Karl Pfeifer: The Orbán regime takes Horthy’s Hungary as an example

I have known the dark ages of Hungary. As a child, during World War Two, I experienced first-hand Hungarian ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism. I managed to avoid deportation and murder in Auschwitz by fleeing to Palestine in 1943, along with 49 other Jewish children.

Decades later, I returned to Hungary during the years of Communism. As a journalist writing for major Austrian newspapers, my reporting included interviewing dissidents. As a result, the Kadar regime expelled me four times from the country, the last time in 1987.

This personal history makes me extremely sensitive to current developments in Hungary and the shadows that are once again rising there.

Consider, for example, the current government campaign against the work of the Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros. Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations has given more than $200 million to Hungarian groups since the fall of Communism, supporting a host of humanitarian issues—including independent groups that support human rights and are often critical of the government.

As a result, George Soros is demonized and presented as the source of all evil by the government. The rhetoric used reminds me of the anti-Semitic propaganda from my childhood, according to which the Jews were responsible for all of Hungary’s problems, like poverty, ignorance, and landless peasants.

Moreover, the government media portrays Mr. Soros as an agent of “international finance.” We know that this is a code for “Jews.” You don’t have to be explicitly anti-Semitic, you can be implicitly anti-Semitic – the message is quite clear for mainstream Hungarian society, which has never come to terms with its own prejudices against Jews.

Finally, Soros is presented by the government as responsible for mass migration to Europe. Did the 86-year-old investor really go to Syria and Iraq to politely ask people to come to Europe? This is a worldview deeply rooted in conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism.

This goes beyond the attacks on Soros. When Orbán refers to “ethnic homogeneity” as a factor of prosperity for the country, I am worried. This reminds me of a 1941 law that banned all forms of sexual intercourse between Jews and Gentiles, in the name of ethnic purity. This was done under the rule of the ultra-nationalist and Nazi collaborator Miklos Horthy. In Horthy times, anti-Semitism was a national policy. It is not the case today, but hatred against Jews has free flow and conspiracy theories are clearly targeted at the Jewish community, the largest one in Central Europe.

This poisonous rhetoric is the product of a political system that has grown increasingly authoritarian under Mr. Orbán’s Fidesz government, and it is being used by that government to strengthen its control. The Fidesz government and its allies own the majority of media outlets, including all of the TV and radio stations which have large audiences in rural Hungary, where the vast majority of the party electorate resides. Media outlets presenting views in opposition to the government are not accessible to the average Hungarian, therefore most people believe what the government propaganda tells them. And that message is straightforward: if you criticize the government, you are an enemy of the nation.

The government is now seeking to extend its power with a new law tightening controls on the funding of groups such as the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee—rights groups which receive some of their funding from…yes, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Thus the rhetoric of anti-Semitism is being deployed to serve the government’s ultimate political aim of consolidating its control – while supposedly remaining a democratic member of the European Union.

It’s worth remembering that under the Horthy regime too there was a parliament, and it was possible to express critical views in a handful of opposition papers. Yet that did not make the regime a democratic one.

Fidesz is a member of the European People’s Party, the club of conservative parties in the European Union. But Fidesz is not a conservative party. Conservative parties do not mobilize mass rallies to defend the “sovereignty of the Hungarian nation,” unlike in 2012 when 400,000 people took to the streets of Budapest at the urging of the government media – with the infamous anti-Semitic journalist Zsolt Bayer marching in the front rank. Conservative parties do not touch private property, unlike Fidesz, which nationalized pension funds in 2010 to finance the state’s expenditures. Conservative parties do not falsify history, unlike in Hungary where the state established the national think tank “Veritas,” downplaying the participation of Hungarians in the murder of 500,000 Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.

The upcoming law on NGOs will further silence the last opposition voices in a member state of the European Union. The government propaganda plays with the fear of “the other”: the migrants, the Jews, foreign capital. But who pays attention to Hungarians? Who is concerned about the disastrous state of healthcare and education in the country? By annihilating critical voices, the anti-NGO law will spring the trap on the real victims of the government: ordinary Hungarians.


