iraq, Gaza, world bank…

Budapest Beacon: What you are saying is that Horthy was determined to reunify as much of historical Hungary as possible, even at the risk of war, the decimation of Hungary’s pre-war population, the murder of its Jewish and Roma inhabitants, and fifty years of foreign domination.

Neither the Battle of Mohacs of 1526 nor the Austrian-Hungarian compromise of 1867 had anything to do with Horthy’s decision. We, too, are alarmed by the prospect of history repeating itself, which is why the Budapest Beacon is committed to fact-based reporting and historical accuracy. We do not wish to dignify your bigoted comment about Gypsies and Jews with a response except to say that irrational hatred of national and ethnic minorities lies at the very root of Hungary’s problems.

Robert Vidacs: Yes, that’s what I’m saying. You’re going as far as blaming the dying for trying to save himself!? Sure it was worth a try and it gave the nation few breaths before it’s pushed under the water once again and yes we’ll come up again and as many times it takes for a drowning man fights until it’s not all over and you like it or not we are still alive and kicking. Then you call me a bigot? Turn on the TV, face the reality! Who’s being irrational here? Don’t think for a second that I’m racist or anything of that kind. All I’m saying face the reality and clean up your act. The war is already on the border. Blame Hungary for that too, why not? And don’t stop there, blame Hungary for generations of unemployed, stealing and begging gypsies and for the 1000000 dead Iraqis, Lybians and so on … ” irrational hatred of national and ethnic minorities lies at the very root of Hungary’s problems.” What an ironically evil statement is that! With Hungarian minority being the largest in entire Europe, having to put up with decades of assimilation, humiliation, imprisonment and massacres you have face to tell me this? (. . .)  So far you mostly proved anti Hungarian in addition to your fans calling Zoltan’s gypsies and misspelling the name of the country on purpose, saying its worst than the Nazi Germany and you are saying the problem is in me and my nation? Where is your response to these people? Well too obvious who lays with snakes here.

Budapest Beacon:  You wrongly accused the Beacon of being “led by hatred of (Hungary) and nothing else”. We did not call you a bigot. We said your comments were bigoted. But now that you mention it, anybody who blames Hungary’s Jews for what is happening in the Middle East could reasonably be considered a bigot.

Germany did not expect Hungary to participate in its invasion of the Soviet Union. And there were examples of European leaders of countries occupied by Nazi Germany that refused to cooperate in the deportation and murder of their Jewish citizens. We at the Beacon do not hold the current generation of Hungarians or the current government responsible for what happened seventy years ago. However, we do hold people like you responsible for promulgating such historical falsehoods and irrational beliefs and attitudes that foment hatred of national minorities and, if left unchecked, could once again plunge Europe back into war. And we are genuinely alarmed by the current Fidesz-KDNP government’s attempts to rewrite Hungary’s history to suit its ideological and political objectives.

Robert Vidacs:  It’s not only a fact, but you have agreed, too, that Horthy did pretty much in the case of the Jews. It’s also a fact that he wasn’t a German national socialist party enthusiast. Hungary doesn’t carry the burden of WWII. It’s the Nazis who take the responsibility. If you scorn Horthy for his patriotism then what is stopping you from classifying poets József Attila and Petőfi in the same group? And many others in the course of our history.While I wholly support your dedication to safeguard the society when it comes to neofascism and low life hooliganism turning blind eye on the Roma question and the apocalyptic Zionism certainly isn’t something I’d agree with you on.

Budapest Beacon: Yes, Horthy did “pretty much” in the case of Hungary’s Jews. During his regency of nearly a quarter of a century he allowed some 100 anti-Jewish acts and government decisions to come into force, beginning with the Numerus Clausus Act of 1922 and culminating in the decision in April 1944 to deport 437,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau in May-July of that year–mostly women and children as the able bodied Jewish men had already been conscripted into labor battalions. Whatever protection Horthy afforded the Jews of Budapest went by the wayside when he resigned in October 1944 in favor of Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szalasi. To say that Horthy’s hand-picked successor did not share Horthy’s sense of noblesse oblige towards Jews living in the country’s capital would be a gross understatement. Now if you will excuse us, we have more important things do then debate Hungarian history with someone who obviously hasn’t studied it.