(MTI) – Janos Esterhazy, a martyred leader of Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarians, has set a model for us all, Hungary’s deputy state secretary for Hungarian communities abroad, said at a commemoration in Budapest on Sunday.
Esterhazy left behind an ideology as legacy that serves as a compass for the Hungarian community, as well as for Europe, on how to cohabitate with other nations and how to preserve one’s own community and values, said Zsuzsanna Repas at the unveiling of a plaque for Esterhazy. She said Esterhazy had stood up for minorities and for human rights. He retained his humanity under an inhumane regime and he rejected anti-Semitism, she added.
Count Janos Esterhazy (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 MP in the Slovak Parliament to vote against the law on the deportation of Jews in 1942. He also condemned the Katyn massacre committed in 1940.
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 1957. His ashes were identified in 2007 in a cemetery of Prague.
Despite all efforts by Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian community, Esterhazy has not been rehabilitated in Slovakia to date.