Historical story

Miklós Horthy's Hungarian Fascism

Last updated:2022-07-25
L'Ungheria di Miklós Horthy fu un regime autoritario, conservatore, di estrema destra, fortemente militarista e legato al fascismo prima e al nazional socialismo tedesco poi.

It was the year 1920 when Admiral Miklós Horthy , former Minister of War in 1919, was proclaimed head of the Government of the Kingdom of Hungary.

The figure of Miklós Horthy is extremely important for the political history of Europe in the twenties and thirties, because he was, in a certain sense, the forerunner of those anti-communist nationalist movements which, in the following years, would have involved Italy, Germany, Spain and the rest of Europe , through different forms and party names in the form, but all structured in a paramilitary way, with a rigid internal hierarchy and characterized by feelings of hatred towards Communists, Jews and numerous other ethnic and cultural minorities.

Horthy is the great forerunner of Mussolini, Oswald Mosley and Hitler, he shares their ideas and ideology, albeit with some differences.

The Career of Miklós Horthy

Miklós Horthy's career began in the ranks of the Hungarian army, where he quickly made a career, thanks also to his noble origins, and in the years immediately preceding the First World War, between 1909 and 1914, he found himself being one of the helpers and closest collaborators of Emperor Franz Joseph , to then serve during the war until reaching the rank of rear admiral and supreme commander of the imperial fleet of the Austro-Hungarian royal navy.

After the war, Horthy held one of the highest military posts in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an empire which, however, was defeated by the war and was preparing for its final disintegration, which would take place through a series of internal clashes, and in that context of crisis , the leadership of the Hungarian government was entrusted to the Hungarian Communist, Ábel Kohn , better known as Béla Kun.

The communist government of Béla Kun was short-lived, surviving from March 21, 1919 to April 3 of the same year, and was followed by an anti-communist government led by Károly Huszár , supported by Miklós Horthy who, between March 1919 and April 1920, held the position of Minister of War.

The clash between Communists and Anti-Communists in Hungary was not only political, there were several armed clashes throughout Hungary, clashes that saw the anti-Communist monarchists pitted against the Communists of Kun.

One of the first provisions of the Huszár government was to restore the Hungarian monarchy, and prepare for a return of the Habsburgs , however, the new European order that came to form after the end of the war made this project particularly difficult, and in the end, following the triumphal entry and consequent military occupation of Budapest by Horty and his troops, Admiral assumed the post of provisional head of state, with the title of regent of the kingdom of Hungary, in Hungarian kormányzó , a position he held until the end of World War II.

Horthy's Policy

Miklós Horthy's politics was part of the ideas of the sovereign and conservative right, Horthy represented the interests of the aristocracy and for him and his social circle, communism was a real threat. Béla Kun in his program aimed to take the lands from the nobles to give them to the Hungarian people, Horthy was a member of one of those noble families that Kun wanted to take away the lands.

One of the first political decisions that the Hungarian admiral had to face as head of government, was that of the peace treaties still in progress, and the role played by Hungary during the First World War, did not give much room for maneuver to ' admiral, was therefore "forced" to accept the harsh conditions of the Trianon peace treaty , the treaty by which the victorious powers of the First World War established the fate of the new Kingdom of Hungary, following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The conference in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Italy took part in the conference in addition to their allies, Romania, Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and the treaty was signed on June 4, 1920.

The harsh conditions of the Treaty of Trianon, as would also happen in Germany, fueled a strong intolerance towards the victors of the war and, combined with a growing anti-Communist and anti-Semitic sentiment, led to the birth of an extremely authoritarian regime, even if it did not assume never the features of a dictatorship or a totalitarian regime as would have happened to Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany, in which parliament was completely ousted.

Horthy's regime

During the years of the Horthy regime, which coincide with the years between the first and second world wars, Hungary remained , albeit partially, a parliamentary monarchy, led by a regent .

The Hungarian parliament, as I anticipated, was not completely ousted, it was replaced by other bodies and institutions, however, the authority of the regent was particularly incisive and the parliament, more often than not, found itself following Horthy's directives.

In Horthy's regime the Hungarian social order had to remain unchanged, and in this regard the admiral, as a military, aristocrat and conservative as he was, worked deeply so that that pre-established order was not altered, in particular by the threat of " Soviet barbarism "That hovered at the gates of Hungary.

Horthy's Hungary was one of the first European countries to enact discriminatory laws against Jews and well in advance of the Nuremberg laws and the Italian racial laws, already in 1921 Horthy ordered that the percentage of students from various minorities be limited present in Hungary.

The law, signed by Hungarian Prime Minister of 1921 Pál Teleki , set the maximum number of students of Jewish origin who could enroll in Hungarian universities at 6%. Other discriminatory laws of this kind were passed in the following years, whose legislative body, for many, paved the way for the subsequent Nuremberg laws of the Nazi regime, proclaimed on September 15, 1935. In Hungary, however, the pinnacle of racial and anti-Semitic came in 1938 with a series of laws proclaimed by the then Prime Minister until the culmination of a veritable anti-Jewish legislation introduced in 1938 by Prime Minister Kálmán Darányi , with which the country prepared for Nazi deportations.

Horthy's proto-fascism

Horthy's authoritarian regime finds itself in a limbo bordering on fascism, an ideology with which Horthy had a strong bond, consolidated especially after the signing of the Rome protocols in 1934, with which Hungary linked itself to economic and political influence of Italy. However, despite this bond Horthy never came to fully embrace Fascism and, following the death of Engelbert Dollfuss , leader of the Patriotic Front, an Austrian fascist-inspired party, Horthy, like many other proto-fascists in Europe, came closest to the more radical positions of German national socialism.

Horthy's ambition

Like Hitler and Mussolini, Horthy also aspired to personal power and aimed to assume absolute power over the state he ruled, this search for power had different evolutions in Hungary, Italy and Germany, which are linked above all to the political status of the three nations.

Hungary and Italy were monarchies, although Hungary was de facto a monarchy without a king, while Italy, although not particularly present in the political scene, still had a king. Otherwise Germany was a republic.

According to Max Weber, the legitimation of power it can take place in three different ways, namely in a traditional, charismatic and legal / juridical way and, again according to Weber, (absolute) political power it can only manifest itself in the presence of these three elements.

We now know that among Hitler, Mussolini and Horthy, the only one to achieve absolute power was Hitler, this is because Hitler, thanks to his charisma and the use of force, managed to achieve a legal and charismatic legitimation of his power. , the paramilitary organization of Germany, placed Hitler at the top of a sort of traditional, feudal-like hierarchy, thus also guaranteeing traditional power in a state where there were no traditional forms of power.

In Horthy's Hungary, if the admiral enjoyed legal / juridical power, thanks to his own, achieved thanks to charisma and strength, just like Hitler, Hungary was a monarchy, without a king, but still a monarchy, and consequently, in order to ascend to the supreme rank, Horthy needed to be proclaimed ruler and not simply ruler of the crown.

In this regard, during his government Horthy progressively extended his powers, cannibalizing parts of parliament and centralizing various offices in his own hands, and he was very close to his goal of becoming "King of Hungary" , to the point that, in 1937, on the threshold of World War II, Horthy lacked only the recognition of the Catholic Church for the official investiture and accession to the throne, an ascent that probably did not happen precisely because of the war