|Hungary - The Unwilling Satellite|
AFTER NICHOLAS DE KALLAY was appointed premier by Horthy, Hungary's resistance to Germany increased steadily. Not only was unconditional surrender to the Western Alliessecretly attempted in the summer of 1943, but on April 5th of that year, Prime Minister Kallay visited Mussolini in Rome and proposed joint diplomatic steps to be taken in Berlin against German pressure, and a policy of friendship to be initiated in the Balkans in order to bring about, with the inclusion of Italy, a bloc of nations uniting Hungary, Rumania, Turkey, Greece and even Finland for resistance against German oppression. Mussolini promised an answer for the autumn of 1943, but it never came forth.
In the same month, Admiral Horthy visited Hitler's headquarters accompanied by General Szombathelyi, chief of the general staff, who had succeeded General Werth after the Yugoslav affair and had undertaken to purge the officers' corps of Hitler's admirers. During the Regent's homeward journey the Germans published the following communiqué: The Fuehrer and the Regent expressed their firm determination to continue the war against Bolshevism and its British and American allies unerringly until final victory is won . . . The Hungarian nation will mobilize all its forces for this end, for the liberation of Europe and for the security of the life of the Hungarian people.
After Horthy's return to his capital, the Hungarian government issued its own communiqué stating only that the Regent had visited Hitler on the latter's invitation; at the same time the government made it known that the words "and its British and American allies" had been inserted by the Germans without Horthy's consent, a good example of Ribbentrop's statecraft.
Budapest kept on exasperating Hitler. On May 6, 1943, Premier Kallay adjourned parliament to prevent its being used for national socialist propaganda. When Hitler demanded that Hungary send three Hungarian divisions to the Balkans where, from south of Belgrade to the Bulgarian zone of occupation, he wished Hungarian armed forces to carry out the job of policing Yugoslavia for the Germans - - promising to supply five Hungarian divisions with armaments if this request were granted - - the Hungarian government refused. The government not only prevented Germany from penetrating Hungarian industry but was also successful in recouping a part of the Hungarian industrial shares which the Germans had seized in Austria when they occupied that country in 1938. Concrete results were obtained in this respect concerning the Danubian Steamship Company, its coal mines in Pecs and workshops in Obuda. The Hungarian government also refused to export more cattle to Germany than usual. The production of oil wells in Lispe was deliberately reduced by fifty percent. The government systematically reduced the production of the Hungarian airplane factories which were supposed to deliver two- thirds of their out put to Germany.
The Germans used high- pressure methods to coerce Hungary to increase her economic assistance. In 1943 the German minister Clodius showed Hungarian negotiators statistics proving that Czech industrial deliveries to Germany amounted to twelve times those of Hungary, although Czech industrial capacity was in ordinary times only three times that of Hungary. Clodius openly threatened Hungarian independence if she did not help Germany. But he obtained no results.
Hungary was supplying the Vatican City with most of its food and all the wheat it needed. To help the starving population of Greece and also Belgian, Dutch and French children, entire gift trains carrying food were sent to those nations. The Hungarian government also deliberately diverted a considerable part of its foreign trade from Germany to neutral countries such as Turkey, Switzerland and Sweden, despite serious German displeasure.
Under Kallay's government several thousand French escaped war prisoners were allowed complete freedom in Hungary, including freedom to work; and those unable to work for a living were housed and kept in good hotels at Lake Balaton. British and American prisoners of war were courteously and humanely treated in Hungary. Of all of the Axis belligerents, Hungary alone fulfilled to the last letter the Geneva Convention concerning prisoners of war.
The democratic and leftist parties of Hungary, including the Social Democratic Party, the labor unions, the leftist newspapers, etc., still enjoyed comparative freedom, as was not granted to any similar organizations anywhere else in German- dominated countries of Europe at that time, with the exception of Finland. At that time, the only places besides Hungary in which the Social Democratic Party existed were Switzerland and Sweden.
