Iván Héjjas – Anti-Semite, torturer, mass murderer

(This is the second of a three-part series on Iván Héjjas the leader of the Ragged Guard)

The resurrection of Iván Héjjas at the Kecskemét conference started with a biography written by László Domonkos in 2018 in which he denied the atrocities attributed to his subject.  Domonkos is not a historian.  But his views have received official support by his appointment as a member of an institute set up in 2013 to study Hungary’s history. In fact, the rampage of Héjjas, Prónay and others is well documented.

Anti-Héjjas demonstrators at the White House in 1928. (Library of Congress)

Héjjas began his campaign of terror with the fall of the Republic of Councils in August 1919.  The occupying Romanian troops allowed him and his men to act as an auxiliary police.  They looted stores, went after Communist sympathizers and a large number of Jews. They rounded up their victims at night, drove them to the forest of Orgovány where they tortured and killed them.  They stole money from merchants, killed their wives and children, stripped them naked, bayonetted them, cut off their ears and noses, gouged out their eyes, beat them to death with axes and hanged them.  By December his detachment had killed about 300 people.  News of the atrocities spread worldwide.

In the spring of 1920 the British Labor Party demanded an investigation.  The Wedgwood Commission went to Vienna and Budapest and issued a 59 point report, detailing the tortures and murders and showing that Héjjas was directly responsible for many of them.  One of the accounts is that of Aliz Hamburger, my grandmother.

Aliz was the sister-in-law of Jenő Hamburger, Commissar of Agriculture in the Council of Republics.  She was arrested in January 1920 and taken to military barracks where an officer confronted her. “Do you know who I am?  You will.  I am Iván Héjjas.”  They whipped her to take her clothes off, ordered another Jewish prisoner Béla Neumann to have sex with her.  He refused.  In front of her eyes, they yanked out his teeth and castrated him with a knife.  His body was later found in the Danube. Then they beat her and raped her with the butt of a whip.  She became very ill.  A civilian court released her weeks later and she escaped to Vienna where she gave her testimony.

László Domonkos’ book about Héjjas

My grandmother survived because by the spring the atrocities had become an embarrassment for Horthy, who was dependent on the Entente powers’ support. Yet the lynching would continue for another two years, totaling nearly three thousand.

The conference in Kecskemet would have been much more appropriately titled “Of murderers and sadists.”

Steven Kovacs




  1. Crystal clear that Hungary refuses to come clean about the atrocities these “animals” committed. Their shame into eternity –

  2. Avatar Dr, FODOR ANDRÁS says:

    As for Mass murderers, unfortunately, we have several times overproduced in the last decades of our history. A list is long, Just a few names, without mentioning political orientation: Szamuelly Tibor, Héjas Iván, Szálasi et al., Rákosi et al., Kádár et al.

  3. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    May Aliz Hamburger’s soul rest in peace and the sadistic criminals’ who mistreated her (who are embraced as heroes by Viktor Orbán and his followers today), rot in hell.

    I have never met Mr. Kovács, and had not known until today, that he is the grandson of Mrs. Alexander Hamburger. I learned of her brutal, inhuman torture many decades earlier, during my days as a young university student, and from an account provided by the historian, Oscar Jászi, an account which I could never quite put out of mind not simply because of its sheer brutality, but because of a circumstance that Mr. Kovács didn’t mention above: Viktor Orbán’s political role model, Admiral Nicholas Horthy, the man who tied Hungary to the Nazi murder machine after 1920, was present during the gang-rape of Mr. Kovács’s grandmother. He was an accessory to the crime described above. Allow me to quote from Oscár Jászi’s chilling account in order to round out István’s family history.

