Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

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steppewolf
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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by steppewolf » 23 Sep 2020 13:04

I struggle to find the meaning of these questions.

Is some sort of contrafactual history scope?

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Futurist » 23 Sep 2020 22:18

steppewolf wrote:
23 Sep 2020 13:04
Is some sort of contrafactual history scope?
Yes--specifically trying to figure out the difficulty of saving Jews in Budapest versus the Hungarian countryside in the winter of 1944-1945 had some Jews still been located in the Hungarian countryside at that point in time.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by wm » 23 Sep 2020 23:07

From: "Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz" by David Kranzler
George Mantello, the man - well, see the title, on obstacles he faced in his rescue efforts.
In particular, I'd like you to point out the great struggles and difficulties we encountered in our attempt to accomplish our goals. . . .
The obstacles that were placed in our way did not come so much from official sources as from Jewish personalities in Switzerland, who themselves were supported from abroad. . .

In our work, [however,] we had not the slightest financial support from any Jewish organization. We paid virtually all expenses from our own pockets and devoted ourselves to the cause in seriousness and honesty.
It is obvious that with the [limited] funds at our disposal we could save only a small fraction of those of our brothers who were sentenced to death. We also had to defend ourselves against the other Jewish authorities, which caused us great difficulties. . .
Why did these organizations fight against us?

They saw in us a dangerous competitor. We were in a position to give something for nothing to thousands of people, something that, up to this time, had cost several thousand francs per person; and we dispensed it without any "protektzia," intervention by higher authorities, [and without making] the slightest distinctions among the recipients. They were afraid that [we would] end their monopoly.
[From the outset] we made efforts to unite all the [Jewish] committees for common efforts, but unfortunately to no avail. You can judge how much more could have been accomplished had we cooperated with each other. While we distributed thousands of Salvador papers and made sure that they reached the endangered people, we also made sure that the proper authorities took over their protection. All the other organizations were fully aware of our activities, but they acted as if they didn't notice a thing. . .
Instead of helping us, they hindered. . . .

[All this time] the gas chambers were busy functioning at full speed and snuffing out the lives of our unfortunate brothers. Unfortunately, when the tragedy of Hungarian Jewry first started, we were only able to obtain reports [of the atrocities] by June 21, through our courier; other organizations had already received them in May, but they treated them as a state secret.

With the help of several personalities, the Hungarian Committee, rabbis and Protestant clergy of Zurich, journalists, the British embassy, and the Exchange Telegraph, we succeeded in developing a major Swiss press campaign to inform the world about the catastrophe of Auschwitz and Birkenau. [The press campaign] was picked up by the press of the entire free world. Through this press campaign we were able to mobilize the diplomacy of the entire free world, and [we] were even finally able to convince the International Red Cross to intervene in Jewish matters.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Futurist » 24 Sep 2020 00:49

So, do you think that the trains to Auschwitz would have stopped earlier had Mantello found out what was happening to the Hungarian Jews earlier?

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by wm » 24 Sep 2020 10:31

Well, obviously over a month was wasted because Jewish groups did nothing.
There was enough time to pressure the Hungarians, bomb their cities in reprisals, bomb the gas chambers, develop massive press campaigns.

But in the end, we had nothing, random interventions of random people:
June 21 - the head of the WRB - John Pehle, sends the request (to bomb the tracks) to the War Department.
June 24 - John Pehle talks personally to the head of the War Department.
June 29 - the World Jewish Congress recommends the camp itself to be bombed.
July 4 - the War Department rejects the idea (because of the D-Day).
July 6 - the deportations are stopped.
Last edited by wm on 24 Sep 2020 12:14, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by wm » 24 Sep 2020 10:44

In June 1943, the Home Army Command had requested that arms be sent to Poland from the West. In September, this request was refused by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The Soviets had protested against the 'arming of Poles in Poland'.
Any effort by the Home Army to secure British aid to facilitate an attack on Auschwitz in particular was unlikely to have met with success, as through 1943 and 1944 the British became increasingly sensitive to Soviet sensibilities.

In the absence of widespread knowledge of the camp, pressure to explore all options to effect a successful attack was non-existent.
...
When a land attack was again considered, this time in the US by the WRB's John Pehle, in July 1944, it was immediately dismissed, as 'the apparently deep-rooted anti-Semitism' in the Polish Underground would prevent an attack taking place in 'good faith'.
On 1 July Kubowitzki had written to Pehle explaining that he was against bombing the camp because it would allow the Germans to claim Jews had been killed by the Allies, and that he favoured a land assault on the camp.
Pehle decided not to refer the possibility of a ground attack to the US War Department. Pehle's view of the Polish Underground highlights the pervasiveness of the stereotype of Polish anti-Semitism and the malign impact it had on policy formulation.
Auschwitz, the Allies and Censorship of the Holocaust by Michael Fleming

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Futurist » 21 Mar 2021 04:36

wm wrote:
09 Jan 2020 02:48
The Jews weren't killed because Horthy sought peace but because the Nazis obsessively believed they were a serious security threat.

