Miklós Horthy redux

While the anti-refugee propaganda is loud and shrill, the rehabilitation of Admiral Horthy, regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (1920-1944), is quietly taking place in the background. About a month ago the website of the “Truth Institute,” my name for the Veritas Institute established by the Orbán government to set Hungarian history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries straight, advertised a conference to be held in Kaposvár on August 22 with the innocent-sounding theme “Society and culture in Hungary between the two world wars.” I became suspicious, however, when it turned out that one of the scheduled speakers was vitéz László Hunyadi, captain-general of the Order of Knights, established by Miklós Horthy to honor soldiers with a record of distinguished service in World War I. At the order of the regent, no Jew, no matter how valiantly he fought in the war, could be a member.

I became even more suspicious when I heard that the conference began with a holy mass for István Horthy, the older son of the admiral who died in an airplane accident in Russia, and for the fallen during World War II. István (Sharif) Horthy, Jr. was the guest of honor.

What the program did not reveal was that the Hungarian government, through its National Cultural Fund (Nemzeti Kulturális Alap), contributed generously to the conference which, as it turned out later, was the brainchild of the Horthy Miklós Alapítvány (Miklós Horthy Foundation). The Hungarian military was also represented by the air force band of Veszprém.

Unfortunately there is a public record of the speeches of only three speakers: the introductory words of the “chief sponsor”–Sándor Lezsák, a very minor poet in whose backyard the Magyar Demokrata Fórum was born and who today is the deputy speaker of the Hungarian parliament; István Horthy, Jr.; and Sándor Szakály, a military historian and director of the Truth Institute. Anyone who can handle the language can listen to their speeches as recorded by the cameraman of a local newspaper.

Sándor Lezsák and the knights

Sándor Lezsák and the knights

Although it was Sándor Lezsák who opened the conference, I would prefer to begin my analysis with the short speech of István Horthy, Jr., who has proved himself, on the few occasions he was called upon to speak in Hungary, to be a moderate and reasonable man. He pointed to the divide that cuts across Hungarian society and the inability of the two sides to find common ground. He expressed his hope that the conference would help bring divergent opinions closer together.

With his prepared speech in hand, what could István Horthy have been thinking when he listened to Sándor Lezsák’s introductory words, which were full of condemnation of those who don’t agree with his views? Here are a few key sentences. “Those historians, teachers, politicians, journalists who have been singing the old international songs about the white terror or Horthy’s fascism read from the scores of communism, socialism or liberalism.” A good beginning. And he continued. Of course, it is possible that “these people are misled by the long-time conductors of this anti-Horthy campaign.” It is hard to know whether the historians are the ones who are misled by these unnamed “conductors” or whether it is the historians themselves who are the evil conductors who want to discredit Miklós Horthy and his regime.

According to Lezsák, the white terror supervised by Miklós Horthy was designed to end the chaos created by the events of 1918-1919 and to bring order to the land. In his version, Horthy had nothing to do with the atrocities committed by his detachments that resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, many Jews among them. In fact, he was the one who was strong enough to put an end to the atrocities. This version of the story, alas, bears no resemblance to reality.

Lezsák, as one of the founders of MDF, inherited the narodnik (népi/népiesek) ideology of those writers and sociologists who severely criticized the Horthy regime’s agricultural policies, which created a large landless peasantry. Therefore, his only criticism of the Horthy regime was on that front, which he called “the darkest side of the regime.” A commentator criticized Lezsák for neglecting to mention the Holocaust, which surely was a much greater tragedy, but I would have been greatly surprised if he had. After all, in the official view of the Orbán regime the Hungarian government had nothing to do with the Holocaust because after March 19, 1944 Hungary ceased to be a sovereign nation. This is an untenable position. It is enough to look at the members of the Hungarian governments formed after that date and Horthy’s decision to stay in his post to demonstrate the continuity.

The third speech was delivered by Sándor Szakály, whose main theme was revisionism, which was supported by all segments of Hungarian society.  In his view no inter-war government would have survived that abandoned the idea of revising the Treaty of Trianon. As far as public sentiment was concerned, Szakály has a point, but what he failed to mention was the Hungarian government’s very effective propaganda. It eventually led to a situation that prompted even John F. Montgomery, U.S. minister to Hungary between 1933 and 1941 and a friend of Horthy, to remark that “the Hungarian people were not quite sane” on the subject of the Treaty of Trianon. Szakály’s conclusion was that since nothing but a revisionist foreign policy was possible, Hungary had to rely on those great powers that were ready to help, and they were Germany and Italy. End of discussion.

