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September 2, 2022 10:32 am
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Israeli Embassy in Hungary Condemns Installation of Bust of WW II Dictator Horthy in Parliament Building

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Hungarian ultranationalists marching in tribute to the wartime dictator, Adm. Miklos Horthy. Photo: Reuters/Bernadett Szabo

The Israeli Embassy in Hungary has strongly condemned the proposed installation in the country’s parliament building of a bust of the wartime pro-Nazi dictator, Adm. Miklos Horthy.

The far-right Mi Hazánk (“Our Motherland”) party announced the installation of the bust in the office of the party’s deputy president, Dóra Dúró, on Tuesday, according to the Hungarian news outlet Telex.

“It is hard to imagine that in modern Hungary, in the heart of Europe, there are still political circles that are busy glorifying a person who was also responsible for the inhuman suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian citizens, including the majority of the Jewish community,” the embassy declared in a statement.

“There is no place or tolerance for antisemitism and antisemitic ideas, period,” the statement emphasized.

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A confirmed antisemite, Horthy invoked a “Numerus Clausus” law as early as 1920, which restricted the number of Jews who could attend university. Hungary was the first government in post-World War I Europe to issue such a restriction, according to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust.

However, while he was closely aligned with the Nazi regime in 1941-42, as German fortunes in the war took a nosedive from 1943, Horthy attempted to break with Hitler. In March 1944, Horthy succumbed to Hitler’s demand that a pro-Nazi government with complete power to institute and carry out anti-Jewish measures, including mass deportations, be installed.

More than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps during 1944.

In common with far right parties elsewhere in Europe, Mi Hazánk has been keen to rehabilitate the reputations of Horthy and his collaborators, arguing that the dictator actually saved Jews from the clutches of the Nazis. One lawmaker from the party even claimed that “grateful Jews” had laid a wreath upon Horthy’s grave.

András Heisler, chair of the Hungarian Jewish community, told local news outlets that “the largest Hungarian cemetery is in Auschwitz.”

Continued Heisler: “To say that grateful Jews are laying wreaths on Horthy’s grave, I think is not true, on the one hand, and on the other hand, it is disgustingly cynical.

In a statement, the Jewish community noted that it had asked parliament speaker László Kövér to remove the bust, on the grounds that its display is illegal.

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