Hungarian history textbooks under scrutiny

Recently the Hungarian government purchased/nationalized two of the larger textbook publishers: Apáczai Kiadó and Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó. Perhaps it should be mentioned for the sake of Hungarian cultural history that János Apáczai Csere (1625-1659), polyglot author of the first textbook written in Hungarian, was one of the many Transylvanian scholars who studied at Dutch universities (Leiden and Utrecht). What linked the Principality of Transylvania and The Netherlands was their common Calvinist heritage.

Because of the Hungarian state’s direct interest in textbook publishing, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the new list of “recommended” textbooks heavily favors these two publishers although, if the quality of textbooks is any indication, these publishing houses are not the best. Of the 3,223 textbook titles currently available, the ministry approved only 922 (29%). Private publishers tend to fall into the “unapproved” category. For instance, one private publisher, Mozaik, has 17 titles and, according to the CEO of the company, 260,000 books currently in use in Hungarian classrooms. But there is not a single Mozaik title on the recommended list.

A few years back I became very interested in what Hungarian high school students learn about modern Hungarian and world history in grade 12. At that time the most popular history textbook in this category was Konrád Salamon’s. I ordered a copy of it as well as another textbook that was the work of a team of historians whom Viktor Orbán would surely find unacceptable. Names like János Kende, Tamás Krausz, Zoltán Ripp, Péter Sipos, and Éva Standeiszky. I found the joint effort of these historians far better than Salamon’s textbook, which included many questionable notions about such fundamental values as democracy. The historian László Karsai wrote a detailed critique of the Salamon book, which was pretty devastating. Yet it was at one point the most popular book, not because teachers liked it so much but because the matriculation questions on history were based on this particular textbook. (Personally, I think it’s high time to get rid of matriculation exams altogether, but that’s a topic for another day.)

tortenelem konyvek

Recently, as part of a foundation study, László Miklósi analyzed five grade 8 and three grade 12 modern history textbooks, with special focus on their treatment of the fate of Hungarian Jews. The one he liked best was published by Műszaki Kiadó–Csaba Dubcsik and Ildikó Repászky’s Történelem IV. It is especially strong in providing important source material and asking thought-provoking questions based on the material. Instead of taking it for granted that students understand the meaning of certain concepts (racism, political anti-Semitism, differences between fascism and Nazism), the authors explain their meanings. In general, the book devotes more time than the others do to ideologies. Its authors spend considerable time defining concepts like conservatism, liberalism, “Christian-national,” and the different meanings of “Christian” in the Hungarian setting. While among the books discussed there is at least one that claims that Horthy was not anti-Semitic, this textbook actually publishes Miklós Horthy’s infamous letter to Pál Teleki in which he tells the prime minister that he always was an anti-Semite.

The book also includes a speech from Hitler from which it becomes clear that the Führer’s final goal was the physical elimination of all Jews. And students should learn something about the dangers of fanaticism when reading a Himmler quotation in which he admits that he would be willing to kill his own mother if Hitler so ordered. This seems to be the only book that quotes from people who survived Auschwitz. The description of the situation after March 19, 1944 seems to be detailed and accurate, including Horthy’s role. There is mention of the fact that, although Horthy in his memoirs claimed that he knew nothing about the fate of the Jews, “there are several sources that prove his knowledge of the truth about the deportations.” All in all, this seems to be the best modern history textbook on the market at the moment. At least as far as the question of the Hungarian Jewry’s fate between the two world wars is concerned.

I can’t imagine that this book will be available in state high schools. It is a shame, but Viktor Orbán’s worldview is so radically different from what Dupcsik and Répászky summarize in this textbook that he couldn’t possibly tolerate exposing Hungarian students to such intellectual “poison.” After all, we hear often enough how unique and magnificent the Hungarian nation is. This regime puts so much emphasis on “Christian-national” values that the less than glowing description the authors offer of this term would be unacceptable. This and similar textbooks couldn’t possibly be tolerated by an authoritarian regime that wants to be in charge of what people think.

What else can one expect from a regime that has the temerity to set up a state research institute under political supervision (just like in the one-party system of Rákosi and Kádár) and call it, of all things, Veritas?

 

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48 comments

  1. WOM :
    OT:
    “If the White House believes it can achieve its goals by sending TV soap opera producers, hoteliers and other neophytes to face veteran Russian diplomats in key European capitals, it is nothing short of delusional”
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/04/russias-diplomats-are-better-than-ours-105773_full.html#.U0-wbuZkH-S

    How about the US rep to the UN? Sorry ladies, but the Russians just don’t appreciate women in power: they don’t deal seriously with them; and the Americans should know that. Hadn’t
    the disaster of Hillary’s reset taught them anything? Give the Russians anything and they’ll take it…and give the wind off their backside in return. Power and Intimidation is what works.

  2. To understand the thinking of (ethnic) Hungarian kids (in Serbia) as told by a Hungarian teacher. But this could be in Hungary as well, or to be honest anywhere in Europe.And mind you this takes place in an elite high school which is a magnet school for talented kids.

    I tried to translate what the teacher told:

    “It is a general problem with the kids when assigning essays that my students are only trying to burp back what I had told them, because they got used to the fact that nobody is interested in their opinions. I was astonished for example when – talking about poetry about current events and public affairs – they said that politics leaves them cold because they do not believe that they can ever influence their environments. They only want security: a permanent job, a suburban house with a garden, lots of traveling. But at the age of 16 they ought to be idealists and draw up plans about changing the world – or so I thought at first. Then I realized that their parents were twentysomethings in the 90’s and even if they stayed in Serbia during the war, now they are running after the money abroad. It is not surprizing that the kids want to live like this.”