The deportations were going to happen even without the (quite light) occupation, the Hungarians were told the Jews were needed in German factories, they weren't aware of their fate.
Hey wm,

I have a question for you:

Do you think that ALL OF the Jews of Budapest (as opposed to "only" two-thirds of them, as in real life) would have survived the Holocaust had Horthy refrained from trying to make peace with the Soviet Union in October 1944? Or do you think that dozens of thousands of Budapest Jews were going to get murdered (and/or die in death marches) either way regardless of what Horthy did in October 1944?

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by wm » 21 Mar 2021 23:28

As I understand it the (mostly young) Jews were executed to prevent their resistance and their sabotage of the Hungarian war efforts, only partially it was an act of revenge.

The Hungarian Jews had to die in Budapest and in Auschwitz for the sole reason the USSR was such a horrible regime.
It was known the Soviets weren't going to liberate but to enslave Hungary so Horthy wasn't able to ask the Soviets for peace Soviets earlier, let's say in 1943, and had to negotiate with the distant and powerless Allies.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Futurist » 21 Mar 2021 23:40

Are you suggesting that both old Jews and Jewish children were more likely to survive the winter of 1944-1945 in Budapest than young adult Jews were? That would certainly be interesting.

Honestly, if I was in Horthy's place, I would have probably tried to insist on fighting to the very end in order to protect as many Hungarian Jews as I could on the condition that I could still subsequently save my own skin afterwards. But I'm not sure if this was actually possible. Still, Horthy's attempts to make peace were NOT beneficial for Hungarian Jews:

-Horthy sends peace feelers to the Western Allies in 1942-1944: The overwhelming majority of the Jews in the Hungarian countryside get murdered
-Horthy signs an armistice with the Soviet Union in October 1944: Horthy subsequently gets overthrown by the Nazi-backed Arrow Cross and a third of Budapest's Jews get murdered or die in death marches

It's as if fighting on to the bitter end might have ironically resulted in a better outcome for Hungarian Jewry.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by wm » 22 Mar 2021 00:18

Horthy would gladly surrender but it wasn't possible because the Allies were far away and the Soviets horrible.

And it wasn't a computer game full of NPCs. The Hungarians had their intentions, desires, opinions too.
If you convince them that fighting to the end is needed they might really fight to the end. And when you declare it was just a trick you will pay with your life for that.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Peter89 » 22 Mar 2021 10:37

wm wrote:
22 Mar 2021 00:18
Horthy would gladly surrender but it wasn't possible because the Allies were far away and the Soviets horrible.

And it wasn't a computer game full of NPCs. The Hungarians had their intentions, desires, opinions too.
If you convince them that fighting to the end is needed they might really fight to the end. And when you declare it was just a trick you will pay with your life for that.
What Horthy did back then was a colossal blunder.

He preferred his own class instead of his own nation; his own family instead of the people whom he should have led.

What did Stalin actually do when his son was a captive? Nothing, because he demanded millions of Soviet fathers and mothers to lose their sons in a total war. What did Horthy do when his son was captured by the Germans? Everything they asked of him.

First of all, he had no idea what was going on in his own country and in his own beloved military. Many of the commanders who had to obey him, actually favored the Germans. He had no idea how to pull off a successful change of alliances. The only leader in 1944, who was incapable of doing that, and grave consequences soon followed. The Western Allies showed no interest of saving Hungary from communism, so no matter how much respect Horthy commanded in the west, Hungary was to be left alone with the choice of joining the Soviets, joining the Germans or fight to the last bullet. He chose the worst one again, although the example of Czechoslovakia was 6 years old by then. Also, he had ample of time to prepare his coup from March until October. What the hell he did? Nothing or little, but all in vain.

Second, despite all these serious lack of intellectual capacities and awareness of the real situation, even his line of geopolitical thinking was wrong. The German defeat was obvious from March 1944 the latest. The summer of 1944 meant that the Germans will never recover, and soon Hungarian cities were bombed. Defeat was imminent. Defeat also meant that the territorial gains, that could be thanked to Hitler and Mussolini, will not be kept. The new world order was banging the doors. The only possible way to keep any of these territories was to join the Soviets as soon as possible, especially given the fact that most of the Soviet enmities were directed against the Romanians and the Poles. Molotov specifically mentioned to Bárdossy through József Kristóffy that the Soviet Union is ready to acknowledge the Vienna Awards, especially the second one, in case of Hungary stays out of the conflict. At the very minimum, Horthy should have been aware that if he would prove hostile to the Soviets any more moment necessary, the Soviets will get a foothold in the relatively defensible Carpathian basin, in order to gain a staging area for future military control of the region (see the uprising in 1956). The traditional line of Russian intervention into the Carpathian basin was from northeast, where a significant local minority with slavic or Ukranian identity lived.

