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Seventy-five Years Later, Hungary Still Hasn’t Come to Terms with its Role in the Holocaust

On the 75th anniversary of the extermination of most of Hungary’s Jews—including the Auschwitz deportations, which began in May, 1944—we should also take note of the Hungarian government’s apparent determination to distort the country’s historical record. In some circles, this effort includes even the rehabilitation of Miklós Horthy, the longtime Hungarian Regent who governed Hungary during the Holocaust.

A former admiral and adjutant to the Habsburg Emperor-King, Horthy entered Budapest in dramatic style with his army on November 16, 1919, astride a white horse. His army defeated the ragtag Bolshevik forces that had imposed 133 days of “Red Terror” upon the country, but also inflicted its own “White Terror,” in some ways more brutal than its communist predecessor. Early during Horthy’s rule, Hungary enacted some of Europe’s first 20th-century anti-Jewish laws. Jews were capped at 6% of university admissions, and subsequent measures limited Jewish participation in elite professions to the same benchmark.

Jews also were prohibited from working in the public service and judiciary, or as high school teachers. During World War II, an additional law was passed prohibiting marriage or sex between Christians and Jews, on the grounds that such unions were harmful to the “national soul.”

Horthy arrives in Budapest, 1919

Even before Hungary actively rallied to the German war effort, most of Hungary’s young Jewish men had been dispatched to so-called labour battalions, serving unarmed near the front, where they were as likely to be killed by their commandants as by enemy fire. In 1941, the Hungarian army rounded up about 17,000 Jews who couldn’t prove they were citizens, and dumped them across the border into Ukraine, where they were systematically massacred by German death squads. By 1942, labour service had been extended to all Jewish men under the age of 45. All this happened while Horthy—an “exceptional statesman,” according to current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán—ran the country.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s participation in the invasion of the USSR led to the extermination of the flower of Hungarian youth. At the 1942 battle of Voronezh and subsequent operations, the underequipped Hungarian 2nd Army was practically wiped out as it launched itself against Russian defences in support of the ultimately disastrous German thrust toward Stalingrad. By late 1944, Russian troops got to the outskirts of Budapest, which suffered through a 50-day siege before Axis forces surrendered on February 13, 1945. Almost 40,000 civilians died during this period, and much of the city was destroyed.

By this time, most of the country’s Jews already had been deported to concentration camps. In all, an estimated 565,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Historical documents show that even some Germans were amazed by the speed and efficiency of the Hungarian government’s co-operation, and by the cruelty of its gendarmerie.

Horthy and Hitler, in 1938

Some of the few elderly Hungarian Jews who survived in the Budapest ghetto can still remember scenes of rats feasting on the unburied dead in Klauzal Square, and the trigger-happy young men guarding the gates. I have spoken to many survivors, including Max Eisen, a Canadian Holocaust educator, who was a young teenager when his family was rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. He still remembers the terror of being crammed into a boxcar, standing-room only, a hundred to a car, with no water, food or sunlight. To this day, Eisen has nightmares about his mother holding his nine-month-old sister during that three-day journey. Most of his family was murdered mere hours after arriving on the platform at Birkenau. His father’s last words to him were: “If you survive, you must tell the world what happened”—which is what Eisen did with his devastating 2016 book, By Chance Alone.

But Horthy, who survived the war and lived till 1957, had different memories to relate. In his Memoirs, he pompously declared of the mid-1930s that “though times had changed considerably since I had been aide-de-camp to His Majesty Emperor Francis Joseph, my concepts of honour, law and justice…had not altered.” Of meeting Hitler in 1936, he wrote: “It was not my task to stand in judgment upon the man who, since he had come to power, had shown nothing but goodwill towards Hungary, and who had sent me an extremely friendly telegram on the 15th anniversary of my entry into Budapest. I decided, therefore, to avail myself of an Austrian invitation to a chamois [goat-antelope] shoot in August, 1936, to seize the opportunity of paying a personal visit to Herr Hitler. The Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg had offered me the choice between three hunting preserves; I chose Hinterriss, which is famous for its chamois and to which Bavaria affords the only access.”

In concrete terms, the German “goodwill” consisted of allowing Hungary to reclaim parts of historical territories it had lost after throwing in with the losing side in World War I. Horthy’s primary concern was to restore Hungary’s former borders, even if that meant joining the Nazi war effort. As such, his strong nationalism has a certain appeal to modern populists such as Orbán.

In his Memoirs, Horthy uses terms such as “regrettable excesses” to describe massacres of Jews. He claims that he told Hitler, in early 1944, that “a violent solution [to Hungarian Jews] would be contrary to humanity and morals would not only undermine law and order but would have a deleterious effect on production.” He also claimed that in mid-1944—after he had been marginalized by the Germans, who by now were taking direct control of the country—that he did what he could to save the Jews who remained.

On October 15, 1944, Horthy announced over the radio that he had decided to sign a separate peace treaty with the Allies and withdraw Hungary from the conflict. He talked of the grave injustices inflicted by the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which had set the fate of Hungary following the First World War. He blamed everyone except himself for the tragedies that had unfolded. His one passing reference to the slaughter of his nation’s Jews was contained in this sentence: “In the shelter of German occupation, the Gestapo tackled the Jewish question in a manner incompatible with the demands of humanity, applying methods it had already employed elsewhere.” It was lost on no one that Horthy was changing sides in the war only after it had become obvious that the Nazis would lose.

Many Jewish survivors recall the forced marches to the Austrian border that began in November, 1944. There were women and children, grandmothers and toddlers. It took more than three days to cover the distance from Budapest. A woman named Aviva told me that those who could not move were shot, and the ditches were lined with bodies. There was no food or shelter. Young Hungarian men stood guard along the route. These were members of the Arrow Cross Party, the far-right Hungarian movement that would run the country from late 1944 to March, 1945.

Near the border, Aviva’s group was joined by a rag-tag group of labour-service men who had been force-marched from the Bor copper mines—more than 300 of them having already been killed. One of the survivors was the young Hungarian poet Mikos Radnoti. He was murdered near Gyor in Western Hungary. When his body was found in a mass grave, his pockets were filled with scraps of paper—his last poems.

Memorial at Liberty Square

Hungary does not deny the fate of its Jews. Indeed, 2014 was declared to be a year of official Holocaust remembrance. But a memorial commissioned by Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party and erected in Budapest’s Liberty Square has provoked controversy, and even outrage. It presents Hungary in the guise of a thin, languid Archangel Gabriel-like figure being seized upon by a nasty-looking German bronze eagle with outstretched wings and terrifying claws—a symbol plainly meant to suggest Hungary was an innocent party that had been preyed upon by an evil outside force. Historian Krisztian Ungvary has called it a “living horror,” and it has attracted regular protests. But the message is consistent with the larger agenda of Orbán, who wants to promote a new, whitewashed form of national history, according to which the suffering of the Jews was no more nor less brutal than that endured by the entire country under Nazi and then Soviet rule.

Not far from the monument, there is a bronze bust of Horthy at the entrance to a Hungarian Reformed church: At the 2013 unveiling ceremony, leading members of Orbán’s government were in attendance. But also nearby is a monument commemorating the orgy of killing by Hungarian cadres, even as German troops retreated from Budapest under Soviet bombardment in the last months of the war. This year, Hungary’s Jewish community was given permission to bury bones found in the river during the 2016 reconstruction of the Margaret Bridge across the Danube.

During this final spasm of senseless slaughter, thousands of Jews were marched to the Danube and shot, or just pushed into the icy waters to die. It’s important to remember that the killers weren’t German soldiers, but members of Hungary’s own Arrow Cross movement. During my research, I interviewed a survivor—a 4-year old-child at the time—who remembers being taken to the river with his mother. To this day, he thinks it was his childish voice that saved his family when he asked, “Mr. Arrow Cross, when can we go home?” he and his relatives were then ushered out of the line of fire, and he survived to tell the story.

“Shoes on the Danube” memorial

Orbán’s favorite historian, Maria Schmidt, is in charge of the museum known as House of Terror, at 60 Andrassy Boulevard in Budapest. It commemorates both the Nazi terror and the Communist terror, and includes material about Hungarian victims of the Holocaust. Five of the museum’s 17 rooms contain exhibits relating to this subject. But the same historian is also in charge of another, more controversial museum—the House of Fates, which originally had been set to open its doors five years ago. Its initial mandate had been to commemorate the Hungarian experience of the Holocaust. Israel’s Yad Vashem, Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the distinguished Hungarian-American professor Randolph Braham (1922-2018) were invited to collaborate. But almost from the beginning, the government’s local appointees reportedly began to push for a new version of the narrative, one by which Hungarians were largely blameless victims of German and Soviet aggression. The whole project fell into limbo, seemingly hostage to opposing historical voices. A Yad Vashem official declared that, from what he’d seen, “visitors to the House of Fates are to be shown and taught that, except for a tiny, criminal and fanatic minority, the citizens of Hungary were essentially blameless for what was inflicted upon their Jewish neighbors.”

