Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Economist 18 6 2012 Hungary new hero : HORTY

Eastern approaches

Ex-communist Europe

Hungarian history

Does Hungary have a new hero?

Jun 18th 2012, 18:27 by A.L.B. | BUDAPEST
MIKLOS HORTHY, Hungary's wartime leader, whose birthday is today, is enjoying acontroversial renaissance. This weekend the mayor of Csókakő, a picturesque village west of Budapest, inaugurated a bust of the admiral, flanked by far-right supporters in military-style uniforms.
The Csókakő memorial is the latest of a wave of Horthy memorials. The town square in Gyömrő, has been renamed for him. Horthy's Alma Mater, the Reform College of Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, has put up a plaque to its former pupil.
A former officer in the Austro-Hungarian navy, Miklós Horthy ruled Hungary between 1920 and October 1944 when he was toppled in a coup by Hungarian Arrow Cross Nazis. He is the most divisive and controversial figure in modern Hungarian history. Another statue of him, in Kereki, a village near Lake Balaton, has already been doused in red paint. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Budapest on June 17th to protest against his rehabilitation.
Horthy's defenders argue that he brought peace, stability and steady economic growth after the trauma of the Treaty of Trianon, when Hungary lost two-thirds of its lands, and the Communist dictatorship of 1919. Caught between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he did his best in an impossible balancing act to protect Hungarian national interests.
Hungary remained a quasi-democracy for most of his rule and a relatively safe haven for its Jewish community. Horthy repeatedly refused Nazi demands to deport Hungary's Jews, which was which was one of the reasons why Nazi Germany invaded in March 1944. Horthy mobilised Hungary's armed forces to protect the Jews of Budapest, many of whom survived the war. His emissaries were in covert contact with the Allies and he wanted to change sides. Hungary was also a haven for Polish, Slovak and even Jewish refugees,
Not enough, say Horthy's critics. Horthy declared war on the Allies without being asked by Hitler in 1941 and launched a disastrous campaign on the eastern front that saw 200,000 soldiers killed or captured. By passing four anti-Jewish laws he laid the ground for the Holocaust in Hungary. (The last law in 1941 outlawed sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews.) Tens of thousands of Jewish men died in forced labour subjugated by the Hungarian army, Many were killed by their own officers or forced to march through minefields to clear them. Horthy deported 20,0000 Jewish refugees who were then shot by the Nazis.
The main charge against Horthy is his inaction during the first stage of the Holocaust. In summer 1944 437,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Most were killed on arrival. This could not have happened without the willing assistance of the Hungarian state, especially the brutal Gendarmerie, who rounded the Jews up, forced them into ghettos and onto the trains.
Had Horthy ever called for mass resistance - as happened in Denmark and Bulgaria - many more Hungarian Jews might have survived. The fact that he was able to prevent the deportations of the Jews of Budapest shows that he could have tried to stop the deportations from the countryside. Some even argue that Horthy only took action in Budapest as he was warned through intermediaries that if the deportations continued he would be tried for war crimes.
Nor is the disquiet confined to liberal and left-wingers. Many young thinkers on the right are critical of the growing nostalgia for the 1930s and the Horthy cult. Tamas Novak,writing in, an influential conservative blog, said that statues should not be erected to either Miklós Horthy or János Kádár, Hungary's long-serving communist leader, and squares should not be renamed in their honour. "Both deserve contempt, and their main goal was their political survival."
Horthy era-writers are also being rehabilitated. Three far-right novelists will be reintroduced into the national curriculum this autumn, including József Nyírő, who was an open admirer of the Nazis. A commemoration was recently held in Nyírő's honour at a Budapest cultural centre. The centre is named after Miklós Radnóti, a Jewish writer and one of Hungary's greatest poets, who was killed by Hungarian Nazis.
George Szirtes, a Hungarian-born British poet, wrote about the event: "It is a significant gesture and there is no chance it is carelessness. What it says is: You think it's your house. Well we're taking it over."
Others argue that T.S Eliot and Ezra Pound have been accused of anti-Semitism and are still studied and admired. For them the question is one of context.
Either way, the Horthy revival comes at a time of growing anti-Semitism. In April a member of parliament of Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary, a radical nationalist party, revived the blood libel that Jews murder Christian children in a speech in parliament. Soon after, several Holocaust memorials were defaced or vandalised and a Jewish cemetery was desecrated. Pigs trotters were left draped on a memorial for Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in the Holocaust. József Schweitzer, the 90 year-old former chief Rabbi, was abused in the street by a man who told him that he "hates all Jews".