On July 25th, 1943 Kallay nominated Mr. Ghyczy foreign minister. This must have taken considerable courage, as Ghyczy was generally known as outspokenly anti- Nazi in the Foreign Office. In September, Ghyczy sent to Sweden as minister Mr. Ullein- Reviczky, who had an English wife and was working definitely against the Nazis. By September 21, Germany had threatened to sever her diplomatic relations with Hungary if she continued to refuse further military and economic support.
Adolf Hitler was a great legalist. In Germany during his long struggle for the chancellorship one of his main slogans was: "Legal, until we are in power." He used and misused all of the facilities afforded to a demagogue by a democratic constitution. President von Hindenburg had nominated him chancellor when he became the leader of the largest party. Hitler remained a rigid legalist even after having seized power. Every murder, every thievery and cruelty was authorized by law or by decree. Only these were now national socialist laws and decrees.
Hitler was a great legalist even when he conquered foreign countries. He did not invade Austria before Seyss- Inquart had sent him an invitation. It did not make much difference that Seyss- Inquart was not entitled to send an invitation and that he did not even send it because it was written by Goeringin Berlin. When Hitler marched into Prague, he had a legal authorization, namely, the consent of President Hacha extorted by third- degree methods. All this sounds rather odd, but Hitler had reasons for observing legality. He did not want his troops to enter chaotic countries. The administrative task of the conqueror is greatly facilitated by a pretense of legitimate continuity. The conqueror needs civil servants, police forces, courts even soldiers under their own officers. He cannot make use of natives without their chieftains. Above all, he wants to collaborate with a legitimate government, since if he creates a vacuum, every group of escaped politicians can try to establish itself as the real government, as a government- in- exile, or in some corner of the country. Hitler saved Mussolini from Gran Sasso, not because he liked him, but because he needed a legitimate government in northern Italy to offset the only genuinely legitimate government of Marshal Badoglio in Rome. Otherwise Hitler would have needed an army to maintain order in that part of Italy which was still under German occupation. In 1934, at the beginning of his career as a conqueror, Hitler had made the mistake of having Dollfuss murdered. In 1938 he was wiser. He could have sent to their deaths Chancellor Schuschniggand President Miklas, but instead he invited Schuschniggto Berchtesgaden and compelled him to accept traitors as members of his government. Then the traitors provided Hitler with his legality. In 1944, when he decided that Hungary had exhausted his patience, he could certainly have had Regent Horthy, Premier Kallay, General Szombathelyi and Foreign Minister Ghyczy assassinated. Instead, he invited Horthy to Klessheim and presented him with an ultimatum. He needed legality.
The events that followed could not be reported to the world press. Though Hitler's iron curtain was less solid than the one used by Stalin it was very dense. But the scant reports that came via Turkey and Scandinavia at the time have been supplemented by personal narratives from Kallay and others, and it is now possible to reconstruct the story.
Before Schuschniggwent to Berchtesgaden in 1938, he asked Dr. Richard Schmitz, Mayor of Vienna, to take over if he did not return. Before Horthy went to Hitler's headquarters in 1944, he sent telegrams to all Hungarian legations ordering them not to recognize any Hungarian government that would be the result of eventual German occupation. Horthy, summoned to Klessheim with his war minister, foreign minister and chief of general staff, left Budapest on March 17, 1944. The ultimatum he received upon his arrival demanded complete mobilization against Russia; nomination of a quisling government; unconditional inclusion of Hungary in Germany's war economy; German control of waterways and railways; strict application of the Nuremberg laws against one million Jews in Hungary; extradition of Axis deserters, refugees and Polish soldiers; and Hungarian workers for German factories. Hitler also demanded that German troops be allowed to enter Hungary to assure her external and internal security.
