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Antisemitism in an Era of Transition

Continuities and Impact in Post-Communist Poland and Hungary

Edited By François Guesnet and Gwen Jones

The post-Communist transition in Eastern Central Europe has brought about democratic reform, liberalized economies and accession to the European Union, but also the emergence of political movements that revert to antisemitic rhetoric and arguments. This volume compares the genealogies and impact of antisemitism in contemporary Poland and Hungary. Leading and emerging scholars contrast developments in both countries from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the present, analysing the roles played by organised religion, political leaders, media and press, but also by Communist Parties. They present historical analysis as well as the results of qualitative and quantitative research on contemporary public memory, the image of the Jew, antisemitic media, political constituencies and the interplay of prejudices, specifically anti-Roma racism. A topical bibliography of research on antisemitism in post-Communist Eastern Central Europe offers pathways to further research.
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Miklós Horthy (1868-1957) and the ‘Jewish Question’ in Hungary, 1920-1945: László Karsai

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László Karsai

The political Right in Hungary today, and especially the radical Right, regards Miklós Horthy as a splendid, charismatic statesman, one who made practically no mistakes, in whose hands the helm of the country was safest and who can be thanked, among other things, for the Jews of Budapest escaping deportation in 1944. One of the serious deficits of Hungarian historiography is that the biographies of a number of crucially important figures, including Horthy and Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szálasi, were not written based on archival sources.1 Nevertheless, we know a lot about the era that bears Horthy’s name, which Horthy and his followers termed a ‘counterrevolutionary’ regime. The purpose of this chapter is to present archival material on Horthy’s stances on the ‘Jewish Question’ in the late interwar and wartime years, and to contextualise this material against the background of broader revisionist attempts by the post-Communist Right to rewrite Hungarian history and present Horthy as a model statesman.

After 1945, and especially during the Rákosi era (1948-1956), it was customary to call Horthy’s regime ‘Fascist’.2 By the 1970s, the most that serious historians did ← 91 | 92 → was place the epithet ‘counterrevolutionary’ before the words ‘Horthy regime’. I recall well that at the end of the 1970s, Elek Karsai held a series of lectures at the Humanities faculty of the Attila József University in Szeged, on the domestic and foreign policies of the counter-revolutionary system, and was warned in a...

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