Viktor Orbán, the prime minister, and the government quickly condemned the incidents and assured Hungary's Jewish community of its support and safety. János Áder, Hungary's new president, visited Rabbi Schweitzer in solidarity.
But as support for the ruling Fidesz party fades in the polls,it seems the government is guarding its right flank. In an interview with Die Presse, an Austrian daily, Mr Orbán said that one should separate political and historical debates. While he would definitely oppose a statue of Lenin, Stalin or Hitler in Hungarian municipalities, it was up to local governments to decide which statues they wanted to erect.

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Misi bacsi
The great Hungarian American historian,Istvan Deak has written:"the main part of the job(mass murder of almost 500,000 Jews in 57 days in Spring-Summer of 1944) was performed by Hungarians,according to some estimates 200,000 of them..." Although a secondary result of his "coup" against the Germans was the end of deportations from Budapest in the fall of 1944,Professor Deak has the last word on Horthy:"If anyone should have been decorated for valor(the coup)and executed for the vilest of crimes against humanity,it was this dignified,charming,rather dim-witted former Austro- Hungarian admiral". I know as my cousin walked through the gates of Auschwiz-Birkenau one hot summer day with his entire family.By the end of the day,the ashes of his family were falling on the ground. Orban is humiliating the memory of the Shoah,let alone Hungary in letting the Horthy nonsense progress. Michael Kaplan Portland,Oregon
To put things in perspective:
1. Horthy was a bad ally of the Germans. Hitler did not like him. They were pushing Horthy to do what they wanted and he made fairly good trick to avoid to do what he did not want, like giving out the Jews in Hungary. Many of these laws we mention were made due to German pressure and have never been respected. Hitler also explained once that in Hungary, under Horthy, the Jews are controlling everything.
Now, that Germany lost the war the problem with Horthy is not that he was a bad German ally. The problem is that he was an ally.
Thus Horthy was problematic for the Germans before the war, during the war and even now he is problematic.
Here the point is that dominant countries are always right, and this is true even when the direction of the "right" changes 180 degrees.
2. Completely different topic. I do not want to make a lot of parallels, however, I cannot resist.
Well-known that the Hungarian government had to put down the deficit to around 3% in the election year of 2010, even if it meant a 3-4% cut in the on-going budget, which is sort of crazy. (The previous government overspent.)
They had to due that due to IMF. They did not want to do it, and wanted to allow for a larger deficit.
Now people start to say that the Hungarian government, foolishly, cut the deficit and this killed growth.
Just and idea for Economist 2015.
For cryin out loud cut your rambling posts to a size people actually want to read.
Oh hang on: I'll do it for you: Horthy was not exactly the same as the nazis and therefor he's a hero. We've heard that non-sequitur before and it was already dealt with in this discussion.
"Horthy was not exactly the same as the nazis and therefor he's a hero"
My impression was rather that you were confronted with detailed answers from scholarly works on the topic and your answer was only the labeling "nazi", etc. The word "imperialist" so far did not surface.
I strongly believe that in Hungary what happened during the second word war is much better understood than, for example, in Slovakia or the Czech Republic -- unfortunately, no doubt about that. Think on that the Benes' decretes are still active, collectively labeling entire groups of people guilty.
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"By passing four anti-Jewish laws he laid the ground for the Holocaust in Hungary. (The last law in 1941 outlawed sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews.) "
This sugests that Horthy did not want that non-Jews and Jews are having sex with each other. I understand that the article has to look interesting, but this is just not the case ...
In reality, 800 000 Jews and people of Jewish origin lived in Hungary, many of whom certainly had sex with non-Jews. E.g., many people lived in mixed marriages.
1. These type of laws were made due to German pressure. As the article also states that Germans invaded partly because Hungary did not give out the Jews, it is also easy to understand what the alternative of these laws was. An even earlier German income.
These laws would be outrageous in a peaceful situation, however, still are infinitely better to live under these laws, the practical relevance of which was often zero, for some years than die. This was also the perpective of the people -- it could be expected that the war would finish after some years and they had to live until that time.
To present these laws as a product of Horthy is incorrect for this reason.
2. As another blogger already said: Horthy was not the prime minister. He was the governor. He could not make laws. He could send back laws to the parlament once if he did not like them. His political influence was very limited.
Thus, to present these laws as a product of Horthy is incorrect for this other reason, as well.
In the order of things related to Horthy, the writer of the article missed one point.