    I do not necessarily agree with her reasoning which is not even totally clear to me but this is a good evidence that – talented, chosen – kids are terribly conformist and uncritical.

    In Hungary, kids who want any change tend to become Jobbik supporters, the real and status ‘bourgeois’ kids (like children of rural doctors or lawyers, who are not terribly rich) move towards Fidesz and the rest just does not care. They care about their Iphones and that is it. They will never rise up or organize themselves or even think about current affairs.

    “Esszéíráskor általános probléma, hogy a diákjaim az általam elmondottakat próbálják visszaböfögni, mert ahhoz szoktak, hogy senkit sem érdekel a véleményük. Megdöbbentem például, amikor a közéleti költészetről beszélgetve azt mondták, azért hagyja őket hidegen a politika, mert nem hiszik, hogy valaha is hatással lehetnének a környezetükre. Csak biztonságra vágynak: állandó munkahelyre, kertes házra, sok utazásra. Pedig tizenhat évesen azért illene idealistának lenni, és világmegváltó terveket szövögetni – gondoltam először. Aztán rájöttem, hogy a szüleik a kilencvenes években voltak huszonévesek, és ha a háborúk idején itthon is maradtak, most már futnak a pénz után külföldre. Nem csoda, hogy ők nem akarnak így élni.”

    http://www.irodalmijelen.hu/2014-apr-16-0907/orulok-hogy-vegre-kiborult-bili

  3. Sorry the last sentence is “It is not surprizing that the kids do not want to live like this”.

    Meaning that their parents are always abroad looking for money?

    Anyway, the kids want the same in Hungary too, the parents may not be living abroad (many do) but they do not spend much time with the kids.

  4. Two things interest me in this article;

    >There is mention of the fact that, although Horthy in his memoirs claimed that he knew nothing about the fate of the Jews, “there are several sources that prove his knowledge of the truth about the deportations.”

    Many times I have met this statement, couple times communicated to the authors to ask: “what are those [sometimes with word “new” – E.R.) sources that prove”? I have never received the reply, so I ask again.

    >While among the books discussed there is at least one that claims that Horthy was not anti-Semitic, this textbook actually publishes Miklós Horthy’s infamous letter to Pál Teleki in which he tells the prime minister that he always was an anti-Semite.

    So – “not antisemitic” but “always was an anti-Semite” – yes or no? (Or both statements are in two diffeent books?) In fact, this is a rhetorical question, because I asked it myself in my recent article, where I have a chapter titled: “4.4.3. Was Horthy an Anti-Semite? A Dilemma of the Leader of an Anti-Semitic Democracy”, and the chapter starts with a full text of the letter to Pal Teleki and ends with the same conclusion that he was NOT anti-Semitic. I think, every Jew met in his/her life rabid anti-Semites who claimed that all their friends are Jewish. Apparently the opposite can also happen.

  5. @Eliezer

    What about Horthy’s support for the 1920 “numerus clausus” law,

    his signature on the anti-Jewish laws of 1938-1943?

    Laszlo Baky was one of the top Hungarian officials, whose task was the efficient deportation of the Jewish population in April-July 1944.

    Laszlo Baky said on his trial that Horthy had told him:

    “Utálom a kommunista és galíciai zsidókat, ki velük az országból, ki, ki! De te is belátod, hogy itt is vannak ugyanolyan jó magyarok a zsidók között, mint te, meg én. Például itt van a kis Chorin és Vida, hát ezek csak jó magyarok? Az ilyeneket nem engedhetem. A többit, azt csak vigyék!”

    Short translation: I do not let my personal friends to be deported, you can take the rest.

    Baky’s companion, Laszlo Endre quoted Horthy:

    “akkor szűnik meg a német nyomás és akkor áll helyre tulajdonképpen a szuverenitás, ha a zsidókérdést a németek kívánságainak megfelelően oldjuk meg”

    Short translation: if we deport the Jews, the sovereignty of Hungary will be restored.

    It was Stalin’s empathy for a fellow, old dictator that saved Horthy from being tried for war crimes after the war.

  6. So Horthy-apologist Eliezer is back again …

    Just one comment on Horthy:

    Actions speak louder than words!

    And non-action is also a kind of action. May I remind you (just as an example) of the fate of famous mathematician Túrán Pál who was put in one of those work camps in 1940 and barely survived – as we know many (most) did not …

  7. Has anyone had a look at the textbooks published by Apáczai Kiadó and Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó?

  8. echo :
    Has anyone had a look at the textbooks published by Apáczai Kiadó and Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó?

    My kids have the text books from Apáczai Kiadó.Mathematics, Hungarian language and reading books are okay.

    The problem I have is with English (no speaking and no lists of words), Environment (not necessary and very dry lectures) and singing (do re mi (in my opinion very boring).

    We mentioned this during the parents hour. Reactions parents agree with us, but do not want to mention it. Reaction teachers Agree but is law.

    The problem what I have in general is that my kids learn to be good Hungarian slaves, but cannot think for themselves.

  9. Note: re the article on Putin in “Freebeacon”.

    Although the Freebeacon is a recent creation (2012) and heavily right-wing, the writer (Bill Gertz) was a columnist at the Washington Times for 27 years.

