BUDAPEST (Jul. 21)
Representatives of the Hungarian Jewish community recently visited Vilmos Nagy on his 90th birthday in an expression of gratitude to the retired general and former Hungarian Defense Minister for his aid to Jews during World War II. “I am deeply touched that the Jewish community has come to visit me and as an old friend wish Hungarian Jews the best.” Nagy told his Jewish visitors.
Nagy was one of the few high-ranking military leaders who did not take part in the persecution of Hungarian Jews. As a general in the Hungarian army in the war, he protested and refused to follow a German order calling for the deportation of 10,000 Jews. He eventually resigned because of the incident and shortly afterwards was himself arrested and deported by the German SS.
Nagy said that anti-Semitism ran high among Hungarian army officers at the time. Commenting on his action to save Hungarian Jews, he said: “It would be an exaggeration to say I saved the lives of 10,000 Jews, but I did my best and hope in some small way I helped counter-balance all the crimes committed by my fellow army officers.”