It’s too bad that no one reported on some of the other lectures. For example what István Ravasz, a military historian, had to say about “the Hungarian casus belli” on July 26, 1941, when Hungary entered the war on the side of Germany against the Soviet Union. Or how Zalán Bognár, who teaches at the Gáspár Károli Hungarian Reformed University, handled the German occupation of Hungary. The title of his speech sounds intriguing: “Arrow Cross takeover, deportations, counter-measures.” What kinds of counter-measures could he possibly be talking about?

All in all, the task of rewriting the history of the interwar period is under way. And this is only the beginning. The Truth Institute is publishing several books that I’m sure are destined to replace monographs about the period by well-known historian. It’s enough to visit the website of the Veritas Institute. They are busy revisionists.

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Another “hungaricum,” at once disgusting and pathetic.

Jon Van Til

I echo Eva’s positive view of Sharif Horthy, grandson of the man in question. I worked with him at an international conference last year and have met with him several times thereafter. I know few Hungarians who are as judicious, humane, intelligent, and fair-minded as he. His work as a leader of the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace is particularly noteworthy.

Eva wonders what Sharif might have thought of the comments of some of the other speakers at the recent Kaposvar gathering. I would suggest that he be invited to share his observations on this matter with the readers of Hungarian Spectrum. I am sure that what he would say would be insightful, thought-provoking, and useful toward bridging the many gaps that exist between so many comments from so many points of view on the Hungarian past and present.


I always thought a “LIKE” button would be great after the posts. I really like this comment.


I, too, wanted such a button. And, briefly, there was one. Realized immediately how dreadful it would be to have one. It is enough, the like button on politics.hu.


“Arrow Cross takeover, deportations, counter-measures.”

Even the title of this talk is an implicit lie. The majority of the deportations were carried out BEFORE the Nyilas (Arrow Cross) takeover & the resignation of Horthy on October 15, 1944.


And the torture and mass slaughter of hapless, unarmed forced labourers, slaves of the invading Hungarian Army in the Ukraine, and the massacre in Kamenec-Podolski, and the massacre in Novi Sad???

To get anywhere near the historical truth on any matter in Hungary, it will always be safest to assume the opposite of whatever is claimed by the Hungarian Institute of Truth (shades of Orwell!!!) or any of its representatives.

Andrew Endrey

Horthy’s refusal to acknowledge and reward Jewish-Hungarian Great War veterans is indeed shameful. In this regard, the latest edition (Summer 2015) of the Canadian English-language publication, Magyar Front, has a lead article on Mano Valyi, a highly-decorated Jewish veteran who was excluded from the Order of Vitez despite his acts of valour.

The editor of Magyar Front, Peter Czink, who is also President of the International Hungarian Military History Preservation Society, reproduces in the editorial to this issue two lengthy letters that he has written recently to former Hungarian President Pal Schmitt and Laszlo v. Hunyadi, a current leader of the Vitez Order, calling for retrospective recognition of Jewish-Hungarian veterans, particularly those that qualified for membership of the Order due to their war deeds.

Whether one is of the left or coming from a more traditionalist perspective, Peter’s efforts to redress historical wrongs ought to be applauded.


Troubled nations suffer from delusions.
Our Hungarian minority of decent people must liberate us from lies and dogmas of the past.
Our nation must be cleansed.
No more Maria Schmidts, Sandor Szakaly, Viktor Orbans, Laszlo Kovers…


New official data on employment, chewed & digested:

May-July average 2015 vs 2014 in thousands, ages 15 to 74

Working in Hungary: 3890.7 [3831.3], +1.55%
Fostered worker: 222.1 [157.2], +41.28%
Working abroad, but counted in the Hungarian statistics: 111.0 [96.6], +14.91%

Age group:
15-19: 19.6 [16.0], +22.50%
20-24: 261.1 [242.8], + 7.54%
25-54: 3282.0 [3212.7], + 2.16%
55-64: 626.4 [582.5], + 7.54%
65-74: 34.7 [31.1], +11.58%

