Hungarian stamp celebrates wartime fascist film star Zita Szeleczky

Many of us in the United States are disturbed that the Hungarian Postal Service has recently issued a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Zita Szeleczky. She is not a role model for today’s Hungarian youth, her support of Hungarian fascism was nothing less than shameful, and as an actress she did not exhibit unusual talents.

Hungarian Post celebrates a fascist in its most recent commemorative stamp.

Hungarian Post celebrates a fascist in its most recent commemorative stamp.

Who was Zita Szeleczky? A young pretty starlet who got juicy movie roles from Horthy bureaucrats and Arrow Cross thugs for supporting Hungary’s fascist wartime propaganda. The stamp is another example of the Orbán Government’s relentless drive to whitewash wartime fascists and rewrite history.

Ms. Szeleczky was born in 1915 Budapest, she finished theater school in 1937. The pretty, vivacious and athletic brunette received small stage roles, but after the Hungarian cinema discovered her good looks – things changed. She got film role after film role, playing in almost 30 films. She also became a regular at Hungary’s Nazi rallies and was the darling of the Arrow Cross.

Zita Szeleczky

Zita Szeleczky

In 1940 she married Gyula Haltenberger, a sympathizer of the fascist movement. Even in 1944, when the Soviet troops were almost in Budapest and the Allies were bombing Hungary, the 29-year-old actress gave fiery performances in traditional Hungarian costume. She agitated for the continuation of the war, supporting the murderous Szálasi-regime.

In December of 1944, just before the collapse, she escaped with the retreating German Nazis and hid in Austria, and then later in Genoa, Italy. In 1947 she received a three-year prison sentence in absentia from a Hungarian judge for her fascist propaganda. On the run, her next stop was Argentina, a favorite hiding place of the Hungarian far-right. Not knowing Spanish she was unable to revive her theatre career and made ends meet by touring Hungarian émigré communities. Her kitschy performances ranged from operettas to poetry recitals and variety shows. In 1962 she moved to the US and married an American of Hungarian origin, Paul Illés. The marriage didn’t last, but she could stay in California. In 1974 she married an Australian actor, Sándor Novák. That marriage did not last either.

Ms. Szeleczky’s true soulmate was Albert Wass, also a convicted World War II war criminal. The two collaborated when Mr. Wass was trying to make money by peddling his books, and Ms. Szeleczky made cassettes and LPs reciting his writings and singing Hungarian folk songs.

Albert Wass and Zita Szeleczky in he United States.

Albert Wass and Zita Szeleczky in the United States.

By 1988 she was broke and alone, so at the age of 73, Ms. Szeleczky decided to move back to Hungary, where she died in 1999. She is buried in a village cemetery at Nekézseny where her family originated.

In 1993 the Superior Court of Hungary exonerated Ms. Szeleczky, stating that the 1947 conviction was based on fabricated charges. She was even awarded the Cross of the Hungarian Republic.

During her long life Ms. Szeleczky was an unrelenting Hungarista, a Hungarian-style fascist. She never expressed any remorse about her wartime activities and never acknowledged that her fascist propaganda contributed to the suffering of the Hungarian people. She considered her support of Szálasi’s Arrow Cross as an expression of patriotism, never condemning them. Her small social circle of fellow Hungarian émigrés expressed similar views; to them she was a hero.

We ask for an explanation from Mr. Zsolt Szarka, Postal Service CEO, who is responsible for stamp issuance in Hungary.

György Lázár


N.B.: An explanation to the above film-clip. The first speaker at the 1944 fascist rally in Budapest is Hungarian Arrow Cross State minister, Mr. Béla Kerekes (black shirt and arm band), who was convicted for murders and executed after WWII. The actor is Mr. Ferenc Kiss, who was arrested by the Americans in Germany and received an eight-year prison sentence for fascist propaganda in 1945. He fully served his sentence and later became a popular actor in Budapest during the Kádár-era. Zita Szeleczky’s performance starts after the 3rd minute. (György Lázár)