As someone who grew up under Hungary’s communist dictatorship, I have a complicated relationship with the past—as my memories of family and friends are intermingled with the fears of saying the wrong thing in a country where judges, schools, the judiciary and the education system were all controlled by the government. And I can see why the country itself also has a complicated relationship with the horrors that its citizens witnessed, endured—and inflicted. But the only way to start healing from these crimes is to acknowledge how they happened.

 

Anna Porter is an award-winning Hungarian-Canadian writer and former publisher. Her books include In Other Words: How I Fell in Love with Canada One Book at a Time, Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy, and Kasztner’s Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust.

Featured image: Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia arriving at Auschwitz, Summer, 1944. 

90 Comments

  1. E. Olson says

    Hungary – a people with an unequaled record of joining the losing side. As for the Jews, the French, Poles, Romanians, and Ukrainians were also very eager to cooperate with the Germans in rounding up their Jewish populations, but at least today’s Hungarian leadership is saying NO to the importation of Muslims who desire to finish the job.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @E. Olson

      “… at least today’s Hungarian leadership is saying NO to the importation of Muslims who desire to finish the job.”

      In stark contrast to America’s Democratic Party which has warmly embraced and defended two prominent Jew-haters in the House of Representatives.

      Going forward, we can expect alternative Palestinian-centric histories of the Holocaust (if it really happened!) in select American public schools systems in the not too distant future.

      • David V says

        Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial is abhorrent. But the irony is that the West’s collective guilt complex has been crippling that it is now being exploited by those who want to be given a pass for their own bigotry. The fear we now have of being seen as “racist” and “Islamophobic” is what has helped give the likes of Tlaib, Sarsour, Omar, etc power. The obsession with the supposed unique evil of Nazism, while the evil of Communism is overlooked, has allowed Corbyn and co a free pass.

        Perhaps Hungary and Poland, and Eastern Europe generally, instinctively recognises this? Perhaps they don’t want to be made to share the crippling sense of post-war guilt?

    • persimon says

      Poland had NO government collaborating with the Nazi Germany, in contrast to all the others. Any cooperation was done under direct threat of death – don’t forget 3 million Polish Jews died during ww2, and equally 3 million ethnic Poles.

      • David V says

        Yes that’s the point. The camps in Poland weren’t “Polish camps”, they were camps run by the regime of Nazi Germany. Both the Nazis and Soviets killed Poles in large numbers. The whole point is that Eastern European nations do not obsess over seeing Nazism as some unique evil and the whole morality play. They recognise Communism as being equally if not greater in evil, in fact some countries have banned both Nazi and Communist symbols.

        • Anonymous says

          Yes, Barack Obama was widely castigated for referring to the German death camps in Poland as “Polish death camps”.

    • lydia says

      The entire time I was reading this article I was thinking of the long time Palestinian effort to rewrite history. Now this effort has come to our shores and serves in Congress. The left is embracing anti-Semitism which includes many Jews.

      I’m a big history buff and read tons of biographies. One thing that stuck out to me in so many of them are countless stories of German men decorated in world War I who declared that Hitlers regime would not touch them as heros despite the fact they were Jewish. I thought of this as the president of the ADL supported the anti-semitic congresswoman Rasheed Tailb.

      The past is horrible. The present is chilling. for some reason people are not connecting the dots and want to stay in the past instead of mapping those dots to today.

      • David V says

        Contemporary anti-whiteness and anti-Semitism has gotten so far because non-negligible numbers of whites and Jews among their liberal elites have endorsed it. And often are among its leading ideologues – Max Blumenthal and Philip Weiss are two that come to mind, whose vile “work” is popular with neo-Nazis.

      • MirrorLookSee says

        This site is full of pro-Zionists who decry Nazis and racial supremacy in one breath but support Netanyahu “let’s take all their land and stuff all Palestinians into the world’s densest concentration camps” at the same time.

        Sheer and utter hypocrisy. The fact that you’re accusing the ADL of supporting alleged “anti-semites” now is testimony to your utter lunacy. Get real.

        • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

          MirrorLookSee haven’t you just set up a straw person here?

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @lydia

        You and some other commenters here are using Rashida Tlaib [NOT Rasheed Tailb] as an example of Muslim anti-Semitism and/or Holocaust denialism, but here is what she said in part in that Yahoo News interview published May 10th:

        Interviewer: What is your vision for a one-state solution that meets both Palestinian and Israeli Jewish national aspirations?

        Tlaib: Just a few weeks ago in our country we took a moment to remember the Holocaust. There’s kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives. Their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways have been wiped out and some people’s passports, I mean just all of it, was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews post- the Holocaust, post- the tragedy and horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time…..And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right? In many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right? And it was forced on them.** And so, when I think about a one-state, I think about the fact that why can’t we do it in a better way? And I don’t want people to do it in the name of Judaism, just like I don’t want people to use Islam in that way. It has to be done in a way of values around equality, and around the fact that you shouldn’t oppress others so that you can feel free and safe. Why can’t we all be free and safe together?

        Interviewer: But a one-state solution with the right of return, I mean just– the math would suggest that Jews would become a minority in that state.

        Tlaib: But Dan [Klaidman], it’s not up to us to decide what it looks like, right? Just like when my African-American teachers taught me about neighborhoods they couldn’t live in, places they couldn’t work. It’s important to understand that separate but equal didn’t work here and we have to let the self-determination happen there.***

        Interviewer: But isn’t it giving up, the idea of a two state solution . . .?

        Tlaib: I didn’t give it up, Netanyahu gave it up …. But uprooting people all over again? To say that that’s going to happen…. because you understand when you look at the landscape, and just map it out, how he has proceeded to divide, proceeded to dissect communities, it is almost absolutely impossible to see a two-state solution without more people being hurt.****

        Interviewer: How do you distinguish your position from Hamas?

        Tlaib: I don’t come from a place of violence. I come from a place of love, equality and justice.
        [end of partial transcript]

        **Tlaib implies here that the partition of the British mandate in Palestine was forced on the Palestinians by the British and the UN, which is true.

        ***Tlaib here says that dividing historic Palestine into Jewish-controlled and Palestinian-controlled zones is like Jim Crow segregation in the US.

        ****Tlaib here says that a two-state solution would require more uprooting and movement of people away from their homes and livelihoods, comparable to the uprooting that happened in 1947-1948.

        Source of transcript: https://www.juancole.com/2019/05/palestinian-samaritanism-redemption.html

        Bottom Line: the people distorting or selective-quoting Tlaib’s comments are the ones doing the historical revisionism here. Nowhere does Tlaib say or imply that the Palestinians welcomed the massive influx of Jewish refugees that occurred in the years leading up to 1948. Instead, she says that the Palestinians were forced to sacrifice so that the refugees could find shelter.

        • Stephanie says

          Jack, was that supposed to cast Rashida Tlaib in a positive light? That she frames the Holocaust as a tragedy that happened to the Palestinians is gross. Particularly considering the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a fan of Hitler and hoped for his help solving his Jewish problem.

          Of course she’s going to gloss over the fact that a one-state solution would mean the destruction of Israel, that is her goal. Nevermind that the Palestinians already have a much larger state, there can be no rest until all Jews are vacated. All the neighbouring Arab states succeeded at forcing out all their Jews already, in numbers analogous to the number of Palestinians who fled Israel to avoid Jewish rule. How about we just call it even?

          For people constantly complaining about not being able to live in their great-grandparents’ tent, they are strangely unwilling to move on with their lives and move to Jordan. In contrast, Jews forced out of Arab countries wouldn’t go back if you paid them, don’t engage in any terrorism, and their grandkids don’t consider themselves “refugees.”

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Stephanie

            I posted the transcript because people on the right were quote-clipping her remarks to claim that Tlaib said that thinking of the Holocaust gave her a calming feeling. You can make of the transcript what you wish.

            Regarding the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, he was definitely pro-Nazi, but so were some political leaders in Europe during this period [see comment below by @Eugene]. Yet those countries didn’t have to accept Jewish refugees after the war–quite the contrary in fact. Where’s the logic in that?

