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