German-Hungarian cooperation in the destruction of the Hungarian Jewry

Yesterday I wrote about the Orbán government’s bizarre plan to erect a statue to commemorate the occupation of Hungary by the German army. Since then a flash mob was organized on Szabadság tér where the memorial will be placed and several more people expressed their misgivings about the very idea.

Magyar Nemzet was content to republish the official explanation, according to which the monument will pay homage to the spirit of the new constitution’s preamble which points to Hungary’s loss of sovereignty on March 19, 1944. It seems, however, that even this pro-government paper found the explanation meaningless and hence came up with an imaginative headline: “The government honors every Hungarian victim.” That is, if we are to believe Magyar Nemzet, this monument is a gesture to the victims of the Holocaust.

Magyar Hírlap, a paper to the right of Magyar Nemzet, ran a fairly lengthy op/ed piece by Péter Szentmihályi Szabó, a poet and writer of far-right political views. He, as opposed to historians specializing in the period, is certain that “the German occupation eliminated even the appearance of Hungarian independence, made it impossible to sign a separate peace and made the territory of the country a battleground.” According to Szentmihályi Szabó, placing the new memorial on the same square as the monument to the Soviet liberation of Hungary is an excellent idea because it emphasizes the geopolitical impossibility of a good decision on the part of the Hungarian government.

Even without a detailed knowledge of German-Hungarian relations during the 1930s and 1940s it is obvious that Szentmihályi Szabó doesn’t know what he is talking about. We can’t really speak of “occupation” in the classical meaning of the word because, after all, sending German troops to Hungary came about with Miklós Horthy’s consent. No notes were taken of the conversation between Hitler and Horthy in Klessheim, but it can be reconstructed fairly well. Horthy wasn’t threatened as one recent article claimed. And the main topic wasn’t the deportation of Hungary’s Jewry, although Hitler demanded 50,000 men to work in Germany, which Horthy agreed to. As for making a separate peace with the Russians, Szentmihályi should know that this idea was abhorrent to Horthy, who was a fierce anti-communist. He didn’t entertain the idea until the Soviets were on Hungarian soil. As for the German occupation being the reason that Hungary became a battleground, this is also a patent misinterpretation of history. As the Soviet Union moved westward it engaged the remaining members of the Axis powers, which included the Hungarian army.

Hitler and Horthy

Horthy instructed the Hungarian military and public officials to cooperate with the German forces. The Germans couldn’t complain about the Hungarian attitude. Or, if they had any complaint it was about the Hungarian eagerness to get rid of as many Hungarian Jews as possible. Auschwitz wasn’t prepared for the onslaught that Hungarian officials sent. They were ready for one transport of 3,000 a day, but the undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior which handled the deportation sent six transports a day. The Germans eventually managed to convince their Hungarian friends to send no more than four transports daily. And the old story that Horthy was so despondent and so discouraged that he completely withdrew from the affairs of state is also inaccurate. There are documents that attest to the fact that on April 13, 1944 he approved sending the 50,000 Jewish workers to Germany as he promised in Klessheim.

The op/ed piece that appeared in HVG yesterday (“Monument to the Hungarian Collaborators”) is pretty close to the truth. Adolf Eichmann’s staff, including even the drivers, was no larger than 60-80 men. They had to rely exclusively on Hungarian cooperation. In fact, Hungary was so well organized that the Germans themselves were surprised. Given the well-oiled machine, the consensus is that the deportation of Hungarian Jews had been worked out in detail ahead of time. The Germans in occupied countries let the local forces do the dirty work, and “solutions” varied from country to country. In Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and France the local authorities chose paths that enabled most of their Jewish population to survive. If the Hungarian authorities had been less eager to get rid of their Jewish compatriots the result might have been very different. Just as in July when Horthy halted the deportation of Budapest’s Jewish population, he could have forbidden it in April with the possible exception of the 50,000 workers he promised to Hitler. Or, if the local authorities had sabotaged or slowed down the process, the number of victims could have been much smaller. But about 200,000 people were obediently working to fulfill the Hungarian plan. Krisztián Ungváry figured out that if the Hungarian authorities had stuck to the quota the Germans wanted (3,000 a day) 267,000 people would have survived the ordeal.

