Although 10,000 Hungarian Jews died a hero’s death in the Hungarian army during the World War and many Jewish privates and officers were awarded distinguished service decorations for bravery, now, when the government has undertaken to form an Order of the World War heroes and to award them grants of land, the Jews were excluded.
This bitter complaint was voiced by Deputy Paul Sandor, outstanding Hungarian patriot and liberal Jewish leader, in an interpellation he introduced in the Finance Committee of parliament. The interpellation was drafted at the end of April but Deputy Sandor gave it out to the press yesterday when he became convinced that the government was unwilling to move toward rectifying the wrong. Of the 1,230 “knights” nominated to the Order, including many who are notorious for their anti-Semitic propaganda in the country, not a single Jewish war hero was included.
Prime Minister Bethlen is reported to have declared that Deputy Sandor’s complaint was totally unknown to him, and that in case the Order will decline to accept Jewish World War heroes, he will consider steps to bring about a change in their attitude. The Hungarian newspapers add, however, that Deputy Sandor decided on the publication of the document when he observed that the Prime Minister had not kept his promise in this regard since the acceptance period has already been concluded.
According to official data published in the “Egyenloeseg” there were 8 Jews in the Hungarian army who held the rank of officer and received the Leopold Order for bravery; 84 Jewish officers who received the Iron Crown, 177 who received gold medals for bravery and 840 petty officers and privates who received silver medals. Ten thousand Jewish soldiers gave their lives for the country during the war. None of the survivors holding distinguished service decorations was found worthy of inclusion in the new Order.
Deputy Sandor in his interpellation recited the sufferings of Hungarian Jewry in the post-war period, declaring that they were “persecuted and degraded inhumanly,” being made the shock absorbers for the people’s wrath. It contained a plea to the enlightened opinion of the country for the restoration of the principle of equality for the highly patriotic Hungarian Jews, “who differ from Hungarians only in their worship of God at another altar.” He further pointed out that when the agrarian reform was enforced, the land was taken from Jewish owners, while not a foot of land was given to any Jew who was a World War invalid. He concludes with an appeal to parliament to restore the rights of the “much suffering Hungarian Jewry which has been trampled upon like dust.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.