Miklós Horthy
Miklos Horthy. Photo by Wikipedia
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Reuters
Orthodox Jews protesting against anti-Semitism in front of the Hungarian parliament, December 2012. Photo by Reuters

Hungary's main Jewish organization has urged the government and parliament to prevent the honoring of Miklos Horthy, the country’s Holocaust-era ruler.

Horthy had "direct responsibility for the killing and destruction of several hundred thousand Hungarian Jews," the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, or Mazsihisz, said in a statement Wednesday.

The statement was in reaction to the recent decision by the mayor of Kunhegyes in eastern Hungary to rename a street after Horthy.

Horthy, who ruled from 1920 to 1944, was an ally to Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany’s World War II leader, but Hitler deposed him fearing he might sign a peace treaty with the Allied forces. Horthy however passed several anti-Jewish laws before his ouster and was in charge when 500,000 Jews under Hungarian control began to be deported to Nazi death camps.

Last year, a statue of Horthy was erected in Kereki in southwestern Hungary and in Csokako, a village in the country’s north, and a plaque in his honor was unveiled in Debrecen, Hungary’s second-largest city. In April a square was named after him in Gyomro, a town near Budapest.

Many in Hungary - where the nationalist Jobbik Party is third largest in parliament -- admire Horthy's consistent anti-Communist stance in the face of Soviet pressure in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mazsihisz President Peter Feldmajer last year said in the European Parliament that at a time when “streets and squares are named after Horthy, who stands as a hero for the people, the Hungarian Jewish people feel increasing danger.”