Total: 4223.8 [4085.1], + 3.40%


June 2015 vs June 2014

for profit enterprises with at least 5 employees: 1905.2 [1871.5] +1.80%
fostered workers at such places: 12.7 [13.8]

non-profit organizations: 95.8 [90.0]
fostered workers at such places: 10.7 [8.1]

budgetary institutions: 696.4 [695.5]
fostered workers there: 174.6 [137.6]

fostered workers total: 198.0 [159.5]


fostered workers total: 198.1 [159.7]

Therefore the approximate number of fostered workers working in
enterprises with less than 5 employees: 24.0 [-2.3] 🙂

The approximate number of self-employed and employees working in
enterprises with less than 5 employees in Hungary AND abroad:

1304.3 = (3890.7+111)- (1905.2+95.8+696.4) [June 2015]
1270.9= (3831.3+96.6) – (1871.5+90+695.5) [June 2014], +2.63%


The 15-19: 19.6 [16.0], +22.50% that really provides a push are the students who take on low paying Summer jobs, and seasonal opportunities (ice cream, Balaton, etc.)


Just curious tappanch, what is a “fostered worker”? I’ve never heard of this category of employment before. Is it similar to a temporary worker who is officially employed through an employment agency but actually performs their work for another firm?


The American term would be “workfare” – someone who has to work to get any welfare benefits (in the form of a wage). In Hungary, in addition to picking up litter on the sides of roads, or weeding public gardens for the local govt., these people may be employed by private employers, always at a sub-minimum wage rate.
Such workers are listed as “employed” in Hungarian statistics now.
I know of no other country with workfare in which workfare participants are listed as “employed.”

When the Constitutional Court of Hungary was still located in Esztergom it ruled explicitly against a motion requesting the revocation of part of the law that allows for the ban of using certain titles. On September 27, 2010 (nearing the finish of the campaign for the municipal elections) István Tarlós (at the time running for the seat of Mayor in Budapest, nominated by the Fidesz) and Zsolt Semjén (Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, Christian Democratic People’s Party, also member of the government), among many other politicians, were initiated into the Vitéz Order, an act the Statute seems to explicitly prohibit. My understanding is the decision of the Court has never been over turned by legislation. My understanding is that the Vitéz Order registered itself as a “social organization”, such as other orders did. Am I incorrect about this? I will also add that that there were American Hungarians who as I recall wanted the title ban revoked so they could use their ancestral titles back home. The members of the Order who fled to the West contacted Horthy on whether he wanted the Order continued. He said yes, and Colonel-General Hugo Son’yi began the work of gathering members together and… Read more »

“My understanding is the decision of the Court has never been over turned by legislation.”

Point 5 of the closing provisions of the Basic Law says that all former resolutions made under the former constitutions lose their effectiveness. I think the point was to force the hands of the constitutional court (even though it’s made up almost entirely of partizan Fideszniks) so that it couldn’t possibly use the old case law as precedent. In other words, under the Basic Law the constitutionality of a ban on old titles is an open question.

Moreover I’m not sure if anybody would have a standing to initiate a case before the constitutional court should the titles be introduced/ allowed again by the Parliament.


Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America

“”I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;…”

“Hereditary Titles. If you have
any hereditary titles or positions
of nobility, you must renounce at
the oath ceremony.”



Slomó Köves and Anikó Lévai are so cute together, I wonder why Jews always have to complain.



Re: Horthy ‘history”..

We do not know where Hungary will be on the continuum of history in 50 years, 100 years hence, however, I would suggest when a look back begins on the historical microscope used to analyze that arguably dismal 20th century age that historical writing there will look to its work as being done to simply add rationalizations that ostensibly assuage the wrongs that appear to hang over the country’s memories. Indeed it will appear as if the ‘facts’ will be then in the service of prevarication to give the ‘correct’ historical view.


[…] în Rusia, iar István (Sharif) Horthy, Jr. este oaspete de onoare”, scrie Eva Balogh de la Hungarian Spectrum. Interesant de notat că nepotul dictatorului maghiar s-a convertit la islam în 1965. Acum ar […]


[…] în Rusia, iar István (Sharif) Horthy, Jr. este oaspete de onoare”, scrie Eva Balogh de la Hungarian Spectrum. Interesant de notat că nepotul dictatorului maghiar s-a convertit la islamism în 1965. Acum ar […]


[…] avion în Rusia, iar István (Sharif) Horthy, Jr. este oaspete de onoare”, scrie Eva Balogh de la Hungarian Spectrum. Interesant de notat că nepotul dictatorului maghiar s-a convertit la islamism în 1965. Acum ar […]