The Regent rejected the ultimatum outright. Hitler had expected that; everything was prepared for a lightning blow. At midnight from March 18 to 19, powerful German forces numbering eleven divisions and including blinded trains, motorized guns and the heaviest "tiger" tanks crossed from Austria into Hungarian territory and reached Budapest at four o'clock in the morning. Simultaneously, Hungarian airfields were invaded by paratroopers, who met with only slight resistance since all the Hungarian forces were concentrated on the eastern and southeastern borders of Hungary. Fearing retaliation by these troops, the Germans, assisted by Rumanian troops, closed off the eastern half of Hungary on the line of the River Tisza to prevent their contact with Budapest and kept up this control for several weeks.
According to Kallay, news of these happenings was continuously transmitted in code by the secret Hungarian broadcasting station to the British in Istanbul, but no reply or advice was received. The government could not contact Regent Horthy, as his homeward bound train was halted on the Hungarian border and was only allowed to proceed to Budapest next day at eleven o'clock in the morning when the Germans had already seized all the strategic positions. All the government could do - - since to organize armed resistance was impossible - - was to destroy all secret documents in the various government offices and to advise Hungarian diplomatic representatives abroad, the Anglo- American military personnel which had clandestinely come to Hungary and anti- Nazi political leaders of the impending danger.
The Gestapo was already at work rounding up conservative elements, the legitimist nobility, priests, trade union leaders, anglophiles, journalists, nationalists, and of course, Jews, hundreds of whom committed suicide. Keresztes- Fisher, the minister of the interior and his brother, Horthy's former aide, were among the first people arrested. The SS agent, Ludvig Veehsenmayer had arrived as Germany's new envoy and plenipotentiary , with, as the Germans announced, "special authorities to intensify the common conduct of the war." Upon his arrival in Budapest, the Regent summoned Prime Minister Kallay and his government to a conference. Mr. Kallay has personally sent me details of this meeting. The Regent told them that as early as autumn of 1943 Hitler and Ribbentrop had requested the removal of Kallay from the Hungarian government, as they had evidence of his collaboration with the Allies Horthy had resisted but now, under violent pressure, he said he feared he would have to appoint a new government. However, he requested Mr. Kallay to carry on the government business meanwhile.
Kallay refused. Stating that Hungary's sovereignty for the time being had ceased to exist and that due to German occupation all acts from now on would be unconstitutional and legally null and void, he asked the Regent to assume the same attitude. But Horthy replied that the war was nearing its end; that maintenance of Hungary's resistance as far as it could go, and the ability to fight against the German oppressors at the appropriate time required his stay in office in order to save whatever could be saved. He expressed his belief that the Allieswould land in the Balkans within a few months and that the Germans would meet swift defeat. He believed it was in the interest of Hungary that the army should not be disbanded or destroyed, as it was still needed to help the Alliesprevent the destruction of the country and to maintain order in the Danubian Valley at the end of the war when anarchy would become inevitable.
On March 20, 1944, at dawn, German storm troops surrounded the prime minister's home and Gestapo agents forcibly entered his apartments. By then he had fled to the Turkish legation where he had been invited by the Turkish government to take refuge.
Meanwhile Horthy - - the safety of whose family, including a three- year- old grandson, had been threatened if he did not co- operate - - put off nominating a new government. He yielded only after Hitler had promised to restore Hungary's sovereignty if she received a "trustworthy regime." On March 23rd the Germans announced that Horthy had appointed General Sztojay. The new premier by grace of Hitler and Veehsenmayerhad been the Hungarian minister to Berlin. My Hungarian friends like to emphasize that he was a Serb and that his name had previously been Stojakovitch, but I am not fond of using that as a pro- Magyar argument. If we do not accept Hitler's race theories, everybody must be the sole judge of his own nationality. Many of our best generals and admirals have German names. If they had been defeated instead of being victorious it would not have been proper suddenly to discover that they were not really Americans.
Soon Hitler was to learn that the Hungarian cat had nine lives. Until the German occupation, Horthy had exercised his regency strictly within its narrow constitutional limits. But with the constitution no longer in existence, he resolved to do for the country everything within his power irrespective of formal limitations. There was no longer a parliament, many of its members having tendered their resignation in protest against the puppet government formed in April. The Regent was the last remnant of the constitution. He recognized that Hitler would have imprisoned or killed him if he had not needed him as a show of legality. This gave his position a certain strength, and the Admiral decided to use it to the limit.