Karl Pfeifer is an Austrian-born journalist of Hungarian Jewish origin and a member of the board of the Archives of the Austrian Resistance.
He is author of several books. A movie about his life can be seen at https://vimeo.com/124834106

March 26, 2017
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petofi
Guest

The template for setting up and maintaining a totalitarian state, as the Soviets stated in the 50s, is to have total control
of the media. Pyutin has implemented this, and put the exlamation mark on the policy by murdering troublesome journalists etc. Orban, the petty vassal, has gotten the handbook and has done the same in Hungary. In the US, the rights of the media are entrenched and so are difficult to subdue. Instead, The Russkies have gone in for fake news and the metatisizing of confusion through the media.

petofi
Guest

correction: metastasizing

E1956 hello fr. Jerusalem
Guest
E1956 hello fr. Jerusalem

Petofi, you are on the right track.
Eva Balogh and Karl Pfeifer are people of the sterile old history.
The new history discovered the Russian roots of most fascism.

Eliezer M. Rabinovich
Guest
Eliezer M. Rabinovich

I have always failed to understand how Mr. Pfeifer, who personally was among the fifty children sent out of Hungary by Carl Lutz and Horthy, has managed to develop such a huge hatred to one of his saviors. This is because he has become too much to the left ideologist, and the ideology means to him more than justice. Maybe at his age he could think that some time he will need to offer his explanations to the other Court.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

I was not let out of Hungary “by Horthy” because he wanted to save Jews. I was sent out so to give the British and Americans a sign, that Horthy would like to have a separate peace.
Mr. Rabinovich I have been expelled four times from communist Hungary because of my journalistic activities and therefore your explanation about becoming a “left ideologist” is wrong.
Eliezer M. Rabinovich I always wonder about those who try to absolve Horthy and his ilk from the terrible guilt having sent more than half a million of Hungarian citizens to the German death camps.

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks, Karl!
For your post and replying directly to Mr.R’s comment.

To Mr.R:
1.”the ideology means to him more than justice”
ever looked in the mirror? really? please check pour statement on yourself
2.your last line is absolutely disgusting, you could show that you have learned something, since you wrote it, by taking it back

Guest

Thank you very much, Karl! I have taken the liberty to quote you and tell people about your childhood as an example of what went wrong in Europe in those bloody days.
And don’t worry to much about Mr R – he is an example of the ugly side of humans (I’m even tempted to call him something else – not human …). You like everybody else probably know that he likes to spread his special kind of hate here.

wrfree
Guest
Mr. Pfeifer… The history of my relationship to Magyarorszag is unfortunately based on a severance where I lament that I have difficulty relating to the place of my ancestors. It is so alien to me as it no doubt to you and most here that I would have to suggest that the country is in a vicious death spiral of which she will never get out of. Life there appears to support a rabid and deep felt viciousness and hatred seemingly always looking for expression. Will the country exhaust itself in the path it has chosen? How long can it continue to do this before it destroys itself by denying certain values? Post- revolution it did seem the country had a chance to reverse the asphyxiating legacy of Kadar and let in some new air to breathe. Fat chance as the cliques with cigars have fouled the air with smoke and fire. And now there is no capable fire department. I am glad I had some experience with the Kadar years through a visit. An eye-opener. With Kadar, there appeared to always be a sheen over the carrying on of life. There was a steadiness, a calmness as individuals did… Read more »
Jozsef Bondor
Guest
I think the above person was correct in you being a leftist stooge, I mean a leftist ideologist. While Horthy was an avowed Anti-Semite, he was against sending Jews to the death camps or do you want to white wash history and never mind what happened to him in March 1944? Do I need to remind you? OK, Hitler ordered https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Margarethe to happen . But that’s ok, do carry on with your leftist spew. Better people will figure it out. BTW, I’m sorry what happened to you and your family. My grandfather was instrumental in hiding and harboring a Jewish family in his village of Banhida. They converted to Christianity and were as Hungarian as his left toe but, alas, someone notified the Gestapo and Arrow Cross and they were promptly executed in front of the village. My father as a scared 4 year old remembers it greatly. His father was taken away and was reactivated into the army and didn’t come home until 1947. Horthy wasn’t perfect and he had ulterior motives that are questionable. End of day, Orban isn’t Horthy and as far I can see, I am not seeing forced deportations, executions, or beatings of oppositions or… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@ Mr. E. M. Rabi…

Let me enlighten you: jews don’t believe in heaven and hell (“that other court”)…and thus don’t expect to go there. As I may have mentioned before, we jews go to Miami…

aida
Guest

Not a good place any more. According to the latest reports it is going to be flooded, as it is these days, but by 2050 you will only have a memory. The locals still believe it is due to the high rise buildings and not to climate change. Whether it is right, it is going and soon.

petofi
Guest

@ aida

Just a tongue-in-cheek joke of mine–I no longer go to Miami: the food (bread and fruits and vegetables) is terrible. I also had a run-in with a chabad-ster. When jews are bad, they can be terrible. (Unlike Hungaricoes, I critisize my own…)