            It is more likely that resettling Jewish refugees in Palestine was an out-of-sight-out-of-mind solution for European leaders to the ‘Jewish problem.’ That solution actually worked well for Europe until very recently. But in 1948 the UN and Britain reneged on the 1939 white paper that called for an independent Palestinian state with NO partition:

            “White Paper of 1939 – Wikipedia

            The White Paper of 1939 was a policy paper issued by the British government under Neville Chamberlain in response to the 1936–39 Arab Revolt. Following its formal approval in the House of Commons on 23 May 1939, it acted as the governing policy for Mandatory Palestine from 1939 until the British departure in 1948, the matter of the Mandate meanwhile having been referred to the United Nations.

            The policy, first drafted in March 1939, was prepared by the British government unilaterally as a result of the failure of the Arab-Zionist London Conference. The paper called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state within 10 years, rejecting the idea of partitioning Palestine. It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 for 5 years, and ruled that further immigration was to be determined by the Arab majority (section II). Restrictions were put on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs (section III).”

            Both Zionist and Palestinian representatives rejected the paper as written, but this history shouldn’t be forgotten. If the Balfour declaration is viewed as determinative and binding, why isn’t the White Paper of 1939?

    • Zoltan says

      Being on the wrong side would be a better assessment than choosing the loosing side. Hungary did not choose to war with the Mongols, and the Turks. Western Europe was happy not to intervene. The Austrians did intervene after the Hungarians had bled themselves dry, and incorporated Hungary into the Habsburg empire. Hence WW1. Russia and Germany divided Poland, a long standing Hungarian ally and friend, between them selves. When it came to war between the two, which side should Hungary have joined. Was it unexpected that an aristocrat would not join with the Soviet Union that had recently murdered its aristocrats, and was giving asylum to those who murdered many in Hungary?
      Perhaps if Hungary had put on it’s white hat and joined the West somehow, it would have avoided the fate of Poland at the end of WW2. But was that even possible? After all Poland had a guarantee from the West, and with the help of the Hungarians was able to send some of its members to England to help liberate their country. Still Poland was isolated and in the grips of the Third Reich.
      Hungary at least had some leverage in controlling its own House. Compare the treatment of the Jews in Hungary prior to the German invasion ( you will have to do more research than reading the above) to that of their treatment in German occupied Poland. Of course in the end Poland along with other allies of the West as well as Hungary was gifted to the Soviet Union.
      This brings us to the next side that was chosen for Hungary and one that Hungary bled to try and un choose, once again with encouragement from the West, which was happy to see a now enemy given a bloody nose.
      Hungary is now on the side of NATO, which it has chosen.
      The complexity of the situation brought on by its location has not changed. The world has changed, and is changing. The new world order necessitates multi lateral alliances. Hungary from the 10th century on has chosen Europe, and by extension the West. Europe was divided as the West is now in danger of being divided permanently. The above article is written from one side of the present divide, it adds no value to understanding Hungary or the West. It’s just a part of the ruckus.

    • Eugene says

      Regarding the Poles, read the history, which you obviously haven’t done.

      Poles who denounced fugitive Jews often did so out of fear of German retribution for aiding Jews. This included Poles who had initially hid Jews. Note also that many of the known denouncers of fugitive Jews and their Polish benefactors are identified as Volksdeutsche.

      As for turning in Jews to the Germans, the Jewish Ghetto Police brutally hunted down Jews for transport to the camps. Jewish Gestapo assistants operated outside the ghettos, uncovered Jews hiding there, and denounced their Polish helpers, whom the Germans executed with immediate family. Many Judenrat leaders were utterly corrupt, despotic, and abusive towards ghetto populations. They were often driven by desires for personal enrichment and survival, to the detriment of their communities. Raoul Hilberg notes that, under the Judenrat, the Jews went to their death like lambs to the slaughter. Hannah Arendt agreed with Hilberg that “almost without exception” the Jewish leadership cooperated with the Nazis.

      Note also that Jews assisted the Soviets in their 1939-1941 occupation of eastern Poland, their murders of thousands of Poles, and their brutal roundups of Polish men, women, children, and the elderly for transport to the gulags where many thousands died. Throngs of Jews, often dressed in their best attire for the occasion, avidly greeted the Soviet invaders and often erected welcoming banners, presented flowers, and kissed their tanks.

      You forget that Hitler attacked Poland to annihilate the Poles, take over their land, and settle it with Germans. A week before the attack, Hitler convened his top generals and stated the following: “I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need.” The Wansee conference statement about Europe’s Jews was issued in January 1942.

      Let’s talk about collaboration against the Jews in other German-occupied countries. German-occupied countries that collaborated with the Germans in rounding up, deporting, and executing Jews include Petain’s Vichy France (75,00), Tiso’s Slovakia (70,000), Pavelic’s Croatia, whose Ustase militia helped in deporting 32,000, Worthy’s Hungarian Arrow Cross militia, which murdered 10,000 – 15,000 outright and deported another 80,000, and Holland’s Henneicke Column, who arrested and delivered 8,000-9,000 Jews to the Nazi authorities, and Bandera’s Ukrainian partisans, who together with German-commanded Ukrainian auxiliary police, helped the Germans kill Jews. In several occupied countries, well-known fascist politicians, such as Quisling in Norway, Degrelle in Belgium, and Mussert in Holland, formed Nazi-style political parties and took an active part in rounding up and deporting Jews. In the case of military collaboration, many occupied countries formed Waffen SS units and operated under German command. These included Denmark, Norway, Belgium (Flemish and Walloon units), Latvia, Hungary, Estonia, Italy, France, Holland, Albania, Ukraine, and Croatia. Note that there were no Polish militias participating in the Holocaust, no Polish SS Divisions, and no Polish “Quisling”.

    • Martin says

      “..the ragtag Bolshevik forces that had imposed 133 days of “Red Terror” upon the country…”

      Slightly disingenuous given that the ‘Hungarian Soviet Republic’ was instituted and run by Jews:

      Béla Kun (real name Béla Kohn), Tibor Szamuely, Vilmos Böhm, Mátyás Rákosi (Mátyás Rosenfeld), Zoltán Rónai, Zsigmond Kunfi (Zsigmond Kohn), Jenő Landler………

      Hungarians had every reason to distrust and dislike Jews, having observed, first hand, their treatment of non-Jews when given any power.
      Don’t forget either that the Jewish communists who fled Hungary after it’s liberation from their misrule returned after WW2 and instituted another tyrannical regime under which thousands of Hungarians were tortured, murdered and enslaved.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_Soviet_Republic

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_People%27s_Republic

    • Peter from Oz says

      JBN
      That’s a good point. But it must be remembered that to be anti-jewish is racism and disgusting, to be anti-islam is to be culturalist and commendable.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @P from O

        Not sure if you are serious or are trolling me. In any case, let’s leave race out of the picture. Since conversion to Judaism is possible even in the Orthodox tradition, Jews can’t be a race.

        Religious bigotry is unfortunately nearly universal when two or more faiths or sects inhabit the same area. Politicians like Orban in Hungary or Modi in India are exploiting this bigotry against religious minorities for political gain, even as they claim to be promoting a more populist, authentic form of national identity over cosmopolitan liberalism.

    • szejler says

      The Soros campaign is absurd and ridiculous at the same time, but the antisemitic narrative is missing the point. Sure, you can easely find certain paralels and symbols, but the symbol, what the campaign made out of Soros is way older, than the jewish image of the nazis.

      The evil, powerful men, who try to undermine, and threaten the existing piece of the society is as old as ancient legends. This is an archaic tale, and threat, and im pretty certain Fidesz would have built it the same way, if Soros woudn’t be jewish. It works without it (though personally i think the campaign has much less influence, than either Orban or the critics think it has).

      By the way Netanyahu uses Soros quite the same way, and dont have a problem with Orban’s campaign(moreover they became close allies). That doesn’t make it better, but corroborate it is not about antisemitism. As far as is see, the voters of Israel forgive Netanyahu plenty, but fraternizing with an antisemite probably doesn’t belong to them.

      • neoteny says

        The late Arthur Finkelstein was election campaign consultant to both Orbán and Netanyahu.

        And then there’s the éminence grise of Hungarian politics, Árpád Habony, who set up a political consulting company in the UK with Finkelstein (who died in 2017).

        I suspect that Orban is copying Putin’s stance in this question. Putin is known to have Jewish friends (one of his judo coaches was Jewish as well, IIRC) and I understand that he has a reasonably good relationship with Russian Jewry. In a sense Orban has ‘permission’ to copy this relatively enlightened approach. But of course this is a field to be played, too: in the mid-00’s there was a split in one of the main Jewish organization, and the separatists gained sovereign ‘church’ status. Without knowing the details, I understand that Orban stoked the rivalry between the leaders of these two organizations.