Historians studying the period find that the deportation was welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the Hungarian people. Yes, there were a few people who tried to save lives, but the majority approved the segregation and eventual removal of the Jewish population. In Veszprém the Catholic Church even organized a Te Deum mass to celebrate the deportation. There was wide consensus on the “Jewish question,” especially when it became clear that it was the Hungarian state that was the main beneficiary of the destruction of the Hungarian Jewry. Mind you, eventually some of the confiscated material was destroyed, lost, or stolen.

Hungarian historians have done an incredible amount of research on the subject in the last thirty-forty years, and I’m sure that thousands more articles and books will appear on seemingly every aspect of the question in the future. So, the problem is not a lack of knowledge. The trouble is that that information simply doesn’t penetrate the consciousness of the wider public, most likely because they don’t want to hear about all the horrors that took place in their country with Hungarian complicity. It is easier to say that the Hungarian government and the Hungarian people could do nothing to prevent the German atrocities.

117 comments

  1. Éva, as a German I can only say that without German political strong-arming the Hungarian hidden or open desire to murder Jews and plunder their belongings would never have produced such fatal results on such a large scale. Most “salon anti-semites” either didn’t want to have to do with Jews socially or wanted their role in various important fields deminished. That had already happened under Horthy. But most didn’t want them physically extinguished. They got the idea to actually wipe out 600000 Jewish men, women and children as soon as Eichmann appeared. It must have made them high – and made them guilty. Whatever Orbán says about March 19, 1944.

    As most Hungarians seem to be believers with a challenged reality-check capability, Orbán’s reconstruction of history seems to them just fine. None of them will ever read the articles that prove that history was indeed quite different.

    I guess we have many countries with a certain percentage of reality-shy believers, but probably not many where they represent the majority as in Hungary.

    Orbán’s authoritarianism will end some time, but not 2014. I shudder at the thought about who will be able to pick up the pieces.

  2. Very good article. Some of the things as much as I know the truth I just fund out . I had no idea the Germans don’t want or (can’t handle) that many transport. So Hungarians really put a lot of extra person to they death . How sweet it is to blame everything on the Germans. We all know that the first Jewish law was in Hungary much before Germany. Germany was still a decadent free spirited country when Horthy had restriction on the Jewish population.

  3. The Hungarian leaders have failed us.
    Name a decent prime minister, governor, bishop or cardinal.
    We had a history of failures.
    Our anthem is beautiful, but full of bitterness.
    Our citizens are not like the average Canadian, American….
    We are not civilized.

  4. I believe Minusio is right. The Germans played the music, but it takes two to tango.
    In Szolnok 3 German soldiers put about 7 thousand Jews into railroad cars to send them to concentration camps. Dozens of Hungarian policemen helped them (and took all valuables).
    Only a small minority of the Hungarian population condemned these atrocities.

    LS

  5. The intended statue in of all places on Szabadság (Freedom) square commemorating the German Occupation of Hungary is another edifice to muck the already somber, dark waters of history – on a Square which is beginning to be the ‘garbage dump’ of the skeletons of past conflicting ideologies and systems of the 20th Century as played out in a nearly inexpicable and painful sequence in Hungary.

    Effectively this area then will commemorate the Soviet “Liberation of Hungary” The Nazi “Domination of Hungary”, the 1956 uprising with the Imre Nagy Statue just in kitty-corner of the park and of course the presence of the American Embassy along the Edge of the Square, as well as the Hungarian National Bank and lastly the Bank Center symbolizing the Western Banking System… Add to this the notorious Bust of Horthy recently erected on Church property also along the edge of the square, and you might well find other edifices to add to this contradictory historical list of Panteons.

    I am 100% certain that the new German comemorative statue to German domination is being erected to utterly confuse the already confused Hungarian Mind and Ethos.