Guest

Very much OT:
Many years ago I went with my first wife to “Wolfie’s Restaurant” on Collins Av (around 22nd St, Miami Beach), a very nice Jewish place – still have that shirt I bought as a souvenir with a wolf on the back …

When I wanted to take my second wife there 8 years ago it had just been demolished – don’t know what they wanted to build there …

Btw as I see it “Wolfe” is the Englsih version (I have many books signed to Wolfe that I got in London), “Wolfie” the Jewish and the German is just Wolf – that’s my real name …
Wolfi is what my family calls me.
And I’ve met many Jews in London and also the USA who were nice talking to – but many told me that they wouldn’t visit Germany, totally understandable after what was done to their relatives and friends …

aida
Guest

There is a Jewish restaurant in Collins around 45 Street or so, but not so good.
Superb food in Washington around 4 Street. Also a little restaurant there that sell beigli.

Guest

Thanks, but we’ve decided that we won’t fly to the USA again, because we’re both over 70 now. I showed my wife some of the great National parks and cities of the USA and we also visited her nephew and his family near Nashville, great experiences for both of us – now flying is a bit too much – we prefer a quiet life …

But anyone who goes to Miami Beach – enjoy! It’s a fabulous place- maybe it will disappear because of climate change …

aida
Guest

The bread at Publics is first class, huge choice too. Fruit and veg, try Wholefood Market on corner of Alton and 10 Street. Or Epicure on Alton near junction with Lincoln. Do not despair. Go there soon before the floods remove it.

Guest

Even more OT:
Miami Beach was my wife’s first US destination – one week in November 2008 to test if she would like the USA at all (she doesn’t speak English …) – and she enjoyed it very much! So we went to the USA again and again …

Publix actually was our favourite supermarket – my wife liked to just wander along the aisles and marvel at the kind of stuff they sell -including those 20 pound turkeys for Thanksgiving! 🙂
Fond memories …

aida
Guest

Yes, late November is a good time in Miami.
A walk from the Ocean Drive end along Broad Walk will work up an appetite for lunch. Get on a bus outside the Eden Rock and complete your journey to Bal Harbour for a good meal and if you eat overlooking the parking you see the most amazing quality cars driven by mostly young men. You can walk back but probably you would call it a day around 42 St.

Eliezer M. Rabinovich
Guest
Eliezer M. Rabinovich

>As I may have mentioned before, we jews go to Miami…

Oh, yes, of course. But are you quite sure that we do not see Miami just as an intermediate step? If not, why do we build so many well-attended synagogues there?

Member

No gyugyu vertebrate in gyomrom.

Bastiat2
Guest
I do not agree with the way you are portraying Horthy. He was not my idea of a statesman, far from it. However, you must remember history. Hungarians have not forgotten Bela Kuhn and his three month rampage (I cannot find a better word) against the “local koulaks” . Not only were those three months traumatic for a lot of Hungarians but furthermore, it weighed a lot in the dismemberment of Hungary at Trianon. The West was afraid that Hungary would become a tête-de-pont of communism in central Europe, together with the help of the Czechs and Seton-Watson. The fact that Kuhn and most of his “comrades” were Jews was noted by all. In the 1920s, antisemitism was rampant in most of the West, particularly in France. Now calling Horthy a “Nazi collaborator” is not true to history. He was essentially a feeble leader and a legalistic one (like a lot of Hungarian politicians). Having read a lot about this period and notably his memoirs (not very reliable, I admit) but also those of his daughter-in-law plus numerous historians, notably C.A. Marcartney and Zara Steiner, the image I have of Horthy is of an old father who is overwhelmed by… Read more »
az angol beteg
Guest

My wife is Jewish, I am not. We have a child. Under the legislation introduced in 1941 by Horthy’s government referred to in the article, our child would have no legal protection and by parenting her we would have indulged in an illegal act.
Isn’t this enough reason to condemn Miklos Horthy?

Guest

As a mathematician I have read a lot about the Jewish mathematicians and scientists that had to flee Hungary (and no, I’m not excusing my German compatriots – Jews were treated much worse in Nazi Germany!). Many tried to make an existence in Hungary, in the end most gave up and left – only a few remainedand most of them were deported or killed outright.

So there just are no excuses for anyone who helped Horthy (or Hitler or Mussolini)!

