The siege of Budapest: Neo-Nazis remember the “breakthrough” of February 11, 1945

Every year around this time the Hungarian press is full of stories about far-right groups celebrating the “breakthrough” of German and Hungarian forces on February 11, 1945 from the city of Budapest, which was surrounded by Soviet troops on all sides.

If you can get hold of Krisztián Ungváry’s book entitled Budapest ostroma (1998), which was also translated into English (The Siege of Budapest) and German (Die Belagerung Budapest), by all means do so because it is a fascinating book and the story of the “breakthrough” is gripping. Here I will very briefly relate what happened.

The siege of Budapest, which lasted 64 days all told, was one of the bloodiest encounters of the war. Hitler forbade the German military to abandon the city or to try to escape before the total encirclement of Budapest took place. The German commander of the city was Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, who was not brave enough to defy the Führer until it was too late.

Between December 24 and December 27 the Red Army managed to surround the Buda side of the city. The Soviets reached Pest in January and by January 17 they liberated the Pest ghetto. The siege of Buda started on January 20 and lasted until February 11. It was on that day that Pfeffer-Wilderbruch finally decided to try to break through the enemy lines.

Here are some figures to give you an idea of the desperate situation in which the German and Hungarian troops found themselves. On December 24, that is before the total encirclement, there were approximately 79,000 soldiers in the city. During the siege of Pest 22,000 were either captured or killed. In Buda the number of dead and captured was approximately 13,000 prior to February 11. On that fateful day there were only 43,900 soldiers left, and of that number 11,600 were wounded.

During the breakthrough attempt 19,200 soldiers died. Only 700 managed to join the Germans west of the Soviet line. Pfeffer-Wilderbruch, the German commander, was captured by the Soviets and in August 1949 was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor. After Stalin’s death, however, he was released to West Germany along with 10,000 other German prisoners of war. The Hungarian commander, Iván Hindy, was also captured and subsequently was sentenced to death by the Hungarian People’s Courts. In 1946 he was executed. A neo-Nazi Hungarian site, by the way, lists all those who were executed for war crimes by Hungarian courts in 1946.

So, this is the day Hungarian neo-Nazis remember every year in early February. This year, however, talk about the “breakthrough” began even earlier. In January someone discovered on a list of walking tours sponsored by the City of Budapest Kitörés 60,  a tour organized every year on the anniversary of the “breakthrough” during the weekend closest to February 11. Participants follow the route of those 700 individuals who managed to break through the Soviet lines. According to the information on their website, the walking tour is over 57 km, which participants must complete in 18 hours. Just to give you an idea of how popular this tour is, last year more than 1,000 people paid 2,000 forints each to participate. According to their Internet site, the walking tour is organized “every February in remembrance of those Hungarian and German soldiers who in World War II heroically defended Budapest and Western Europe from the Bolshevik Red Army.”

Participants are gathering for their yearly tour following the German and Hungarian troops "breakthrough" on February 11, 1944

Participants are gathering for their yearly walking tour following the route of the German and Hungarian troops’ “breakthrough” on February 11, 1945

“Kitörés 60” didn’t attract too much attention until now, although the walking tour has been held since 2005. If they hadn’t made the mistake of listing themselves together with other walking tours sponsored by the City of Budapest, most likely no one would have paid any attention to these neo-Nazi enthusiasts.

Another interesting bit of information came to light in connection with this walking tour. Zoltán Moys, son-in-law of Sándor Lezsák (Fidesz), deputy speaker of the Hungarian parliament, is the founder of a group called Börzsöny Akciócsoport which is behind the tours. Zoltán Moys has a company that produces television shows for the public, actually state, television stations MTV and Duna TV. He is behind such far-right programs as “Hagyaték (Inheritance) about which I wrote earlier. My post’s title was “Neo-Nazi/Jobbik programs on Duna TV: The Orbán government has no objection.” At that point I didn’t know that Lezsák’s own son-in-law was the producer of this unspeakable program where Sándor Szakály also makes frequent appearances. I place Lezsák at the very far right of the ideological spectrum of Fidesz; he would actually find himself much more at home in Jobbik.