  2. northernobserver says

    I am sorry, but something doesn’t add up here and it is all in the date of the first Auschwitz deportations – May 1944. If Hungary was such an eager participant in the Holocaust why were the first deportations only in May 1944, not May 1942, four months after the Wannsee conference, as was the case in Poland? Heck, May 1944 is even after the deportation of Western Europe’s Jews, so the question is why?
    The reason is that Horty’s regime was nationalist but not Nazi, and it had no social or political reason to participate in the Holocaust. When the Germans interfered in Hungary’s internal politics in 1944 to make sure the regime didn’t defect to the Allies, the government became more Nazi and those Nazi elements in Hungarian society helped to implement Hitlers Agenda. Hungary’s holocaust story resembles Italy’s in this regard.
    So I am not sure what the author really wants here? More self criticism? Her approval and the approval of the right people? Perhaps this is not her intent but her piece comes off as another convenient misrepresentation of Hungary’s current Nationalist government. That’s a pity.
    There is something else here too, and that is that the longer we move forward in time and the more we reflect upon it, the more relative the Holocaust becomes in the face of the accumulated horrors of World History. All peoples and times have these horrors and no one is truly innocent from a World historical perspective. This relativism is becoming apparent and I think many people working in the Holocaust remembrance find this hard to bear, which it is, it is hard for the tragedies we care about the most to fade from public memory or be relativized or reinterpreted, but this will happen, we can halt it no more than we can halt tomorrows sunrise.

    • GSW says

      “There is something else here too, and that is that the longer we move forward in time and the more we reflect upon it, the more relative the Holocaust becomes in the face of the accumulated horrors of World History. All peoples and times have these horrors and no one is truly innocent from a World historical perspective.” @northernobserver

      How is this sort of relativism not Holocaust denial? Theories of racial pseudo-science, a logical (but evil) product of the Enlightenment and scientific revolution, led European Nazis in Germany and elsewhere to embrace schemes to impose industrialized death on millions and millions of completely innocent people because of their imagined “blood.” Your notion that I and other Quillette readers are somehow not ‘truly innocent’ of genocidal crimes against humanity like the Holocaust is beyond ridiculous.

      • Northern Observer says

        It is not Holocaust denial because none of the facts are contested. Because it was perpetrated by a modern bureaucratic state it is one of the best documented atrocities to ever occur. No one denies this or if they do they are recognized as cognitive morons or fanatics.
        The question is how people will understand the holocaust as we move away from 1945 and what we can do politically and socially in current year about it. My suggestion is that the author oversteps with her interpretation of current year Hungary’s sins and obligations.
        I was much more ambitious than condemning Quillette readers as “guilty”, I condemned humanity as a whole and for all time until the day of Judgement. Ironically the best person to explain this view to you would be an orthodox rabbi. God speed.

        • Zoltan says

          There are a few things that the author does not mention about the Horthy government. These were well documented in the west.

          Horthy was arrested not just inconvenienced by the Germans.
          His son was beaten by the SS and almost died at Dachau.

          The Arrow Cross was illegal in Hungary, until Horthy’s forced abdication. Then they were installed in the government, by the Germans, to replace Horthy’s government, along with Hungarian officers who were freed from prison by Nazi sympathizers after being sentenced in one case to death for war crimes by a court convened on Horthy’s insistence.

          The Hungarian army was deployed to protect the Jewish ghetto from the Arrow Cross, while Horthy still maintained control In Budapest.

          Horthy was a witness and not charged at Nuremberg.

          Braham doesn’t exonerate Horthy but gives a more nuanced view than the author. He’s worth reading.

    • Sydney says

      @northernobserver

      “It’s a pity” (your words) that your comment sounds like soft anti-Semitism.

      To paraphrase YOU, I am not really sure what you wanted by commenting. If the Holocaust is so “relative,” “fading from memory,” and “reinterpreted” – your bored shrug audible – then I wonder why you took the time to not only read the post but to comment as well?

      No, the Holocaust is neither “relative” nor “fading.” Good, ethical, and moral people recognize the huge significance of remembering and understanding evil; whether through remembering and studying the Holocaust, or the Armenian genocide by the Turks, or other horrors.

      It’s why moral people push back on the Holocaust denial and revisionism being vomited out by American congress Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar every week. Moral people recognize the significance of truth, lies, and remembrance.

      Good and moral people continue the task – generation after generation – of remembering and understanding because people like you exist who wish to extinguish the memories of those lives and those flames. Are you human? Did you recognize the children and babies in the accompanying photo as fellow humans who were murdered for no reason but unbridled hate?

      While you hope that we all forget, tomorrow’s sun will rise over Holocaust scholarship, genocide scholarship, and daily remembrances worldwide of the evil that people do. It’s imperative, it will continue, because it’s the good that good people do.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Sydney

        ”… murdered for no reason but unbridled hate” It was worse than that, they were mudered because it suited the regime to have a group upon which the rest of society could take out its frustrations. The Jews were the scapegoats. The hatred was manufactured to support the need to have some
        We really must be careful about using the silly schoolgirl and lefty term ”hate”.

        • GSW says

          “the silly… term hate.” @Peter from Oz

          Of course you are right, Jews were scapegoated for Germany’s defeat in World War and the humiliation of the Versailles treaty, for the rise of socialism and communism, for the Great Depression etc. etc.

          But Hitler’s racial theories did in fact trade in hate and fear. The Enlightenment idea that humankind could be perfected through social engineering underwrote the pseudo-scientific Nazi narrative of the aryan “race” being under constant threat/siege by inferior subhuman “races” like the Jews. The Nuremburg laws and Kristallnacht set the table for the orgy of industrialized/mechanized mass murder to follow.

          Today’s identity politics, also rooted in the fiction of blood and political struggle, similarly trades in hate and fear.

      • northernobserver says

        Sydney, Sydney, climb down from the tower of moral righteousness… you might hurt yourself.

        I’ve been thinking about our interaction as well, why I bothered to comment, why I was moved to speak, and some of the salty replies I received.

        Let’s put something aside from the beginning. The “duty of the righteous” argument is noble but it is hogwash. Hardly anyone talks about the Holocaust for reasons of righteousness, and the generation whose victimhood and vision was clear enough to even attempt to do such a thing without blushing are passing from the realm of the living daily. By 2030 we will have moved definitively to the post witness generation.

        When people talk about the Holocaust these days it is nearly always to achieve a desired sociological or political effect in public opinion, especially elite political and academic opinion.
        And I am afraid that this is the case with Ms Porter. So if the Holocaust is going to be used to guide and settle political opinions it becomes necessary to vigorously debate its meaning and significance because to not so so is to become the servant of untested assumptions.

        The most recent scholarship on the Second World War, the Holocaust and the Nazi regime are from two American historians, Richard J Evans (The Coming of the Third Reich, etc…) and Timothy D. Snyder (Bloodlands) What these historians have demonstrated is that our political interpretation of the War and the Genocide are flawed and that over the last 30 years, Western elites have allowed a lazy leftist triumphalism to creep into our understanding of the War that awards itself (leftist ideals) unearned moral glory for opposing and defeating Hitler while demonizing traditional European culture and conservative politics as being morally culpable for the horror.
        The harder truth of the historical record is that Nazism was a radical revolutionary movement that drew its ideological rational and violent ethos from Revolutionary Bolshevism, and although ultimately they fought to the death it was their collaboration from 1933 to 1941 that allowed them to divide Europe and put the fate of the Jews into the hands of the Fuhrer. The Nazis wore a traditionalist skin suit and claimed to be the heirs of German Kings, but their heart was revolutionary and ultimately nihilistic; tying them to nationalism and traditionalism does not hold water.

        Unfortunately few academics and no politicians have reacted to this new scholarship because it would remove a tool from the leftist arsenal against current year conservative opponents, the hammer of presumed historical guilt. It is time for those of us who want to remember these horrors with the respect they deserve to do better.

        So what I question is not the Holocaust, what I question are leftist moral claims and their critiques of current Nationalist governments and policies because these leftist moral claims are based on historical misconceptions and political prejudices.

        For a corrective to all this I highly recommend the Israeli political scientist Yoram Hazony who has written a great book on Western elite confusion, The Virtue of Nationalism.
        Here is an interview with Dave Rubin to get an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwO4iMcJak4

        • EK says

          Evans is British, but your right his trilogy is spectacular. Good supplementary reading is David Blackburn’s “History of Germany 1780-1918” (1997).

          We should remember that the Nazis themselves called Poland “Gestapoland”; there was no Polish government collaborating with the Nazis.