    One more contradictory mess of a statue will again muck the waters and give any and everyone an opportunity to pick and choose their favorite chums among the ‘muck-rakers’ (depending on your orientation) for the 20th Century.

    The purpose is to confuse the already poor abject and dizzy citizen with new garbage being thown at him. As a result when the next group of voters go to the urns the prospective voter will just thow up the sponge and say: this is just too complicated for me. I’ll just take the easiest alternative a mark with a cross the loudest party clammering for control. The one that seems to erect a new statue each month. There must be some good among them. I dont know which one is good, but one will surely fit my needs.

    This way, fidesz and potential followers can identify with any of the many choices of style made available by this benign goverment that seems to cater to everyone’s needs…

  6. Two years before the German occupation one could read on the front page of a “christian national” (Orbáns ilk also call themselves “Christian”):

    “Primeminister Miklós Kállay:
    There is no other final solution than the expulsion of 800.000 Jews”
    Györ, “Nemzeti Hirlap”, “Christian national daily 21 April 1942”

    Ágnes Heller wrote about “Orbáns looting of corpses” (Orbáns Leichenfledderei)

    Orbans Leichenfledderei
    Ágnes Heller findet es unerträglich, dass Ungarns Regierung mit Holocaust-Opfern ihr Image aufpoliert
    http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/17978

  7. Excerpts from Veesenmayer’s report on Hungary, December 10, 1943:

    “Since 1526, Hungary has never been an independent country. …

    Even the Rakoczi revolution was not a genuine revolution, only a revolt. …

    Hungarians usually liked the risk-free, passive resistance…

    The so-called Hungarian nation has existed since 1918, but it proved to be unfit for
    national life, and this will not change in the future….

    Fear cannot substitute ideology…

    The Hungarian national anthem was written by a German from Cologne, Erkel…

    Their most famous poets were Slovaks…

    Gömbös also had German blood…

    Regent Horthy spoke only broken Hungarian until 1925…
    If he becomes agitated he still turns to German…

    According to a Budapest joke, an optimist learns English, a pessimist learns Russian…

    The biggest enemy is the 1.1 million Jews in Hungary…

    The regent is a soldier, he is unfit for politics. We have to make him the Fuhrer’s soldier indirectly, by ridding [Horthy] from his entourage…

    We should copy the British principle and the Hungarians should work, fight and spill blood instead of us [Germans]…

    The Hungarian soldiers will never turn their weapons against the Germans, even if they get such orders…

    [from the 3rd attachment]

    We should use the politics of carrots and sticks wit respect to Horthy.

    3. We should demand a new government in ultimatum, without giving detailed reasons.
    9. We can give a promise to spare his Hofjuden

    THe country should be divided into 5 districts. They will be led by bloodhounds, appointed by the Interior Minister. We already have the appropriate names.”

  8. Lászlo :

    I believe Minusio is right. The Germans played the music, but it takes two to tango.
    In Szolnok 3 German soldiers put about 7 thousand Jews into railroad cars to send them to concentration camps. Dozens of Hungarian policemen helped them (and took all valuables).
    Only a small minority of the Hungarian population condemned these atrocities.

    LS

    In Pécs they didn’t even need the Germans. A couple of Hungarian gendarmes led the march to the railroad station. My father witnessed it because their business stood on the route.

  9. Horthy did attempt a “kiugrás”, prompting German occupation March 19, 1944. Stalin himself had acknowledged this fact and for this reason he didnot agree to exradite Horthy to Yugoslavia to be tried.

  10. From a Fidesz flyer, probably from 1989:

    ————-
    What does Fidesz want?

    Parliamentary democracy based on the free competition of political forces.

    Responsible government, independent courts.

    Democratic education, free of ideology, independence of educational institutions.

    Churches freed from the state, state freed from the Church.

    Life free of fear.

    Freedom, equality, solidarity!
    ——————

    Source:
    http://orulunkvincent.blog.hu/2014/01/02/idezet_a_reggeli_kavehoz_481

  11. From a Fidesz flyer, probably from 1989:

    What does Fidesz want?

    Parliamentary democracy based on the free competition of political forces.

