Orbán and Horthy

Orban is a rare political leader in Europe. He is quite popular, but he is in a balancing act. To his left are the Europeanists, who see all his actions as a repudiation of liberal democracy. On the right is a fascist party that won 20 percent in the last election. Between these two forces, Hungary could tear itself apart. It is in precisely this situation that Weimar Germany failed. Caught between left and right, the center was too weak to hold. Orban is trying to do what Horthy did: strengthen his power over the state and the state’s power over society. He is attacked from the left for violating the principles of liberal democracy and Europe. He is attacked from the right for remaining a tool of the European Union and the Jews. The left believes he is secretly of the right and his protestations are simply a cover. The right believes he is secretly a Europeanist and that his protestations are simply a cover.

Now we add to this the fact that Hungary must make decisions concerning Ukraine. Orban knows that Hungary is not in a position to make decisions by itself. He has therefore made a range of statements, including condemning Russia, opposing sanctions and proposing that the Ukrainian region directly east of Hungary, and once Hungarian, be granted more autonomy. In the end, these statements are unimportant. They do not affect the international system but allow him to balance a bit.

Orban knows what Horthy did as well. Hungary, going up against both Germany and Russia, needs to be very subtle. Hungary is already facing Germany’s policy toward liberal integration within the European Union, which fundamentally contradicts Hungary’s concept of an independent state economy. Hungary is already facing Germany’s policies that undermine Hungary’s economic and social well-being. Orban’s strategy is to create an economy with maximum distance from Europe without breaking with it, and one in which the state exerts its power. This is not what the Germans want to see.

Now, Hungary is also facing a Germany that is not in a position to support Hungary against Russia. He is potentially facing a Russia that will return to Hungary’s eastern border. He is also faced with a growing domestic right wing and a declining but vocal left. It is much like Horthy’s problem. Domestically, he has strong support and powerful institutions. He can exercise power domestically. But Hungary has only 9 million people, and external forces can easily overwhelm it. His room for maneuvering is limited.

I think Orban anticipated this as he saw the European Union flounder earlier in the decade. He saw the fragmentation and the rise of bitterness on all sides. He constructed a regime that appalled the left, which thought that without Orban, it would all return to the way it was before, rather than realizing that it might open the door to the further right. He constructed a regime that would limit the right’s sense of exclusion without giving it real power.

Russia’s re-emergence followed from this. Here, Orban has no neat solution. Even if Hungary were to join a Polish-Romanian alliance, he would have no confidence that this could block Russian power. For that to happen, a major power must lend its support. With Germany out of the game, that leaves the United States. But if the United States enters the fray, it will not happen soon, and it will be even later before its role is decisive. Therefore he must be flexible. And the more international flexibility he must show, the more internal pressures there will be.

For Horthy, the international pressure finally overwhelmed him, and the German occupation led to a catastrophe that unleashed the right, devastated the Jews and led to a Russian invasion and occupation that lasted half a century. But how many lives did Horthy save by collaborating with Germany? He bought time, if nothing else.

Hungarian history is marked by heroic disasters. The liberal revolutions that failed across Europe in 1848 and failed in Hungary in 1956 were glorious and pointless. Horthy was unwilling to make pointless gestures. The international situation at the moment is far from defined, and the threat to Hungary is unclear, but Orban clearly has no desire to make heroic gestures. Internally he is increasing his power constantly, and that gives him freedom to act internationally. But the one thing he will not grant is clarity. Clarity ties you down, and Hungary has learned to keep its options open.

Orban isn’t Horthy by any means, but their situations are similar. Hungary is a country of enormous cultivation and fury. It is surrounded by disappointments that can become dangers. Europe is not what it promised it would be. Russia is not what Europeans expected it to be. Within and without the country, the best Orban can do is balance, and those who balance survive but are frequently reviled. What Hungary could be in 2005 is not the Hungary it can be today. Any Hungarian leader who wished to avoid disaster would have to face this. Indeed, Europeans across the continent are facing the fact that the world they expected to live in is gone and what has replaced it, inside and outside of their countries, is different and dangerous.

by George Friedman, the Chairman of Stratfor.  The full article can be read here.

 

I don’t agree with everything Friedman writes but certainly it’s a very interesting analysis on Hungary’s situation.