This year some Hungarian neo-Nazis planned another, more modest celebration. The Budapest anti-Fascist group learned about it and went out to protest. The celebrants were supposed to have gathered on Clark Ádám tér at the Lánchíd. But the police, fearing a clash between the neo-Nazis and the anti-Fascists, closed off the square and with it the bridge from Pest to Buda. A lot of the participants managed to get to Buda only in a roundabout way. Eventually they gathered on Kapisztrán tér. They marched the short distance from Kapisztrán tér to Dísz tér and back to the tune of World War II German and Hungarian marches. Speeches at the gathering lauded the heroes who died “for Christian Europe.” Meanwhile the anti-Fascists gathered on Dózsa György tér and walked to the Castle district with a police escort. To keep the two groups away from each other the anti-Fascists were stopped in front of the German embassy.

Actually, if I were one of the members of the Budapest anti-Fascist group, I would be much more worried about the walking tour organized by the man who produces falsified accounts of Hungarian history from a far right perspective than the gathering of a few skinheads with swastikas tattooed on their necks. The neo-Nazi Zoltán Moys and his friends who produce programs for the state television stations are much more dangerous to Hungarian democracy than the few guys marching in military formation.

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fortchoteau1
Guest

http://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/descent-into-darkness-the-attempted-breakout-the-siege-of-budapest-tour-part-seven/

“Of the 28,000 soldiers trying to escape, only 700 were fortunate enough to stumble all the way into friendly territory. Many of these men undertook journeys lasting several days. Some spent the final leg of the exhausting trek crawling to safety. Others spent the entire spring and early summer in the forests hiding out until the war came to a definitive end. As for the estimated 80 – 100,000 civilians fleeing the shattered city, it is thought that five to ten thousand made their way to the hills northwest of Buda and then pushed westward toward Vienna.”

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[…] 8 February 2014.  Hungarian Spectrum: ‘The siege of Budapest. Neo-Nazis remember the “breakthrough” …. […]

tappanch
Guest

Let us not forget the 600 Hungarian soldiers who died on the Soviet side fighting against the Germans and Hungarians.

p.266 in Ungvary’s book.

tappanch
Guest

If today’s Nazis remember their dead of February 1945, the anti-Nazis should remember their dead in the open too.

buddy
Guest

“As for the estimated 80 – 100,000 civilians fleeing the shattered city, it is thought that five to ten thousand made their way to the hills northwest of Buda and then pushed westward toward Vienna.”

A fascinating but sad account of one of these is a true memoir titled “I’m fifteen – and I don’t want to die” written by a survivor of the Budapest siege. I don’t believe it’s been translated into Hungarian, which is too bad: http://www.amazon.com/Am-Fifteen-Dont-Want-Die/dp/0590446304

tappanch
Guest

Ungvary’s estimates about the number of killed during the siege (p.330)

Civilians: 76,000 (of which 40,000 were Jewish if I interpret Table 25 properly)

Hungarian soldiers: 28,000
German soldiers: 20,000

Soviet soldiers: 59,000
Romanian soldiers: 11,000

Istvan
Guest

From Ugvary’s amazing book it also was obvious that the Soviets fully were expecting the breakout and simply slaughtered the Germans and Hungarians. So celebrating this event is effectively supporting a form of military insanity. Hitler of course was even more insane, he wanted these troops to die in place, instead of either surrendering or trying to escape.

One of the history lessons I learned in Reserved Officer Training Corp was the history of the destruction of the SS 6th Mountain Division in January 1945 by some of General Patton’s forces. The object of the lesson was how to utterly destroy a determined fanatical and out numbered foe with minimal losses to your own forces. Since checkmate was established we were taught to strategically retreat when attacked and kill as many as possible with artillery fire then when the attack stalled bring forward reserves pushing back the trapped enemy. Then retreat again once attacked. Only a handful of SS troops survived, General Patton was happy there were few prisoners and Nazi wounded to worry about.

The break out from Budapest was not heroic it was desperate and tragic.

tappanch
Guest

The Association of History Teachers has come out against the Reich eagle monument and against the falsification of history the Orban government is committing:

http://www.tte.hu/tte/allasfoglalasok/7850-allasfoglalas-a-nemzeti-toertenelem-emlekezeterl

HU-POLL
Guest

The living relatives of the WWII arrow cross and other fascist activists must answer a question:

Were their relatives, fathers, grandfathers, bothers, uncles acting in the interest of the Hungarian nation?