    Responsible government, independent courts.

    Democratic education, free of ideology, independence of educational institutions.

    Churches freed from the state, state freed from the Church.

    Life free of fear.

    Freedom, equality, solidarity!

  12. Tappanch, you are too smart. That was then, this is now. After the shock of 1994, Fidesz needed some time to adjust to the real demands of the people, but eventually it did adjust rather well. Now Fidesz does not much more (well, it collects literally hundreds of billions of HUF into its own coffers) than satisfying what the majority wants: cheaper energy, tougher stance on the dirty homeless, foreign investors, the gipsies et cetera. This is what people seem to want first and foremost, and this is what they will get. That is how democracy works (well, a new election system and suchlike do help).

  13. Ferkó :
    Tappanch, you are too smart. That was then, this is now. After the shock of 1994, Fidesz needed some time to adjust to the real demands of the people, but eventually it did adjust rather well.

    I would rather say, that Fidesz managed to adjust the people’s real(?) demands to fit to their purpose – what is to rule and prosper, take as much as possible in any way possible, while feeding the public with empty slogans and pseudo/virtual-welfare BS in order to keep them dependent of their ‘good will’ – and they got away with it smoothly.

    Unfortunately it proves, that such people doesn’t even deserve anything better.

  14. An interesting point was raised in Amerikai Nepszava the other day… Fidesz recently created a law about the “crimes of communism”…. but wait… wasn’t Hungary occupied by the Soviet army when those atrocities were committed? Yet leaders cooperating with the Soviets are guilty, while leader cooperating with the Nazis are not responsible.

  15. civ civ civ :
    The Hungarian leaders have failed us.
    Name a decent prime minister, governor, bishop or cardinal.
    We had a history of failures.
    Our anthem is beautiful, but full of bitterness.
    Our citizens are not like the average Canadian, American….
    We are not civilized.

    Hungarians have an absolute lack of long term vision. Even people on the streets seem to be barely able to look past the tip of their own noses, so self-occupied they are with their own little thoughts and lives. Dealing with things like democracy is too much to ask…

  16. “Primeminister Miklós Kállay:
    There is no other final solution than the expulsion of 800.000 Jews”

    This an example of the quote which is cut in the middle and is quoted out of context. The text continues that the expulsion problem should be postponed until after the war.
    Kallay did not want Horthy to appoint him because he thought he would not be able to rule due to his not-antisemitism. He met the leaders of the government party and ask them on conditions of their support. They replied that antisemitism is one of them, and he promised the anti-Jewish land reforms and anti-Jewish speeches that he sometimes coordinated with Jewish leaders. The expulsion was meaningless because he postponed it until the end of the war. Kallay’s consistent pro-Jewish policies (while included some anti-Jewish rules) was a major reason of his dismissal and the occupation. he rejected all German demands in relation to the Jews. He was very good in Kallai-Kettos in relation to both Germans and his domestic right-wing politicians.

    If Horthy dismissed Kallay in April 1943, as Hitler demanded and Horthy firmly refused, Imredy or Stozai were made premiers, and the deportations would start a year earlier and with much more tragic results.

    I regret that the article in discussion is so wrong about that period.

  17. Eliezer, I didn’t write about Kállay and 1943. The topic was the occupation of Hungary and Horthy’s behavior after that date. I’m not wrong, or if I’m wrong all reputable Hungarian historians are wrong. Something I very much doubt.

  18. My additional comment. This sentence of the author shows how careless the author about truth:

    “As for making a separate peace with the Russians, Szentmihályi should know that this idea was abhorrent to Horthy, who was a fierce anti-communist. ”

    Is not it true that Horthy and premier Lakatoz did made a truce with the Russians on October 15, 1944, and while Horthy prepared his proclamation to the nation, his son Miklos jr. was abducted? Not true that the proclamation was read over radio, and this was the reason of Horthy immediate arrest and replacement with Salazci?

    If no minutes of Horthy’s meeting with Hitler exist, how the author knows that Horthy agreed to occupation if he himself firmly denied it? Is it not true that Hitler delayed departure and kept him incommunicado until completing the occupation? The minutes of the last meeting of Kallay’s government do exist – Horthy never agreed.

