8/30/2017 - Open Letter to Gyorgy Lazar, Hungarian Free Press:
Considering the “fake news” and misinformation that finds its way to the internet, readers need to heed the flashing yellow light, i.e., read and rely upon postings of a political nature with great caution! With few exceptions, responding to such postings is a waste of time as disseminating truth is not the authors’ motive. Not this time.
Gyorgy Lazar's August 24 article, Hungary’s Ambassador blames Obama’s influence on State Department for poor relations, requires a response, as it seeks to deny Hungarians of their history. Resorting to politics of conspiracy, for example, Lazar glibly dishonors Colonel Ferenc Koszorus' memory by asserting that he is the FIDESZ government's "newly discovered" hero created to revive a “Horthy cult.”*
Incontrovertible facts (e.g., witness statements, documents and scholarly works of historians with professional integrity) refute Lazar's shameful assertion and innuendo. See, for example, references below:
- In August 1950, Ferenc Nagy of the Smallholders Party (an opposition party to the Horthy regime) and Prime Minister of Hungary between 1946 – 1947 stated that Colonel Koszorus "rendered a great service to the cause of humanity by having prevented the Nazis from deporting the Jewry of Budapest in July 1944."
- Geza Soos (prominent member of Hungary's anti-Nazi resistance) noted that Colonel Koszorus "took part in the Hungarian resistance movement and through his very efficient courageous help, the so-called Baky-putsch was frustrated in July 1944." Dr. Soos points out that one of the consequences of Colonel Koszorus' military intervention was that "the Jews of Budapest were saved."
- A 1951 government report concludes by noting that Colonel Koszorus “is one of the very few high ranking Hungarian ex-army officers with a clean past, untainted by either Nazi-ism or Communism who commands the respect of the better element of Hungarian veterans.”
- As early as 1979, historian Karoly Vigh in his book Ugrás a Sötétbe published accounts of Colonel Koszorus' military action against Laszlo Baky, a rabidly anti-Semitic under-secretary in the Ministry of the Interior.
- Arpad Goncz, president of Hungary between 1990 - 2000 and a member of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) posthumously promoted Colonel Koszorus to the rank of General in 1990 on March 15, 1991, Hungarian National Day.
- Congressman Tom Lantos, a victim of the Hungarian Holocaust and a liberal Democrat, paid tribute to Colonel Koszorus: "Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust. I rise today to recognize one of the great heroes of the Hungarian Holocaust. Ferenc Koszorus, who at great personal sacrifice to his own life, saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps."
- Internationally respected historian John Lukacs reflected on Col. Koszorus' character and accomplishments as follows: "1944 volt Magyarorszag ujkori tortenelmenek legszomorubb es legtragikusabb eve. Akkor is voltak becsuletes, jo magyarok; de nevuk majdhogy ismeretlen. A jo Isten persze tudta es tudja. De egy-ket hosre hadd emlekezzunk. Ilyen volt Koszorus Ferenc ezredes, Szamtalan eletet mentett meg, de mindennek melyen letezett az o valody emberszeretete, olyan mertekben, hogy az o munkaja nem csak a magyar politikai tortenelemben hanem mindenkori nagy magyar ertek."
Translated (not by Prof. Lukacs): "1944 was the saddest and most tragic year in Hungary's recent history. There were honorable Hungarians at that time, too but their names remained virtually unknown. God, of course, knew and knows who they are. But allow us to recall some of these heroes. Colonel Ferenc Koszorus was one of them. He saved countless lives. He acted out of his deep love of humanity. His work belongs not only in Hungarians’ political history but constitutes a timeless and great Hungarian value."
One could go on as the list of the vast majority of eyewitness accounts, documents and scholarly research is long, spans decades, and to the same effect. It's pretty obvious that none of these sources, including those cited above, were or could have been part of an alleged FIDESZ conspiracy to revive the Horthy cult by making a hero of Colonel Koszorus.
Colonel Koszorus was a hero in his own right as those who, whether liberal or conservative, are intellectually honest recognize. Many have fought and died defending a “free” press, including Hungarians. Fake news dishonors them as well.
*Also ignoring a mountain of evidence, Lazar makes the same erroneous assertion relative to Janos Esterhazy, (the only member of the Slovak Parliament in 1942 who voted against expelling the Jews, he was convicted on trumped up charges and died in a communist prison).