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Holocaust day

Oh, well, today it’s a Holocaust remembrance day.  There’s so much talk about this genocide  (see http://holocaustmemorialyear2014.gov.hu/ ) that actually I’m wondering which day isn’t a Holocaust remembrance day this year…

Politicians seems to compete hard who is capable of saying the most bizarre and bombastic thing.

Zoltán Pokorni, a Fidesz leader who belongs to the “liberal” wing of the centre-of-right party  Fidesz I support,  bent over backwards, too, to say something “big” and he managed to utter that

The Holocaust is our cause because the killers and the victims were Hungarians, too.

 

Using his logic, he might have said equally that “the Holocaust is our cause because the killers and the victims were Jews, too”.  (For the sake of this parallel logic argument let’s disregard for a moment that the killers were Germans.) But let’s analyze this sentence a bit more…

Everybody knows that the term “Holocaust” means a particular 20th century genocide committed by Nazi Germans against Jews in Europe.  So if the victims were Hungarians, and not Jews, then perhaps we shouldn’t talk about “Holocaust” at all, should we?

It’s a well-known historical fact that there were no death camps in Hungary. It’s also well-known that neither the Hungarian authorities or the Jewish victims themselves, including the members of the “Jewish Council”,  knew when the deportations  started, and one must stress that happened  only after Hungary’s occupation on the 19th of March, 1944 that the physical extermination of the deported ones was the  goal of the Nazi.

It’s really high time to stop trying to shift blame from Nazi Germany  to Hungary .  For the record,  the Holocaust was planned and carried out by Nazi Germany. Hungary did ally herself with Nazi Germany in the hopes of regaining the lost territories in the Dictat of Trianon, but in contrast with other countries allied with Nazi Germany,  the deportation of Jews from Hungary started only after Nazi Germany occupied Hungary militarily.  In fact it was the foot-dragging policies of Governor Horthy which made it possible to avoid Hungary’s military invasion by Nazi Germany already at the beginning of World War Two, that is several years earlier than the March of 1944.  That would have meant, of course, the complete annihilation of all Jews in Hungary, just like it happened in Poland.   After the Hungarian authorities learned what was happening in Auswitz  from the Auschwitz Protocols , Governor Horthy personally gave the order to stop the deportations on the 8th of July, 1944 and this order was carried out by Colonel Ferenc Koszorús and his brave  troops.  This event is commemorated on a plaque in Dohány utca in Budapest where you can visit the largest synagogue in Europe.

In memory of Col. Ferenc Koszorús and his brave soldiers who prevented the deportation of the Budapest Jewry on the 5th and 6th of July, 1944.

 

In fact the Jewry in Budapest, which is one of the largest in Europe, should be very thankful indeed to Governor Horthy.  Instead they keep besmirching him, and Hungarians, too, day and night.

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Hungary’s Example

A pleasant dissonance in the present wave of anti-Jewish discrimination in various parts of Central and Eastern Europe is the call issued yesterday by the Hungarian government party, inviting the Jews of Hungary to submit to the government any complaints which they may have.

How long is it since Hungary was listed among the anti-Semitic countries of Europe? How long since Hungary was the first country officially to introduce a numerus clausus for Jewish students? How long is it since Jew-baiting speeches were delivered from the platform of the Hungarian parliament by leading members of the Cabinet?

The Hungary of today is the first country in Europe with the courage to abandon official anti-Semitism after realizing that it is a menace to the nation. The call issued yesterday by the government party, inviting Jewish complaints, is only another proof that the present regime in Hungary does not regret the change in its policy with regard to the Jews. Could not Hungary’s experience serve as an example to other European nations?

Miklós Horthy, Emlékirataim.

Miklós Horthy, Regent of Hungary  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s a contemporary Jewish opinion article about the allegedly sooooooo anti-Semitic Horthy-era of Hungary.

