BUDAPEST, Hungary – The World Jewish Congress and the leading Jewish group in Hungary objected Friday to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's praise for Miklos Horthy, the World War II-era leader who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany.
WJC President Ronald Lauder said his organization would always condemn "deplorable actions" like Horthy's and rejected any attempts to excuse or justify them.
"The horrors that Admiral Horthy inflicted on the Jewish community of Hungary by stripping them of their rights and their humanity, and his role in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, can never be excused," Lauder said.
In a speech on Wednesday, just hours before he hosted Lauder in Parliament, Orban called Horthy and other Hungarian leaders "exceptional statesmen" for leading the country after the traumatic disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.
Orban's comments were also criticized by Andras Heiszler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, who said the Horthy era's anti-Semitism "cannot be put as an example for future generations."
Several busts and statues of Horthy have been erected in the past few years, mostly on private property.