AHF REMEMBERS THE HEROES OF THE HUNGARIAN HOLOCAUST
The Federation takes this opportunity to remember Carl Lutz, Raoul Wallenberg and other foreign diplomats as well as the Hungarian heroes who at great personal peril saved many Jewish lives. The Hungarians include but, of course, are not limited to the following individuals:
- Janos Esterhazy opposed the Slovak Nazi puppet regime of Jozef Tiso. At great peril to himself, he was the only member of the Slovak Parliament to vote against the law authorizing the deportation of Jews in 1942. Later, Esterhazy personally saved Jews from the Holocaust.
- General Vilmos Nagybaczoni-Nagy who upon being appointed minister of defense by the Kallay
government took measures to end the gross abuse threatening the lives of Jews and others in
the auxiliary labor force;
- Tibor Baranszky who, as secretary to Monsignor Angelo Rotta, the Vatican’s ambassador to
Budapest, saved many lives by distributing protective letters to Jews on forced marches and
- Roman Catholic Priest Ferenc Kallo who gave Jews life‐saving certificates of baptism and who was killed by the Arrow Cross on October 29, 1944;
- Jozsef Antall Senior, who as a member of the ministry of internal affairs for civilian refugees
gave refuge to and thereby saved Jews and Poles and who enjoyed the support and confidence
of Minister of Interior Ferenc Keresztes‐Fischer and Prime Ministers Pal Teleki and after his death Miklos Kallay;
- Col. Ferenc Koszorus, posthumously promoted to the rank of General by Prime Minister Antall after the fall of Communism, who volunteered his services and mobilized the 1st Armored
Division under his command to militarily intervene on July 5, 1944 to stop Laszlo Baky, a secretary of state in the Ministry of Interior for “Jewish Affairs," from deporting the approximately 200,000 plus Jews from Budapest.2
The Federation believes that the extraordinary courage, moral strength and fortitude of these and other individuals who despite overwhelming odds were willing to confront evil and act on behalf of humanity serve as examples for all of humankind; they must never be forgotten.
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[Watch the video of
the 2015 unveiling]
"I rise today to recognize one of the great heros of the Hungarian holocaust. Ferenc Koszorus, who at great personal sacrifice to his own life, saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps... [his action] permitted the famous Raoul Wallenberg, who arrived in Budapest on July 9, 1994, to coordinate his successful and effective rescue mission" - Hon. Congressman Tom Lantos
“Whoever Saves a Life, it is Considered as if
He Saved an Entire World” (Jerusalem Talmud)
8/23/2017 - AHF issues statement condemning hatred and violence. The American Hungarian Federation (AHF) unequivocally and forcefully condemns any and all manifestations of hatred, xenophobia, discrimination and domestic terrorism. The Hungarian community understands first-hand the impact of these evil manifestations.
UPDATE - According to an August 29 report in JTA, a monument to Jewish Holocaust victims was vandalized in the Hungarian town of Balf. [read more]
7/14/2017 - July 7 is now Ferenc Koszorus Memorial Day. As part of the Ferenc Koszorus Memorial Day sponsored by the Hungarian Ministry of Defense on July 7, 2017, newly engraved references on the plinth of the Col. Koszorus bust were unveiled. The references relate to Col. Koszorus’ military intervention that precluded the deportation of the Jewish population in Budapest [read more]
7/15/2015 - The American Hungarian Federation is especially proud to have sponsored a statue honoring Hungarian Holocaust Hero Col. Ferenc Koszorus. The unveiling of the bust, sculpted by the internationally recognized artist Imre Varga, took place in July 2015 in Budapest. An extraordinary man, a soldier and a hero, Col. Ferenc Koszorús had his statue unveiled on July 7, 2015 in the Castle Hill district at the Tóth Árpád promenade.
