Menu JTA Search

Ersr Hungarian Premier Admits Persecution of Jews Before War Crimes Tribunal

Bela Imredy, former anti-Jewish Hungarian primier, today pleaded with the War Crimes Tribunal, trying him on charges of collaboration with the Nazis, that the anti-Jewish decrees he introduced were occasioned by the desire to “take the wind out of the sails of the extremists.”

Imredy, whose trial began yesterday, following that of former Premier Ladisles Endessy, sentenced to death for his role in bringing Hungary into the war, asserted that his anti-Jewish laws were “necessitated by the anti-Semitic atmosphere created by the extreme Right” in 1938.

He added that because the Jewish population in Hungary had increased after the nation’s Nazi-sponsored annexation of Transylvania, its influence had to be limited. to any event, he continued, the Jews were too much of a threat as competitors. Morever, their temperamental dissimilarities to other Hungarians made the laws imperative

Imredy, who was forced to resign the premiership in 1939 when it was disclosed that he was of Jewish descent himself, said that in 1938 the position of Jews in Hungary was better than anywhere else in Europe, and he remarked that the anti-Jewish strocities that followed were of “no consequence.” When asked what accounted for the anti-Jewish atmosphere in Hungary, at the time he headed the government, Imredy remaining silent. The prosecutor, answering for the defendant, charged that that sentiment had been encouraged by Imredy and his colleagues in the government.

NEXT STORY