Birthday: June 18, 1868
Died At Age: 88
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya
Born Country: Hungary
Born in: Kenderes, Hungary
Famous as: Military Leader
Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Magdolna Purgly (m. 1901)
father: István Horthy
mother: Paula Halassy
children: István Horthy, Magda Horthy, Miklós Horthy Jr., Paulette Horthy
Died on: February 9, 1957
place of death: Estoril
awards: Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa
Third Class Military Merit Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Order of the White Eagle
Order of the Three Stars
Who was Miklós Horthy?
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was a Hungarian political and military figure who served as the regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from March 1920 to October 1944. Originally from Kenderes, Horthy began his military career as a sub-lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1896 and gradually rose through the ranks to become rear-admiral in 1918. in 1919, after several revolutions and external interventions in Hungary from Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, Horthy came back to the country with the National Army and was then asked by the parliament to serve as the regent of the kingdom. During his tenure as the head of a national conservative government, Horthy guided his country through the inter-war period. He made the Hungarian Communist Party and the Arrow Cross Party illegal and implemented an irredentist foreign policy in response to the Treaty of Trianon. In the late 1930s, this foreign policy led to Hungary becoming an ally of Nazi Germany. However, his unwillingness to help the German war effort during World War II and the Holocaust in Hungary and secret attempts to make a deal with Allies gave way to the German invasion of Hungary in March 1944 and his removal from the position of the regent. Horthy spent the last years of his life in Portugal.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on June 18, 1868, in Kenderes, Austria-Hungary, Miklós Horthy was the son of Paula Halassy and István Horthy. His family was part of Hungarian peerage. Horthy had three older and four younger siblings.
When he was 14 years old, he enrolled at the Austro-Hungarian "Imperial and Royal Naval Academy”. As German was utilized as the official language of the academy, Horthy’s Hungarian had a slight but recognizable Austro-German flair.
Miklós Horthy was also fluent in Italian, Croatian, English, and French. In his youth, he travelled extensively, working as an Austro-German diplomat in the Ottoman Empire and other nations.
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Later Military Career
Two national traumas struck Hungary following World War I. If the first was the defeat, which resulted in the significant loss of lands for the country, the second was the communist rebellion led by Béla Kun. They took control over the capital, Budapest, following the collapse of the first proto-democratic government in Hungary.
While Kun’s reign as the leader of the Hungarian Soviet Republic was short, the communists wreaked havoc during this period. Their attempts to reconquer former Hungarian territories ended in failure, so they began suppressing their own people with armed gangs.
This period of violence is called the Red Terror. After the communist rule ended, reactionary forces took revenge from the people who were previously affiliated with the communist government. This was known as the White Terror, and many soldiers from Horthy’s National Army were part of it.
The precise extent of Miklós Horthy’s knowledge about the excesses of the White Terror is unknown. He refused to accept accountability and apologize for the atrocities committed by his officer detachments.
Miklós Horthy and other members of the Hungarian ruling class carried a deep hatred for communism, especially after Kun’s rebellion. This ultimately led the government to create the fateful alliance with Nazi Germany.
After the National Assembly of Hungary recreated the Kingdom of Hungary, the Allied powers refused to allow King Charles IV (the erstwhile Austro-Hungarian emperor) to come back and lead his people.
With the officers of the National Army already in charge of the parliament building, Horthy was elected to be the Regent, winning 131 votes against Count Albert Apponyi’s seven votes.
When Bishop Ottokár Prohászka, a representative of the Hungarian parliament, formally asked him to be the regent, he initially declined. It was not until the power of the office was significantly increased that he accepted.
At the time, Hungary had still managed to maintain its political status as a kingdom without a king or queen. Horthy served as the head of the state, and a parliamentary government ruled under him. While his contribution to drafting the legislation was minimal, he had enough influence over the government to make sure that the laws passed in the parliament were close to his political beliefs.
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Helming a national conservative government in the inter-war period, Horthy outlawed the Hungarian Communist Party as well as the Arrow Cross Party and enforced an irredentist foreign policy in response to the Treaty of Trianon.
Emperor Charles IV tried to come back to Hungary twice, but failed both times. In 1921, the Hungarian government was eventually forced to give in to the rising Allied threats of resuming hostilities. Charles was put on board of a British warship and sent into exile.
World War II
Miklós Horthy’s foreign policy made Hungary a reluctant ally of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. With Hitler’s unenthusiastic aid, Horthy regained certain Hungarian lands that were taken away by the Allies during the First World War.
Hungary helped Polish refugees in 1939 and served in a supportive role in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. In the same year, Germany and its allies also invaded Yugoslavia. This led to the Hungarians getting back territories they had lost to the Kingdoms of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
Horthy was hesitant to support the German war effort and the Holocaust in Hungary. He also did not want to send more than 600,000 of the 825,000 Hungarian Jews to German custody.
Furthermore, he tried multiple times to reach a secret deal with the Allies of World War II when it became clear that the Axis powers could not win the war. All these prompted the Germans to attack and occupy the country in March 1944 in Operation Margarethe.
In October 1944, Horthy declared that Hungary had agreed to an armistice with the Allies and left the Axis. He was subsequently compelled to submit his resignation, taken into custody by the Germans, and sent to Bavaria, where he spent the remainder of the war in Europe. Following the German defeat, the Americans found him and took him in their custody.
Miklós Horthy later realised that the Americans arrested him to keep him safe from the Russians. The Yugoslavs wanted to try him for the 1942 massacre of Serbian and Jewish civilians by Hungarian troops in the Bačka region of Vojvodina.
According to Serbian historian Zvonimir Golubović, these genocides took place with Horthy’s approval. However, American officials did not charge him with war crimes while keeping him in Nuremberg.
Horthy reunited with his family after his release on December 17, 1945. The family spent the next four years in Weilheim, Bavaria. In March 1948, he went back to Nuremberg to give testimony against Edmund Veesenmayer, the Nazi administrator who was in charge of Hungary in 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were sent to the concentration camps.
Miklós Horthy lived out the rest of his life in exile in Portugal. In 1953, he put out his memoirs, ‘Ein Leben für Ungarn’ (A Life for Hungary).
Family & Personal Life
On July 22, 1901, Miklós Horthy exchanged wedding vows with Magdolna Purgly in Arad. They had four children: Magdolna, Paula, István and Miklós.
Death & Legacy
Miklós Horthy passed away on February 9, 1957, in Estoril, Portugal. He was 88 years old at the time. He was extremely disappointed by the result of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
As per his wishes, his remains were not returned to Hungary “until the last Russian soldier has left". His family respected this wish. In 1993, when it had been two years since the Soviet forces departed from Hungary, his remains were brought back and interred in his home town of Kenderes. The reburial garnered some criticism from the left.