3/19/2014 - AHF article regarding the occupation of Hungary by Hitler on March 19, 1944 and its horrific consequences, entitled "Reflections on March 19, 1944 and Its Aftermath: A Perfect Storm of Tragedy and Folly." "We are concerned that a political agenda has replaced a debate based on historical facts relating to the Hungarian Holocaust and Nazi Germany's invasion and occupation of Hungary," said Frank Koszorus, Jr., the Federation's president. "We condemn not only whitewashing but the blackening of this historical record as well. Both forms of revisionism do a great disservice to the memory of the victims of evil and those who opposed it at a treacherous time in Hungary's history. These considerations prompted us to issue our statement," he added. [read more]
3/20/2014 - Az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség üdvözölte a holokauszt-emlékév megrendezését: Nyilatkozatban üdvözölte a magyarországi holokauszt-emlékév megrendezését Koszorús Ferenc, az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség (AMSZ) elnöke, rámutatva, hogy az eseménysorozat hozzájárul a korabeli Magyarország jobb megértéséhez. [tovább]
3/15/2015 - Book Signing in Budapest Honoring Holocaust Hero Col. Koszorus. On March 10, 2015, a book signing and reception introducing an excellent volume, "Armored Soldiers for Life: Ferenc Koszorus a Hero of the Holocaust" ("Páncélosokkal az életért: Koszorús Ferenc a Holokauszt hőse"), took place in Budapest. AHF was also a co-sponsor of the book. [read more]
6/8/2012 - Hungarian Review publishes article, "The Soldier Who Saved the Lives of Budapest's Jews: Col. Ferenc Koszorus." The courageous intervention of Col. Ferenc Koszorus and his loyal First Armored Division on July 6, 1944 blocked the deportation of the more than 250,000 Jews of Budapest. In paying tribute to Col. Koszorus, former Congressman Tom Lantos, a survivor of the Holocaust, noted that the Koszorus intervention "permitted... Wallenberg, who arrived in Budapest on July 9, 1944, to coordinate his successful and effective rescue mission."
11/15/2014 - AHF, member organizations, and representatives of the Hungarian embassy in Washington DC placed flowers at the grave of Holocaust Hero, colonel Ferenc Koszorús, in Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington. Koszorús, as the commander of Hungary’s first armoured division, thwarted a planned government coup dubbed the gendarmerie coup, which aimed to carry out the deportation of the Jews of Budapest on July 5 and 6 of 1944. [read more]
6/12/2012 - In a related story, Heti Valasz publishes: "Emlékezzünk a magyar hősökre is! A Wallenberg-év lehetőségei": Mindent el kell követni, hogy Kelet-Európa valós második világháborús szerepe rögzüljön a nyugati és az amerikai köztudatban. [tovább]
5/10/2013 - AHF publishes documents supporting the exoneration of Count János Esterházy (the only member of the Slovak Parliament in 1942 who voted against expelling the Jews, he was convicted on trumped up charges and died in a communist prison). The documents attest to his principled stand and actions to save Jews during World War II and protect the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, and includes letters from Simon Wiesenthal, Yad Veshem, and historians Dr. Magda Ádám and Dr. István Deák, Professor Emeritus from Columbia University.
11/8/2011 - The Anti-Defamation League presented the Jan Karski Courage to Care Award to Count Janos Esterhazy. This comes just two months after the Slovak President shamefully calls this hero of the Holocaust a follower of Hitler. AHF continues to express concern over Slovakia's anti-Hungarian measures."Those who defended and aided Jews and other victims of the Nazislaughter merit our recognition and our eternal thanks. They were individuals who followed the call to conscience, which is surely no simple matter... Count János Esterházy was such a person of conscience, one who had more than enough reason to remain silent." [read more]
Hungary in World War II: Caught in the Cauldron by Deborah Cornelius, Fordham University Press, New York, 2011. Csaba Zoltani writes: "Deborah Cornelius’ Hungary in World War II: Caught in the Cauldron (Fordham University Press, New York 2011) gives an excellent overview of the events leading up to and the horrendous events of World War II in Hungary. The effect of the Treaty of Trianon, that without plebiscites, truncated Hungary and deprived it of its natural resources and forced a sizeable portion of its population to live under alien jurisdiction, set the political and sociological climate in Hungary from the 1920's on. [read more] or buy it now on AHF's Amazon Store!