Sztojay's case has not yet been sufficiently clarified, but it seems that he did not remain consistently a quisling, although under his regime Hungarian anti- Nazis were seized by the Gestapo, sixteen thousand businesses were confiscated without compensation, and in June the Gestapo deported a hundred thousand Jews from Hungary to Polandwhere they were slaughtered by the Germans. This aroused protests from the World Jewish Congress King Gustav of Sweden and Mr. Eden. On the other hand, instead of being a mere tool in Veehsenmayers hands, Sztojay carried out several of Horthy's orders. In August 1944, he relieved three ministers of their posts. They were Imredy, who had become minister of economic affairs after having tried and failed to form a quisling government of his own, and two members of lmredy's unsavory party of Hungarian rejuvenation: Kuner1">Antal Kuner, minister of trade, and Andor Jaros, minister of the interior, one of the worst persecutors of the Jews. Sztojay also rejected Germany's demand that Hungary break with Turkey and on August 25th dissolved all pro- German parties. Soon afterward two chiefs of departments in the ministry of the interior, Lászlo Endre and Lászlo Baky, who belonged to Szalasi's national socialist party and were Hitler's special spies in the Sztojay outfit, tried to remove the premier by a coup- de- main, to open the way for Szalasi. They concentrated gendarmerie forces from the provinces around the capital. The Regent got wind of it and ordered two divisions under General .Miklos to Budapest. Then he called Sztojay and informed him of the conspiracy, ordering him to remove the two traitors, which Sztojay did not dare to carry out. So shortly afterward, the Regent dismissed the Sztojay government and nominated a new one under General Lakatos. People called it Horthy's "bridge party" because it consisted of his personal friends, elderly gentlemen unable to cope with the situation .
That Hitler accepted this rebuff can only be understood if one remembers that the summer of 1944 was the time of Germany's greatest withdrawal from the east, its so- called retreat into the inner fortress. Hitler's teeth were no longer as sharp as they had been. On August 22nd, M. Draganoff, foreign minister of Bulgaria, had dared to stress his country's friendly relations with the Soviet Union and to announce that Bulgaria's troops would be withdrawn from Yugoslavia. He also said that Bulgaria was doing her utmost to make peace with the United States and Great Britain. He would not have made that speech if the Germans had still been in a position to punish him. On August 23rd, King Michaelof Rumania had made his coup d'etat, replacing General Antonescu with General Sanatescu, and issued the following proclamation in the old Rumanian tradition of flying to the victor's rescue: The dictatorship has come to an end and with it all oppression . . . The United Nations have recognized the injustice of the dictate of Vienna under which Transylvania was torn from us. At the side and with the help of the Allied armies, and by mobilizing all the forces of the Fatherland, we shall cross the frontiers imposed on us by the Vienna Award and liberate Transylvania from foreign occupation. The new government marks the beginning of a great era in which the rights and liberties of all citizens will be respected.
On August 26th, Radio Sofia recognized Bulgaria's withdrawal from the war: In accordance with its firm determination to pursue a policy of complete neutrality on the part of Bulgaria in the war between Russia and Germany, the Bulgarian government has given the order that all foreign troops crossing into Bulgarian territory shall be disarmed. In accordance with this order, the German troops who have so far crossed into Bulgarian territory have been completely disarmed. Bulgaria has approached Great Britain and the United States asking for information on the terms under which she could withdraw from the war.