  10. @ Eliezer: ARe you an anti-Semite? I often ask this question from people who vehemently try defend Horthy, but never receive an answer, so I ask again.
    Here is the deal, people who try defend Horthy or Albert Wass, and the likes are very likely ant-semites themselves. It is kind of funny, how they try to prove that anti-semites are not anti-semites. May I ask why? I never understand the logic. Being an anti-semite is not punishable by law. You do not need to advertise it, but if the cat is out of the bag, they will bolt put you in jail for it. Why is it so important for Jobbik for example to prove that Horthy was not and anti-semite and tried to save the Jews? I know, and you know, if Horthy would of tried to save the Jews, then Jobbik would not want to erect monuments to him. Am I right?
    So, when you write “So – “not antisemitic” but “always was an anti-Semite” – yes or no? ” I would like to ask the same. Does Jobbik is anti-semite or no? ARe you an anti-semite or no? It can’t be both ways.

  11. OT or not
    Magyar Kronika that Eva wrote about back in January is coming alive. Imre Kerenyi, who is responsible for the cheesiest cultural nightmares of current Hungarian history, got his wishes granted by Orban.
    Let me quote Eva here about the press conference at the time the project was launched: “The whole thing quickly became a huge embarrassment which, it seems, Viktor Orbán himself recognized. According to people present, Orbán called Kerényi’s letter “infantile and ludicrous.” He also expressed his misgivings about launching the project before the election.” THis certainly reminds me the Monument fiasco, but at least it is after the election he said, and he kept his word on that one.
    There will be 5000 free issue (meaning: tax payers are paying for it) will be sent all over the country and outside the country.

    The first issue (hold it, hold it…….) will be about the Castle Park! The Castle Park that Orban opened up with huge fan fair just before the election, then they closed even faster as it is not ready! The Castle Park where the plaque on the wall contains serious grammatical errors, and falsified dates.
    “Magyar Krónika will be a magazine filled mainly with colour pictures.” It has to have beautiful photographs inside” said chief editor Bencsik. How befitting would be the photo of the plaque. http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–dsO427T2–/c_fit,fl_progressive,w_636/zx08vljccctvjomun0xz.jpg

    What a joke this whole government is. What a joke this publication is. I mean it will look great I am sure, as money is not an object, just like with the Puskas Stadium.
    A PR magazine for Fidesz from the deep pockets of the Hungarian taxpayers. What a clever idea.

    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/the-chroniclers-of-the-age-of-viktor-orban/comment-page-1/
    http://vs.hu/eldolt-jon-magyar-kronika-0417

  12. Eliezer is not our brightest contributor.
    Is it the Eastern European education?
    Is it the Eastern European ignorance in matters of freedom.

    Horthy was a tyrant. Like Saddam and Milosevich. Lots of cheesy PR, and unbridled brutality under the surface.

  13. ‘rabok tobbe nem leszunk’: Well, you are not either Mr. One name-One post wherever your education happened.

    My thoughts on Horthy are not very positive (discussed countless times on this blog) at all but Saddam? Why not Kim Jong Un immediately? Why stop there, let’s say he was worse than Hitler and Stalin? Get a grip man.

  14. Slightly OT: British Pathé, cinema news company, digitized their (part/entire) archive and put it on YouTube. You talking about almost 82,000 videos. Some of it relates to Budapest. Although most is relating to the UK, Royalties and celebs there are some gems, such as these ones:

    Just select on YouTube British Pathe Hungary.

  15. British Pathe also has several videos of Horthy and Hitler now on youtube:

    Here they are on a ship near Kiel (Baltic Sea):

    Here Horthy and his wife say good bye to Adolf at the train station:

    Of course the Horthy fans claim that he didn’t like and even looked down on Hitler – then he must have been a good actor!

    This clip from 1922 (anniversary of the end of Bolshevism in Hungary …) is also very nice – imho it shows that Horthy was a real feudal 19th Century type:

  16. wolfi :
    Here Horthy and his wife say good bye to Adolf at the train station:

    From 1:33 look at Horthy’s body language. He loved Hitler, no doubt. He does not even want to let his hand go.

  17. Concentrating on the present:

    ATV has a program called “Secret Dossier”. Tonight, they showed a documentary on the FBI.
    En passant, the program made clear that the FBI doesn’t only operate in the US but in 85 other countries.

    Seemingly a program without a hidden agenda, one has to note that Putin has repeatedly claimed that US agents are operating in the Ukraine. The timing of showing this program now
    will serve to underpin Putin’s words.

    It’s discouraging to see that even one of the last ‘independent’ stations in Hungary may be tainted as well…

  18. @Eliezer
    With all due respect, are you seriously consider that being anti-semite and anti semitic differs that much – besides of being noun or adjective – that it will free Horthy from all sins against the people of his country that he even should be mentioned in a positive context?
    How about Horthy memorials?

    But seriously, you’ve read his letter to Teleky, where he expresses his view clearly of the whole question and his anti-semitism. His only concern was that the process should go on smoothly and without too much atrocities, because of practical reasons.

    Come on, man, you’re acting as a decent person, so how could you accept that your innocent fellow citizens should be driven away and killed – for any reason, – really?
    How could anyone with an ounce of humanity accept that?

    In my point of view there is no viable reason or justifiable interest to do so, whatever the circumstances might be. There is no excuse to let someone to be killed, there is no acceptable number of innocent victims, ever. To me already one single persons death is one too many and unforgivable.

    Dear Eliezer, please, reconsider your standpoint in a purely humanist point of view, and you will see right away, that Admiral/Regent Horthy isn’t the person whom you will be identified with, really. In my opinion someone could be rightfully conservative without being revisionist, as long as he/she respecting fundamental human values above politics, and then – and only then – could- and should be respected.

    Politics and ideology never ever surpass human values, whoever leeds you to believe differently, believe me.

  19. Kirsten thank you, but British Pathé we need to thank for these images.

    I went reviewing some videos, and I bet you with Photoshop (only changing faces) the situation is repeating itself. Such as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvf34DzYKhY

    Kadar signing friendship (paks 2) documents with Russia. Horthy visiting a mine (get dressed up and apparently went down the mine, familiar re. gas pipe). Or May parade in 1958 compared to the Peace parade 2014.

