Hungarian Premier Praises Hitler Ally, Angering Jewish Groups

Jewish groups say that former Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy's anti-Jewish policies and role in the Holocaust 'can never be excused'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for an European Union leaders summit at the European Council in Brussels, June 22, 2017.

The World Jewish Congress and the leading Jewish group in Hungary are both objecting to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's praise for Miklos Horthy, a leader who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany.

WJC President Ronald Lauder said Friday that Horthy's anti-Jewish policies and his role in the Holocaust "can never be excused."

Orban called Horthy and other Hungarian leaders "exceptional statesmen" for leading the country after the traumatic disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.

Orban's comments were also criticized by Andras Heiszler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, who said the Horthy era's anti-Semitism "cannot be put as an example for future generations."

Several busts and statues of Horthy have been erected in the past few years, mostly on private property.