Daniel Peter, the supporter of Gyurcsany put red paint on the statute of Horthy with the text "War Criminal" and "Mass Murderer".
Before, he drew the attention to himself claiming that one of the well-known 1956 freedomfighter (she was in prison for 13 (!!!) years) was a prostitute. This of course was a completely disgusting nonsense and it is a miracle how Daniel avoided stronger reactions for his deeply amoral activities. Thus, this guy is a low-level provocator and typical could-be-member of any extremist organization.
The actions against the Jewish memorials could have been a sort of "reaction" in the minds of the people who committed them. Correct me if I miss the order of things, however, I think I am not. Indeed, Horthy saved a lot of Jews, put much more effort to protect them than majority of politicians in Europe (think on that somehow nobody was bombing the Auschwitz train lines, which had zero risk; no other country let in 80 000 foreign Jews like Hungary, etc.) and at the end these postcommunist provocators destroy a statue of Horthy that is put _somewhere_ in Hungary.
This statute story, by the way, never could become an issue without this red paint story. Nobody would have noticed that such a statute was placed in these remote places of Hungary. (On the other hand, if people want to put a statue of Horthy (like of anybody else), they have to be able to do it, and anybody who destroys a public statue is committing vandalism.)
As during the elections of 2010, the only chance of the Socialists if they generate further scandals. This is what actually they are trying to do.
My sole consolation is that the statues erected so far are ridiculously amateurish. The one shown in this article is PAINTED stone.
Before talking about Disraeli, I might point out that in democratic England the first black officer managed to reach the rank of major during the second World War. In undemocratic Hungary however, "the forlorn baronet" had become a Colonel General in the army during the first one. Poor Jewish Samuel Hazai. And on top of it, during Horthy's "fascist" regime, in 1927, he became a member of the Upper House of Parliament. Some persecution.
I hate to break this gently to you but being nice to one baronet does not confer the right to p*ss on Slovakians, Romanians, Croats, Serbs, orthodox Jews who did not convert (neither to Christianity nor magyarism)or on Jews caught by the antisemitic legislation Horthy introduced, or on Jews murdered by Horthy's "white terror", on Romani people or, for that matter, on the non-baronet part of the population in general (the three million beggars)and so on and so get the picture...
See if "being nice to one baronet" was the whole story.
The story of reception of foreign refugees seeking asylum in Hungary when governed by “Horthy fascism” according to Braham:
“The first (Jewish) asylum seekers arrived from Germany (to Hungary), soon after the Nuremberg Laws had been enacted in 1935. They were followed in much greater number by Austrian Jews after the Anschluss in 1938, that made the Third Reich an immediate neighbour of Hungary. One year later, upon the annexation of the Czech-Moravian Protectorate by Germany, Jews fled from there to Hungary and after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia from the Slovak puppet state that declared herself independent.
These German, Austrian and Protectorate refugees were well to do people, who had relatives living in Hungary or had business connections in Hungary. So, on the whole, they did not need any assistance from the Jewish organisations working in Hungary.
A small number of Polish Jewish refugees arrived in Hungary even before the outbreak of the world war, mostly from Galicia, who set out for better economic conditions than that which prevailed at home, on one hand, and on the other, they wanted to get out of the increasingly unbearable anti-Semitic atmosphere in Poland. Greater number arrived to Hungary, when in September, 1939, the Nazis (and the Soviets) destroyed Poland. Primarily it was the anti-Nazi intellectuals who arrived from Poland. Then there were Jews among the soldiers of the defeated Polish army who sought asylum in Hungary. In the number of Polish soldiers, approximately 140-150,000, who found refuge in Hungary after the collapse, there were between 5 and 15,000 Jews….
(Apart from those, who continued their journey during the next few months) Great number of Polish military and civilian personnel decided to stay in Hungary. The Hungarian authorities were extremely generous to the catholic Poles, owing to the traditional friendship, and co-operated fully with them. They also gave due respect to the Jewish soldiers. Most of the Polish Jewish officers and soldiers were settled in a camp north of Esztergom in Vámosmikola, where they lived in good conditions until October 15, 1944, the time of the Szálasi putsch.”
“Mostly the young and strong Jews managed to get to Hungary from the direction of Slovakia, those who could not tolerate the harsh conditions that applied to the ghettos that had been founded by the Germans in Poland.
The official Jewish leaders in Hungary had mixed feelings toward them. … They repeatedly announced to the public that they had no knowledge of this illegal immigration and they would not support it in the least. In their view the entire refugee problem was exclusively a matter for the police, matter for the authorities: ‘The Jewish community in Hungary never held this type of immigration desirable and never assisted it.’”
