by Eli Clifton The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but th…

The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but the Trump administration’s combative defense was perhaps the most surprising move by a presidency facing record low approval numbers. Last Monday, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka refused to admit that that it may have been poor judgement not to specifically acknowledge the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

Gorka was an odd choice of proxies for the White House to put forward in defense of its Holocaust Remembrance day statement.

He has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

When asked on Monday whether the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement was “questionable in being the first such statement in many years that didn’t recognize that Jewish extermination was the chief goal of the Holocaust,” Gorka told conservative talk show host Michael Medved:

No, I’m not going to admit it. Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.

That statement is particularly noteworthy when viewed in the context of Gorka’s apparent affinity for a Hungarian group with a checkered past.

Gorka, who worked in the UK and Hungary before immigrating to the U.S., was photographed at an inaugural ball wearing a medal from the Hungarian Order of Heroes, Vitezi Rend, a group listed by the State Department as taking direction from Germany’s Nazi government during World War II.

Gorka did not respond to a request for comment but appeared to be wearing the medal on his chest during the Trump inauguration ball and in an undated photo posted on his Facebook page.

gorka2

gorka0

Hungarian Collaborators

Eva Balogh, founder of the news analysis blog Hungarian Spectrum and former professor of Eastern European History at Yale University, confirmed to LobeLog the identity of the medal worn by Gorka. She said:

Yes, the medal is of the “vitézi rend” established by Miklós Horthy in 1920. He, as a mere governor, didn’t have the privilege to ennoble his subjects as the king could do before 1918, and therefore the “knightly order” he established was a kind of compensation for him. Officers and even enlisted men of exceptional valor could become knights. Between 1920 and 1944 there were 23,000 such knights. The title was inheritable by the oldest son. I found information that makes it clear that Gorka’s father, Pál Gorka, used the title. However, since he was born in 1930 he couldn’t himself be the one “knighted.” So, most likely, it was Gorka’s grandfather who was the original recipient.

Gorka’s PhD dissertation lists his name as “Sebestyén L. v. Gorka,” which suggests that he is carrying on his father’s title, albeit in an abbreviated format, according to Balogh.

gorka3

The Order of Vitezi

Miklós Horthy, regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1920 to 1944, established Vitezi Rend for both civilian and military supporters of Horthy’s government. The group was initially open to non-Jews who served in distinction during World War I.

Although Horthy’s personal views about Jews are still debated, he was explicit in endorsing anti-Semitism even while showing some unease with the pace of the Holocaust. In an October 1940 letter to Prime Minister Pál Teleki, Horthy said:

As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life. I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theatre, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad. Since, however, one of the most important tasks of the government is to raise the standard of living, i.e., we have to acquire wealth, it is impossible, in a year or two, to replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands, and to replace them with incompetent, unworthy, mostly big-mouthed elements, for we should become bankrupt. This requires a generation at least.

In April 1941, Hungary became a de facto member of the Axis and permitted German troops to cross Hungary for the invasion of Yugoslavia. The first massacres of Jews took place in August when SS troops murdered between 18,000 and 20,000 Jews without Hungarian citizenship after they’d been deported from Hungary to Ukraine.

gorka4

Horthy and Hitler

By 1944, Horthy may have sought to distance Hungary from Nazi Germany but agreed to deport around 100,000 Jews. The German army removed Horthy from office after it occupied Hungary. Horthy’s actual awareness of the fate of Hungarian Jews remains unclear. But reports by journalists and the State Department in 1942 are explicit about the role played and benefits enjoyed by Vitezi Rend’s members.

A Jewish Telegraph Agency report from October 1942, describes how:

Confiscated Jewish real estate in Hungary will be distributed by the government among members of the “Hungarian Order of Heroes” it was announced today over the Budapest radio. The order consists of soldiers who distinguished themselves in the last World War or in the present war.

“In 1942 there was a so-called ‘land reform,’” said Balogh. “It actually meant the expropriation of agricultural lands owned by Jewish citizens. According to government propaganda this move was necessary to ease social tensions in the countryside but as a recent study (2015) shows, most of the land went to “loyal, middle-class supporters of the regime, among them members of the ‘vitézi rend.’”

