‘ Please, get off the train. Now ! You will be assigned a number by the men in uniform waiting for you on the platform.’
Hungary’s fascist past is usually never mentioned when the subject of undemocratic, authoritarian governments in European history comes up. In the liberal western media, you are still far more likely to hear references to brave Hungarians standing up to Soviet tanks in 1956. It isn’t usually mentioned that Hungary was a German Axis ally in WWII, and happily took part in Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, which lead to the slaughter of 20 million Soviet citizens. Hungarian troops brought 40,000 Jewish slave ‘labourers’ with them to clear minefields as they crossed the border into the USSR.
In the first wave of European fascism between the two world wars, Hungary was actually the first country to have a fascist state, instituted in 1920. British imperialism supported that regime while it suited them.
Hungary was the first European state to introduce anti-Jewish laws, limiting Jews ability to study, work,and own businesses, at least 13 years before Hitler did so. The Hungarian state under Milos Horthy was the also the first ally of Benito Mussolini’s Italian fascists when they assumed state power.
In 1938, the biggest Nazi parade up to that point was arranged to welcome the Hungarian ‘Regent’, Miklos Horthy.
The Hungarian record in co-operating with the concentration camp system was completely horrific. In the period when Hitler realised they were losing the war, he gave orders to increase the number of Jews being sent to the gas chambers, and the Hungarian state complied. In only 3 days at Auschwitz, over 12,000 Hungarian Jews were killed. Hundreds of thousands were deported to Nazi labour camps throughout occupied Europe.
The Wikipedia entries on both Hungary’s history, and the leader, Miklos Horthy, are contemporary liberal attempts to whitewash the country’s fascist elements. The regime is described as ‘conservative authoritarian’ rather than fascist, and many horrible excuses are made for Horthy’s attitude to mass slaughter. You can judge for yourself how enthusiastic (or not?) he was in his fascism in this newsreel film of his visit to Berlin in 1938.
You can also decide for yourself how the current Hungarian leader, Victor Orban, compares to his glorious Christian ancestors…… ? Orban (who was a George Soros scholar at Oxford shortly before he became an MP) is the first EU leader to be censured over restricting press freedoms. In the past, he has decided that the parliament only needs to sit on every third week. Supporters of his Fidesz party are also quite fond of wearing para-military uniforms at anti-immigration rallies.