It’s time to stop the Hungarian diplomatic doubletalk

For the first time a Hungarian diplomat, László Kálmán, Hungarian Consul General in Los Angeles, paid respect at the Pearl Harbor Memorial that is built over the sunken wreckage of the USS Arizona. This is a welcome gesture.

László Kálmán, Hungarian Consul General in Los Angeles paid respect at the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

László Kálmán, Hungarian Consul General in Los Angeles paid respect at the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

The dramatic attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, resulted in the US entry into World War II and changed the life of an entire generation. Almost 400 Japanese planes attacked damaging eight U.S. Navy battleships, with four sunk. They also sank three cruisers and three destroyers with thousands of US Navy man killed. Imperial Japan was powerful, confident and ready for the attack with the full support of fascist Germany and Italy after signing the Tripartite Pact. Japan also had the wholehearted support of Hungary.

The Tripartite alliance was signed in Berlin on the 27th of September 1940 under the watchful eyes of Adolf Hitler and Hungary’s Admiral Horthy didn’t waste much time in joining. On November 20th Hungary became part of the anti-American military alliance. A couple of days after the Pearl Harbor attack Hungary declared war on the United States. This was one of the darkest moments of Hungarian history; Hungarian-Americans were in disbelief that Admiral Horthy made his countrymen believe in the invincibility of Hitler’s axis.

Horthy’s support of Japan’s anti-American adventure was greeted with protests. Hungarian-American organizations declared support to President Roosevelt and later volunteered in the war effort to defeat fascism. Meanwhile Hungary’s diplomats welcomed Imperial Japan into the fascist alliance. Here is a film-clip of Ambassador György Ghika’s statement in Tokyo just a couple of month before the Pearl Harbor attack. (Newsreel of Hungarian ambassador’s statement in 1941.)

Today, 70 years after the defeat of the fascist pact, some Hungarian-Americans try to whitewash Admiral Horthy’s record and resurrect him as a hero. These groups in the US enjoy financial and ideological backing from the Orbán-government. It would be unimaginable for Italian-Americans to praise Mussolini, or Spanish-Americans to respect fascist General Franco. Yet the 55th Hungarian Congress in Cleveland recently invited Horthy apologist government historian Sándor Szakály, and to my amazement, the newly accredited Hungarian Consul General in Chicago, Mr. Ferenc Szebényi also attended the event. (Read here HFP’s earlier article about Mr. Szakály’s invitation to Cleveland.)

The vast majority of Hungarian-Americans reject the Orbán government’s attempt to rewrite World War II history and are concerned that Hungarian diplomats are recruiting surrogates in the US to support this project. Consul General Szebényi’s job is not to support the falsification of World War II history. As a diplomat, he supposed to help to improve relations between the two countries, not to stir up controversy and create divisions.

Hungarian Consul General in Chicago, Mr. Ferenc Szebényi speaks at the 55th Hungarian Congress in Cleveland.

Hungarian Consul General in Chicago, Mr. Ferenc Szebényi speaks at the 55th Hungarian Congress in Cleveland.

He was accredited by the Chicago Regional Office of Foreign Missions and must conform to US policy and security interests. I suggest readers to call the State Department Chicago office and protest Mr. Szebényi’s participation on the Cleveland Hungarian Congress with Mr. Szakály. (Chicago Regional Office of Foreign Missions, U.S. Department of State, 77 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 2122 Chicago, IL 60604 Email: Phone: (312) 353-5762)

I believe that Los Angeles Consul General László Kálmán deserves praise for acknowledging the sacrifice of American soldiers; many gave their lives at Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, we should protest Chicago Consul General Ferenc Szebényi’s support to government historian Mr. Szakály’s pro-Horthy agenda.

György Lázár

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