          We should also remember that in the elections of 1932, the Germans faced the elections from Hell. The choices were between the stalinist Red Front, the failed SPD Weimar Republic, which meant the probable return of Wilhelm I, or the Nazis. The Nazis were the only unknown quantity.

          This current fascination with the Holocaust strikes me as odd. It was barely mentioned in popular culture the 1950s and 60s, the exception are the film “Exodus” and passing references by Woody Allen in one or two of his films.

          And then there is the observation that between 1945-60 many real Nazis did quite well in the West but after 1980, all the Nazi-hunters could turn up for their show trials were a few non-German prison guards.

          • Rick says

            The fact that Poland was occupied and under military control does not at all preclude the fact that some Poles collaborated quite eagerly with the “Final Solution”.

            Immediately after the war, many people were exhausted by it and wanted to move on. The Cold War and threat of being atomized loomed large. It is really not odd at all that pop culture didn’t explore the Holocaust much at first. In Europe especially, there was a whole wave of fluffy ‘good ol’ days’ fantasy films. The Sound of Music is one you may even know. But movies set during the war years were certainly a thing by the 1960s.

            Your gross simplification of the elections is also way off.

            The Nuremberg Trials were about punishing the ring-leaders. Millions of rank-and-file joined the Nazi party as much out of necessity as conviction. In many professions, you couldn’t advance past a point unless you were a party member. And for a while, Germany was sitting on top of the world, it seemed like there was nothing to lose. After the war, the Allies realized they couldn’t very well imprison nor force out of their jobs millions of “ordinary” people. Sadly. Then the Cold War was on, Germany was needed as Meat Shield #1 and de-nazification took a distant back seat.

            But I agree it’s rather useless now dragging out last wretched 90 year olds who were 5 when the Nazis came to power, and then had a 7-month gig at some horrible death camp in their teens.

          • EK says

            @ Rick

            In what way is my “election from Hell” characterization way off?

            Yeah, I’m aware of post-war German Stunde Null popular culture. In fact I’m a fan of it.

    • Thea says

      This is disingenuous. Horthy’s government was still subject to vigorous if less murderous anti-semitism especially during Pal Teleki’s term as prime minister, in the course of which both extensive anti-Jewish laws were passed and the mass deportations of Jews in all ‘reclaimed’ and occupied territories (many formerly citizens of the Austrian empire) extensively undertaken (and the origin of Eli Wiesel’s personal journey through the Holocaust), in addition to impressment of tens of thousands of ‘legal’ Hungarian Jews as forced laborers; the Horthy government was directly complicit in a death toll at least in the tens of thousands before the Arrow Cross puppet regime gained ascendancy.

      That said, the episode related concerning the comment of the SS officer at the enthusiasm of the Hungarians for inflicting genocide upon their countrymen is tied to the Arrow Cross period so associating it with a criticism of Horthyism specifically is somewhat misleading.

      The key question that one has to ask here is ultimately what the maximum extent of damage mitigation realistically was? German military and political coercion was inevitable for weak, exposed regimes in Central Europe and overly assiduous refusal ensured either invasion or vigorous German support of internal fascist elements (as with the revolt of the Nazi-supported Iron Guard in Romania and the Bucharest Pogrom); even Bulgaria which had popular opposition to anti-Jewish laws still necessitated major internal political pressure to block the deportation of its own integral citizenry, not to mention the Bulgarian regime’s complicity in tens of thousands of more deportations in occupied territories.

      Many evils can be spuriously defended as necessary, but at the same time there is going to be some threshold for noncompliance (although hard military matters seem far more consequential here) that would unacceptably increase the risk of the Germans pursuing the worst-case scenario. Short of the best possible timing of an attempted defection, de facto German occupation for a defensive against the Soviets was inevitable, but virtually anything would’ve been better than an enthusiastically genocidal Szalasi being in place to facilitate the aims of the SS and friends on their arrival. Perhaps we ought to mourn Horthy not being more resigned to making his last stand alongside the krauts in ’44.

      That said. “only an asshole in a world of monsters” is still not necessarily something that makes for great praise or a compelling national epic; perhaps a reasonable justification for avoiding proactive condemnation and prosecution, but a policy touting his example still ought to raise eyebrows. In any case, the remarkable enthusiasm and efficiency of the general pogrom once it came under Szalasi speaks for itself as far as it reflects general societal complicity.

    • lydia says

      We really needed a “Judgement in Moscow” after the wall came down with full transparency of the masses of crimes committed against people over 80 years. Most people today due to our public education system have absolutely no idea how evil and totalitarian the Soviet Union was. Had thatthey done they, instead of sweeping it under the rug, may not have elected a KGB agent.

      • David V says

        @lydia

        Russia does not have any remorse for the crimes of the Soviet Union and Putin, an old KGB man, perpetuates this state of denial.

        You’re right though, it’s also an issue in the West. The failure to understand the evil of Communism has given the Left carte blanche for its behaviour.

  3. codadmin says

    Lat month, Turkey’s foreign minister said: “We are proud of our history because our history has never had any genocides. And no colonialism exists in our history…”

    This the world Hungary finds itself in. It is wise to own up to anything anymore, regardless of guilt?

    • Asenath Waite says

      @codadmin

      No colonialism would just mean that a country has never historically been wealthy or powerful enough to have been able to expand its territory. Or that it was founded in a more recent and less warlike time period.

      • Harbinger says

        ….the Foreign Minister in question appears to have forgotten about the Ottoman Empire, the capital of which was Istanbul.

    • Rick says

      Armenian, Greek, Jewish and Kurd genocides and pogroms aside — oh, and almost a millennium of Ottoman imperialism — ah, and Northern Cyprus, well, yes, then Turkey has had no genocides or colonialism… No slavery either, right?

      • David V says

        That’s the whole problem. Turkey is in denial about the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians during World War I. Russia is in denial about Communist atrocities, including the annexation of the Baltic states, mass deportations, Katyn, Ukrainian Famine, et al. Both countries appear to be given a pass for it, while Western nations are under constant pressure to apologise for their history and their very existence.

  4. Z from OZ says

    Thank you, Anna. Factually accurate, restrained article. It is hard for non-Hungarians, or people who do not follow Hungarian politics on a daily basis, to appreciate the duplicity of Orban in this, and practically every other topics (affectionately called the “the dance of the peacock”). He is not an anti-semite but allows and encourages the misrepresentation of the history (the very active role of the Hungarian goverment and the tacit, and sometimes rather enthusiastic support of the populace, in gradually taking every aspects of being human away from Jewish citizens of Hungary and ultimately killing more than half a million of them in mere two months) but many of his supporters are. His anti-immigrant stance, cheered by many on these pages, is also driven by the fact that finding an outside threat has always been the best way to unite the base (despite the fact that there is no muslim immigration to Hungary) to keep him in power for the sole purpose of financially enriching himself and his cronies (to a degree readers of these pages could not even comprehend). If there would be polar bears that can induce such fear in people, he would have an anti-polar bear platform. His effective manipulation (I would say, “money-pulation”) have managed to drive a wedge between the neolog (and often non-religeous) and orthodox (mostly Lubavitch) Jews in Hungary. The fact that he is cozying up to Netanyahu has nothing to do with his government’s attitude toward the Jews, it is a clever political calculation. By the way, I personally prefer a Hungarian government that is pro-Israel, rather than the opposite. What was not written about in this article is the everyday private enthusiasm, or mere callousness due to historical and state-sponsored antisemitism in the 1920’s and 30’s, to take away Jewish property even before the ghetto’s gate was shut. Being complicit, admittedly at different levels, runs deep in the Hungarian psyche. Therefore, it is very hard to face it. Orban, notwithstanding how much he is liked by many readers of Quillette, is not helping this process, rather using it to his political gain. Such approach has alway been quite dangerous….

    • R in SE1 says

      You might have more of a point if you didn’t so casually dismiss the very real danger of Muslim immigration. Having seen innocent people butchered on my doorstep by Muslim immigrants, I now don’t really care what you might think of Orban or anyone else.

      (Also, English grammar is your friend. It exists for a reason — it helps structure an argument.)

      • Z from OZ says

        R in SE1
        It must have been my rather unfriendly relationship with the English grammar that could have led you to deduce from my comment that I casually dismiss the very real danger of Muslim immigration to Europe. I nowhere said that in the comment. I didn’t and I don’t. And I do not expect you to care what I think of Orban, in case you though I might….

    • Jin Molnar says

      “Z from Oz”:
      Thank you for your lengthy comment on Orban and his, as you put it, disingenuous nationalism. But your criticism of Orban and the current nationalist leanings in Hungary is typical of the reprobitive tone of the leftist West. It gives me an excellent jump-off point for a POV I’ve been wanting to express for some time, with a little snippet of personal story that readers will of course draw varied conclusions from.

