Budapest, March 13 (MTI) – Slovakia’s failure to rehabilitate János Esterházy, a martyred leader of Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian community, damages the reputation of the Slovak state and should be amended, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Gergely Gulyás said in Budapest on Sunday.
Gulyás called Esterházy one of the most respectable Hungarian politicians of the 20th century who can serve as a model for any nation.
Rehabilitating “this public servant who was even prepared to sacrifice his life for his nation” would lie in the interest of the state that sent him to prison, he said.
Count János Esterházy (1901-1957), the sole Hungarian deputy in the Slovak Parliament before 1945, was a firm advocate of the ethnic Hungarian community, raising his voice against any violation of minority rights and against discrimination. He was the only member of the Slovak Parliament to vote against the law on the deportation of Jews in 1942.
The Czechoslovak authorities arrested him in 1945 under the charge of war crimes, and turned him over to the Soviet military authorities. In 1947 he was sentenced to 10 years of forced labour in Moscow and given a death sentence in absentia in Bratislava on trumped-up charges. Two years later, the Soviet Union extradited the ailing Esterhazy to Czechoslovakia, where the president commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment. The count died in a prison in Mirov in March 1957. His ashes were identified in 2007 in a cemetery in Prague.
Despite all efforts by Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian community, Esterházy has not been rehabilitated in Slovakia to date.