    Also, the German minister Vassenmeyer transferredn Horthy Hitler’s demand that he need to keep only appearances and not to participate in governing. Horthy returned himself partial power with military coup on July 5th, and then he stopped the deportations. Then he did the 2nd coup in August when he dismissed Stoyaji (not sure in spelling) government. Is not it well-registered by the historians who are skilled in their art?

  19. Eliezer

    Eliezer :
    “Primeminister Miklós Kállay:
    There is no other final solution than the expulsion of 800.000 Jews”
    This an example of the quote which is cut in the middle and is quoted out of context. The text continues that the expulsion problem should be postponed until after the war.
    Kallay did not want Horthy to appoint him because he thought he would not be able to rule due to his not-antisemitism. He met the leaders of the government party and ask them on conditions of their support. They replied that antisemitism is one of them, and he promised the anti-Jewish land reforms and anti-Jewish speeches that he sometimes coordinated with Jewish leaders. The expulsion was meaningless because he postponed it until the end of the war. Kallay’s consistent pro-Jewish policies (while included some anti-Jewish rules) was a major reason of his dismissal and the occupation. he rejected all German demands in relation to the Jews. He was very good in Kallai-Kettos in relation to both Germans and his domestic right-wing politicians.
    If Horthy dismissed Kallay in April 1943, as Hitler demanded and Horthy firmly refused, Imredy or Stozai were made premiers, and the deportations would start a year earlier and with much more tragic results.
    I regret that the article in discussion is so wrong about that period.

    Eliezer It was me who quoted Kállay and not Eva. Kállay also said in Györ: “Nem kényszerböl megyünk a háborúba”, telling the truth, nobody forced Horthy to declare war.
    Krisztián Ungváry wrote about Kállay “nem volt mentes némi antiszemitizmustól”
    Randolph L. Braham on Kállay: “His position on the Third Reich tended to fluctuate with the fortunes of the war, which prompted–many an observer to characterize his policies as the “politics of the swing” (hintapotitika).
    Kállay’s overall objectives did not essentially differ from those of his predecessors. In addition to preserving the values and character of the social and economic order, Kállay aimed at undoing what the Hungarians had regarded as the injustices of Trianon, protecting the sovereignty and independence of the counby, and preserving the military strength of the
    nation to assure a favorable postwar settlement. In the pursuit of these objectives, He followed a generally pro-German line during his first year in office. Thouqh his course was undoubtely influenced to some extent by internal political considerations, there is reason to believe that it was essentially based on his belief in the military supremacy of the ‘Third
    Reich’. In spite of temporary setbacks in the winter of 1941-42, Germany was in 1942 at the peak of its military power and conquests.” (The politics of Genocide, p. 231)

    Kállay initiated the adoption of new anti-Jewish laws, made a series of anit-Jewish policy statements, and authorized the allocation of several thousand Jewish labor servicement to the Germans for work in the copper mines of Bor, (Serbia) as well as the deployment of tens of thousands of labor servicement in the Ukraine.
    The measures adopted by the Kállay gov. during the first four months induced German ambassador Jagow to assure Ribbentrop of Kállay’s loyalty to the Third Reich. He emphasized that Kállay had in fact taken “a sharper position on the Jewish question than all of his predecessors.”
    So Horthy and his ilk believed in the German victory and after the Second Hungarian Army was destroyed at Voronesh (January 12, 1943) and the German defeat at Stalingrad Kállay began to reorient his policies. Nevertheless, while eager to free Hungary from its entanglements with the Axis Powers before their ultimate defeat they were palyzed by fear of the Soviet Union.

    Lets face the fact. Horthy nominated Döme Sztójay on March 23, 1944 as prime minister and 3 months later when Hungarian administration, Hungarian Gendarms were busy to deport Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau Horthy nominated Sztójay as “vitéz”.