4/16/2012 - Raoul Wallenberg Remembered on Capitol Hill. U.S. Congressman Harris recalls Col. Ferenc Koszorus, Sr., Hero of the Holocaust. AHF honors the millions of lives lost and the untold suffering caused by Nazism and Communism. But even during the horrors of WWII, stories of resistance to Nazi atrocities emerged. When Hitler's patience ran out with the conservative leaders in Budapest and their peace-feelers
and contacts with Western allies, Nazi Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, drastically
changing the situation of Hungary and the Jewish community. [read more]
3/23/2011 - AHF honors Col. Ferenc Koszorus, Sr., reflects on Holocaust Memorial Month. AHF honors the millions of lives lost and the untold suffering caused by Nazism and Communism. But even during the horrors of WWII, stories of resistance to Nazi atrocities emerged. [read more]
3/24/2009 - In 2009, as part of the Holocaust Memorial Month, the Embassy of Hungary sponsored the Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House in Budapest traveling exhibit in Washington, DC. The Carl Lutz Foundation, Hungarian American Coalition, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, Mensch International Foundation and the Embassies of Switzerland and Israel are co-sponsors. The Federation believes it would be appropriate that the Embassy of Hungary, as a representative of all Hungarians, expand such exhibits to include Hungarian heroes of the Holocaust. [read more]
9/13/2011 - Slovak President shamefully calls Janos Esterhazy, a hero of the Holocaust, a follower of Hitler. AHF continues call for rehabilitation of Janos Esterhazy, reacts to Slovak falsification of history... Esterhazy was the only member of the Slovak Parliament in 1942 who voted against expelling the Jews, setting an example which few dared to follow in the parts of Europe controlled by Adolf Hitler's Germany. He was detained by the Nazis and died in a communist prison. He is still classified as a war criminal in Slovakia. [read more]
FERENC KOSZORUS: A HERO OF THE HUNGARIAN HOLOCAUST
HON. TOM LANTOS
(Extension of Remarks - May 26, 1994)
HON. TOM LANTOS
in the House of Representatives
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 1994
(Tom Lantos, who died in February 2008 of esophageal cancer, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. He was also recipient of AHF's highest honor, the Col. Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom [read more])
- Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian holocaust. I rise today to recognize one of the great heros of the Hungarian holocaust. Ferenc Koszorus, who at great personal sacrifice to his own life, saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to Nazi death camps.
- During the turbulent time in the summer of 1944, advancing Allied forces were closing in on Berlin while Hitler was racing to implement the final solution, the destruction of the Jewish race. There were many acts of heroic compassion and humanitarianism during this period. I would like to recount the story of Col. Ferenc Koszorus, one of the most remarkable examples of bravery and courage of the time.
- By June 1944, the Nazis had incarcerated and liquidated most of the Jewish population of Europe. In the capital of Hungary, Budapest, there remained approximately 250,000 Jews still alive. Budapest was still under control of the Hungarian police force. The Nazis believed that this force was not ruthless and brutal enough to deal adequately with the complete destruction of the large remaining Jewish population of Budapest.
- Ferenc Koszorus was a colonel in the Hungarian Army in charge of the First Magyar Armored Division stationed in and around Budapest. He learned that Laszlo Baky, Secretary of State and director of all security forces, with the exception of the army, had planned a coup d'etat to install a police force completely subservient to the Nazis. They would see to it that Hungary was purged of all remaining Jews.
- With the help of the Gestapo, Baky formed several battalions of `gendarmerie' forces loyal to him. Orders from the Regent to disband the gendarmerie went unheeded. Colonel Koszorus controlled the last remaining active army unit in Hungary. At a time when few others would stand up to the Nazi occupation, Colonel Koszorus took the initiative to resist.
- Realizing the severity of the situation, Colonel Koszorus consulted with the Regent and began preparations on his own to stop Baky and the gendarmerie battalions. On July 5, 1944 at 11:30 p.m., Colonel Koszorus ordered the units of the 1st Armored Division to take up positions at strategic points in Budapest, sealing off all road leading into the city. By 7:00 a.m. on July 6, 1944 all the units were in place and Colonel Koszorus informed Baky that if his gendarmerie did not leave and disband they would be destroyed. On July 7, 1944 Baky capitulated and evacuated his forces.
- Colonel Koszorus' unparalleled action was the only case known in which an Axis power used military force for the purpose of preventing the deportation of the Jews. As a result of his extraordinarily brave efforts, taken at great risk in an extremely volatile situation, the eventual takeover of Budapest by the Nazis was delayed by 3 1/2 months. This hiatus allowed thousands of Jews to seek safety in Budapest, thus sparing them from certain execution. It also permitted the famous Raoul Wallenberg, who arrived in Budapest on July 9, 1994, to coordinate his successful and effective rescue mission
- In October 1944, after the Germans had taken Budapest, Colonel Koszorus was forced into hiding to avoid certain execution by the Gestapo. While alive, Colonel Koszorus never received recognition of his actions. In 1991, Ferenc Koszorus was posthumously promoted to the rank of general by the Hungarian Government. His memory is honored with a plaque placed in the famous Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest.
- Therefore it is with great honor and pride that I rise today in recognition valiant, patriotic efforts of Ferenc Koszorus. Many thousands of families are alive today as a result of the heroic actions of one man who stood up for his beliefs in a very uncertain and dangerous time. His loyalty to his country and love of humanity are an inspiration to all who struggle against oppression and the vile bigotry of racism.
- Too often the efforts of those who struggle against the Nazi oppression go unrecognized. This year, the 50th anniversary of Hungarian holocaust, the world reflects on the lessons learned. I am proud to honor Colonel Koszorus, a patriot, a humanitarian, and a hero.
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