A memorial plaque to Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s regent during the interwar period, was unveiled in the Reformed College of Debrecen, eastern Hungary, on Saturday amidst protest by the opposition Socialists.
The plaque, erected first around 1940, was reinstated by Reformed Bishop Gusztav Bolcskei, member of the college’s friendship group, and Janos Gyori, head of the group, under the inner arcades of the college in the presence of 200 people.
Gyori noted that Horthy (1868-1957) had been a pupil of the college in the third and fourth grades and returned several times to his alma mater during his regency from 1920 to 1944.
Horthy’s historical role and political decisions will be assessed and disputed by historians for a long time to come, but it is beyond doubt that “he profoundly despised the two biggest contagions of the 20th century: Bolshevism and Nazism,” he said.
Outside the building, dozens of Socialist supporters demonstrated against what they called the reincarnation of the Horthy regime.
They held up banners with the inscription “Never Again Horthy”, “No to Horthy, No to Horthyism” and “Greetings from the Don Bend”, referring to a WWII battle in which the Hungarian army suffered terrible losses. Some demonstrators waved Hungarian and Israeli flags.
Shortly afterwards another group of similar size arrived to demonstrate for Horthy. Some of them wore what resembled military uniforms. Words were exchanged between the two groups.
Socialist spokeswoman Kata Kormos accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democratic alliance of aiming to restore an odious bygone era.
Reincarnating the Horthy regime is not the public will but a sign of the government tolerating the demands of the extreme right, she said.
Kormos qualified Horthy’s rule “the most shameful quarter in Hungary’s 20th-century history”, one characterised by anti-Jewish laws and social misery.
The demonstration ended after half an hour without incident.