Third, his line of thinking was wrong in internal politics as well. He, like wm, equalled the Soviet occupation as the destruction of the nation, which in fact was not true. The Soviets did nothing like the Germans and their Hungarian counterparts, and did not target a group of people to be exterminated systematically. What the Soviet occupation meant was primarily the fall of his social class from wealth and power. In order to avoid that, and to buy a few last days of delusion for his social circles, he was not hesitant to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of his own people as well as the future of his nation. Soviet occupation with the subsequent democratic republic brought forward a great many advancements, in worker rights, social security, democratic representation, the necessary and successful taking of the land from the churches and the sharing them with the peasant masses in absolute poverty, were all necessary steps to rejuvenate the nation. The events from 1948 were, of course, terrible and very much a communist dictatorship, but after 1956, the system consolidated under Kádár and brought a second golden age of Hungary, so communist occupation and indoctrination was far from hell and demise. The consequences of Horthy's decisions, were not. Of course, Horthy ran a mild dictatorship himself, so it wasn't like he was a democratic leader who ought to represent his voters or something.

Fourth, and in my opinion, this is the most obvious one for anyone who has ever engaged in the history of warfare: he should have known that orderly, swift surrender means much, much lesser destruction than prolonged fighting. Most of the crimes and misdeeds committed by the Soviets in Hungary (as well as by the Germans and Wallies), could be indirectly traced back to Horthy and his inept politics. Whatever material and immaterial wealth the nation has accumulated with great suffering and effort during the interwar years, were to be destroyed for - for what? For a few months more of Nazi German dreams? It is no wonder why the balance of Horthy's rule is ultimately negative. He took over the leadership in a decimated, devastated, heartbroken, disillusioned and impoverished nation, and when he left, the country was again decimated, devastated, heartbroken, disillusioned and impoverished beyond belief; without a chance to renegotiate the status of the millions of ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring countries and without a chance to ever stand up again in either terms of material or immaterial wealth.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by DrG » 22 Mar 2021 16:38

I am merely lurking to this thread, having little to add to this topic (even though I would suggest this article about the Hungarian almost-armistice in September 1943 https://www.jstor.org/stable/42555310 to those interested), besides recalling that Hungary has no natural defences from an invasion coming from Germany and that the Germans were not willing to leave its territory, unlike the strategic retreats that they had planned and implemented from the Balkans and Finland in 1944.

At the same time, the passage that I quote at the end of this message looks like an attempt of apology of communism, therefore I would like to recall that the Hungarian GDP per capita was (source: Maddison Project):
- 1929: 80.73% of the Italian and 94.58% of the Spanish;
- 1939: 86.24% of the Italian and 156.81% of the Spanish;
- 1949: 72.32% of the Italian and 109.23% of the Spanish;
- 1959: 61.62% of the Italian and 109.20% of the Spanish;
- 1969: 52.92% of the Italian and 86.70% of the Spanish;
- 1979: 49.14% of the Italian and 72.83% of the Spanish;
- 1989: 43.23% of the Italian and 59.93% of the Spanish.

So much for the "golden age"... Then, of course, Communism surely reduced the Gini index, but I have my doubts (and apparently it's a doubt shared by Hungarians too, given their political attitude) that equality in poverty is perceived as preferable to a certain disequality in well-being.
Peter89 wrote:
22 Mar 2021 10:37
Third, his line of thinking was wrong in internal politics as well. He, like wm, equalled the Soviet occupation as the destruction of the nation, which in fact was not true. The Soviets did nothing like the Germans and their Hungarian counterparts, and did not target a group of people to be exterminated systematically. What the Soviet occupation meant was primarily the fall of his social class from wealth and power. In order to avoid that, and to buy a few last days of delusion for his social circles, he was not hesitant to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of his own people as well as the future of his nation. Soviet occupation with the subsequent democratic republic brought forward a great many advancements, in worker rights, social security, democratic representation, the necessary and successful taking of the land from the churches and the sharing them with the peasant masses in absolute poverty, were all necessary steps to rejuvenate the nation. The events from 1948 were, of course, terrible and very much a communist dictatorship, but after 1956, the system consolidated under Kádár and brought a second golden age of Hungary, so communist occupation and indoctrination was far from hell and demise. The consequences of Horthy's decisions, were not. Of course, Horthy ran a mild dictatorship himself, so it wasn't like he was a democratic leader who ought to represent his voters or something.
Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Futurist » 22 Mar 2021 23:25

@Peter89: Obviously if Horthy could have completely stayed out of Operation Barbarossa, that would have certainly been the prudent thing for Hungary to do by far.

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by Futurist » 22 Mar 2021 23:26

wm wrote:
22 Mar 2021 00:18
Horthy would gladly surrender but it wasn't possible because the Allies were far away and the Soviets horrible.

And it wasn't a computer game full of NPCs. The Hungarians had their intentions, desires, opinions too.
If you convince them that fighting to the end is needed they might really fight to the end. And when you declare it was just a trick you will pay with your life for that.
You're suggesting that Hungarians would not have liked to prolong World War II merely for the sake of Hungary's Jewish population, correct?

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Re: Was it a mistake for Miklos Horthy (the Hungarian regent) to seek a separate peace?

Post by wm » 23 Mar 2021 02:25

The Hungarians weren't aware of any threat to their Jews till 1944 - when the Germans asked for the Hungarian Jews to be employed in their factories.
You can plan for something you aren't aware of.

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