      From my non-academic reading of my father’s native country, I understand that Hungary is a country that has come pretty close – and is still close, in a relative sense – to not existing. 10 million people – small geographical area – low birth rate – incomprehensible (!) language, and a well documented history, as far as I can tell, of getting whooped and then populated by Turkey several times in the 15 and 16 centuries. Which defeats took place a half dozen or so centuries after the Magyar confederation decided to settle in Carpathian basin and play by the local (German, essentially) rules. Karma, trully, but still, a struggle for existence is a struggle for existence.

      And all the boomers reeling in shock about the way Hungary decided to block immigration of Syrian – or any other Arabs – en masse; like, the entire world is not the USA or Australia, duh.

      So there exists a nationalistic tendency in Hungary. I can’t speak to what extent anti Jewishness is extant in Hungary today. It seems clear to me that Jews were used as scapegoats in WWII. Half a million people murdered of any tribe or loosely defined group is bad news. It causes problems. You shouldn’t participate in it. That said, ask yourself how many people a cadre of the West’s most rabid SJW’s might elect to kill, or send to gulags, at least, were they given the reins of power. Human beings, when they feel their lives or livelihood under imminent threat, are quite the bitch. Human Nature, as well as Earth, is seems, Abides.

      Dad never climbed to great heights in the social or professional world in USA, and began to state plainly later, in carefully chosen company, that he was a fascist, and proudly. He knew the shock value it created, even in the 1980’s, kids. And he would give reasons that related mostly to alleged historical conditions. He also was someone who came across as bright, or at least clever, to people generally. He looked at me soberly (for want of a more apt adjective – he wasn’t a drunk) one day after lapsing into one these editorials and said “you don’t want this…../?/” I had the presence of mind to shake my head, no, and even to say no, in fact I did not, and began to explain why, he cut me off, and said dismissively something to the effect that “of course, it was his struggle…”

      Understanding contemporary political viewpoints is a delicate balancing act of Knowing the History of the People you are talking about and knowing their current, real-time reality. Kind of a platitude, I know, but really, don’t assume every little country in Asia or Europe or anywhere operates, or wants to operate, under the US constitution, as the US imperfectly executes the intentionally vague document. Human Nature is what’s eternal.

      • Z from OZ says

        Thank you, Jin Molnar, for your comment. I completely agree with you, it is a country with complex history. I also appreciate that people had their own individual motivations and drives and grievances, and acted accordingly. My comment was not above WHY it happened the way it did but rather why this present government is still trying to whitewash what had happened. Referring to your last paragraph I truly think, given my own personal history, I am rather well placed for “the delicate balancing act of Knowing the History of the People I am talking about and knowing their current, real time reality” (nicely put, by the way). I do not consider myself leftist, I would not be here if I would….it is exactly that “delicate balance” you so well put….

  5. Debbie says

    “a country where judges, schools, the judiciary and the education system were all controlled by the government”

    Those institutions are the government.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Debbie

      “Those institutions are the government.”

      Imagine a country where judges and the rest of the judicial system are privatized.

      • lydia says

        Morgan.

        The author wrote that and I will copy the whole sentence for you.

        I”have a complicated relationship with the past—as my memories of family and friends are intermingled with the fears of saying the wrong thing in a country where judges, schools, the judiciary and the education system were all controlled by the government.”

        in what country can you think of where most of those things are not controlled by the government?

    • David V says

      Not only Jews, but all people are safer in countries where there is a dominant culture and value system. Melanie Phillips relentlessly points this out in her articles. Even countries that are multiracial and multiethnic in nature require a dominant cultural and value system to bind it together. Such is the case of a territory like Gibraltar (which has Jews, Muslims and Hindus living in it, but all proud to be a British territory) or Ceuta (a large Muslim population that’s happy to remain Spanish). It is hardly surprising then that Eastern European countries turn out to be safer.

  6. Sasha says

    As a student of Eastern Europe I find this typically a one sided discussion where the author like many from the right and left hasn’t had the courage or the maturity to understand that human beings under threat will do anything to save their own lives.

    Yes the left and the right will support fascist governments of any colour. Human beings always are looking for someone or something to blame for the “black” side of their personalities. Perhaps adding to this story should be the forced labour (death) camps imposed on ALL Hungarians by the Russian invasion. It’s estimated 600,000 Hungarians with 200,000 dead. None of those prisoners were concerned what religion each worshipped it was simply a matter of survival day to day. The house of Terror in Andrassy street in Budapest has more information as does the separate museum on the Holocaust.

    It doesn’t matter what culture, religion or country they come from ( e.g. the KKK supported and organised by the Democratic Party) humans will go to any lengths to protect themselves and their families. All one can do is give a FACTUAL historical account of what happened and acknowledge that it will probably happen again because such is the nature of humanity that we have ideological oppressors who have committed horrendous acts in the name of “freedom”.

    Hungary is absolutely no different than any country in the world and it is currently legitimately moving away from the autocratic rule and hegemony of the EU . Whether it swings too far will simply be a matter of whether the EU swings further to total autocracy (viz. EU army formation). I suspect this article is simply a disguised attack on Mr Orban utilising the Jews as has been done before in many countries. Better to attack Mr Orban in a genuine way instead of hiding behind rhetoric.

    Lets hope that as we move forward we have leaders who appeal to the middle ground and common sense but when threats emerge from both sides I’m not optimistic.

    • Photondancer says

      Sounds like this article hit a sore spot. Skeleton in the family closet? there were in fact plenty of individuals and even countries that risked all to help Jews escape.

      • Sasha says

        Spend 5 minutes listing all these countries??

  7. Robert Mitchell says

    The actual horrors are not yours. The best thing about death is that something new is always born. And some would chain us to the sins of our fathers.

  8. Serenity says

    Very sad. Progressive left exploits the memory of the Holocaust to climb hierarchy of victimhood and to target anti-globalist government.

    Shame, the author of “Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy” did not mention her personal hero George Soros.

    From the US to Europe to Israel Soros backed projects of radical left, used immigration to undermine the national identity and demographic composition of Western democracies.

    • Sydney says

      @Serenity

      “Progressive left exploits the memory of the Holocaust to climb hierarchy of victimhood and to target anti-globalist government.”

      Agree.

      Intersectionalism is anti-Semitic and doesn’t give a crap about the Holocaust. These lefties regard Jews as ‘white,’ ‘privileged,’ and ‘colonialist’ enemies.

      If Jews stick to the progressive left they’re simply useful idiots; and if they move too far to the right they’re once again signing their own death warrants.

      Soros fan PM Justin Trudeau has shoved Soros’ globalism down our throats here in Canada, and Canadians appear to hate it. We’ll see decisively in our October federal election.

      Decent book review of the Porter book here:

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284019042_Anna_Porter_Buying_a_Better_World_George_Soros_and_Billionaire_Philanthropy

    • lydia says

      Serenity, OMG. I should have checked the author out before I read the article as I usually do. Soros has his own Nazi Skeltons for which I gave him a pass because he was a teenager and his Jewish father was trying to save his life. But it seems he may have enjoyed it a bit too much as he embraces totalitarianism.

      • Anonymous says

        Soros expressed zero regrets on “60 Minutes” as he described his work dispossessing the personal property of death camp deportees.

        You should watch it if you haven’t seen it.

  9. Sadie Slays says

    I’m not surprised that the author of “Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy” has a bone to pick with anti-globalist Hungary.

  10. Solomon Stavrov says

    Biased paper. Its title is “… Hungary Still Hasn’t Come to Terms with its Role in the Holocaust”. However, it follows from the paper’s body, that Horthy did NOT contribute in Holocaust at all. Mass killing of the Jews happened in 1944, after Germany occupied Hungary. Killing of the Jews was supported by salashists, Hungarian Nazis, who happily took their part in the extinction of Jews. Horthy did nothing to be blamed for Holocaust.
    He indeed was an anti-Semite and adopted a number of anti-Jewish laws, like almost any leader of Easter (and not only Eastern) Europe that time. But this fact does not make him a Holocaust perpetrator.
    Neither Hungarian people massively participated in extermination of Jews.

  11. szejler says

    It is incredibly difficult to judge the past in in an essay and this is especcially true for such hard topic like this. Id like to unfold my answer into two parts.

