Pro-Hitler Horthy insignia has no place at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington DC

The Embassy of Hungary in Washington DC recently hosted a Gala Anniversary event of the American Hungarian Federation (AHF). The new Ambassador László Szabó greeted the organization and gave an uplifting speech. Managing to hit an optimistic tone Ambassador Szabó emphasized the “very positive” nature of the relations between Hungary and the US.

Péter Szilágyi, Deputy State Secretary for Hungarian Communities Abroad presented a commendation from the Office of the Prime Minister signed by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and State Secretary János Árpád Potápi. The guests enjoyed a fabulous dinner prepared by the Embassy’s chef.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the service awards. One of the posthumous awards was given to the late Dr. István Kun-Szabó and it was accepted by his son Vt. István Kun-Szabó.

Vt. István Kun-Szabó wearing the Vitézi Rend insignia at the Embassy in Washington DC.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Vt. abbreviation, it stands for Vitézi Rend and it indicates that Mr. István Kun-Szabó is a member of the organization founded by pro-Hitler ruler of Hungary, Miklós Horthy. Vt. Kun-Szabó went up to the podium wearing a traditional Hungarian ceremonial jacket, called Bocskai, proudly displaying an insignia, that is a nostalgic reminder of Horthy’s Hungarian-style fascism.

Just a couple of months ago Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s counterterrorism adviser, wore the very same insignia in Washington DC. The Vitézi Rend is “a group with alleged historical links to Nazi Germany” and András Heisler, the Hungarian vice-president of the New York-based World Jewish Congress, said that wearing the medal “isn’t a good message for a democratic society.” U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) asked the Department of Homeland Security to check Mr. Gorka’s immigration records for failing to disclose his membership in a Hungarian neo-Nazi organization and leaders of the Order have identified Mr. Gorka as a member who took a “lifelong oath of loyalty.” Mr. Gorka lost his White House job; President Trump removed him.

Sebastian Gorka is wearing the medal at Trump’s Presidential Inauguration.

It seems that Vt. Kun-Szabó, Ambassador Szabó and the other guests had not heard about the controversy over Mr. Gorka’s allegiances. Nobody protested. Never in the history of US-Hungarian relations have guests paraded this insignia at the Embassy. This is something new and appalling.

Of course Vt. Kun-Szabó may wear his Vitézi Rend medal as he wishes in private settings, and AHF might have other associates who are proud members of this pro-Horthy organization. That is their business. My issue is with the Embassy and Ambassador Szabó. The Horthy medal is symbolic and displaying it at an official event in the US is an insult to every American, among them Hungarian Americans. During World War II thousands of Hungarian Americans, Catholics, Protestants and Jews fought against fascism in the US army. Please, don’t insult their memory.

Vitézi Rend swearing in ceremony in the US. (US, Hungarian flags and Horthy’s picture on the wall).

Not too far from the Embassy is the US Holocaust Museum. Last year they issued a statement to condemn “any attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Hungary’s wartime leader, Miklós Horthy, who was a vocal anti-Semite and complicit in the murder of the country’s Jewish population during the Holocaust.”

I call on Ambassador Szabó to issue an apology. Americans and the overwhelming majority of Hungarian Americans reject the Orbán government’s attempts to export the Horthy-cult from Budapest to the US.

I’m sure that the Embassy welcomes your opinion and I encourage our readers to express their views. You may write directly to Ambassador Szabó email: or to Press and Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Béla Gedeon at

György Lázár

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