BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA) — Hungary’s main Jewish organization urged the government and parliament to prevent the honoring of Miklos Horthy, the country’s Holocaust-era ruler.
Horthy had “direct responsibility for the killing and destruction of several hundred thousand Hungarian Jews,” the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, said in a statement Wednesday.
The statement was in reaction to the recent decision by the mayor of Kunhegyes in eastern Hungary to rename a street for Horthy.
Horthy, who ruled from 1920 to 1944, was an ally of Adolf Hitler, but the Nazi leader deposed Horthy, fearing he might sign a peace treaty with the Allies. Horthy passed several anti-Jewish laws before his ouster and was in charge when 500,000 Jews under Hungarian control began to be deported to Nazi death camps.
Last year, a statue of Horthy was erected in Kereki in southwestern Hungary and in Csokako, a village in the country’s north, and a plaque in his honor was unveiled in Debrecen, Hungary’s second-largest city. Last April, a square was named for Horthy in Gyomro, a town near Budapest.
Many in Hungary, where the nationalist Jobbik party is the third largest in parliament, admire Horthy’s consistent anti-communist stance in the face of Soviet pressure in the 1920s and 1930s.
Mazsihisz President Peter Feldmajer said last year in the European Parliament that at a time when “streets and squares are named after Horthy, who stands as a hero for the people, the Hungarian Jewish people feel increasing danger.”