Bastiat2
Guest

The legislation was introduced by the government and the then prime minister.Making Horthy, not a saint, I agree, responsible for all legislation during the war is not true to historical facts.

Guest

We have had this discussion so often, it’s getting very boring to read your and Rabi’s idiotic comments!

The Hungarian sickness: It’s always someon else’s fault!

PS and not too much OT:
Without the Jewish scientists and businessmen Hungary would have been a fourth rate country in the 20th century – as it is right now!

That observation comes from my Hungarian wife who had the chance to see the world in the ten years that we’ve been together – and that opened her eyes!

Observer
Guest

Come on Bast.
Do you know of any law or act that passed against Horthy’s will?
Please, save yourself the embarasment.

az angol beteg
Guest

Being feeble in the face of tyranny is also a crime.

petofi
Guest

quite so-

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Bastiat2 Kun did not write his name with a h. “The fact that Kuhn and most of his “comrades” were Jews was noted by all.” Why the fact that Horthy was a protestant. Szálasi and Kadár a catholic was not noted. And Kadár let hang more Hungarians than Rákosi. Would you blame for that the catholics? So why do you blame the Jews for Kún and Rákosiß And I rely f.i. on such a good historian like Krisztián Ungváry. Teleki committed suicide because he signed a pact with Yugoslavia a week before Horthy was ready to break this pact as a Collaborateur of the Third Reich and attack Yugoslavia. How was Horthy a good father when he charged his trusted officers Endre Baky and Endre László to concentrate more than half a million of Hungarian citizens, many of them baptised as Christians, to rob them and in the end to let the Royal Hungarian Gendarms to whip them into the waggons taking them to the German annihilation and concentration camps? Jews were deportet within six weeks in April May and June and not in July as you have written. And already before the German occupation Hungarian army and gendarmerie killed… Read more »
Bastiat2
Guest

From what I have read, the Jews were deported mainly to Auschwitz and fewer to Strassen (Austria) form May to July 1944.
I have also read the memoirs of Domokos Szent Iványi (The Hungarian Independent movement). Now; Szent Iványi was very close to Teleki. His interpretation of Teleki’s suicide is what I wrote. From what source do you take your different view?

petofi
Guest

The female side of my family had the fortune to visit both Strassen and the heated environs of Auschwitz. When they complained about the stench in the air, the amiable nazis discovered that they couldn’t unload the train and re-directed in to Bergen Belsen. O what luck!

Eliezer M. Rabinovich
Guest
Eliezer M. Rabinovich

>Note that the last brilliant prime minister of Hungary, Pál Teleki…
Was not he the author of the first antisemitic laws in 1920-21 and during his second term? Were not count Bethlen and Kállay brilliant? Generally agree with you.

az angol beteg
Guest

I’m not sure that Fidesz have any ownership in RTL the largest TV station but they might have in the background somewhere. But for sure they heavily influence what it broadcasts through the threat of changes in legislation or the usual APEH investigation into unpaid taxes.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – alarm
Trump presidency ‘opens door’ to planet-hacking geo-engineer experiments
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/mar/27/trump-presidency-opens-door-to-planet-hacking-geoengineer-experiments
essential statement in the article: “The Harvard experiment may fly in the face of a moratorium on geo-engineering adopted in 2010 by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which was reaffirmed in December in Mexico. The United States is one of the few countries to not ratify the UN convention, creating a potential loophole for experiments.”

Everybody here not agreeing with these experiments, please take action, raise your voice, etc……

Ferenc
Guest

OT – alarm (sorry ‘angol beteg’ not a reply to your comment, should have been new item)
Trump presidency ‘opens door’ to planet-hacking geo-engineer experiments
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/mar/27/trump-presidency-opens-door-to-planet-hacking-geoengineer-experiments
essential statement in the article: “The Harvard experiment may fly in the face of a moratorium on geo-engineering adopted in 2010 by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which was reaffirmed in December in Mexico. The United States is one of the few countries to not ratify the UN convention, creating a potential loophole for experiments.”

Everybody here not agreeing with these experiments, please take action, raise your voice, etc……

Joe Simon
Guest

Mr. Soros is considered a criminal by the Malaysian government.
I doubt if the English love him. There was anti-Semitism in Austria too.
Jews forced to clean the sidewalk with toothbrushes was a Viennese invention. The US Army was segregated in WWII. A German POW officer could enter the American mess but a black American soldier could not.
So history is not black or white.
Still, Orbán should leave history to the historians.