    The specifically Hungarian form of antisemitism, with its venom and greed is also explicable in terms of the psychological condition in which Hungarians found themselves at the time. Cursed with a rankling inferiority complex towards both Germans and Jews but unable to vent their spleen on the former, the Hungarian majority tried to cope by fawning on the Germans while savaging the Jews.

  20. I don’t know where “Eliezer” gets his information but I’m afraid it is no more than a fairy tale version of what happened. For example, there was no military coup in Hungary in July 1944 or truce between Hungary and the Soviet Union on October 15.

    As for what happened in Klassheim. The discussions between Horthy and Hitler can be reconstructed on the basis of other indirect evidence: notes by Ferenc Szombathelyi, chief of the general staff, who accompanied Horthy and the testimony of Ribbentrop in Nuremberg. I also recommend a book by Götz Aly and Christian Gerlach entitled Das letzte Kapitel, p. 113. A whole book was written on the subject by György Ránki entitled 1944, március 19. Horthy also told the Hungarians not to resist. All in all, at the end Horthy decided to cooperate.

  21. Eva S. Balogh :
    I don’t know where “Eliezer” gets his information but I’m afraid it is no more than a fairy tale version of what happened. For example, there was no military coup in Hungary in July 1944 or truce between Hungary and the Soviet Union on October 15.

    Actually, a coup attempt led by Baky (with Csendőrség units supported by the Gestapo) was thwarted by Gal. Koszorús under Horthy’s orders on July 5th-6th, 1944. It is fair to say that the move contributed to save a considerable number of Budapest Jews.

    However, unless one lives in the world of Horthy’s memoirs, this was only a side effect of the wider struggle beetween Hungarian pro-nazis and Hungarian nazi-allied fascists and national-conservatives. A struggle which was the direct consequence of Horthy’s previous bad choices from 1935 on. The regime only reaped what he sowed.

    And I know that comparison isn’t reason – especially as the geostrategy and history of Hungary and Spain are of course different – but in those years Francisco Franco, when supping with the devil, proved he had a much longer spoon than the Admiral’s.

  22. >Here one can also read about the details of the meeting of Horthy and Hitler and the promise of sending Hungarian Jewish citizens to Germany to which Horthy agreed.

    Have I misread you that you wrote Horthy agreed to occupation? To agree to send for labor is a different thing .

    Eva, is Professor Sandor Balogh from your family? He wrote in NY Times on April 26th, 1994, that at that time, I quote, “Horthy did act as a true hero”.

    I have no firm opinion about erecting the monument to occupation – it seems to me a rather stupid thing – to celebrate the nation’s humiliation. But to doubt that the event of lost sovereignty really took place is a revision of the real history. You write:

    “Not only did Miklós Horthy remain in his post after March 19 but he still had a fair amount of freedom to act. For example, to appoint governments or even to stop the deportations when he came to fear that Hungary’s German ally would lose the war and he personally might be held responsible for the deportation and ultimate death of approximately 600,000 Jewish citizens of Hungary.”

    The fact that there were no tanks on Budapest streets does not mean there was the sovereignty. Horthy had no freedom to act at all. He had a choice: either to resign or to submit and he chose not to resign. He had no freedom to appoint the premiere of his choice – he would certainly prefer Kallay to remain – but to choice was between Imredy or Sztójay (or Szálasi). After that, he was informed that he himself should withdraw from conducting the policy.

    And here is the key to the discussion. Of course, Hungarians cooperated. Of course, Eichmann himself was surprised in which degree. (Still about 110 thsd Jews failed to obey and to transfer to the “Jewish” houses to live, and they we not betrayed by about 100 thsd Hungarians, right?).

    But the fact is that Horthy lost power on March 19, and on July 3-7 he used loyal to him troops for a coup to partially restore his power and to stop the deportations. In August he staged the 2nd coup and dismissed Sztojay. All that saved practically all Budapest Jews, and it was freely recognized by Wallenberg. Wallenberg could do nothing for the Jews if Horthy did not stop the deportations – all the Jews were in Auschwitz by the end of July.