(Source: Randolph L. Braham: A magyar holocaust, első kötet (vol. I.), Gondolat, 1988, pp.88-89.)
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As to being a neighbour of Russia, lets read the beginning of William G. Bray: Russian frontiers: from Muscovy to Khrushchev, Bobbs-Merrill, 1963, pp 11, 13:
’” For five centuries, Russians have been seeking a final frontier which they never find.” This statement by A. L. Kennedy in a lead article in the January, 1947, issue of The Quarterly Review sums up our problem with Russia. ... A brief study of five centuries of Russian history makes it clear that Russia’s aggression today follow the same pattern that has guided her every maneuver since approximately 1462 A. D....This territorial hunger can be compared to the farmer who, when queried as to why he was acquiring so much land, said: „I don’t want much land, I just want that which joins my farm.”
And in 1939, with Russia having invaded the eastern half of Poland, Horthy’s Hungary found herself to be „the land joining his farm”. The rest is self-explanatory.
Poor wantirna, his idea of democracy seems to be a forlorn baronet in the war office appointed by a terminally confused deeply antidemocratic Habsburg monarch. In Great-Britain, one of the major treaty-makers as you so correctly point out, they had a chap called Disraeli actually running the whole country as prime-minister long before that (prime-minister in Britain actually implies winning elections, you know).
Writes SlavoMir: "as a rule you don't get democracy / plebiscites and stuff when you denied it to others.."
Fair enogh. One of the major Treaty Makers, the British, commissioned the first African black officer, Seth Kwabla Anthony, of their Army only in 1942.
While in Hungary, the Baronet Samuel Hazai, a Jew, was appointed not a Second Lieutnant but the Minister for War in 1916. What a difference, mate.
Excuse me for being a little confused.
Are you actually comparing the late Generaloberst who was born as Samu Khon at Rimaszombat (Hungary) on the 26th of December 1851 to a Black officer in The Brit army.
Are you all right?
Where have you been in the past decades? Do you allow your wife to vote at all?
Hungary has been a cultural and ethnic melting pot for centuries if not millennia.
The well loved Husleves is a Jewish traditional dish.
You amongst all have the least right to be nacionalist towards your fellow citizens.
The first Roma families were settled btween 1239 and 1242 by Bela the Fourth. That is well over 750 years.
Please stop being ignorant and WAKE UP!!! It is you people that finally heed to adjust!
I am afraid you are not "a little confused" you are very confused. So much so, that you don't know what you are talking about.
You need to decide whether you want to talk about voting rights, Jewish quisine, migration of Gypsies, or my well being?
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I admire Horthy, Pilsudski, Franco, Salazar and Mussolini. The alternative was not liberal democracy, it was communism. None of them were even remotely interested in antisemitism, and many had Jews in their cabinets. They were patriots. Unfortunately, Mussolini's foreign policy was a complete disaster, unlike Franco and Salazar. Horthy just had bad geography, like Pilsudski.
And once again: the rocky horror Trianon show... When will you get it into your heads: the magyar state didn't lose a thing in Trianon, the magyar state was born in Trianon. The multiethnic kingdom before 1914 was in no way, shape or form a magyar kingdom for the very simple reason that for long centuries due to the ottoman occupation and its aftermath, there were hardly any magyars left in that kingdom. In the 19th century, the majority populations all of a sudden were told, to their sincere astonishment, that the kingdom was supposed to be magyar henceforth - and that's where the problems started and that's why the whole show was abolished in the end. Trianon should be a day of joy and celebration in the magyar state, it's the birthday of the magyar nation after all.
By closing down other nations elementary schools, colleges, cultural institutions, newspapers, by bullying, intimidating and imprisoning disenters and above all by counting anyone who was able to understand two words in magyar as a magyar, that's how they came about - no one, that is: no one in serious academia takes the census figures of 1910,1900, 1890 or 1880 seriously - they're just so much ficticious manipulated baloney. Sorry.
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The Treaties of Versailles at the end of WW1 have a lot to answer for.
1. The partition of the ancient country of Hungary.
2. The crucifying of the young Weimar republic under debt and then hyper inflation.
We are now paying for the 2nd mistake as Germany holds indebted Europe in a death-lock - not out of revenge but fear of hyperinflation driven more by the trauma of the 1920s-40s than by reason.
The venom in these pages makes me wonder in what way Europe might eventually pay for the injustice done to Hungary. Not out of vengence - Hungary is a democracy in NATO after all but in some other unintended way....