A Checkered Legacy

The State Department lists the Order of Heroes as an organization that was “under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany.” Membership in such groups during World War II could make individuals ineligible for U.S. visas. The State Department’s website warns that membership in groups under this designation:

[R]enders ineligible for a visa any alien who participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion during the period from March 23, 1933, to May 8, 1945, under the direction of or in association with the Nazi Government of Germany or an allied or occupied government.

Vitezi Rend was banned during the Soviet occupation of Hungary but reestablished in exile. The order was awarded to members of the Hungarian diaspora and individuals in Hungary since 1983. Although appearing to largely promote Hungarian culture and the diaspora, it sought foreign donors to help fund the construction of a statue of Horthy in 2011. A fundraising document read, “We have decided after almost seven decades to erect a statue in honor of our beloved Regent and to remember him, therefore we ask for your support!”

“In post-World War II Hungary, no noble titles of any sort can be officially used,” said Balogh. “The ‘knightly order’ no longer officially exists. However, right-wing émigrés kept the order going abroad.”

She later added, “Many supporters of the Horthy regime were enamored by the Nazis and Hitler and the ‘knights’ were especially so. Put it that way, after 1948 one wouldn’t have bragged about his father being a ‘vitéz.’ Lately, however, especially since 2010, it has become fashionable again to boast about such ‘illustrious’ ancestors.”

Horthy, under Hungary’s center-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has undergone a controversial rehabilitation, with squares renamed in his honor and statues erected.

Gorka’s decision to publicly identify with Vitezi Rend raises questions about Trump’s adviser and the administration’s flirtations with anti-Semitism and white supremacy. It’s even more awkward that he’s the person defending the administration’s explicit omission of Jewish victim of the Holocaust from the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

Top Photo: Sebastian Gorka appearing on Fox News after the inauguration ball. 

An article at The Intercept:

Anti-Muslim Activist Katharine Gorka Named to Homeland Security Transition Team

From Glenn Greenwald:

Growing Far-Right Nationalistic Movements Are Dangerously Anti-Muslim — and Pro-Israel

An article on Just Security:

In The Trump administration, Islamophobia Is Truly A Family Affair

“Gorka has also claimed that “Islam’s leading ideologues and spokespersons have openly and repeatedly declared ideological war on America”—ignoring the fact that tens of thousands of Islamic religious leaders from around the world have condemned terrorism as heresy and declared that those who engage in it are not legitimate Muslims.”

Praised by right-wing extremists and propagandists, he’s a qualified specialist in NOTHING. Here’s his only book:

Sebastian Gorka’s primary book publisher:

Regnery Publishing is a conservative book publisher based in Washington, D.C. An imprint of Salem Media Group, it is led by president Marji Ross. The company was founded by Henry Regnery in 1947.[1]

Regnery has published books by authors such as former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, columnist Michelle Malkin, Robert Spencer, pundit David Horowitz and Barbara Olson.

Hungarian soldier wearing both the Arrow Cross and the Vitezi Rend:

wss-fall-500-budapest

Reference to the Vitezi Rend among right-wing Hungaran organizations in a 1993 book on Anti-semitism:

Vitezi Rend – Order of Heroes

SHORT HISTORY OF THE ORDER OF VITÉZ

“SHORT HISTORY OF THE ORDER OF VITÉZ”

The Vitézi Rend, or “Order of Valiant’s”, is a relatively new order of chivalry. It was founded due to the need to honour thousands of war heroes and to help rebuild a shattered country.

In the years 1918-20, Hungary experienced an anarchist-democratic revteolution, which was followed by invasion from the still-forming Czechoslovakia, the newly-formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia) and the Kingdom of Rumania.

To this was added a communist revolution, which cost about 2,000 lives and introduced Hungary to the phenomenon of class warfare, plus after their overthrow, the thorough looting of Hungarian infrastructure by the Rumanian army and a starvation-blockade initiated by the Western Powers, it can be seen that by late 1919, the much-shrunken country was in a state of near-collapse.