  20. tappanch :
    @Eliezer
    What about Horthy’s support for the 1920 “numerus clausus” law,
    http://rewrite.origos.hu/s/img/i/1211/20121127-a-numerus-clausus-zart-szam.jpg
    his signature on the anti-Jewish laws of 1938-1943?
    Laszlo Baky was one of the top Hungarian officials, whose task was the efficient deportation of the Jewish population in April-July 1944.
    Laszlo Baky said on his trial that Horthy had told him:
    “Utálom a kommunista és galíciai zsidókat, ki velük az országból, ki, ki! De te is belátod, hogy itt is vannak ugyanolyan jó magyarok a zsidók között, mint te, meg én. Például itt van a kis Chorin és Vida, hát ezek csak jó magyarok? Az ilyeneket nem engedhetem. A többit, azt csak vigyék!”
    Short translation: I do not let my personal friends to be deported, you can take the rest.
    Baky’s companion, Laszlo Endre quoted Horthy:
    “akkor szűnik meg a német nyomás és akkor áll helyre tulajdonképpen a szuverenitás, ha a zsidókérdést a németek kívánságainak megfelelően oldjuk meg”
    Short translation: if we deport the Jews, the sovereignty of Hungary will be restored.
    It was Stalin’s empathy for a fellow, old dictator that saved Horthy from being tried for war crimes after the war.

  21. 1. I asked the question:

    >There is mention of the fact that, although Horthy in his memoirs claimed that he knew nothing about the fate of the Jews, “there are several sources that prove his knowledge of the truth about the deportations.” Many times I have met this statement, couple times communicated to the authors to ask: “what are those [sometimes with word “new” – E.R.) sources that prove”? I have never received the reply, so I ask again.

    You did not reply but instead gave different facts that I know.

    2. Is it important what criminals like Endre and Baky said on their trials when they tried to save their skins? is it not true that Horthy saved practically all Budapest Jewry?

    What about this quote from Horthy’s biograper Thomas Sakmuster who wrote that if Horthy retired after the occupation his “historical reputation might have been enhanced, but the only practical result in Hungary would likely have been a more rapid deportation and annihilation of the Jews… He acted in a forceful and courageous way that protected the Jews of Budapest. No other European leader… had ever defied Hitler so directly”. What do you think on that?

  22. spectator :
    @Eliezer
    With all due respect, are you seriously consider that being anti-semite and anti semitic differs that much – besides of being noun or adjective – that it will free Horthy from all sins against the people of his country that he even should be mentioned in a positive context?

    You have not read my comment. Because both words are the same, I asked how it could be in one book that he IS and he IS NOT?

    But seriously, you’ve read his letter to Teleky, where he expresses his view clearly of the whole question and his anti-semitism. His only concern was that the process should go on smoothly and without too much atrocities, because of practical reasons.

    Correct. He is writing to his rabidly anti-Semitic prime-minister who is preparing the 3d anti-Jewish law (that was not enacted during Teleki’s life). What is it about:
    1. We need the Jews for our well-being during the life of at least one generation;
    2. If so, we need to treat them decently;
    3. They are much more useful and patriotic citizens than “Arrow Cross” whom Teleki had just legalized and allowed Salzshi out of the prison.

    And it was written in the atmosphere of enormous inside and outside pressure against the Jews!

    Come on, man, you’re acting as a decent person, so how could you accept that your innocent fellow citizens should be driven away and killed – for any reason, – really?

    Thank you for seeing me in this way, and this demands not to slander a fellow human as told in the 10 Commandments, right? And where do you see that I ACCEPT? The purpose of my argument and article that I wrote to show that Horthy did not accept either and did maximum to save. Again, Thomas Sakmyster’ s quote who wrote that if Horthy retired after the occupation his “historical reputation might have been enhanced, but the only practical result in Hungary would likely have been a more rapid deportation and annihilation of the Jews… He acted in a forceful and courageous way that protected the Jews of Budapest. No other European leader… had ever defied Hitler so directly”.

    How could anyone with an ounce of humanity accept that?

    Nobody. How anyone with an ounce of humanity can fail to see the rescue?

    Dear Eliezer, please, reconsider your standpoint in a purely humanist point of view, and you will see right away, that Admiral/Regent Horthy isn’t the person whom you will be identified with, really.

    I cannot reconsider. I spent half a year deeply in the topic starting with as strong anti-Horthy stance as everybody here. I saw that I was wrong, so at that time I reconsidered. I wrote an article in Russian that about 100 pages long, and it has an English title, Summary and the Table of Contents. I already gave it here couple weeks ago, so I will not repeat it, but you may look at and at its English part (at the end) on:
    http://berkovich-zametki.com/2014/Starina/Nomer1/ERabinovich1.php
    I have started an abbreviated English translation.

    Besides the Commandments, our Torah teaches us not to follow after the majority if you are convinced. My parents taught me the same. I just follow.

  23. petofi :
    Concentrating on the present:
    ATV has a program called “Secret Dossier”. Tonight, they showed a documentary on the FBI.
    En passant, the program made clear that the FBI doesn’t only operate in the US but in 85 other countries.
    Seemingly a program without a hidden agenda, one has to note that Putin has repeatedly claimed that US agents are operating in the Ukraine. The timing of showing this program now
    will serve to underpin Putin’s words.
    It’s discouraging to see that even one of the last ‘independent’ stations in Hungary may be tainted as well…

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/international_operations

    Very secret operations indeed…

  24. To Eliezer Rabinovich:

    You are quoting that Horthy ” acted in a forceful and courageous way that protected the Jews of Budapest. No other European leader… had ever defied Hitler so directly”.