  1. Avatar András Gollner says:

    Thanks for bringing this shameful act to our attention Mr Lázár. While in Hungary former Nazis are being placed into the nation’s hall of heroes, and their descendants are roosting in more and more places, here in Canada, the Orbán government’s representative is hard at work buying off the local Jewish community with a travelling holocaust exhibit. Hungary’s Ambassador to England tried the same thing a few years ago, but the British Actor’s Guild and the artistic community did not fall for the fraud. The Canadian Jewish community appears at this point to be more amenable to manipulation then their brothers and sisters in Britain. If the Hungarian Ambassador to Canada wishes to reassure Canadian Jewry that he means business, he should clean up his own backyard. He should tell his boss to expel, rather than decorate hate mongers in his Party, like András Bencsik, and Zsolt Bayer . If the Hungarian Ambassador to Canada wishes to demonstrate that he respects the dignity of the victims of the holocaust, he should stand up and say – no more wreaths and ceremonial speeches by his colleagues at the unveiling of statues to the man – Admiral Horthy – who sanctioned the deportation and murder of 600,000 Jews in Hungary, and no more speeches by his colleagues, praising the spiritual father of Hungarian anti-Semitism, Ottokár Prohászka. If Hungary’s ambassador to Canada really respects the memory of the victims, he should tell his Prime Minister not to send notorious Jew haters, like Ernő Raffay to Canada on speaking tours and have the embassy here host receptions in his honour. If the Hungarian Ambassador wishes to show sympathy to the local Jewish community, he should tell his boss not to send wreaths to the funeral of people, like István Csurka, who compare Jews to vermins and rats. If he wants to demonstrate that he respects the dignity of the victims, he should tell his Prime Minister not to sanction commemorative stamps to those, who urged Hungary to fight on against the allies at the end of WWII, thereby causing the needless death of hundreds of thousands of people, including Canadian soldiers, during the last months of the war.

  2. Dear András,

    Your historical facts are way off mentioning 600,000 jews murdered in Hungary. The real figure of this unfortunate people was around 320,000 and they were deported to Germany NOT KILLED in Hungary. Prohászka Ottokár did nothing and Horthy Miklos was trying to save jews not kill jews. He also tried to save Hungary from the German war machine. Horthy Miklos himself was deported by the Germans.
    Know your facts please before you make accusations.

    • Avatar Tibor Gergely says:

      I doubt that facts do or will ever disturb the Gollner type zealots.

    • You need to read some factual history. Horthy was a Hitler yes man. He deported Jews as fast as he could and had not a single intention of saving any Jews until he learned that he would likely be killed for his crimes if he didn’t halt deportations. He loved the German war machine and was only taken prisoner by the Germans because he had flipped on them. He essentially took a deal to testify against his former allies in order to save his own ass. Get it straight!

      • Avatar Tibor Gergely says:

        I did “get it straight”, hon, which is why I, unlike you, know what I am talking about. Horthy had not just been another British puppet, no matter who installed him in that 1920 coup. He was the only politician during WWII besides Salazar, who was universally respected on on all sides. He was, very far from being his “yes-man”, REVERED by Hitler. Let’s not forget that Horthy was aide-de-camp to his Apostolic Majesty, our King and Hitler’s emperor, while Hitler was nothing but an ordinary “Gefreiter”. STALIN even respected Horthy and, let me tell you, he didn’t respect too many people. So did every Ashkenaz descended Hungarian industrialist (Aschner, Chorin, Fischer, Goldberger, Weiss, etc.) who contributed to a trust fund set up after the war by John Montgomery, the former US ambassador to Budapest, that allowed Horthy to live out his life in opulent luxury in Estoril, Portugal. He also never testified against anyone, anywhere. (Where do you get this ignorant crap, anyway?)

  3. That will be very impressive then when postcards with the photo of the Holocaust memorial in Liberty Square, commemorating Hungary’s occupation by Nazi Germany, get posted with the stamp of Zita Szeleczky.

  4. Avatar András Gollner says:

    The person who needs to look at the facts is you. Horthy sanctioned the deportation of close to 500,000 Jews to Auswitz knowing that the gas chamber will await them. He stopped the deportations after they met their targets, and only saved some of the Budapest Jews to save his own skin because the allies were closing in. The first anti-Jewish laws in the wolrld were introduced in Hungary in 1920, under his Regency, when Hitler wasn’t even a blip on the anti-Semitic radar. Read Ottokár Prohászka’s book- On the Jewish question – especially the parts where he calls for their extermination, because they are like bed bugs and rats. He is the acknowledged spiritual father of Hungarian anti-Semitism, and if you missed that, I don’t know what planet you’ve been living on. Read Randolph Brabham’s writings on the Hungarian holocaust and broaden your mind. Trolls like you should be better prepared.

  5. If “the Superior Court of Hungary exonerated Ms. Szeleczky, stating that the 1947 conviction was based on fabricated charges,” why do you insist on calling her a fascist?

    • Avatar Tibor Gergely says:

      To be even more precise, the Supreme Court cleared her in 1993 of every trumped up charge filed against her by a stalinist hanging judge in a 1947 show trial.