The Yes replies will indicate some inherited insanity and ignorance.

tinshed (@tinshed)
Guest
I remember being very moved when I read Ungváry account of the breakout. He says in the opening sentence of the relevant chapter “The break-out was one of the most horrific events not only of the battle for Budapest but of the Second World War as a whole”. When you read the horrific details, you can appreciate the truth of that statement. Before I read the book, I often walk down from the Castle District to Mosvka ter, down either Ostrom Street or Fiáth János street, blissfully unaware of the tragedy that had taken place there. After reading Ungváry’s book, it felt quite different to walk down those streets again. So much suffering. I tried to imagine what it must have been like, but couldn’t. It makes be quite mad and upset to see how FIDESZ and the right in general has co-opted this, and other tragedies, for their own narrow, nationalistic ends. It should be perfectly possible to acknowledge the suffering that took place during the breakout without feeling slightly guilty that you are almost giving legitimacy to neo-Nazi fantasies about the past. It was, as Istvan wrote above, not heroic. But it is still worthy of remembrance and… Read more »
@
Guest

I don`t understand, aren`t the neo- nazi groups, nazi expressions and nazi symbols forbbiden by law in all Europe as in Poland?

tappanch
Guest

@@

335§ of the Penal Code:

It is a misdemeanor to use in public:
swastika, SS sign, arrow cross sign, five-pointed red star, hammer and sickle.

But modifications have been permitted in practice.

Hungarian Nazis as well as some Fidesz supporters regularly use the Arrow Cross flag, which is not banned.

The red star ban was overruled by the European court, but Fidesz placed in the new Penal Code again, the ruling notwithstanding.

tappanch
Guest

@@

Photos from yesterday’s Nazi meeting in the castle district of Buda:

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They will have another march in Szekesfehervar, after a mass in the main Catholic church on the 14th.

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tappanch
Guest

@Eva,

The vote at the MaZsiHiSz meeting was impressive.
affirmative: 76, negative: 2, abstention: 3

Member
Eva S. Balogh : tappanch : @Eva, The vote at the MaZsiHiSz meeting was impressive. affirmative: 76, negative: 2, abstention: 3 I just got an e-mail from someone who was present. According to him, the “the mood was very radical.” SURVIVORS AND SUCCESSORS COME TO SENSES, AT LAST But now MaZsiHiSz and the entire Hungarian Jewish community needs to unite and integrate fully and openly with the united democratic opposition against Fidesz’s corruption and drift toward dictatorship. No more riding the fence. No more posture of neutrality. Even if there is no possibility of success in this foul and fraudulent election, let there be a historic and united show of force of numbers from all those who are opposed. Let all stand and be counted. The Fidesz supermajority has abused its power by making electoral campaigning or victory virtually impossible via conventional means and media. The only thing left is for all of the opposition to become overtly and visibly political: human signboards in response to Fidesz’s restrictions on public signboards. Maybe it would even awaken some of the passive, somnambulist majority to join them. (If I were in Hungary, and there were a unified, self-explanatory protest symbol of opposition,… Read more »
Joe Simon
Guest

In this connection, we should also remember the 12,933 civilians rounded up by Malinovszkij marshall just in Budapest for “malenkij robot”. Not to mention the large number of women raped by Russian soldiers in Budapest.

Member

Joe Simon :
In this connection, we should also remember the 12,933 civilians rounded up by Malinovszkij marshall just in Budapest for “malenkij robot”. Not to mention the large number of women raped by Russian soldiers in Budapest.

“In this connection” ???

Joe Simon
Guest

In connction with the siege of Budapest. “Malenkij robot” of course meant the GULAGS in Russia. Some 6O-65 ezer in total. Jozsef Revai wrote to Rakosi: people are saying the Russians are doing what Hitler did to the Jews. (“Szemelvények a Gulágok Irodalmából”, by Sandor Zsiros, 2O13.

Mr. Paul
Guest

Mazsihisz just asked the House of Fates project to be cancelled, and I suspect they will get their way. I predict House of Fates will be fully cancelled and will be never heard of again. Probably it will be announced as a delay.