    “Mme Alexander Hamburger received from her brother- in-law in Vienna, who had been a People’s Commissary during the dictatorship, a letter on purely private affairs. For this, she was imprisoned, together with Martin Vadas, the bearer of the letter, and Adalbert Neumann, a friend of her husband who happened to be on a visit to her. She was taken to the Kelenföld barracks, and at the command of Héjjas and Prónay, was violated by the whole of the troops in the barracks.” The gruesome castration and torture of Mr. Neumann before Mrs. Hamburger’s eyes is corroborated and need not be repeated here, but the following passage should never be forgotten. “Regent Horthy himself was aware of the bestial treatment of Mme Hamburger, since just at this time he was inspecting Héjjas’ barracks at Kelenföld and Héjjas showed Madame Hamburger to him…Héjjas and Pronay thrust the handles of their riding whips into the unhappy woman’s womb and thereby maimed her for life.” (Oscár Jászi. Revolution and Counterrevolution in Hungary. London. P.S. King and Son, Ltd. 1924. pp 164-165.)

    Héjjas, Prónay, Horthy are the historical “role models” of the current Hungarian autocrat who has taken the people of Europe hostage in order to be given free ride by the EU to continue his rape of Hungary and to personally enrich himself on European taxpayers’ money. (Angela Merkel please take note as you ponder what to do with Orbán’s veto of the EU’s rescue package.) These are the heroes of the man, who is destroying the ability of ordinary men and women in Hungary to distinguish between right and wrong, illusion and reality while he denies them their rights to an ecologically sustainable future along the path of justice and equality under the law.

    Instead of honouring the memory and the suffering of the victims, Viktor Orbán, and the President of Hungary, János Áder decorate those who glorify the murderers, the rapists, the cowards, who raped a defenseless young woman, and sent hundreds of thousands to the abattoirs. A few years ago, it was the hatemonger Zsolt Bayer’s turn to be rewarded by Orbán and Áder. This past August it was the former secret service informer, now an openly anti-Semitic, neo-Fascist “historian” (sic), Ernő Raffay who was given one of the Hungarian State’s highest honours. Shame on them, and God’s glory and strength to those who will never surrender.

    I hope Mr. Kovács will share with us a bit more about her grandmother’s life after she managed to escape from Horthy’s dungeon. I look forward to reading the concluding part of his trilogy.

  4. Thankyou for this. The fall of the Concil Repulic caused my grandfather Morris Keller to leave Hungary after being imprisoned. Thank you for the article

  5. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    @ Dr. Fodor

    Perhaps you may explain to us why your country’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán and its President, János Áder cannot bring themselves to treat the murderous animals, Héjjas, Prónay and their enabler, Nicholas Horthy the same way as they treat the murderous Rákosi or Kádár?

    Better still, can you tell us what were Orbán and Áder looking for as Young Communist Party Secretaries, climbing up the Bolshevik ladder of power of Rákosi’s and Kádár’s Party, before that ladder was unexpectedly pulled out from under their feet by Mikhael Gorbachev?

    Could you explain why the current Hungarian Government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars supporting white-supremacist, anti-Semitic hate-mongers like Bencsik, Bayer, Raffay, and decorating the likes of Vitéz Gyula Detre – who happens to live down the street from me – and who, by his own admission, was the Security Chief of the Hungarian Führer, Ferenc Szálasi ?

    Could you also explain why Orbán’s government is operating a “Historical Institute” (The Veritas Institute) staffed by the likes of László Domokos whose job is to glorify the man who raped István Kovács’s grandmother, gouged out the eyes and mutilated the bodies of hundreds in a manner that would make the film Nightmare on Elm Street pale by comparison?

    While you’re at it, Dr Fodor, could you also tell us what is the good in destroying the ability of young Hungarians to know what was done to their working-class grand-parents and great grand-parents, what was done to their country, and to their Jewish brothers and sisters between the two world wars by those “Awakening Magyars” who wanted to “Make Hungary Great Again”?

    Why not go for it, instead of mimicking that Artificial Blond Bomber in the White House, who sees good guys among those who cried in Charleston – “Jews Will Not Replace Us”.

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