Hungarians in World War II

Cameron Sawyer wrote: Why should we be surprised that Nazi Fascism would appeal to many Poles, as well as Ukrainians?, I asked: "What about Hungarians who collaborated with the Nazis?" Cameron replies: The Hungarians in fact were not "collaborators".  Hungary was a formal ally of the Third Reich; a member of the "Axis".  Hungarian elements played a significant role in the war in the east.  Russian civilians feared them like the plague; they were the cruelest of the occupying Axis forces, associated with many atrocities.  There was a survey on this recently in fact in one Russian historical journal.  Survivors of the occupation were polled, and the results were that according to the memories of the survivors, the Italian occupiers were almost entirely benign; the Germans could be violent and cruel but were often friendly (especially in the Ukraine); but the Hungarians were outright savages, slaughtering civilians at will and raping everything which moved.  
One has to put this in perspective, of course -- this was a war in which civilians particularly suffered.  The Soviet troops in Germany gave back to the German people exactly what they felt they had suffered at the hands of the Germans -- there was not so much murder of civilians, perhaps, as the Axis forces had done in Russia, but rape and looting by the Soviets in Germany reached epic proportions.  This is well-documented in the recent book by the great military historian Anthony Beevor, Berlin -- The Downfall 1945.

RH: What do Hungarian history textbooks say about World War II? About the Huns?

From Thailand, Hungarian Steve Torok writes: Since the Hungarian problem was brought up by my "drusza" (same first name in Hungarian, a special category of pseudo kinship) Istvan Simon, I must comment that the solution for the Hungarians may be in a larger political entity, such as Europe, with minority rights and autonomy guaranteed by the European Charter, at least culturally, allowing for strong cultural links for the diasporas within these larger political entities. It is an uphill battle, as the Hungarians in Transylvania know well, also those in Slovakia and Serbia. Some larger middle-Eastern political entity, nominally neither Jewish nor Arab, might provide such an opportunity in the future? Where the boundaries are drawn would be important; in this sense the current controversy about Turkey and the European Community is an example to watch! 

RH: The European  already has created problems by promoting regions at the expense of member states, eg the Basque country and Corsica. As for Turkey, Steve is  referring to the Kurds.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 8, 2004