Horthy, Admiral Miklos, 1868-1946

A former Admiral in the Austro-Hungarian Navy, Horthy served as Regent of Hungary from 1920-44. During World War II his main preoccupation was to keep Hungary’s contribution to the war to a minimum. At first he decided to join the Axis because he would never fight on the side of the USSR, but on the other hand he was reluctant to condemn Great Britain and the USA. In August 1941 he sent an army into Yugoslavia and also one to the USSR. However in May 1943 Horthy refused to send in reinforcements. In March 1944 he tried to persuade HITLER to allow Hungarian troops to return but Hitler refused and threatened to occupy the country. Horthy continued trying to decrease the Hungarian contribution to the war by stopping the persecution of Jews but Hitler brought him to heel again with threats. In August 1944 Rumania collapsed and Horthy began negotiations with the Allies, and in October he announced Hungary’s withdrawal from the war. Hitler immediately dispatched SKORZENY, who kidnapped Horthy’s son and took the citadel in Budapest. Horthy gave in, abdicated and was taken to Germany where he remained until the US freed him in May 1945. Horthy was a greater Hungarian nationalist—and caught between the two power blocks Germany and the USSR had the misfortune to join the losing side, leaving Hungary to a Communist coup.

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