    Even if this were true (which I doubt), if he could do this, why didn’t he do it when the other hundreds of thousands were sent by his own government into their deaths in Auschwitz? Is it possible that he did what you quoted, to save his own skin, knowing that the war was lost?

  25. @Eliezer

    “our Torah teaches us not to follow after the majority if you are convinced”

    We agree on this!

    But what if your conviction is based on deficient knowledge?

    Issue A
    When did Horthy learn that the Jews are exterminated in the occupied Poland?

    Well before 1944. He also had an additional piece of evidence in hand before the start of the mass deportation from Hungary in mid May: the Vrba–Wetzler report.

    Issue B
    Who saved the Jews of Budapest?

    This is not the first time I quote from these documents of the Wilhelmstrasse:

    Document #691, Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, July 6, 1944
    [About Horthy’s decision to suspend the deportation of Jews on July 6.]

    Sztojay gave 5 reasons to Veesenmayer why this happened.

    1. Romania did not deport the Jews and Germany tolerated this.
    2. There are still thousands of Jews under Tiso’s protection in Slovakia.
    3. The SS permitted Hungarian Jewish millionaires to leave Hungary for Lisbon.
    4. Pressure from the king of Sweden, the Papal nuncio, Turkish and Swiss governments and leading Spanish politicians.

    5. The Hungarian embassy in Bern managed to decrypt the reports of the American and British embassies there. In the reports they detailed the extermination of Jews and recommended the bombing of the railroads and the buildings of the Hungarian and German agencies dealing with the deportation of Jews in Budapest, with exact addresses. The reports also named 70 Hungarian and German people who were the main culprits. Sztojay added he did not care about the list, but other people in the government became agitated.

    Document #709, Grell to the Foreign Ministry, August 19, 1944

    The [new] Interior Minister [Bonczos] told Obersturmbannfuhrer Eichmann that the Hungarian government, with the Regent’s approval will start the deportation of Jews from Budapest on August 25. Although Regent Horthy approved only the deportation of a limited number of Jews, the government decided to deport all Jews except those baptized before January 1, 1941 and 3,000 others the Regent personally exempted. The first transport will leave on August 27 with 20,000 Jews, then 9,000 Jews daily with 3 trains. Only Hungarian “csendőr” units will carry out the concentration.

    Document #712 Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, August 25, 1944.

    Winkelman SS Obergruppenfuhrer just told me on the telephone, that he had received the
    order of the Reichsfuhrer [Himmler] at 3 AM that strictly forbids the further deportation of
    Hungarian Jews immediately.

    ————-

    This proves that Horthy would have saved only 3000 personally exempted Budapest Jews.
    The reason the Jews of Budapest did not share the fate of the Jews of the countryside was
    the Romanians’ switching sides on August 23, 1944! [and Himmler’s order]

  26. >Is it possible that he did what you quoted, to save his own skin, knowing that the war was lost?

    Please answer me one question: what was the hell that he needed to replace Bardossy with Kallay in March 1942? He already knew that the war would be lost at that time, he could retain Bardossy at his position, also to resign as the Regent (he was 75 at that time), and nobody would say him a word after the war! Can you imagine one Jew surviving Bardossy’s tenure till 1944?
    Let us see the calendar. First, Kallay refuses the appointment, because he was known as not-anti-Semite and liberal, so he will not be able to cooperate with the Governmental Party. Horthy and his son Istvan convince him to accept. On March 10, 1942, Kallay is sworn. He requests the meeting with the party leaders and ask them on what conditions they will cooperate with him. Conditions: to continue with war and to be anti-Semitic. Kallay promises, as a minimum, to make a land reform against the Jewish landowners. He limits Jewish ownership with 57 hectares.

    April 16th – visiting Hitler, Kallay declares that the Jewish problem can wait till end of the war. Upon return, Kallay makes a speech that all the Jews should eventually leave Hungary, but the problem will be considered only after the war. He told the Jewish leaders about this speech in advance.

    August 15, 1942. Hungarian ambassador in Germany Sztojay reports that Hitler disagree about postponement and demands immediate anti-Jewish actions.

    October 8, 1942. Sztojay comes to Budapest with a letter from Ribbentrop who writes that the Germans gave Kallay enough time, and the results are unsatisfactory. All system of German-Hungarian relations is at risk. Germany is ready to take on herself all the job of deportations to the East. The minimal demands: 1) yellow star; 2) ghetto in every town; 3) 300 thsd strong Jewish men and women should be given to Germany for work in Ukraine.

    October 17th. German ambassador delivers the formal note with the same demands.

    Ocober 22, 1942. Kallay speaks on the party meeting and declares that he will not allow to smear Hungarian honor with political extremism in the Jewish problem.

    December 5-14, 1942. Kallay sends and Sztojay delivers the note that firmly rejects all German demands.

    January 5, 1943. Ribbentrop’s deputy Luther tells that Transylvania problems would not be resolved without Hungary’s cooperation in Jewish deportations.

    April 4-8, 1943. Kallay visits Mussolini, the King, the Pope. He has already started contacts with British and Americans via Turkey. He rebukes Mussolini for his anti-Jewish laws.

    April 17th, Hitler invites Horthy and sternly demands dismissal of Kallay and starting the deportations. Horthy tells him to mind his own business and not to try to remove the premier whom he, Horthy, fully trusts. He firmly rejects the deportations demands.

