An untimely celebration

Barely two weeks ago the thirtieth anniversary of the re-burial of admiral Miklós Horthy took place. His ashes had been repatriated from their resting place in Portugal and  interned in the town cemetery of his birth place in Kenderes. The awkward event in 1993 was condoned by many members of the then Prime minister József Antall and his colleagues and all the followers of the nascent retrograde right-wing political class.

The right-wing politicos, then only awakening, today are the ruling elite of the country. They found it proper to celebrate openly and without the slightest of shame or embarrassment the thirtieth anniversary in the person of János Lázár, a self-confessed admirerer of the ”Regent,” as Horthy was frequently called, in a glowing speech, his claims to greatness, enumerating Horthy’s dubious accomplishments. János Lázár never denied his devotion to the memory of Horthy, just as he has never been fazed by the countless accusations about him. Chief among them being that he betrayed his country to the Germans, tacitly agreed to the murder of some six hundred thousand Jews, with the assistance of his officials, and a loss to the Second Hungarian Army of some hundred and sixty thousand service men, plus the innumerable Jewish labour service personnel annihilated on the frozen batle fields of Ukraine, all of whom could call on Admiral Horthy as the author of their demise.

For some inexplicable reason Stalin exempted Horthy from the Nurenberg trials as a prospective accused; merely as a witness was he considered and thus survived the legal peril and lived out his life in exile in Portugal, without so much as a hair on his head being bent, or lost. Nevertheless, many Hungarians today, as before, consider him a traitor, a coward, a low quality politician and personality and on the whole, a war criminal, responsible for the demise of over a million Hungarian souls. Not to mention the almost complete destruction of Budapest in the siege.

And yet, János Lázár demanded in his commemorative oration just a few days ago, that …”the Admiral deserves clarity in his evaluation and that he was an exeptionally great head of state, a true Hungarian patriot and a military hero.” No mention was made of the lost army; nor was there any mention of the anti-Semitic hysteria fomented by Horthy for twenty-four years, leading to unspeakable loss and suffering at his instigation.

János Lázár, a particularly sinister member of Viktor Orban’s coterie, often crops up when offence can be rendered and he renders it unflinchingly, just as on this occasion, taking upon himself to be the anti-Semitic torch bearer of the government’s ”zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism.

This, however, was too much to tolerate without notice for the Chief Rabbi of Hungary, one Rabbi Robert Frolich. He is a self-assured man of great oratorical skills, and the ability to speak always when it is most timely. He wrote an answer to Lázár, an answer of laconic cool and devastating economy. Here is Rabbi Frolich’s answer:

”János Lázár was correct when he demanded clear and unequivocal speech. And who would speak more  clearly about Miklós Horthy than he himself? We are quoting two letters he wrote, therefore, from Horthy. The first one is familiar, he wrote it to Pal Teleki (prime minister at the time), in 1940, about the ”Jewish Question.” ”As far as the Jewish Question is concerned, I have been an anti-Semite all my life, I have never had connections to Jews. I always regarded as intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, wealth, retail, theater, newspaper, trade, etc. should be in Jewish hands and that the mirror image of the Hungarian – especially abroad – is the Jew. However, since I regard one of the most important goals of the government to be the heightening of the living standards, that is to say we should get richer, it is impossible to switch out the Jews in a year or two while they have everyting in their hands and substitute them with ignoramuses, mostly worthless, big-mouth elements, because we will go bankrupt. This will require at least a generation. I claimed first and loudly the anti-Semitism, but I cannot view calmly inhumanity, sadistic, pointless humiliation, as long as we need them.”

The other letter he wrote to Hitler in 1943:


Following your Excellency’s invitation, I have travelled on the 16th of this present month to the castle in Klessheim, to exchange thoughts concerning our relationship as allies, in the spirit of our mutual interests and concerning the questions of our cooperation.

Since I am attributing a great deal of importance to maintaining an open and trusting relationship between our countries, I regard it as my duty to answer, in the necessary detail,  those recriminations that were made to me on the occasion during our lengthy discussions.

One of the reproaches was that supposedly in Hungary the Jews are given too mild a treatment. In this respect, without being too self-confident, I can refer to the fact that, at the time, I was the first to raise the issue of the destructive behaviour  of the Jews and since then I have taken sufficient measures to curtail their influence. Because of this new direction at the time,  Germany and the whole world punished my country with a boycott. My measures, however, practically denied the Jews of the possibility to continue exercising their baleful influence on the public life of the country. The enormuos difficulties we had to overcome were caused by the circumstance that commerce and industry beforehand were almost entirely in the hands of Jews.”

Sandor Kerekes

PS: We shall have to deal with the Nazi speech yet, thanks to another dignitary, outdoing even the above one by a great deal just a few days later. But for one article this much should be more than enough.


  1. Thank you for your reporting and commentary regarding the Horthy cult, especially since I am very familiar with letters written by Horthy. Without Hungarian participation, the nazis could never have deported the Jewish Hungarians to their death in 1944. The active role of over 200,000 Hungarian officials in that process is well known to historians including Deak István. Horthy and others encouraged antisemitism through the various so called “Jewish Laws” and direct murder even before the 1944 deportations. It is a scandal that the current Hungarian regime is honoring this “un-indicted” war criminal. At age 76, I am glad that my relatives who survived the death camp and/or deportations are not alive to witness such scandals.

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