    First, addressing the role of Horthy two things need to be established. He made horrible sins during the 2ww, and cannot be absolved from them. Cannot be absolved even if his decision to stop the deportations in july of 1944 saved hundreds of thousands of jews, even if he was practically stripped from his power, the moment german troops marched into Hungary in 1944 (March). According to the consencus of historians he pretty much disguised Hitler (it was mutual), and worth noting he had contacted the UK gov. to negotiate abandoning the german alliance already in early 1943 (Germany knew about that intsantly and had a plan to invade Hungary a few months later). Later in the fall of 1944 his son was abducted by german troops (Skorzeny) forcing him to give up the power officially to the arrow cross movement. He was an autocrat, but he wasnt a fascist, he didn’t share the principles of it. Hungary was pretty much a piece of pawn in the grand war, and any direct denyial of german requests would led to a forced occupation and all the conseguences with it.

    But as i said, these facts doesn’ absolve him, as he wasnt just the defacto leader until march 1944, but he could have done more. He could help to save, ot at least slow down significantly the deportation of the rural jewish population. He could have denied the jewish laws, made by Teleki government. He could have done more, and the burden of thsi, and consequences of the lack of his actions is clearly on him.

    But again, he was not a nazi or a fascist, and his role, with all all the burden is more nuanced, than the image of a nazi dictator.

    My second answer is about the present. I felt important to divide it from Horthy, because even if there is statue for him (wrong), and there are some marginal efforts to draw from his era, the continuity or paralell is false. It is false, because it is impossible in every way. It is a different society a different culture, a different polical reality and the current goverment (with all it’s massive problems, and abuse of power) is fully aware of that. What they try to do can be decribed best as a (mostly unsuccesfull) attempt to redraw the national identity. The last 30 years (and the communist and nazi era before that) were pretty devastating on the common bonds we share. Our iconic moments, buildings, events were all negative with very few exceptions. When a whole generation fails to add its positive symbols, the trust in each other and the common ground is starting break and these are the times, when we (obviously not just hungarians) are looking for answers, models in the past, or breaking with the failing status quo. The latter happens quite rarely as it requires exceptional power to proceed, but Orban actually managed to get is. So what he is trying to do, is a reboot. It is ugly, corrupt, and messy, but he sees that necessary whatever the cost is. Horthy is less than marginal in this attempt, even simbolically.

  12. Serenity says

    Sydney and Lydia,

    to further this perspective –

    Douglas Murray: “We have an unending diet of people telling us about the antisemitism of the Hungarian government and endless excuses for reckless decisions by [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel.

    Merkel made it worse for Jews in her country, not [Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orban. What has been done by advocates of open borders and unrestricted immigration is much worse for European Jews than anything since the end of the Cold War in any of the Eastern European countries…

    There is a far sharper rise in antisemitic incidents in Western European countries such as Germany and France than in the Visegrad countries – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

    Is there inherent remaining antisemitism [in Central and Eastern Europe]? Of course – as unfortunately there is almost everywhere. It’s important to stress that the antisemitism weapon is being used in a very strange way in Europe… [Similarly, in the US] people are intent on claiming [President Donald] Trump is an antisemite against all evidence, but it fits the political narrative: that everybody on the Right who is popular must be a populist and therefore an antisemite.”

    • szejler says

      Truth to be told, im almost certain, Orban uses the arab migration consciously against antisemitism. The government is openly israel firendly not just for the outside, but on the internal media as well. He coldn’t have done that 20 years ago, but nobody cares about it now. Not even real antisemites. It just doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore. Yes, this is cynical and calculated, but as far as i see, it works. I suspect the orthodox jewish community understands this perfectly, this is why they support him.

      By the way he found another use of migration. Visegrad countries were not particularly friendly with each other (except for Poland and Hungary) for hystorical reasons. Almost all the conflicts, rivalry dissapeared in years, based solely on the common stance on migration. And i think he is not just aware of that, but again, actively plays on it.

  13. Calvin Blair says

    A Hungarian colleague tells me that Horthy’s restrictions on Hungarian Jews were prompted by their eager support (perceived or real) of the Communist insurrectionists and the government led by Jewish Communist revolutionary, Bela Khun, which inflicted the red terror upon Hungary. After this Horthy felt that the Hungarian Jewish population were not capable of fully participating in public life or the running of the state. Of course, it makes much more sense to believe that the Hungarians are just afflicted by some kind of heritable, genetic defect that makes them hate Jewish people, because that makes much more sense.

  14. There are a lot of Holocaust deniers out there today, actively trying to peddle their bogus revision of history. I strongly doubt that the best way to fight them is to concoct yet another narrative that ignores as many facts on one side as they ignore on the other, as this article does. We see the usual attempts to portray history in black and white, complete with pure good guys and starkly evil bad guys. Consider, for example, the portrayal of Horthy. If he was such an enthusiastic Nazi, how is it that he ended up a prisoner of the Nazis at the end of the war? How is it that the Nazis felt it necessary to threaten him with the execution of his son if he continued resisting them? One can find a far more accurate and nuanced view of Horthy by reading the Wiki article about him, and then taking the trouble to check the relevant historical source material, which isn’t that difficult to find. One can also read his memoirs, and fact check those. The author claims she has done this, but has strangely ignored telling us about anything that might tend to weigh in his favor, without even attempting to corroborate what he has written one way or the other.

    Horthy knew perfectly well that he would be crushed if he dared to seriously defy Hitler. Would things really have gone better for the Hungarian Jews if he had handed over power to the local fascists early in the war, made some loud but utterly futile protests, and then waited for the Nazis to bundle him off to a concentration camp? He’s portrayed in this article as a land grabber and aggressor. What we’re not told is that, in spite of the allies mealy mouthed pieties about national self determination at the end of WWI, huge territories inhabited by large Hungarian majorities were lopped off, leaving a rump state. Is it that hard to understand that he and the rest of the Hungarian people might have had good reason to resent this treatment?

    If the author thinks she has set the historical record straight, she is sadly mistaken. What she has really done is create a transparently one-sided revision of history of her own.

  15. Phong Le says

    As an Asian, I can not understand the why Europeans can not leave the Holocaust behind. It’s the same thing with Americans and slavery. Pretty much everyone who was involved are now dead or dying. Why can’t you move on? What does “coming to term” mean precisely?

    • ms100 says

      Although I’m not Asian, I agree with you. The reality is that it’s big business now among certain circles to make sure that the Holocaust and American slavery is never forgotten. It’s a political weapon wielded as a bludgeon in exchange for gains in entitlements and power. If these people allowed the issues of slavery or the Holocaust to die then they would be out of a job and out of power. What were once noble causes have been taken over by crass corporatists. Same has happened with the issue of poverty and the academic liberal arts. Their solutions are to actually find more “problems”. They are promoting the actions that caused the atrocities in the first place except that now the targets are whites, the right, and Western Civ. Evidently Hungary is on the list now.

      There is no “coming to terms” with these people.

      • David V says

        Yes. Any attempt to silence debate on race and immigration, on Islam and non-white communities, seems to invoke comparisons to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. And even the history of the West has been rewritten in a way to say that the UK, US and Australia are somehow morally no different to Nazism. The irony for Jewish communities in these countries is that it is being done by interest groups linked to virulently anti-Semitic Muslim activists.

        Even the Bosnian and Rwandan episodes of the 1990s has been at times invoked by the Left to warn against “bigotry” and any form of nationalism. The wrong lessons are being drawn once again.

      • Taylor says

        Don’t forget colonialism and the treatment of indigenous peoples.

        • David V says

          @Taylor

          Much of the alleged wrongs of colonialism, of “Western imperialism” have been blown out of proportion. The seeds of this myth was planted in the 50s and 60s by Soviet propagandists while decolonisation was taking place. It was all part of the plan to create self-doubt in the West.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Phong Le

      The US actually is in the process of moving on and leaving the Holocaust behind.

      This is most readily seen in the recent public behavior of two Muslim politicians in the US House of Representatives who are quite open in their desire to “leave the Holocaust behind” as well as the public behavior of American Jews in the Democratic Party who are going to great lengths to shelter these same two Muslims from criticism.

      In the US, “coming to terms” means Jews are falling silent in increasing numbers.

      • David V says

        The key point is that we are living not in a secular age but a religious one, which is “universalism” or “Diversity”, a substitute for Christianity. Like all religions it needed a canon, so one had to be developed from slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, Nazism and Apartheid, and now also with its secular saints. The tales of alleged colonial horrors may be wildly inaccurate, portraying white people in bestial ways, very likely the result of Cold War era Soviet propaganda against the West. After Stalin, Khrushchev believed a way could be found to “bury the West without a single shot”. Thus the long march…

    • Jin Molnar says

      Phong Le:
      The point of studying collective past traumas is not to draw vicarious guilt and victimhood as an excuse for figurative (or even literal) self-flagellation – as if the crimes of your grandparents or even parents were your own – THEY ARE NOT. But it is rather to understand that the people who bequeathed you your civilization, and, as likely as not, your DNA, were capable of inflicting nearly unimaginable pain on other people. To begin to truly understand History is to begin to truly understand Human Nature – a subject that has been taboo in schools in the West for quite some time now, as far as I can tell. Given the right circumstances, any Human Being is capable of just about anything.
      And circumstances are constantly changing.
      Yes, people should read as factual accounts of History as they as are able to find, if they are at all interested in broadening and deepening their perspectives of others – and of themselves.