  23. P.S. One more comment on:
    ““Not only did Miklós Horthy remain in his post after March 19 but he still had a fair amount of freedom to act. For example, to appoint governments…”

    He had a real “freedom”! Whom of “good” people could he appoint? Keresztes-Fischer was arrested on March 20, Kallay’s residence was surrounded by SS, he ran through underground passages to the Regent’s residence in the Palace and was taken to the Turkish legation from there. Count Bethlen went into hiding. Vilmos Nagy was arrested though late, in November, but the Germans would certainly refuse to accept him. Gestapo started to arrest the Parliament members on March 19 morning. It was really freedom and no occupation!

  24. @Eliezer

    A few weeks ago I quoted documents that it was Himmler personally who forbade the deportation of the remaining Jews of Budapest in August, two days after the Romanians had switched side in the war.

    Should Orban erect a bust to Himmler?

  25. I’m not going to argue with you about the nonexistent coup, about Horthy’s having no power whatsoever and about Colonel Koszorus’s role in the alleged defense of the governor. Sándor Balogh is not my relative but I can’t imagine why he would know more about 20th-century Hungarian history than I do. I at least have a Ph.D. in history and my field of concentration was Hungarian history in the last century. Sándor Balogh, on the other hand, is an economist concentrating on agrarian questions. His political views are decidedly right-wing which most likely colors his views on the Horthy era.

  26. Once more, Eliazer. Please read more carefully. I didn’t say that Horthy had unlimited power. I simply said: “a fair amount.” Indeed, he did. He could choose between Imrédy and Sztójai, and could dismiss Sztójai and appoint Lakatos. He could stop the deportations when he realized that the war was lost and it was time to bail out.

    For territorial gains the Hungarian governments in the 1930s sold their soul to Hitler who expected a payback. It was that simple.

  27. “A memo setting out policy for the BBC Hungarian Service [by Carlile Macartney] in 1942 states: “We shouldn’t mention the Jews at all.”

    “Macartney believed that to champion the Jews would alienate the majority of the Hungarian population who at that time, he argued, were anti-Semitic”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20267659

  28. Oh-way! The problem is that left or right political views color the attitude to facts, ah?
    “Fair amount” – Horthy and Swiss Lutz came with a plan to send Jews to Palestine, and even this plan was blocked by the Germans. And you did not comment about the arrests. Also, was it a real choice between Imrédy and Sztójai? Either of them would be better for the Jews?

    Also, you have very fine points of disagreement, but they are principal for evaluation of the same events. You ignore the calendar that needs to be considered by days in that period – when and how he could act? July was not June; on July he knew about gas chambers, and he used military to restore his power, and August was not July when Romania switched the sides, and it weakened Germany strongly. PhD has nothing to do with the facts when their interpretation is colored by left or right views.

    “For territorial gains the Hungarian governments in the 1930s sold their soul to Hitler who expected a payback. It was that simple.”

    True, but nothing is so simple. If Vienna conference of 1815 resulted in peace for 100 years, Paris conference of 1919-20 was a bloody disaster with its both components – Versailles and Trianon. The whole generation of Hungary was injured with Trianon. Also,
    the new geography did not really left Hungary choice for independence – either under Germans or under Russians, and an average Hungarian, after experiencing Bela Kun, surely preferred Germans. Istvan Deak writes that Jews of that time tragically failed to realize that their interests and interests of non-Jewish Hungarians do not always coincide.

  29. P.S. May I put you a simple question: Horthy resigns on March 19th. Who will come instead? What will be the fate of the Budapest Jews and how many Hungarian Jews will be alive on January 18, 1945?

  30. @Eliezer. “Istvan Deak writes that Jews of that time tragically failed to realize that their interests and interests of non-Jewish Hungarians do not always coincide.”

    Could you expand on that? I don’t quite understand.

    BTW, if you follow discussions about history in other countries you will find huge differences in the general gist of historian’s work according to their ‘weltanschauung’. So you get totally different interpretations and you will find that they select – and trust – different sources. So I don’t share your observation at all.

  31. Eliezer suddenly learned both English and Hungarian spelling. At the beginning every Hungarian proper name was misspelled and the English close to incomprehensible. He got wings suddenly. Is it possible that there are two Eliezers?

