(JTA) — Hungarian Jews condemned their prime minister’s praises for a former leader who was an ally of Adolf Hitler and oversaw the murder of more than 500,000 Holocaust victims.
In a speech on Wednesday, Orban included Miklos Horthy among people he said were “exceptional statesmen” in Hungary for leading the country after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Horthy signed anti-Jewish laws in 1938 and 1939, and earlier in 1920.
András Heisler, the president of the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish organizations and communities, said in a statement on Friday that “the serious historical experience of our community proves that our country had been buried by the history of the 20th century – largely by Miklós Horthy’s actions.”
“The anti-Semitism of the Horthy era, “which he also espoused, cannot be put as an example for the future generations,” Heisler added. He also wrote Horthy was responsible for the murder of the majority of Hungarian Jews.
Mazsihisz and other Jewish groups have clashed repeatedly with Orban’s rightwing government over the veneration of individuals from Hungary’s past whose legacy is divisive because of their anti-Semitic views or actions.