Hungary’s Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) has strongly condemned a senior government official for praising the country’s wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy, with the United States also expressing concern.
Horthy, an autocrat who ruled Hungary from 1920 to 1944, passed anti-Jewish laws and oversaw the deportations of several hundred thousand Hungarian Jews to Nazi death camps.
An estimated 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished during the Holocaust.
During a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the reburial of Horthy, Hungarian Minister of Construction and Transportation Janos Lazar stressed that “remembrance and homage is due to Horthy”.
Lazar went on to praise the interwar leader as an “exceptional statesman, who was a true heroic soldier and a true Hungarian patriot”.
Mazsihisz, the country’s main Jewish organisation, condemned the event, accusing those who honour Horthy of whitewashing him and his rule.
“History cannot be changed, but omitting the reality and glorifying mass murderers is unacceptable,” Mazsihisz said in a statement.
David Pressman, the US ambassador to Hungary, who was born into a Jewish family, also blasted Lazar’s participation in the ceremony which he said was aimed at rehabilitating the Nazi-allied leader.
“The United States is concerned by the participation of a senior Orban government official in efforts to rehabilitate and promote his brutal legacy,” Pressman wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.