19.03.

1944: Nazis Secretly Occupied Hungary

1944: Nazis Secretly Occupied Hungary
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Hungarian Jewish Women and children (1944)

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 19 March 1944
  • Hitler had a cunning plan. He summoned the Hungarian statesman Admiral Horthy to the palace of Klessheim near Salzburg (near Hitler's villa at Berchtesgaden).While Horthy was there, the German army entered Hungary and took positions.

On this day the German Army secretly took positions in Hungary. Namely, Hungary was, since before World War II, a signatory of the so-called Tripartite Pact, and an ally of the Third Reich.

Way back in 1920, Admiral Miklos Horthy was at the helm of Hungary. He had the rank of admiral since the time of Austria-Hungary (he was once the last commander of the Austro-Hungarian Navy).

Admiral Horthy was a conservative politician, but not nearly as extreme as the Nazis. During the World War II Hungarian Jews under the Horthy’s regime were not persecuted (though they did suffer certain restrictions), which caused dissatisfaction among some of the Nazis in Germany.

In addition, Hitler suspected that Horthy’s Hungary is trying to cross to the side of the Allies.

Hitler had a cunning plan. He summoned Admiral Horthy to the palace of Klessheim near Salzburg (near Hitler’s villa at Berchtesgaden). While Horthy was there, the German army entered Hungary and took positions.

Of course, Horthy’s absence from the country provided a good opportunity for the German troops to move in, because Hungary was during this time – in a way – beheaded. When Horthy returned from Klessheim to Budapest, he found German soldiers there.

The famous Edmund Veesenmayer, who previously also resided in the Independent State of Croatia, was appointed as the German plenipotentiary in Hungary.

The Germans forced Horthy to dismiss former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Kallay de Nagykálló, who had previously been in contact with the Allies. Döme Sztójay was appointed the new prime minister (he was actually a Serb named Demetrius Stojakovic).

The worst thing was that the infamous Adolf Eichmann was also sent to Hungary. He was an SS member, with the rank of Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel), and had the task to “resolve” the issue of Hungarian Jews.

Namely, there were hundreds of thousands of Jews in Hungary, who represented the last great Jewish community in Central Europe that had not yet been sent to the camps.

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