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Horthy statue on Gellért square

I’m really not a fan of Jobbik and I’m even less supportive of their idiotic “Hungarian Guard” kindergarten but I do support their demand to erect a proper equestrian statue of His Serene Highness Miklós Horthy, Regent of Hungary on St. Gellért square.   That’s probably the best place indeed to pay tribute to this great Hungarian statesman.  Here is where he delivered his famous speech:

The nation of the Hungarians loved and admired Budapest, which became its polluter in the last years. Here, on the banks of the Danube, I arraign her. This city has disowned her thousand years of tradition, she has dragged the Holy Crown and the national colours in the dust, she has clothed herself in red rags. The finest of the nation she threw into dungeons or drove into exile. She laid in ruin our property and wasted our wealth. Yet the nearer we approached to this city, the more rapidly did the ice in our hearts melt. We are now ready to forgive her.

Commemorating Admiral Horthy’s march into Budapest

The US embassy on Governor Horthy

Greek property agent Eleni Tsakopoulous Kounalakis has departed from  Budapest and we’re looking forward to the arrival of soap opera producer Colleen Bell as the next US ambassador to Hungary. It’s a bit of a letdown though that President Obama didn’t choose country music artist Kellie Pickler instead.   After all  she might have learnt by now that Europe isn’t a country and its capital isn’t Paris, on the other hand Hungary is a country in Europe and her capital is Budapest.   She was the blond woman in this celebrity edition of the quiz show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”

In the meantime a certain M. Andre Goodfriend is in charge. Mr. Goodfriend completed his Master’s studies in Communication at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and he has studied Hungarian, Hebrew, French, Russian, classical and modern Greek, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic and Yiddish.   Chances are he composed, but he surely authorized, this statement issued by the US embassy today:

The United States strongly condemns the shameful event organized by Jobbik, a Hungarian political party identified with ethnic hatred and anti-Semitism, to unveil a bust honoring Nazi ally Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s leader during World War II, at the entrance to the Hungarian Reformed Church at the edge of Szabadsag ter in Budapest on November 3.  Those who organized and participated in the event, including members of Hungary’s Parliament, promoted not only their own intolerance, but also a dramatically negative image of Hungary.  Although the significant number of counter-demonstrators showed there is strong opposition to the organizers’ views, and members of the Hungarian government have expressed disapproval, an event such as this requires swift, decisive, unequivocal condemnation by Hungary’s highest ranking leaders.

Let’s not dwell on that who identifies Jobbik with what and what they  identify themselves with. I’m not going to argue in favour of Jobbik. They are really not my cup of tea, to say the least.  However…  is  an embassy of a foreign country supposed to throw around pejorative labels for a democratically elected party in their host country?   Is it the job of  an embassy to blatantly lie about  “significant number of counter-demonstrators” when there were at most 200-300 counter-demonstrators and there were 300-500 participants at the statue unveiling?  Is an embassy  supposed to meddle, especially in such a disgustingly partisan way, in an internal political dispute concerning a historic figure of the host country?  Should not the electorate and the citizens of a democratic country decide for themselves in such questions?

I think what this incredibly arrogant statement requires is swift, decisive, unequivocal ignoring by Hungary’s highest ranking leaders.   In fact what  comes to mind is “Up yours, Uncle Sam!”

As far as the person of  His Serene Highness Miklós Horthy,  Regent of Hungary, is concerned, M. Andre Goodfried should better study history as well, besides  Hebrew,  Yiddish, etc. and communication at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem:

Hungary’s “relatively mild” anti-Jewish Laws, which were passed under German pressure, appeased the Nazis enough to create a relatively safe environment for the Jews before the 1944 German invasion- It seems certain that the survival of 124,000 Hungarian Jews in Budapest until the arrival of the Soviets would have been impossible without Horthy’s years of foot-dragging reluctance to implement German orders. On 15 July 1944 Anne McCormick, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times wrote in defense of Hungary as the last refuge of Jews in Europe, declaring that “as long as they exercised any authority in their own house, the Hungarians tried to protect the Jews.

Demonizing  Governor Horthy is a “left liberal” agenda.  The counter-demonstration was organized by them, for example ex-Socialist prime minister Bajnai’s Együtt-PM party activists were also among of the small , noisy group of counter-demonstrators.   Now it’s even less surprising that the Big Brother style spying  on “allies” by the US secret service NSA is also exploited for gaining political influence.  And in Hungary’s case, it’s  used for the benefit of the  Hungarian “left liberal” lackeys of the USA.

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