Istvan
Guest
President Truman ordered the desegregation of the US Army by Executive Order 9981 in 1948. No German POW officers were fed in US Army mess halls in WWII, except separately from US forces. There were about 425,000 German prisoners in 700 camps throughout the United States during WWII. The highest ranking captured German officers were imprisoned in Mississippi. The Geneva Convention of 1929 required the United States to provide living quarters comparable to those of its own military. Prisoners had friendly interaction with local civilians and sometimes were allowed outside the camps without guards on the honor system. Joe as is often the case with your posts you twist things a little. Black US Army guards of the officers held in Mississippi noted that German prisoners could visit segregated restaurants that they could not, which was true. One of the German officers held was a U Boat officer who later settled in Chicago named Karl Laschet and owned a bar. I knew him well and he told me all about that experience. He liked me and I had a party at his bar just prior to my deployment to Vietnam, there is a photo of myself in my officers uniform… Read more »
aida
Guest

Nothing to worry about. The English only love the English. Soros can probably survive that affliction with a big smile on his face.

Guest

Joe, you are a worse lunatic than the breitfart creatures! Your alternative facts are so stupid …
Anybody who wants to know what’s going on either google Malaysia Soros or look here:
“http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/george-soros-becomes-malaysias-bogeyman-again/

PS:
Really funny for Joe to compare Hungary’s government to Malaysia – and Theresa May and her Brexiteers, well …

petofi
Guest

@ Joe Simon

Did you learn this sly ‘bait and switch’ in Trolling 3.0?

Yes, Soros is despised for attacking the currency in those countries…but not because he’s jewish.

Do you give lessons on this stuff, Joe Schmuck?

Istvan
Guest
Of course Ferenc the critical component of the Guardian essay is: “Scientific modeling has shown that stratospheric spraying could drastically curtail rainfall throughout Asia, Africa and South America, causing severe droughts and threatening food supply for billions of people.” Such an analysis has very limited relevance for an America first nationalist like President Trump or his adviser Steve Bannon. Clearly such an increased climate shift would cause social unrest over vast swaths of the earth and to be honest that has been anticipated. Ultimately it requires my country, the USA, to prepare for a massive suppression of violence in Latin America as part of a survival strategy. David Kilcullen anticipates this in his book “Out of the Mountains,” ( see this review http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/non_fictionreviews/10548968/Books.html ). The Rand Corp anticipates such a world too and discusses it openly ( see http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1631.html ). US Army Civil Affairs officers and Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina are also gaming all of this using algorithms and modeling. In general this is discussed as preparing for 21st Century threats. As is often the case the Guardian raises the specter of irrationality, but does not look at the possible coping mechanisms for dealing with such… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

But Istvan:
Do you agree with tests with geo-engineering (financed and/or organised) by the US (your) government?
Why has the US government not ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity?
A big big big majority of the countries on our, yours and mine, earth has ratified, representatives of a majority of all of us, inhabitants of our earth, don’t want such tests to be held.
Does the US (and Russia and China) government consider that irrelevant, think of itself as more important and is willing to play tests with risking severe outcome for the only live-able location, the earth, for all of us?
If so, they, the people/countries not respecting others’ valid concerns, better find themselves another place, i.e.planet, to live on.

Istvan
Guest

I agree it is happening and that is why the US military is planning for the real possibility of global disruptions due to warming, rising ocean levels, etc.

It is not science fiction and even though the Trump administration is radically promoting fossil fuel use, our military is not being directed to ignore the implications of warming. I do not believe the US based ecological movement has the political strength to slow down this process, even less so in China and Russia. The next several generations face frightening problems.

bimbi
Guest

The title of today’s blog is:
“KARL PFEIFER: THE ORBÁN REGIME TAKES HORTHY’S HUNGARY AS AN EXAMPLE”

To Karl Pfeiffer one can only say, “Yes, you are completely correct”. You focus, understandably and appropriately, on the (certainly) implicit Anti-Semitism of the regime (we cannot forget that Zsolt Bayer possesses Fidesz membership card No. 3 ½) but the Horthy years are invoked time-and-again by this government and its faithful: the glory days of Nem, Nem Soha, the saber-waving hussars, the statues, including that to Hungarian Nazi Collaborators commemorating the in-glorious 19 March, and on and on…

…and is there anything on the legislative agenda to improve the lot of the Hungarian electorate at large? Well, not much, except greater enrichment for Orban cronies and Fidesz friends, more football stadia, more ‘National Consultations’ of biased and leading questions – more lies, more distortion, more victimhood, more fights against the external enemy. In other words the usual guiding light leading the country back to the 1930s.

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