German occupation Budapest 1944

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary that the troops of Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Hungary. The move resulted in the almost total destruction of the country during the final year of WWII, losing hundreds of thousands of lives, including 600,000 Jews murdered in death camps. Now, a Hungarian historian says that, based on the documents of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an intelligence agency of the USA during WWII, Western Allies fostered the occupation to weaken German forces in France at all cost, and thus facilitate the success of D-day. Doing so, they did not care for the fate of e.g. the Jewish community in Hungary.

A gamble with the lives of millions

Interestingly, Hungary is widely regarded by the Western public as the last ally of Nazi Germany. However, it should be stated that Regent Miklós Horthy who was head of state between 1919 and 1944 wanted to surrender to the Western Allies at least after Hitler’s defeat at the gates of Moscow during the winter of 1941/1942. Though secret negotiations advanced slowly, Hungary was at the point of

accepting unconditional surrender by the fall of 1943.

However, this never happened.

According to László Borhi (Indiana University Bloomington), from March 1943, the aim of the Western Allies was to discredit the Hungarian political leadership in the eyes of Berlin and thus foster the occupation of the country by Wehrmacht – Index reported.

Even though Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians and the Finnish sent their emissaries during 1942, their reception was lukewarm. In fact, Western Allies feared that if they agreed with those small nations, Stalin would try to come to terms with Berlin as it happened before in 1939. This is why President Roosevelt declared the doctrine of unconditional surrender in 1943. However, the importance of such peace missions increased when Western Allies finally decided to invade Normandy and free Europe from there.

Disloyalty and the “unsolved state of the Jews”

Therefore, fostering the German occupation of Hungary (and Romania) became important from a strategic point of view since it could make Germany weaken their defence forces in France. As a result, British and American emissaries emphasised that the sooner a country breaks up with Hitler, the better peace terms it will get. However, this was a lie since

Washington and London saw no chance in 1943 to land in the Balkan peninsula and protect these countries from German (or Soviet) forces.

Thus, such terms were decided by Stalin. Of course, the Hungarian leadership knew nothing about this and trusted the Allies who, in fact, did not care about the consequences of their move. Only Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Alexander Cadogan said that turning against Germany in the case of Hungary or Romania is unimaginable since they cannot protect them.

By the end of 1943, Hungary already gave intelligence data to the Western Allies, and the Americans agreed to send a military mission to Hungary in March. The “Sparrow” mission was lead by colonel Florimond Duke who later said that the only goal of his mission was to

provoke Nazi Germany, though OSS denied this.

Anyway, the mission was captured by the Gestapo when they arrived, and three days later German forces occupied Hungary. Hitler told Horthy that the reasons for the occupation were the “unsolved state of the Jews” and Hungary’s disloyalty.

In fact, Anglo-Saxon great powers knew about the fate of the Jewish community living under German rule. Furthermore, they also knew that, until the German occupation, Hungary acted more or less like a safe haven for many Jews fleeing from such territories. However, OSS said that

there were more important questions.

Featured image: German tank on the streets of Budapest on March 19, 1944. Source: Faupel/


1 comment
  1. Sad, that Hungary was left alone and abandoned by the allies. The future of Europe had been cast years before, unfortunately. The destruction of Central Europe, the extension of the war could be placed and the enslavement of millions was put to work at Yalta. The invasion of Europe should have happened, as Churchill wished, through Europes underbelly, Greece and Yugoslavia. Like the previous world war, all nations had to rush to Frances defense

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