Hungarian Admiral and Regent 1920-1944
Miklós Horthy (1957) Memoirs, annotated by Andrew L. Simon (2000)
- The atrocities of the Bolshevists filled the land with horror. Their agitators penetrated even into our hitherto peaceful district. The peasants were terrorized by groups of men who went from village to village, held courts martial, and with sadistic pleasure hanged all those who in the war had been awarded the gold medal for bravery... The Jews who had long been settled among us were the first to reprobate the crimes of their co-religionists, in whose hands the new regime almost exclusively rested.
- p. 114
- The relatively strong Jewish element in Hungary was a particular thorn in [Hitler's] flesh, especially as many Jews were eminent in Hungarian finance, commerce and industry, in the press and in the professions. Of course, the bourgeois middle classes cherished a feeling of resentment that the executive posts and the offices in the liberal professions most in demand were in Jewish hands. The Jews supported each other with the solidarity of their race and earned more than twenty-five percent of the national income. After the First World War, there had been a wave of open anti-Semitism in Hungary. Even writers with left-wing sympathies have pointed out that nine-tenths of the higher positions of Béla Kun’s regime were filled by Jews. It was, therefore, humanly understandable that the crimes of the Communists were attributed to the Jews. But the innate Hungarian sense of fairness and justice, strengthened by the efforts of both Catholic and Protestant Churches to suppress all forms of racial prejudice, soon re-established good relations between Jews and non-Jews.
- p. 208
- What was I to do? It was plain that my resignation would not prevent the military occupation, would indeed merely give Hitler and opportunity to introduce a hundred per cent Nazi Arrow-Cross regime. The precedent of the Italian debacle with its horrible attendant circumstances constituted a timely warning. So long as I continued head of the state, the Germans would have to show a certain circumspection. They would have to leave the Hungarian Army under my orders, and would therefore be unable to incorporate it into the German Army. While I was in charge, they could not attempt putting the Arrow-Cross Party into office to do their deadly work of murdering Hungarian patriots, of exterminating the 800,000 Hungarian Jews and the tens of thousands of refugees who had sought sanctuary in Hungary. It would have been easier for me to make the great gesture of abdication. I would have been spared many a denunciation. But to leave a sinking ship, especially one that needed her captain more than ever, was a step I could not bring myself to take. At the time it was more important to me that Hitler promised to withdraw his troops from Hungary as soon as a government acceptable to him had been appointed.
- pp. 260-261
- For a long time I was helpless before German influence, for, in Budapest and its vicinity, I lacked the means to check or thwart the joint action of the Germans and the Ministry for Home Affairs. As the defeat of Germany drew nearer, I regained, though slowly and imperfectly, a certain freedom of action. In the summer, I succeeded at last in having the possibility of freeing the Jews from the prohibitions and restrictions imposed on them by law. Of the innumerable requests that poured in, I rejected none. The deportations were supposed to be made to labour camps. Not before August did secret information reach me of the horrible truth about the extermination camps. It was Csatay, the Minister of War, who raised the matter at a Cabinet meeting and demanded that our government should insist on the Germans clarifying the situation. This demand was not met by the Cabinet. The Churches, I must here add, did what they could for those in distress by providing them with certificates of baptism. In this, they acted in accordance with the true wishes of our people.
- p. 268
- The tidings I received concerning Hungary were horrifying. The looting, rape and violence that had followed upon the entry of the Red Army into Budapest surpassed the horrors with which we had grown familiar in reports from Vienna and Berlin. Neither small girls nor old women were spared. Cases were known of women in Russian uniforms knocking down men who would not do their bidding. Commando troops with special equipment searched for gold and other precious metals. In the banks, safes were broken open, and the contents, whether they belonged to Hungarians, foreigners or even allies, were looted. The pillage went on for weeks, and banks, business firms and private houses were searched time and time again. The Jews were treated no better than the rest of the population, who were picked off the streets and set to work.
- p. 303
Quotes about HorthyEdit
- [Horthy] reproached me for the many Jewish corpses found in the various parts of the country, especially in the Transdanubia. This, he emphasized, gave the foreign press extra ammunitions against us. He told me that we should stop harassing small Jews; instead, we should kill some big (Kun government) Jews such as Somogyi or Vazsonyi – these people deserve punishment much more... in vain, I tried to convince him that the liberal papers would be against us anyway, and it did not matter that we killed only one Jew or we killed them all...
- Pál Prónay, as quoted in Agnes Szabo and Ervin Pamlenyi, eds. (1963): A hatarban a halal kaszal: Fejezetek Prónay Pal feljegyzeseibol, pp. 160-131