  6. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Tyrker,

    Being fascist is not a legal crime, Ms. Szeleczky was not convicted in 1947 for being a Hungarista. My point is that Ms. Szeleczky, who is not a convicted WWII criminal today, is not a suitable person to be honored by the Hungarian Postal Services.

    Ezra Pound was a lifelong fascist, an admirer of Mussolini, participated in Italian fascist propaganda. He has never been convicted, but today nobody in the right frame of mind would suggest to issue an Ezra Pound stamp in the US.

    There’s something very wrong with Orbán’s Hungary.

    • Avatar Tibor Gergely says:

      Come on, Gyuri, are you lying, or do you just not know what you are talking about? Anyone caught by Gábor Péter’s thugs who had anything to do with any pre-Sovietshchina government ended up like so Zita Szeleczky WAS convicted in absence, and Ezra Pound was charged with treason and locked up in a psychiatric snake pit prison until he died. I suggest it’s not “Orbán’s Hungary” (really? does he own it?) “there is something very wrong with”.

  7. Avatar András Gollner says:

    Tut, tut Gergely !!! Tut tut !!! You have a brilliant ability to sidestep the issue, and brand everyone a liar, without being able to offer a shred of evidence for your accusation. Don’t you realize how pathetic that makes you look before serious people ? The article above includes a video, in which your heroine is on stage extolling her countrymen to die for the Nazi cause. It’s not lying, it shows the type of person the Orbán government has chosen to decorate. These are the kind of acts that compelled Randolph Brabham, the most respected scholar of the Hungarian holocaust in the world to return his decorations to the Orbán government two years ago. These are the type of actions that compelled Elie Wiesel Nobel Laurate to do the same. It is also documented, that Orbán has sent wreaths to the funeral of Csurka, who talked about the Jews as vermin, that his top lieutenants participated in the unveiling of statues to Horthy and Prohászka, who were outright anti-Semites. Horthy sanctioned the deportations of Jews to be murdered in the Ukraine and in Auschwitz, and Prohászka’s anti-Jewish hatred is well known. He is the Father of 20th century Hungarian anti-semitism. Don’t just say all this is a lie – refute these claims with evidence instead of trolling. Common, show us what you’re made of. The credibility of your hero is upon your shoulders, show your mettle, show a bit more moxy. Without offering us any evidence, you are just a naked civil servant :-).

    • Avatar Tibor Gergely says:

      Unlike your politicians, you lie even when your lips are not moving, Gollner. You and the rest of CA & Co.’s choir remind me of Elmyr (Elemér) de 🙂 Hory (Hoffmann) who told Orson Welles (or was it Clifford Irving?) that one of his Matisse forgeries “hung so long in the Louvre that it became real”. *I* don’t prove what I say? Do you follow my shortcuts? (All you have to do is click, Gollner.) You are the one who just says anything – or can you point me to any credible reference that would prove that “Horthy and Prohászka… were outright anti-Semites”. (Didn’t you forget that they killed 60 trillion Jews daily?) “Horthy sanctioned the deportations of Jews to be murdered in the Ukraine and in Auschwitz” although you can’t come up with anything that will belivably support this. Horthy’s wife was Ashkenaz descended for Christ’s sake – or haven’t you heard of the “Rebeka ki a Várból!” pamphlet by not the Hungarists, but the real Hungarian National Socialists (all ten of them) Meskó, Böszörmény, et al.. As for your video, who do you think you are kidding? At 3’52” and 4’22” the camera cuts back and shows a completely different theater and different audiences. At at 4’50” we suddenly see a completely different stage than the one we started out with. Nor does Szeleczky “extoll her countrymen to die for the Nazi cause” anywhere. You must have forgotten that I know fluent Hungarian. The ‘Magyar Művelődés Háza’ where your heavily doctored footage was allegedly shot is in Sopron and has never had anything to do with the Arrow Cross or Szeleczky (didn’t even stand in 1940 – it was destroyed in one of the American carpet bombings) Szeleczky was decorated in 2007 by the *Gyurcsány government*. And, ‘Randolph Brabham’? 🙂 The race car driver? Is he “the most respected scholar of the Hungarian holocaust in the world” in his spare time? Elie Wiesel, though… Wow. 🙂 Are we talking about this Wiesel? Right. Very reliable and if anything TRUSTWORTHY. Tut tut this, Gollner.

  8. Avatar Tibor Gergely says:

    “My comments are awaiting moderation.” 🙂 Really, Chris? Ist that what you call what you are doing? “Moderation”? I am shocked! 😀

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