    March 18, 1944. Hitler calls Horthy to his castle near Salzburg, tells him that he has ordered the occupation with the purpose of dismissing Kallay and installing the friendly government. Horthy is not allowed any communication with Kallay in Budapest. Horthy signed NO consent. Kallay is not the head of the army. He sees that Horthy is incommunicado, and asks his generals if they obey him if he orders resistance. 21 out of 29 Hungarian generals are Germans. They reply they have no enough force. Germans occupies, and only then Horthy is allowed to leave, though his train is still delayed in Vienna for 4 hrs to ensure the occupation had completed.

    March 19. Kallay meets Horthy at the station, Horthy chairs the Government meeting, tells that non-cooperation about the Jews was a main problem (is not exactly correct – Hitler wanted more troops against Russians as well). In couple hours Kallay goes to him and firmly advises him to resign not to be later blamed for actions that he would not approve and which he would have no influence. Horthy refuses – he is sure he would be able to help, even though he knows and accepts that the nation would not be grateful.

    I would continue in my reply to tappanch later or tomorrow.

  27. @Eliezer
    Thank you for the detailed answer!
    However, there are still a few issues what I’d like to call your attention.

    According to his own letter Horthy had no problem with the elimination of the Jewry in general, his only concern was how it will practically carried out without effecting the economy.
    As you quoted above, he wrote “We need the Jews for our well-being during the lifetime at least one generation” – in order to their sudden absence would not cause a hiccup in that well-being. But nothing against deporting and eliminating thousands and thousands innocent hungarian people because of religious and/or racial reasons. He didn’t objected against this part, and this is not only shame, but sin, crime agains Humanity. To me this is way beyond to explaining away or pointing to political pragmatism, this is personal responsibility.

    Yes, I suppose that personally you wouldn’t ever accept that the norm is that a certain group of people should be driven away from their homes and killed on industrial scale, no.
    However, by attempting to whitewash the person who not only accepted this, but even actively partaken in such process certainly put you in a delicate situation as I see it, you certainly aware of this, I guess.

    Thank you for the link, I will read what I can.

  28. tappanch :
    @Eliezer
    “our Torah teaches us not to follow after the majority if you are convinced”
    We agree on this!
    But what if your conviction is based on deficient knowledge?
    Issue A
    When did Horthy learn that the Jews are exterminated in the occupied Poland?
    Well before 1944. He also had an additional piece of evidence in hand before the start of the mass deportation from Hungary in mid May: the Vrba–Wetzler report.
    Issue B
    Who saved the Jews of Budapest?
    This is not the first time I quote from these documents of the Wilhelmstrasse:
    Document #691, Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, July 6, 1944
    [About Horthy’s decision to suspend the deportation of Jews on July 6.]
    Sztojay gave 5 reasons to Veesenmayer why this happened.
    1. Romania did not deport the Jews and Germany tolerated this.
    2. There are still thousands of Jews under Tiso’s protection in Slovakia.
    3. The SS permitted Hungarian Jewish millionaires to leave Hungary for Lisbon.
    4. Pressure from the king of Sweden, the Papal nuncio, Turkish and Swiss governments and leading Spanish politicians.
    5. The Hungarian embassy in Bern managed to decrypt the reports of the American and British embassies there. In the reports they detailed the extermination of Jews and recommended the bombing of the railroads and the buildings of the Hungarian and German agencies dealing with the deportation of Jews in Budapest, with exact addresses. The reports also named 70 Hungarian and German people who were the main culprits. Sztojay added he did not care about the list, but other people in the government became agitated.
    Document #709, Grell to the Foreign Ministry, August 19, 1944
    The [new] Interior Minister [Bonczos] told Obersturmbannfuhrer Eichmann that the Hungarian government, with the Regent’s approval will start the deportation of Jews from Budapest on August 25. Although Regent Horthy approved only the deportation of a limited number of Jews, the government decided to deport all Jews except those baptized before January 1, 1941 and 3,000 others the Regent personally exempted. The first transport will leave on August 27 with 20,000 Jews, then 9,000 Jews daily with 3 trains. Only Hungarian “csendőr” units will carry out the concentration.
    Document #712 Veesenmayer to Ribbentrop, August 25, 1944.
    Winkelman SS Obergruppenfuhrer just told me on the telephone, that he had received the
    order of the Reichsfuhrer [Himmler] at 3 AM that strictly forbids the further deportation of
    Hungarian Jews immediately.
    ————-
    This proves that Horthy would have saved only 3000 personally exempted Budapest Jews.
    The reason the Jews of Budapest did not share the fate of the Jews of the countryside was
    the Romanians’ switching sides on August 23, 1944! [and Himmler’s order]

  29. To Mr. or Ms. Tappanch:
    >But what if your conviction is based on deficient knowledge?
    Isn’t it a bit arrogant – you have seen my article; knowing Russian, you read more of it than the others, saw 75 references, and you still doubt that I am strongly inside the topic? Let us consider your objections.

    Does it really matter what the reason Sztojay gave to Veesenmayer and what did the later reported to the Wilhelmstrasse? They all tried to look good, to keep appearances, Horthy even was photographed smiling with Veesenmayer (you wrote about it?) but the fact is that Horthy won the power struggle with the help of a loyal army unit. Does it matter what Eichmann wrote in those days and what Horthy told him? Sakmyster writes that Horthy very much possessed the art of deceiving, false naivety, dementia, poor hearing when he needed to fool Hitler or Veesenmayer. Answering the questions of Israeli investigator, Eichmann made no secret of a significant role of Horthy in stopping the deportations. Again the calendar:

    In March Horthy was told to stay away from interference into active policy, especially about the Jews. Deportations started in May. In the beginning of June Horthy demanded to stop them. Sztojay and Veesenmayer fed him with promises. Horthy received many letters from dignitaries abroad. On June 26th on the government meeting he said (quoted from R. Braham, but I translate back from my Russian):

    “I will not tolerate it anymore! I will not allow the deportations to shame Hungary anymore! I demand that the government fire Endru and Baky! The deportations of the Budapest Jews should stop! The government need to take all necessary measures.”

