|AHF Honors Holocaust Memorial Month 2015|
2/5/2015 - AHF Co-sponsors Concert dedicated to International Holocaust Memorial Day and to Victims of Terrorism in Paris: The concert, held at the Hungarian Embasy in Washington, DC and organized by the Embassy Series, featured George Peachey, piano; Jerome Barry, baritone; and Jacques-Pierre Malan, cello. The deeply moving concert included musical poems, dances and Hassidic Prayer Chants, three selections from a rabbi’s commentaries on the Talmud, musical memories of childhood, songs from the Holocaust, and the so-called Partisanerlid (Partisans’ Song).
January 27 also marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp where, The Georegtowner Magazine noted, "approximately half-a-million Hungarian Jews perished in a steady stream of shipments and deportations from Hungary in the Nazis’ last act of horror toward the close of World War II, never stopping in their pursuit of the Final Solution. This occurred in spite of often heroic efforts by many Hungarians to stop, delay or prevent the tragedy."
The program included the late Tom Lantos’ recognition of Col. Ferenc Koszorus as “a Hero of the Hungarian Holocaust” for his military intervention that blocked the deportation of the Jews living in Budapest in July 1944. The Colonel was posthumously promoted to the rank of General. General Koszorus's son, AHF President Frank Koszorus, Jr., seen above on the right.
Among the many guests were Manny Mandel, a Survivor Volunteer at the US Holocaust Museum, who recited the Kaddish, and Luxembourg Ambassador Jean-Louis Wolzfeld. This was the last official evening for Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary who has returned to Hungary.
AHF thanks the Hungarian Embassy and the Hungary Initiatives Foundation whose generous support made this evening possible. Thanks also to The Georgetowner for headline photo of Mssrs. Peachy, Barry, and Malan.
AHF Honors Hungarian Heroes of the Holocaust
Hungary, heavily influenced by her desire to regain lost territories and reunite Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin, had found support in Italy and Germany and joined the Axis, a tragic mistake. While the Jewish community in Hungary had reason to hope that it would be spared the fate of other Jewish communities in the countries surrounding Hungary and elsewhere, 1944 changed everything.
Until 1944, Hungary had enacted a series of laws that increasingly restricted the civil liberties of Jews. But with the exception of the massacres of partisans and Jews in Novi Sad in 1942 (whose perpetrators fled to avoid prosecution by Hungarian authorities only to return to Hungary with the German occupying army in 1944) and the 16,000 “alien” Jews who were expelled to German-held Ruthenia in 1941,1 Hungary refused Nazi Germany's demands that it deport Hungarian Jews or participate in the “Final Solution.” Thousands of Jews from surrounding states actually found refuge in Hungary whose Jewish population exceeded 800,000 in March 1944.
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 Jews. Hitler installed a pro-German government which collaborated with the Nazis occupiers and helped to destroy Hungary's Jewry, which had survived under the conservative government. Adolf Eichmann arrived to direct the deportation of Hungary's Jews so that by the end of June, virtually the entire Jewish population of the provinces had been deported.
Until July 1944, the more than 200,000 Jews of Budapest were protected from deportation. Consequently, and at the instigation of the Nazi occupiers, Laszlo Baky, a secretary of state in the Ministry of Interior for "Jewish Affairs," planned to begin and quickly complete the deportation of Jews from the capital. Hungarians foiled that plan, however.
Following the orders of Regent Horthy, Col. Ferenc Koszorus, Sr., ordered his First Armored Division into action against Laszlo Baky and pro-Nazi forces in July 5, 1944, preventing the coup and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Budapest.2 This unparalleled action was the only case known in which an Axis power used military force for the purpose of preventing deportations. The action delayed the Nazi takeover for 3.5 months, allowing tens of thousands to escape or find refuge and also permitted Raoul Wallenberg to coordinate his successful and effective rescue mission. But history was again not on Hungary’s side. A few short years later, she was under a brutal, Soviet-installed government.
After blocking the coup, he was forced to escape the Gestapo and fled to the United States where he would eventually serve his adopted homeland in the US Topographic Command. President Truman asked him to organize Hungarian veterans in exile and train them for the eventual liberation of Hungary. President Eisenhower, despite the election rhetoric of "rolling back" Commnism, disbanded the unit before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution which surprised his administration.
The late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) called Col. Koszorus a "Hero of the Hungarian Holocaust" as entered in the Congressional Record on May 26, 1994. In his introduction, Mr. Lantos said, "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." Congressman Lantos, recipient of AHF's highest award, the Col. Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom passed away in 2008. General Koszorus
Koszorus, who passed away in 1974, was posthumously promoted to the rank of General by Prime Minister Antall after the fall of Communism. His wife, the late artist Gabriella Koszorus-Varsa researched and edited his memoirs and summarized his memoirs like this:
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. [download the statement]
In the statement, AHF honored additional Hungarian heroes:
AHF REMEMBERS THE HEROES OF THE HUNGARIAN HOLOCAUST
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.
“Whoever Saves a Life, it is Considered as if He Saved an Entire World”
Buy books related to the Holocaust and Col. Koszorus on AHF's Amazon Store
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]
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]
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]
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. [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 - AHF Honors Holocaust Memorial Month 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]
3/24/2009 - AHF Honors Holocaust Memorial Month 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
(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])