However this will be a tricky situation for the opposition. They just recently launched a new campaign, centered around the point that the election will not be just (igazságos). Mesterházy is leading this campaign with a lengthy statement mentioning his US trip and his meeting with McCain. This could be one of the central points of the MSZP campaign and MSZP should be doing everything to coordinate this campaign well. Getting MSZP supporters to repeat and amplify this message is key. A campaign needs a certain amount of exposure, media support, spotlight and time to become successful.

And this is where the Mazsihisz boycott comes in. It is HUGE news, and as such it has the potential to completely steal the spotlight and the media attention from the MSZP campaign regarding election justness/fairness. There is only so much media space to go around and attention of the electorate is hard to grab.

Mr. Paul
Guest

Mr. Paul :
Probably it will be announced as a delay.

I mean that they may only say that the project is getting pushed back or delayed. So the official explanation will be that “more time is needed to ensure fuller cooperation and avoid disagreements” etc, but in reality the project will get fully cancelled and will be never completed.

Istvan
Guest

Of course Joe the prisons Hungarians and Germans were sent to in Russia were hell like. Stories had already spread about the conditions in them and there was little question it was a motivating force for the fanatical resistance in Budapest. But history also shows that there honorable Hungarian officers who surrendered their forces rather than face total destruction.

Some of those officers were not fascists but sociologically part of the disappearing social class of the gentry. Many of these honorable officers were treated as fascists and held in prison for years after the war. Where is the parade for those heroes who defied the orders of the mad man Hitler to fight to the death and saved the lives of Hungarians? There is no dishonor in surrendering when faced with certain destruction.

soproni
Guest

Mr. Paul, the decision of Mazsihisz is a very important development but it is a news in intellectual, curious-minded circles, while around Hungary, especially in rural areas (including bigger towns) where the elections will be decided, I can assure not many people will deal with any Mazsihisz resolution.In fact, even if they are not anti-smites the average undecided voters hate all these news about Jews because they only conclude that the government deems it yet again more important to deal with a minority than with “important” issues, such as jobs, health care, corruption and the like. (It also leads to an overestimation of the size of the Hungarian Jewry.) If you ask around outside Budapest, it turns out nobody heard about the German occupation memorial or the House of Fates.As a result, I do not think any MSZP and Mazsihisz-related news items will clash in reality. MSZP’s target group for its messages should not include the sympathizers of the Jewish community or the adversaries of the right-wing history-rewriters because these groups will anyway not vote Orban, so MSZP will probably not waste its energy on them.

Mr. Paul
Guest

I just checked a few news portals: Mazsihisz boycott is already leading news item on all of them. However news items generated by the MSZP campaign are only leading in two places. One is “MSZP saves Kadar’s grave for 800k HUF” and the other “MSZP calls for more international observers for the elections”. But of course it’s not only news portals, newspapers only have 1 front page / day, Olga Kálmán appears only once per weekday and so on and so forth. The media space for political news is limited. Maybe I am overestimating it but this decisive step by Mazsihisz will be extremely huge in the news in my opinion. It will easily last out until the election and in the next few days it will be all consuming in terms of what the media will talk about.

petofi
Guest

All these newly evolving issues of Nazis and Jews is another Felcsutian trap by the Orban: the average Hungarian is viscerally opposed to the country’s preoccupation with these ‘non-questions’, and it’s being seen as ‘forced-upon’ the Fidesz government–the devious
Felcsutian’s handiwork.

The opposition coalition should focus on the real issues:

1) Fidesz’ crazy spending

2) Fidesz’ lawlessness

3) Fidesz theft of pension moneys

4) The Paks agreement which would indebt the country for 100 years

5) Fidesz plans to take the country out of the EU and be economically joined to Russia

and the like.

The Nazi/Jew question is an attempt to deflect discourse to an area that is emotionally already
decided in favor of Fidesz.

HiBoM
Guest

This story may be huge on the internet news sites but I would be astonished if it gets more than a mention on any of the public service channels of television or radio, or the pro-government press. So I doubt if anyone will give it a second thought, let alone it becoming an election issue. I’ve just looked at Hirkereső and I see no mention of this on any of the Fidesz news sites

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