New York (Jun. 21)
The views of the Hungarian Government on the position of Jews in Hungary and its attitude toward their claims for restoration of property and suppression of anti-Semitic propaganda were outlined by Premier Fereno Nagy in an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency prior to his departure from the United States where he headed an official delegation which included other important members of the Hungarian cabinet.
“I wish to stress the fact that the Hungarian Government is not and will never be anti-Semitic,” the Premier said. “I would appreciate it however, if the Jews of America and the outside world would consider the fact that the present Hungarian regime was preceded by twenty years of fascism and that in the past era every effort was exerted to stir up anti-Semitism among the masses.
“Many of the Jews who formerly served in the (forced) labor battalions have found employment in the political police and most of them are not inclined towards pardons and reconciliation, but towards vengeance, which, of course, contributes to the anti-Semitic feelings. Impartially judging the situation, I wish the Jews would withdraw from the political police.
“The recent program at Kunmadaras must be branded as bestial by every decent human being. The Hungarian Government will not hesitate to use every means at its disposal to put an end to such activities. I wish to point out in this connection that the peasants refrained from participating in the anti-Jewish riots at Kunmadaras and that the violence was the work of the riff-raff of the population. There is no general anti-Semitism in Hungary and we will punish the instigators of attacks on Jews with the greatest severity.
DIFFICULTIES IN RETURNING CONFISCATED JEWISH PROPERTY EMPHASIZED
“The question of distribution of land to Jews constitutes one of the most difficult problems. The present land reform law was preceded by one which confiscated the land of the Jews. If the former property of a Jew is now tilled by a peasant entitled to land, the Jewish property cannot be taken from him. We do everything in our power to give land to Jewish farmers; I mean to those who have been farmers all their life.
“The great poverty of our people makes complete restitution of Jewish property almost impossible. Movable goods, however, are returned to their legitimate owners. Jewish estates for which no heirs can be discovered do not become the property of the Hungarian State but they are transferred to a Jewish organization to finance Jewish relief.”
Replying to a question as to whether Zionist publications are being suppressed in Hungary and whether Jewish emigration to Palestine is discouraged, the Prime Minister said:
“The Zionist press is not banned, but its publication is hampered by paper shortage. As to the emigration of Zionists, this does not depend on us. We are under Russian occupation and nobody can leave Hungary without the consent of the Russians. Even we had to receive Russian consent to come to America.
“In reviewing the situation of the Jews in Hungary, I wish to state that the Jewish hospitals receive the same support from the State as similar institutions, despite the fact that they receive relief also from America.”