    In vain. On June 30th The Swedish king sent his message and on July 2nd the Americans bombed Budapest. It did not help.

    And here is our own shame that I cannot write quietly about: hiding the Vrba–Wetzler report by the Jewish council, Kastner from the rest of the Jews and from Horthy. The dates:
    Kastner probably received the report in the middle of May. By the beginning of June, the report definitely was known to the Jewish council, and they did not deliver it to the Horthy’s circle till late June or beginning of July. After the war, on the trial of Veesenmayer, his attorney asked Kastner-witness “Why?”, and the latter could not explain.

    But nobody really believed. A biologist Georg Klein received a copy at those days and showed it to his uncle who was a famous Budapest physician. The uncle almost stroke the young man for believing to this “nonsense”. A writer Sandor Torok, a Chrisitian member of the Jewish Council, showed the document to many people around – everybody thought it were “ordinary Jewish exaggerations”. At last, on July 3d Torok found a reader who believed instantly.

    Countess Ilona Edelsheim-Gyulai, a widow of Horthy’s son Istvan, immediately want up to the apartment of her father-in-law. The Regent could not even trust to his chief of general staff general Voros. The loyal unit that was quartered near the city was found by the chief of his guards. The Regent gave orders on July 4th, the unit entered the city on the 5th, and the deportations were stopped on July 6th. Eichmann intended to deport all the Budapest Jews in 2-3 days started on July 6th. Raul Wallenberg arrived in the city on July 9th. Also on July 14th a train from the camp near Budapest (1500 people) departed. The Jewish council reported Horthy, he sent a police unit and they returned the train! Dr. Broudy, a witness on Eichmann trial, told that this was the only case in all the history of Holocaust that the train was returned. (Later Eichmann managed to deport these people in secret, isolating the members of the Council from the phone.) As we see Horthy was not further form the Jews at those days than just the phone call away.

    August 1944. Testimony of the chairman of the Jewish council SamiStern that Eichmann demanded resumption of the deportations, and the date was August 25th. Horthy had no military unit at hand in the city but could gradually to assemble it. Stern suggested that he agrees with deportations until he collects some troops. When it was done Horthy simply said “No” referring to the international pressure. (Why this pressure had not been effective before that?) At that moment Himmler ordered to stop deportations and even ordered to return back “the death march”. On August 23 Horthy fired Sztojay and replaced him with Lakatos. On October 6 or 7th Auschwitz stopped gassing, and those mass murderers of “Arrow Cross” had no such means as Eichmann had before them. They managed to kill “only” 10-15 thsd people. The majority of the quarter million of the Budapest Jews survived.

  30. >As you quoted above, he wrote “We need the Jews for our well-being during the lifetime at least one generation” – in order to their sudden absence would not cause a hiccup in that well-being.

    Mr. Spectator, don’t you see that in those days people could only do as much! That they lied to save the Jews? Kallay said – expulsion after the war; Horthy said – after the generation (about 20 years), premier Daranyi allowed expulsion of Jews from economy in 5 years – don’t you see that none of them really believed that in 5 years, or 20 years, or after the war the entire problem would remain?

    At that time the Jews understood better. They saw Horthy and Kallay and Kerestes-Fisher as protectors. The only thing that mattered was life – to be alive by the time of Hitler’s defeat, because only alive people could restore their lives, not the dead ones. And the lives were saved till March 1944 when almost all central Europe around was ‘judenfrei”. And after March 19the Horthy did what he could.

    It is impossible to win a political dispute – never, so I do not think I will convince anyone of you to change your mind. But I am trying. I am sure Hungary will eventually rehabilitate Horthy. It is a pity if the Jews would not use him as a mean for national reconciliation.

  31. I have got your point Mr.Rabinovich, of course.
    As I gather we are looking at the same events from totally different points of view.
    From my side, from the moral and the humanism side I can not and will not make any allowances, there is no way that I’ll go into counting and measuring, like “its true, that he let xx thousands of innocent killed, but saved the life of twice as much” -or whatever the reasoning could be. To me one such death is one too many already.
    From the other side – as much as I understand – you’re taking into consideration the real-political possibilities with quite a measure of assumptions regarding the intention of the participants and draw your conclusions based on assumed good will of Horthy and the others.
    You see, there isn’t much to go further on here.
    Thank you for the conversation nevertheless.

  32. It’s almost funny in a way (but the reality is very sad …):

    So in the eyes of some people Horthy was “the good guy” – but still the Jews were taken away, some were thrown into the Danube or killed in horrible ways, there possessions were taken, the Hungarian soldiers were sacrificed at the Russian front etc etc …

    So who is to blame for all of this?

    Of course it’s always someone else …

    It’s never our fault …

    Is this really the Hungarian way of thinking?

    Eliezer paints Teleki as the villain vs Horthy as the good guy – but wasn’t it Teleki who could stand it no more and took his own life?

    Horthy lived on – in my eyes he was a real coward!

    PS:

    There were some people in Germany too – thinking like this:

    It wasn’t our fault, Hitler was an Austrian, you know and anyway it was all because of Versailles …

    But at least almost all of my compatriots now have acknowledged that our fathers did the wrong thing!