    • Taylor says

      @Phong Le
      What are your thoughts on the continued worship of Ho Chi Minh as a hero and saviour? As I see it, he was in the same league as Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao, yet thousands still visit his tomb in Hanoi every day.

  16. Pingback: Seventy-five Years Later, Hungary Still Hasn’t Come to Terms with its Role in the Holocaust – Quille tte | dharmism

  17. Brent says

    It’s 75 years later the people who did this are long dead and none in that country that are alive had any part in it. Let the dead rest and quit digging up the past, next thing you’ll want all of Italy to apologize for what the Roman empire did.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Brent

      I am still waiting for Queen Elizabeth II to apologize to me personally for the theft of my peoples’ lands and heritage in the Highland Clearances.

      When I’ve had that – and sufficient restitution from the Crown (I have something in mind) – we may talk about forgiveness for and from others.

  18. meerkat says

    I’m just curious, but which countries does Anne Porter think have “come to terms” with their past sins?

  19. SLD says

    Anna Porter.

    Is this the same Hungarian expatriate who tried to join the Israeli Army in 1967 according to Maclean’s magazine? (Anna’s Journey, October 2, 2000)

    What is her agenda? Because her obsession with the Holocaust and her strange affection for the IDF indicate she has one.

    So, okay, Anna Porter. I’ll listen to what you say about Hungary if you explain why you wanted to take up arms on behalf of the Israeli state.

  20. Randy Guthrie says

    What you fail to understand is that in 1920 Jews led a communist revolution in Hungary, just like in Munich.

  21. Ken says

    As Regent, Horthy was never in charge of the government. For most of the war, the part where Hungary was still independent, the Prime Minister of Hungary was Miklós Kállay. Horthy was under house arrest beginning in March of 1944 when the Jewish deportations began. At Horthy’s initiative, Hungary had resisted Nazi demands against their Jews while Horthy was still active, and it was under Horthy that negotiations with the Western democracies began as early as 1943. It was not until the Germans invaded Hungary and forced a Nazi puppet named Döme Sztójay into office as Prime Minister that the Jews of (rural) Hungary could be deported. And it was Horthy who brought an end to Jewish deportations before they reached the Jews of Budapest, using the credibility he had built up with Hitler to remove Sztójay and have Géza Lakatos appointed Prime Minister, which is why there were still so many Jews in Budapest for the Arrow Cross to terrorize. The Arrow Cross had been severely repressed under Horthy and only came to power after the Nazis had kidnapped Horthy’s son and forced Horthy to surrender to them. Finally, as Ben Hecht detailed in his book Perfidy, the “remarkable efficiency” of the deportation of Hungarian Jews had a lot to do with the plans worked out by Adolf Eichmann and the Zionist agent Rudolf Kastner, who arranged for the different Judenrat to meekly march Jews to the trains, trading the “dead tree” of Hungarian Jews for 1,684 Zionist Jews escaping through Switzerland. I admire Orbán, he knows damn well that the admission of “historical guilt” is followed up by demands for “reparation” money which never goes to Jewish victims of the Nazis but instead to Zionist and Israeli fronts masquerading as “Jewish community” organizations. Horthy was a Hungarian patriot who had to somehow navigate Hungary between two hostile powers and if he had delayed Hungary’s surrender announcement just two more months he might just have pulled it off. And the last thing that George Soros and other anti-nationalists want is Hungarian patriots being held up as heroes.

  22. MB says

    From this article it is not clear how the Holocaust happened in Hungary. What was Horthy’s part? What was the Arrow Cross movement’s part? What was the relation between the them and Horthy?
    Did the occupying German troops play some part? Was that part, in fact, welcomed by the Hungarians? What was the reason for which Horthy was removed?
    I dislike Horthy (and to some extent Orban) as much as anyone, but this piece seems written in a very disingenuous way, simply to score a political point, with no pretense of an objective accounting of the events.

  23. I’ve been surprised to come across this write up on Quilette supposedly staying for the truth. “A half truth is a whole lie”. Coincidently, the author is a Soros fellow and the HU gov fighting Soros for years saying his agressive policies like forced immigration destroy Europe (like it would destroy Canada or Israel?). Then, there’s a lot of non-disclosures and missing parts of article which makes it a piece of propaganda. Hungarian Jewry was the essential part of and contributor to Hungary’s development since the mid of the 19th. They built the industry and quite a part of commerce and banking. They did fight in the wars and were recognized by the whole society. Things started changing after ww1 treaty “Trianon” where the country lost 2/3(!) of its territory after(!) a shorter but devastating leftist and bolshevik communist periode. Like in Soviet Russia 95% of the bolshevik leaders were Jews. They set up death squads browsing the country and shutting and hanging the priest, the doctor and the teacher (at least) in every villagge they entered. Public opinion felt commies equal to jews and, like in Germany, that “The eternal jew” brought anything bad upon the country. In the 20ies, no distinction existed and the liberalconservative PM Bethlen removed the cited law (which btw. did not mention jews so it’s still open for interpretation). It is also a false statement that HU holocaust wouldn’t be researched and recognized well. Just search for the names Krisztian Ungvary or Ferenc Laczo a.o. Fact is, that the Orban gov which is nationalist and socialist too, no question, did a lot for remembering the holocaust. It is also the only gov in the EU actually backing Israel’s case in the Palestinian debate. Whether the actions were all the right ones, another question. At the same time, masses were exterminated and robbed by the commies after ww2, too, another tragedy not addressed properly if at all. Open debate on ww2 still in a very early phase and no final conclusions to make. Telling the governeur’s guilty is a typical simplification by those with a hidden agenda. Let me close with another old saying for the author and probaly Quilette itself: Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.

    • Serenity says

      bocskai: “… in Soviet Russia 95% of the bolshevik leaders were Jews.”

      Is it ignorance or deliberate disinformation?

      At the 6th congress of the Bolshevik Party (July 6 – August 3, 1917 in Petrograd), five Jews were elected to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party of 21 people: G. Zinoviev, L. Trotsky, J. Sverdlov, M. Uritsky and G. Sokolnikov. In 1919, out of 19 members of the Central Committee there were “three and a half” Jews: Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Radek. L. Kamenev was a half Jew and baptized in Orthodoxy. Five of the seven individuals named above were destroyed by Stalin.

      At the same time, a considerable number of Jews, which turned out to be among the Bolshevik leadership, all together constituted an insignificant minority of the many millions of Russian Jews. Most of the Jewish revolutionaries, religious and less religious, were concentrated in the Cadet, Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary parties.

      All Jewish Bolsheviks were active opponents of Judaism. “The majority of Russian Jewry was as far from the communists as the majority of all other peoples of Russia. In the provinces, where a large part of the population were Jews, they voted in November 1917 for either the Zionists or the democratic socialists (the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks). Jewish intelligentsia preferred the Cadets ” “History of Russia. The twentieth century: 1894-1938 “, M .: Astrel, 2009.

      • Sorry for mixing up with the Hungarian figure. Still, the actual Soviet govt there, the Политбюро consisted mainly of Jews/of Jewish background and heavy involvement in the NKVD, too. Solzhenitsyn certainly gave all the details in his book as JP reports (link below). Not sure, a similar account on the Hungarian Soviet(s) exists. It’s about the overrepresentation of communist commissionars not the Jewish community which heavily suffered in those times (as well). In Hungary, all commissioners but one of the first Soviet govt were (reported to be) Jews (which is 15/16 i.e. 93.75%). However this was not about exact numbers but the common perception which had a bad impact on both mass psychology and politics on the way to the holocaust, certainly in Hungary. As mentioned PM Bethlen fought back and removed any (legal) discrimination. Things got worse later in the 30ies again but hardly anyone thought what was coming. https://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Was-the-Russian-Revolution-Jewish-514323

      • David V says

        Anti-Semites have never been able to square their belief that Communism is inherently “Jewish” with the fact that Communism is fundamentally anti-religious and thus hostile to traditional Judaism. That the radical left agenda that they believe is being pushed by “Jews” is in fact at odds with traditional Jewish (and Christian) morality. That Jews were victims of persecution under Stalin.

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