When constitutional government was finally restored, and the country, in order to prevent mass starvation and further invasions, finally signed the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty with the Western Powers, the nation was in sore need of reconstruction.

Add to that the ethnic cleansing policies practiced by Czechoslovakia and Rumania —quietly encouraged by Britain and France — which brought 500,000 refugees to Hungary, and it becomes obvious that the newly reinstated Constitutional Monarchy had to strive for stability above all else.
It was for this reason that, after the National Assembly elected the last commander of the Austro-Hungarian Joint Fleet, Vice-Admiral Miklós Horthy, to the post of temporary Regent, he called for an organisation to be set up to reward those who had given outstanding service to the Hungarian Kingdom in war, and who were prepared to work for it in peace. This was promulgated as a Prime Ministerial Edict (no. 6650/1920) and was ratified by Parliament in Law XXXVI, paragraph 77 of 1920 (XXXVI t. c. § 77).
As a result, various ministries and landowners were called on to organise a central administrative body, the National Council of Heroes (‘Országos Vitézi Szék’) and began organising the granting of land to those who applied to what became known as the ‘Vitézi Rend’, which means ‘Order of Knights’.
The word ‘vitéz’ in late 19th and early 20th century usage, meant ‘knight’, but also ‘hero’. As a result, the “Vitézi Rend’ has been translated variously as ‘Order of Knights’, ‘Order of Heroes’, ‘Order of Valiant’s or Valiant Ones’. The best modern translation would be ‘Order of Valiant’s’. The foundation of the Order was also a step towards land reform, for which there was a great need at the time.
In order to gain acceptance, former soldiers had to have received a certain gallantry medal as a minimum requirement, in the case of Other Ranks, the Small Silver Medal for Bravery, and the requirements got progressively higher as the ranks went up.
The Order of Gallantry was therefore a State Merit Order for war veterans, inspired by the old medieval orders of chivalry, but not quite the same. Clearly, Hungary was a constitutional Monarchy, not a medieval state, and secondly, although the title ‘vitéz’ granted land, it could not grant nobility, because only a king could do that. The Regent had no powers to grant nobility, nor did he try. The title was officially recorded, for instance in Birth, Marriage or Death Certificates, and was usually written as ‘v.’ in front of the surname. Note, in Hungarian, the surname precedes the Christian name.
The Order combined conservative elements as well as ones reflecting the changing society. For example, there was an Officers’ Section and one for Other Ranks, reflecting old-fashioned ideas, but the title ‘vitéz’, as well as the badge were the same for generals and privates. The members had to prove they were upstanding citizens, and were expected to live an exemplary life. One aim of the Order was to provide an example of decency to society as a whole. The title could be inherited, in this way also following the traditions of knightly orders. Tying the Order in with Hungary’s medieval heritage, the ceremony where the Order was awarded included a knighting with a sword specially made for the purpose. This sword is now housed in the Military History Institute and Museum in Budapest.
The Head of State became the leader of the Order, but was not styled “Grand Master” in the traditional way of chivalric orders, but instead, an old Hungarian title was used, namely ‘Főkapitány’, literally ‘Chief Captain’, but better translated ‘Captain General’.
Following the prevention of the return of Hungary’s last king, Karl IV of Hapsburg-Lorraine in the following year, due to the direct threat of war by the ‘Little Entente’ (Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Yugoslavia) and an indication of support of their move by Britain and France, the Regent was forced to prevent his king to from taking his legitimate throne. Due to further Entente pressure, the Hungarian Parliament was forced to dethrone the House of Hapsburg.
In the period 1921-1931, Hungary made important strides to rebuild its economy, escape from diplomatic isolation imposed by the Entente (it finally was allowed to join the League of Nations). In this period, the membership of the Order of Bravery reached almost 13,000 and the Order had been established as a respected part of society, with one member given a place in the Upper House of Parliament.
In the years leading up to WWII, the Order continued its growth, and as certain territories were returned to Hungary, even more members were accepted, even after land for land grants ran out. By 1941 the number of ‘vitéz’ members was over 33,000.
