Arrow Cross Party

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Flag of the Arrow Cross Party

The Arrow Cross Party (Hungarian: Nyilaskeresztes Párt-Hungarista Mozgalom, literally "Arrow Cross Party-Hungarianist Movement") was a pro-German anti-Semitic fascist party led by Ferenc Szálasi which ruled Hungary from October 15, 1944 to January 1945. During its short rule, 80,000 Jews, including many women, children and old people were deported from Hungary to their deaths. After the war, Szálasi and other Arrow Cross leaders were tried as war criminals by Hungarian courts.

The party was founded by Szálasi in 1935 as the Party of National Will but was outlawed two years later for its violent radicalism. It was reconstituted in 1939 as the Arrow Cross Party, modelled fairly explicitly on the Nazi Party of Germany. Its iconography was clearly inspired by that of the Nazis; the Arrow Cross emblem was an ancient symbol of the Magyar tribes who settled Hungary, thereby representing the racial purity of the Hungarians in much the same way that the Nazi swastika was supposed to allude to the racial purity of the Aryans.

Image:Arrow Cross Party.jpg
Ministers of the Arrow Cross Party government. Ferenc Szálasi is in the middle of the lower row.

The party's ideology was somewhat similar to Nazism - nationalism, the promotion of agriculture, anti-capitalism, anti-Communism, and militant anti-Semitism. The Arrow Cross Party also was more radical economically than other fascist movements, advocating worker rights and land reforms. During the 1930's, it gradually began to dominate Budapest's working class district, defeating the Social Democrats. The group even gained the endorsement of the banned Communist Party.[citation needed] It subscribed to the Nazi ideology of "master races" which, in Szálasi's view, included the Hungarians, Germans and Japanese, and it also supported the concept of an order based on the power of the strongest – what Szálasi called a "brutally realistic étatism". However, its espousal of a "Greater Hungary" and Hungarian values (which Szálasi labelled "Hungarizmus" or "Hungarianism") clashed with Nazi ambitions in central Europe, delaying by several years Hitler's endorsement of the party. The German Foreign Office instead endorsed the pro-German Hungarian National Socialist Party, which had support among German minorities. Before World War II, The Arrow Cross also did not yet possess the racial anti-semitism of the Nazis, and instead utilized traditional stereotypes and prejudices to gain votes among voters in Budapest and the countryside. However, the constant bickering among these diverse fascist groups prevented the Arrow Cross Party from gaining even more support and power.

A World War II propaganda poster for the party – the text reads "Thereupon eke!"

The Arrow Cross obtained most of its support from a disparate coalition of military officers, students, nationalists and urban and agricultural workers. It was only one of a number of similar openly fascist factions in Hungary, but was by far the most prominent. When it contested the May 1939 elections - the only ones in which it stood - the party won more than 25% of the vote and 30 seats in the Hungarian Parliament. It thus became one of the most powerful parties in Hungary. However, the Arrow Cross was banned on the outbreak of World War II, forcing it to operate underground.

By 1944, however, it had gained the open support of Germany and the pro-German Prime Minister Döme Sztójay legalized the party again in March 1944. In October 1944 Hungary's ruler, Regent Miklós Horthy, was forced to resign by the Germans, who installed the Arrow Cross Party in government and appointed Szálasi as prime minister and head of state. Its rule was bloody but short-lived, as Soviet and Romanian forces were already fighting in Hungary even before Szálasi's takeover. The Battle of Budapest began in December 1944 and the Arrow Cross government effectively fell the following month. Arrow Cross members and German forces continued to fight a rear-guard action in the far west of Hungary until the end of the war in April 1945.

After the war, many of the Arrow Cross leaders were captured and tried for war crimes; many, including Szálasi himself, were executed.

The ideology of the Arrow Cross has resurfaced to some extent in recent years, with the Neo-Fascist Hungarian Welfare Association prominent in reviving Szálasi's "Hungarizmus" through its monthly magazine, Magyartudat ("Hungarian Awareness"). However, it is very much a fringe element of modern Hungarian politics.

The latest 'alleged' Arrow Cross War Criminal found living in Melbourne, Australia. (link)de:Pfeilkreuzler fr:Parti des Croix fléchées it:Croci Frecciate he:צלב החץ nl:Pijlkruisers pl:Strzałokrzyżowcy ro:Partidul Crucilor cu Săgeţi sk:Šípové kríže fi:Nuoliristi sv:Pilkorsrörelsen zh:箭十字黨

Arrow Cross Party

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