Monday, December 15, 2014

ADSS 10.359 Angelo Rotta to Sec State - Arrow Cross coup

Reference: Telegram 302, (AES 8213/44)

Location and date: Budapest, 18.10.1944 @ 21.00 (Rec’d Rome 19.10.1944 @ 19.00)

Summary statement: Information concerning the situation in Hungary and the renewal of anti-Jewish persecution.

Language: Italian


The proclamation of Regent Horthy on 15.10.1944 announcing to the nation the request for an armistice with the Allies has provoked a revolution in the country.  The Germans joined with some Hungarian military have occupied Budapest and the … and they have (?) constituted a new government (?) with Szalasi as head. (1)  In the morning Regent Horthy was invited to surrender, what he (?) done to avoid bloodshed and has been held prisoner … after a few days (?) at the command of the SS.  He was forced to cancel the proclamation of the 15th and instruct the troops to continue the fight, as well as to resign and appoint … a new head of the government. (2)

The Regent’s family sought refuge in the Apostolic Nunciature, yesterday … left along with the Regent for Germany; they remain in a castle in Bavaria.

Meanwhile, the fight against the Jews has carried forward with great harshness and in the unrest of the last days, many have been killed. There have been numerous fights between ministers and officials of the previous government.  The Police have, for the first time, sided with the Germans, as have most of the army inside the country out of fear of … extremist elements … they declare they want … with Christian principles, but this is an illusion.  I would appreciate your instructions. (3)

(1) Ferenc Szalasi (1897-1946), head of the pro-Nazi Hungarian fascist movement, the Arrow Cross.  He assumed the title of “Head of the Nation”. 
(2) The Germans had anticipated Horthy’s movements and prepared their counter-stroke.  They kidnapped Horthy’s son, Miklos, and told his father that they would kill him unless the Regent abdicated and named Szalasi his successor.  Horthy did as the Germans demanded.  He was placed under arrest and on 17.10.1944 was sent with his family to Schloss Hirschberg in Bavaria where he remained for the rest of the war.  He was liberated by the US 7th Army on 01.05.1945 and the arrested, possibly to avoid capture by the Soviets.
(3) See ADSS 10.370.

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