  32. “Romania switched the sides, and it weakened Germany strongly”

    So why didn’t Hungary ?

    My father was a German officer (got the Knight’s Cross in Feb 1943 for holding back the Russians until a lot of Germans had crossed a strategic river …) and he told me that by that time everybody knew already that the war was lost.

  33. @Eliezer

    If Horthy had ordered the state apparatus to resist passively and if he had resigned on March 19, then Germans would not have been able to carry out the deportation of the Hungarian Jewry. They lacked the manpower.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were collected from thousands of villages into ghettos by the Hungarian gendarmerie, Hungarian railways carried the people up to the border towns of Kassa and others.

    Eichmann stated at his trial that his main task was to synchronize the timetables of the Hungarian and German railways, everything else was made by the Hungarians.

  34. Eva S. Balogh :
    Eliezer suddenly learned both English and Hungarian spelling. At the beginning every Hungarian proper name was misspelled and the English close to incomprehensible. He got wings suddenly. Is it possible that there are two Eliezers?

    No, I am one. I do not know Hungarian, so I apologize for allowing myself further misspellings. In English as well – it is not my mother tongue. But do my “wings” depend on spelling? Not on my knowledge of facts and my logic?

    Why have you avoided answering a simple question about the number of Jews surviving in Budapest if Horthy resigned on March 19th as he was strongly advised by Kallay? Was not his age of 77 perfect for retirement?

  35. Eva S. Balogh :
    For territorial gains the Hungarian governments in the 1930s sold their soul to Hitler who expected a payback. It was that simple.

    I totally agree with that statement. I’m still amazed at the lengths to which horthycultists go… to me, it’s as if people were trying to label Pétain a hero because at some point he opposed Laval. Bad casuistry.

    And thanks for the update about the Gendarme (non-)coup, I guess I was stuck a few decades ago on that matter.

  36. >If Horthy had ordered the state apparatus to resist passively and if he had resigned on March 19, then Germans would not have been able to carry out the deportation of the Hungarian Jewry. They lacked the manpower.

    This is something very new – that means that Horthy is really the reason of success of deportations?! It is from the category that you may say anything, and if facts do not conform to your ideology, so it is bad for the facts!

  37. @ wolfi “My father was a German officer…”

    In contrast to general belief, wars are rarely won by the bravery of soldiers and officers on the battlefield but rather by what calculators spit out about personnel, materiel, supplies, logistics, etc. These figures are known only to the staffs at a war ministry. Basically, the Germans had lost the war at the end of 1941 according to the calculators’ output: The invasion of the Soviet Union proved to be a miscalculation after a few weeks of the Russian winter. An then the U.S. entered the war in December. That was the beginning of the end – according to the calculators. It is true though that psychologically speaking, the Germans began to doubt final victory (“Endsieg”) only after Stalingrad in 1943.

    My father was a major in the general staff of the German air force. He told me these facts which Hitler chose to ignore. For my father, the war was over in November 1943 because he came down with bone tuberculosis. His sons always wondered if that was his personal way of desertion or not. For those who don’t know: From 1933, the year my father got his A+ gymnasium school leaving certificate, one could only go to university if one became a party member. My uncle did, my father didn’t. The only option for him was to either emigrate (what he should have done) or begin a military career (for which one didn’t have to be a nazi).

  38. >So why didn’t Hungary ?

    Horthy tried on October 15 and was overthrown. The same with the Italians who probably overthrew Mussolini too early and had no second plan. King Michael of Romania was not a great politician, he was simply lucky and had better backing of military.

  39. > So I don’t share your observation at all.

    So you don’t, and we have nothing to discuss.
    I am trying to judge the facts and to avoid ideological color.

  40. From Veesenmeyer’s testimony:

    “As I see things, without the active co-operation of the Hungarians, it would not have been possible to carry out the anti-Jewish operations. It is only when you are strong that you can threaten and force things through. However, in 1943 we were no longer strong, and in 1944 we were weak”

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