During the Second World War, many of Hungary’s bravest soldiers came from ‘vitéz’ families, such as the top-scoring fighter pilot, Dezső vitéz Szentgyörgyi.
The armistice, signed between the USSR and Interim National Government in Moscow on January 20th, 1945, stated that no “fascist” organisation could be re-formed once Hungary was “liberated”. This list included the National Council of Vitéz, which, being the administrative body of the Order, effectively meant that the Order could not be resurrected in Hungary while under Soviet rule. This was according to the Prime Ministerial Edict no. 1945/529.
It should be noted that similar orders were issued disbanding the Boy Scouts, as well as various Catholic Orders.
The banning of the Order was strengthened by the contents of the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947 and was reinforced by the Hungarian Parliamentary Law of 1947/18. Due to the fact that members of the Vitézi Rend had been brave soldiers; thus making them ‘untrustworthy’ in the eyes of the Communists; they were religious, another ‘untrustworthy’ feature; and they were patriotic – rather than loyal to Moscow – vitéz members were thrice ‘Class Enemies’. Not only was the Order of Bravery banned, but its members were persecuted, often without trial, or later, through kangaroo courts.
It is not known exactly how many members were murdered or deported, but if one looks at the fact that after the fighting in Hungary stopped, at least 600 000 people were deported, of whom about half failed to return, then the reader can get an idea of what the members of the Vitéz had to look forward to.
While this was happening in Hungary, many members had escaped and in some cases, been deported, to the West. At first, it was hoped by many Hungarian veterans that the Soviets would leave Hungary, but by the late 1940s, with the coming of the Cold War, it was realised that Communism was in Hungary to stay.
At first, Veterans’ Groups, including groups of Vitéz veterans, were formed, but in 1953, General Hugó vitéz Sónyi began work on re-organising the Order in exile. On July 18th, 1956, the Captain General, Admiral Horthy, at the time in exile in Portugal, named him Vice Captain General, but he became ill soon after and died, while the Captain General, Horthy, died in early 1957.
A general meeting was called off Vitéz members, which elected a Council of Vitéz in 1959 and named the first-ranked member, Field Marshall of the Royal Hungarian Army, His Royal Highness József Ágost vitéz of Hapsburg-Lorraine. In 1962, HRH vitéz József succeeded in having the Order accepted by the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry, which was brought into being by the Genealogical and Heraldic Congress, but later became an independent scholarly body.
After the Prince’s death in 1962, the V.R. Council elected General Ferenc vitéz Farkas, who led the Order until his retirement at the age of 85 in 1977. He was followed by Prince József Ágost’s grandson, HRH Prince vitéz József Árpád, who is still the Captain General of the Vitéz Order.
When the Commission published its findings, it sent them to all UNESCO member states, and the V.R. remains on the ICOC’s Register as a “Knightly Body”.
The Vitézi Rend continued to exist, and based on the legitimate succession of people to the title, got new members, as well as recognising the merits of those who had fought against foreign invasion and occupation in 1956. It gained respect among Hungarian émigré communities all over the world, including Canada, the USA, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
After the Soviet Union gave up Hungary and the country could return to a multiparty system, the law banning the Order was not changed, and as a result, the headquarters could not return to Hungary. Nevertheless, a Section of the Order was allowed to operate, but not as an Order, in Hungary in 1992. Later, due to the confused legal situation in Hungary, a number of splits appeared in the Order, with various claimants to the title “Captain General.” It is important to note that until the return to Hungary, there were no splits, and the order functioned normally and also that every other formerly banned organisation, such as the Boy Scouts, has been put through the same treatment by ex-Communist agent-provocateurs.

Despite this, the Order of Vitéz continues its work of rewarding heroism in many fields, as well as doing charity work and attempting to help the much-battered Hungarian people regain their sense of self worth.

Source: Why Is Trump Adviser Wearing Medal of Nazi Collaborators? « LobeLog

NO COMMENTS