David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

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(v) Conclusion >>

(i) Background

1. The next link in the chain is provided by documentation on Germany's relations with Hungary in 1943. During the Second World War, Hungary was ruled by a strongly authoritarian, right-wing regime, which had come to power in a bloody counter-revolution at the end of the First World War. Led by Admiral Horthy, whose title derived from the defunct Habsburg Empire and who functioned as Regent for the absent Habsburg Emperor, the Hungarian regime allied itself to Nazi Germany from early on, principally in order to recover territory from small neighbouring countries which it considered belonged to Hungary by the historic right of the Habsburg tradition.
2. In 1938-39 it joined Germany in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. In return for German backing in obtaining territory from Romania in August 1940 and Yugoslavia in April 1941, the Hungarian government sent troops to participate in the German invasion of Russia in June 1941. Having achieved its principal goals in annexing territory from its small neighbouring states, Hungary now tried to pull out of the war on the Eastern front, and withdrew substantial numbers of troops. Following the defeat of the German armies at Stalingrad, Hitler began to put pressure on Admiral Horthy to reverse this policy, and summoned him to a meeting on 16 and 17 April 1943, at which the German Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, was also present. Hitler and Ribbentrop also used this opportunity to discuss with Horthy the question of Hungary's Jewish population.
3. A substantial number of Jews lived in Hungary; a figure of around three-quarters of a million in 1943-44 is widely accepted by historians. These people were already subjected to massive legal discrimination by the strongly antisemitic Horthy regime, which denied them basic rights such   as entering the professions and enforced on them restrictions comparable to those obtaining in Germany under the Nazis before 1939. The Hungarian fascist party, the Arrow Cross, was putting pressure on the Horthy government to introduce harsh new policies against the Jews. These measures, enacted from 1938 onwards, had been partly designed to appease it.
4. The subject of Hungary's Jews had already been the cause of friction between the two regimes of Hitler and Horthy. After the invasion of Russia, the Horthy regime began deporting 'alien Jews' (including Jewish refugees from Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Germany) to Körösmezo, close to the border with the General Government. From here, they were forcibly transported over the border into German-controlled territory. By late August 1941, when the operation was completed, 16,000-18,000 Jews had been transferred. The great majority of the Jews pushed out of Hungary in this way were exterminated by SS units in Kamenets-Podolsk (Ukraine), in a massacre on 27-28 August 1941. Only about 2,000 Jews who had arrived from Hungary initially survived.1
5. In the following year, the 'Third Reich' stepped up its efforts to include the remaining Jews in Hungary in the 'Final Solution'. On 15 August 1942, the Hungarian representative in Berlin, Döme Szt"jay, reported to his government that following insturction from Hitler regardless of the nationality of these Jews and provided transportation facilities exist
the Germans are determined to rid Europe of the Jewish elements without further delay and intend...to deport them to the occupied territories in the East, where they will be settled in ghettos or labour camps and made to work. The authorities have been instructed to complete these deportations while the war is still on. According to absolutely reliable information, Reichsleiter Himmler has informed a meeting of SS leaders that it is the wish of the German Government to complete these deportations within a year.2
6. Two months later, the Germans officially approached the Hungarian government in this matter. On 14 October 1942, the senior Foreign Office official Martin Luther instructed the German embassy in Budapest to inform the Hungarian government of the reasons 'which are moving us according to the will of the Führer to attempt a complete solution of the Jewish question in Europe soon, and to ask the Hungarian government to drive forward on its part the measures which are necessary for this purpose.' These measures included the 'immediate labelling of all Jews' as well as the preparation for 'deportation and transport off to the East'.3 These demands were passed on by the German representative in Budapest on 17 October 1942 to the Hungarian government.4
7. However, the Hungarians comprehensively rejected the demands. In its reply on 2 December 1942, the Hungarian government made clear that it was extremely jealous of its sovereign rights and insisted that any 'solution' of the Hungarian dimension of the 'Jewish question' would have to take the specific circumstances in Hungary into account. It rejected the special marking of Jews and informed the Germans that as far as the 'deportation of Jewry out of Hungary' was concerned, 'the Hungarian government possesses today neither the possibilities nor the technical means of lending governmental measures practical validity in this matter.'5
8. The German government was clearly unhappy with this response from its military ally, and increased its pressure on Hungary to give in to its demands. On 15 January 1943, Luther reminded the Hungarian representative in Berlin, Döme Sztójay,
that the Führer is resolved under all circumstances to remove all Jews from Europe already during the war, because these, as he (Sztójay), to be sure, knows exactly, constitute an element of subversion, and in most cases carry the guilt for acts of sabotage which occur, and otherwise also occupy themselves mainly with espionage for the enemy. It fills us with very great concern that just one country in the middle of Europe that is friendly to us harbours about 1 million Jews. We cannot look on this danger in the long run without taking action.6
However, in the following months the Hungarian government did not change its stance on the matter.
10. The meeting between Hitler and Horthy on 16 and 17 April 1943 was in part designed to escalate the pressure which the German government had already put on Horthy to 'solve' the 'Jewish question' in Hungary once and for all and to persuade Horthy to remove the obstacles which he had so far put in the way of the forcible deportation of all of Hungary's Jews to territory controlled by the Nazi regime.


1. R. Braham, The Politics of Genocide, Vol. I (New York, 1994), pp. 205-213; see also idem, 'The Kamenets Podolsk and Dlvidek Massacres', in: Yad Vashem Studies 9 (1973), pp. 133-156.
2. Sztójay report, 15.8.1942; cited in E Levai, Black Book on hte Matyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (Zurich, Vienna, 1948),pp. 26-27.
3. 'die uns bewegen, nach dem Willen des Führers eine baldige und vollständige Lösung der Judenfrage in Europa anzustreben und die Ungarische Regierung zu bitten, auch ihrerseits die dazu erforderlichen Maßnahmen voranzutreiben...sofortige Kennzeichnung aller Juden...Aussiedlung und den Abtransport nach dem Osten'. Luther to German Embassy in Budapest, 14.10.1942, ND NG-5562; reprinted in R. L. Braham (ed.) The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, vol. I (New York, 1963), document 75.
4. Note from Sztójay to the German Foreign Office, 2.12.1942; reprinted in R. L. Braham (ed.) The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, vol. I (New York, 1963), document 86.
5. 'aussiedlung des Judentums aus Ungarn'; 'besitzt die Ungarische Regierung heute nicht die Möglichkeiten, noch besitzt sie die technischen Mitteln dazu um diesbezüglichen Regierungsmassnahmen eine praktische Geltung zu verschaffen.' Note from Sztójay to the German Foreign Office, 2.12.1942; reprinted in Braham (ed.), The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, vol. I (New York, 1963), document 86.
6. 'dass der Führer unter allen Umständen gewillt sei, alle Juden noch während des Krieges aus Europa zu entfernen, da diese, wie er [Sztójay] ja genauestens wisse, eine (sic) Element der Zersetzung darstellen und in den meisten Fällen an vorkommenden Sabotageakten die Schuld trügen und sich im übrigen auch vornehmlich mit Feindspionage beschäftigten. Es erfülle uns mit sehr grosser Sorge, dass ein uns befreundetes Land mitten in Europa allein ca. 1 Million Juden beherberge. Wir könnten dieser Gefahr auf die Dauer nicht untätig zusehen.' Note from Luther to Foreign Office, 16.1.1943; reprinted in R. L. Braham (ed.), The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, vol. I (New York, 1963), document 92.
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accessed 12 March 2013