  33. Ah, the Sunday historian is back. Eliezer, I’ve been told that building matchstick models of famous monuments can be quite satisfactory as well. Just a suggestion…

    Those interested in the debunking of Kállay’s post-war attempts to whitewash his own record may read for instance Christianity and the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry by Moshe Y. Herczl (NYU Press, 1995). It provides a solid framework for analyzing the context, reception and consequences of the Premier’s speeches and actions during his tenure.

  34. Real comforting to know the stadium is finally ready; while many have to queue for food sponsored by Hare krishna..

  35. London Calling!

    Eliezer, answer me this please?

    Somewhere in your Horthy-apologist narrative you say they did what they did “to keep up appearances”?

    (I really got bored reading your full Horthy-apologist narrative…I had to go and lie down.)

    They had no option, you infer.

    Kodaly Korund in Budapest was renamed ‘Hitler’ Korund some time during WW2 – and then renamed back presumably because it was a tad embarrasing – I do not have the dates.

    This hardly smacks of an unwilling host – you’d be reluctant to do it ‘just to keep up appearances’ wouldn’t you? If you were ‘keeping up appearances’ you would just do the minimum?

    ‘Hitler Korund’ was a real honour and a real sycophantic move. (More Trianon lands please!)

    GdfXX – is spot on. He was saving his own skin as it began to dawn on him that Hitler was losing the war – and the ill-gotten ‘Trianon’ gains would have to be handed back.

    But of course – you won’t see it like this – it fits his Anti-Semitism, his irredentist quest and the Hungarians thirst for looting the Jewish quarters.

    I often wonder, when I see ‘antiques’ in a Hungarian house – and in ‘flea’ markets. whether these are originally stolen loot?

    Regards

    Charlie

  36. Mr. Spectator,

    Thank you for your kind response, and I agree that we better stop this topic. But I disagree that my attitude is different: I completely agree that “one such death is one too many already”.
    If I thought that Horthy was responsible for 400 thsd deaths but saved 250 thsd, I would not even think to defend him. I state that he was confident that the deported people go to work – he could not imagine that Germany on the brink of defeat would prefer to destroy people rather than to use them. He did not send people to their deaths. And when he understood the meaning of deportations, he tried his best to stop them. Eventually he succeeded.

    He also managed to bring home about hundred thousand troops that had been destoryed in Russia and resisted demands of Hitler for more troops.

    There cannot be a politician or a military leader in a war time that is not responsible for deaths, even if I agree that one is too many. Roosevelt? Churchill? King George VI of UK? None.

    Thank you for your conversation.

    Mr. Wolfi,

    >Eliezer paints Teleki as the villain vs Horthy as the good guy – but wasn’t it Teleki who could stand it no more and took his own life?
    Horthy lived on – in my eyes he was a real coward!

    You have not read my article, correct? How do you know how I paint count Teleki? I rarely use just black and white color. I consider him as a tragic figure, and he certainly honestly paid for his misdeeds. In relation to that time I consider invasion of Yugoslavia the largest mistake of Horthy’s life.

    But if he followed Teleki in taking his own life, or retained Bardossy as his prime-minister, or resigned on March 20th , 1944, none of the Jews survived the war.

    Mr. Marcel De,

    >Ah, the Sunday historian is back. Eliezer,

    As a matter of fact, I wrote on Friday, so to be precise, you should call me “the Friday historian”, if you need to say something scornful because of your lack of real arguments.

    You still think that I have not read enough, and if I would read another book of your recommendation, I’ll change my attitude. But during the last 3-4 months I have not found any new fact that I had not known.

    Memoirs are always under suspicion because the authors tend to present themselves in a better light. Horthy wrote his memoirs without documents, and he was 80 years old. But his book is accompanied by 600 detailed notes of Prof. Andrew Simon. And, of course, there are other sources to check. For example, Mario Fenio found in the Italian archives a record of meeting between Mussolini and Kallay. It exactly coincides with Kallay’s own report of the events. My article is based on 75 sources.

  37. Wolfi: your comment 19: Of course the Horthy fans claim that he didn’t like and even looked down on Hitler – then he must have been a good actor!

    Apparently, Horthy and Hitler had a private meeting in Hitler’s Headquarters in 1941:

    Or what do you think about Horthy’s release from “prison”, he is looking well fed.

  38. @Eliezer:
    ” I state that he was confident that the deported people go to work – he could not imagine that Germany on the brink of defeat would prefer to destroy people rather than to use them. He did not send people to their deaths. And when he understood the meaning of deportations, he tried his best to stop them. Eventually he succeeded.

    He also managed to bring home about hundred thousand troops that had been destoryed in Russia and resisted demands of Hitler for more troops.”

    Do you really believe that? So Horthy was totally ignorant of what had been going on? Then he was a stupid uninformed coward …

    Maybe you should read what commenter “München” (Many thanks to him!) linked to.

  39. @Eliezer Rabinovich: Did you born with blinders? I mean no offence, but your views are totally distorted. You should really start to read some of the materials mentioned by other above, and only after you should post on any further comments.

  40. Eliezer Rabinovich :
    >Is it possible that he did what you quoted, to save his own skin, knowing that the war was lost?
    Please answer me one question: what was the hell that he needed to replace Bardossy with Kallay in March 1942? He already knew that the war would be lost at that time, he could retain Bardossy at his position, also to resign as the Regent (he was 75 at that time), and nobody would say him a word after the war! Can you imagine one Jew surviving Bardossy’s tenure till 1944?

    You very conveniently ignored my first question. There is nothing to talk about.

  41. @Eliezer: you have no “source”. You don’t read German nor Hungarian. You don’t have access to any archives. All you do is pick from the books of others the bits and pieces that suit your whim. This may be a hobby, but certainly cannot qualify as historical work.

    PS: except, of course, for the current Education department of the present Hungarian government.

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