A superficial observer might be inclined to say that all three, Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary proclaimed their defection from Hitler almost simultaneously when a general German retreat allowed them to do so. In reality, there was an important difference. Rumania and Bulgaria did not risk anything when they began to defy Hitler, because his troops had already been ordered to withdraw from their territories. But Hungary was still firmly occupied by the Germans. The great and decisive difference was that Rumania and Bulgaria were outside of Germany's "inner fortress,,, whereas Hungary was considered part of it. Hitler abandoned Rumania and Bulgaria but clung to Hungary, hence Hungary was the only one to risk a terrible vengeance by challenging the Fuehrer, who had become a cornered thug and was therefore more vicious than ever.
This world would be a better, more decent place if the leaders of the English- speaking nations developed a tiny part of the courage shown at that time by Admiral Horthy. On October 15, 1944, he broadcast from Radio Budapest a proclamation, the text of which will be found in Appendix II of this volume, in which he reviewed Hungary's case against Germany in uncompromising terms.
The Germans acted with their usual speed and energy. Before Horthy had ended his broadcast, they attacked the radio station and killed most of the student guards, who had been summoned to defend the entrance. The Regent managed to reach his palace, which the Germans at once besieged. The fight cost considerable destruction, and all but fifty members of the palace guard lost their lives. These fifty later had their throats cut and were thrown into the Danube. Horthy, his wife, daughter- in- law and grandson were seized and deported to Germany. Now was the great hour for Major Szalasi, leader of the Arrow Cross. Backed by the Germans, he named himself Regent and broadcast to the nation in best national socialist style: A selfish coalition of interests formerly led a parasitic existence on the life of our nation, and when the nation took up arms in the struggle for freedom, that coalition, which had nothing to do with our nation, did all it could to make us fail in this struggle. It did so to place its own vile and craven interests above the interests of the nation, even at the cost of the latter's destruction . . . The only guarantee of our survival and self- preservation is the throwing of all our might into the decisive struggle. . . .
The decisive struggle was soon ended. Seven weeks later, Szalasi fled to Vienna, shortly before the siege of Budapest began.
For some time no one knew what had happened to Admiral Horthy and his family. However, they were found and released from a German concentration camp by the American army. The Admiral spent some time thereafter in custody at Nuremberg, where he was held as a possible witness. So far as I know, no charges were ever made against him. Notwithstanding this fact, he was and still is under house arrest, at this writing, in a small home in Weilheim, Bavaria, where his family reside with him.
They obtained their food from UNRRA up to the first of December 1946, but from then on were left practically without sustenance for some time until they were put on DP rations.
Attempts of friends in America to send money to the Horthys were unavailing for a long time. C.A.R.E. packages reached other people, but not the Horthys. The Admiral spent some time in a hospital recovering from an operation said to have been due to malnutrition. No one seems to know why he should be held under house arrest. If he is actually a prisoner, then he is not being properly fed. No one knows when he will be free from all restraint. The only explanation seems to be that Titohas made several demands and that our government is holding him for that reason. No one seriously thinks that he will be turned over to Tito but our government has been very responsive to communist clamorings so far as the Horthys are concerned. Perhaps with the turn of events its attitude will change, but when, in the spring of 1947, the Horthy's son, Nicholas, Jr., who was found in a German concentration camp and had been given a clean bill of health after being released, made application for a visa to come to America on business, it was turned down. This despite the fact that he had been assured in advance that there would be no difficulty in getting one. It seems incredible, but within twenty- four hours of the time he filed his application, an Hungarian communist- inspired weekly paper, published in New York (with a circulation of hardly more than five hundred copies daily) came out in screaming headlines, demanding that he be excluded from this country - - whereupon the higher- ups in the State Department ordered that the visa be refused.
Mr. Kallay wrote me: How can it be that Nicky Horthy was refused a visa in the United States? That young man who fought always against the Germans and the Hungarian Nazis, protecting the Jews and saving a lot of them? He was beaten and put into a sack after he was captured by the Germans - - now he cannot even enter the United States on a visit because of communistic objection.
Mr. Kallay himself became a German prisoner on November 17, 1944, when he gave himself up to avoid further embarrassment being caused the Turkish government by German demands that he be turned over to them.
|Hungary - The Unwilling Satellite|