Israel, US chastise Hungarian minister for praising country’s Nazi-allied WWII leader

Miklos Horthy and Adolf Hitler in 1938.  (Wikimedia commons/ Mareček2000/ CC BY-SA)
Miklos Horthy and Adolf Hitler in 1938. (Wikimedia commons/ Mareček2000/ CC BY-SA)

A senior government official in Hungary comes under sharp criticism for praising the country’s World War II-era leader — an ally of Nazi Germany who is believed to have imposed Europe’s first anti-Jewish laws of the 20th century — as an exceptional head of state and a hero.

Minister of Construction and Transportation Janos Lazar made the comments Sunday during a ceremony held on the 30th anniversary of the reburial of Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s regent during most of World War II.

A self-described antisemite, Horthy forged an alliance with Adolf Hitler and implemented laws that resulted in the deportation and deaths of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Member of the new Hungarian government, Construction and Investment Minister Janos Lazar, is seen prior to their oath in the parliament building on May 24, 2022. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)

A video of the commemoration held in Kenderes, Horthy’s hometown, features Lazar, a cabinet member in the nationalist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, heaping praise on the wartime leader while speaking at the ceremony in Horthy’s hometown of Kenderes.

“It is my conviction that a remembrance and homage is due to Miklos Horthy,” Lazar says in the video, which he posted yesterday on his Facebook page. “It is due to Governor Miklos Horthy because in Miklos Horthy we can honor an exceptional statesman who was a true heroic soldier and a true Hungarian patriot.”

The Israeli Embassy responds to Lazar’s comments, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Glorifying a person who’s [sic] deeds brought a catastrophe upon the Hungarian people and especially the Jewish compatriots of which around 600,000 innocent men, women and children were murdered, has no place in a modern Hungary.”

The US ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, also writes on X that Lazar’s participation in the event honoring Horthy concerns the US government.

“Miklos Horthy was complicit in the slaughter of Hungary’s Jewish population during the Holocaust. The United States is concerned by the participation of a senior Orbán government official in efforts to rehabilitate and promote his brutal legacy,” Pressman writes.

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