What means partition of an ancient country? Bulgarian empire is not also an ancient country? But Frankish empire? Poland was not bigger 500 years ago? What should we do, should we redraw maps because a state was bigger 600 year ago? The Hungarian kingdom dissappeared under Ottoman hits... It was restablished 600 years later in the regions where they were the majority ( as their last census said!). What is cruel in this?
"The Hungarian kingdom dissappeared under Ottoman hits"
Well, actually it didn't quite disappear.
The turks occupied the middle third of the medieval Hungarian kingdom. Northern and western parts (so-called Royal Hungary) lived under the Habsburgs who ruled as Kings of Hungary.
The eastern third became the Principality of Transylvania, under various degrees of turkish suzerainty.
"It was restablished 600 years later in the regions where they were the majority"
Actually, hungarian majority areas found themselves on the other side of the border after 1920, such as the southern 1/4 of Slovakia, the border strip of Satu Mare-Oradea-Salonta on the romanian side, the Szekely land, the northern third of Vojvodina in Serbia. These were large, contiguous majority areas.
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Hmm...The idea that Horthy is acceptable just because he wasn't exactly the same like the Nazis only goes to show how pathetically low the intellectual level of public discourse in the magyar republic has become.That bloodthirsty clown was himself not quite sure about the positive character of his political career: after all, where did he chose to spend his retirement? In democratic France? No. In parliamentary Britain? No. In constitutional America? No again. Horthy took his crimes and his shame to fascist Portugal where another one of those grotesque tinpot dictators was running the show (Salazar). Nazi? Maybe not. Authoritarian fascist? Absolutely.
Even if one forgets for a second the hyena-like cowardice Horthy manifested in his foreign "adventures" - under him, the magyar state was known as the country of three million beggars because he was running the country exclusively for the benefit of a small clique of politically and culturally retarded aristocratic landowners. And now the grandchildrend and the great-grandchildren of the three million beggars worship him as a hero. Go figure.
Whenever anyone criticizes Horthy for his "war crimes", I always tell them I would be curious to see what THEY would have done in such a situation. It is a matter of fact that Horthy managed to evade having to cave in to the Nazis for years.
Thanks to the work of a number of young historians, a much clearer, neither-black-nor-white picture of Horthy is emerging.
It is clear that any comparison between Horthy and the Nazis is flat-out demagoguery. It is equally clear that far-right idiots also misunderstand Horthy's role in Hungarian history.
I say, let the municipalities decide to whom and when they wish to erect statues and memorials, and we should not mix up such decisions with a few boisterous far-right idiots on the sideline.
to Adambum:
Thank you for your contribution!
It is refreshing to read lines of clear thinking and sane historical opinion on this thread. Keep responding to the shrill, badly misinformed cloaka which appears to be so heavily represented here.
The article did not mention some basic facts
1. László Kövér, Speakers of the National Assembly and other prominent members of the FIDESZ Party and the government take part in a commemoration of József Nyírő in Romania.
2. The FIDESZ party is not anti-Semitic.
They "just" admire some anti-Semitic persons of Hungarian history, like József Nyírő or Dezső Szabó.
3. According to the new Hungarian National Core Curriculum, high-school teacher are obligated to teach the works of József Nyírő or Dezső Szabó.
4. Reality is too complex and harsh, so FIDESZ telling them some fairy-tales.
One is about evil banks, the evil IMF, who are responsible for the economic problems, and the mighty government who fights for the people.
Other is about rewriting some controversial or shameful events of Hungarian history, like actions of Miklós Horty.
5. The real problem that the government cannot face its failures and actually believe their own fairy-tales.
The position of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the reinterring of the poet is as follows (in a nutshell, against it):
There are opinions amongst Hungarian MEPs that the decision for reinterring of the poet in Romania brings prejudice to the UDMR, the party that represents the Hungarian minority in this country. Between you and me the Romanian law allowing ethnic minorities to form political parties which can decide the laws of the country, is an abomination. How can their manifesto look like? Rights for minorities, more rights for minorities and yes, more rights for minorities - basically, creating a state in state as they have a captive electorate. But what's done is done and as some cynics would say (mainly bankers) it is a sunk cost.
It is telling that nobody from a bunch of schoolboys (interviewed by the leading news station of hungary) protesting FOR Horty in front of a school could tell anything about who he was...
Horthy has brought infamy and destruction to Hungary and its people. He was lucky to escape justice, but those who revere him enough to erect statues and rename streets must be prepared to assume some of his guilt.
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