Ferenc Szálasi

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Ferenc Szálasi
Date of birth January 6, 1897
Date of death March 12, 1946
Political Party Arrow Cross Party
Political positions
  • Leader of the Hungarian Nation (1944-1945)

Ferenc Szálasi (January 6, 1897-March 12, 1946) was a Fascist and National Socialist and the Prime Minister of Hungary during the final days of Hungary's participation in World War II.

Born the son of a soldier in Kassa (Hungarian name of the present-day Slovak town Košice), Szálasi followed in his father's footsteps and joined the army at a young age. He eventually became an officer and served in the army during World War I. In 1925, Szálasi entered the Hungarian General Staff and by 1933 he had attained the rank of major. Around this time, Szálasi became fascinated with politics and often lectured on Hungary's political affairs. Szálasi was a fanatical right winger and a strong proponent of Hungarism, advocating the expansion of Hungary's borders (back to their thousand year lasting original and natural state) and the spread of Hungarian culture and power throughout Europe. In 1935, Szálasi left the army in order devote his full attention to politics, after which time he established the Party of National Will, a nationalistic group which was unpopular with the people. It was eventually outlawed by the government for being too radical. Unperturbed, Szálasi established the Hungarian National Socialist Party in 1937, which was also banned. However, Szálasi was able to attract considerable support to his cause by adopting views that appealed to industrial workers and members of Hungary's lower classes.

After Germany's Anschluss with Austria in 1938, Szálasi's followers became more radical and violent in their political activities, and as such Szálasi was arrested by the Hungarian Secret Police and imprisoned. However, Szálasi managed to remain a powerful political figure in prison, and was proclaimed leader of the fascistic Arrow Cross Party (a combination of multiple right wing groups) when it was expanded in 1938. The party attracted a large number of followers and in the 1939 elections it gained 30 seats in the Hungarian Parliament, thus becoming one of the most powerful parties in Hungary. Freed due to a general amnesty resulting from the Second Vienna Award in 1940, Szálasi returned to politics. When World War II began, the Arrow Cross Party was officially banned by Prime Minister Pál Teleki, thus forcing Szálasi to operate in secret. During this time period, Szálasi gained the support and backing of the Germans, who had once been opposed to Szálasi due to his advocacy of Hungarian expansionism. When the pro-German Döme Sztójay became Prime Minister of Hungary in March of 1944, Szálasi and his supporters were rewarded when the Arrow Cross Party was legalized by the government, which allowed Szálasi to expand the party even further. When Sztójay was deposed in August, however, Szálasi once again became an enemy of the Hungarian government and Regent Miklós Horthy ordered his arrest. Szálasi, however, was protected by the Germans, who had grown tired of dealing with Horthy and planned to make Szálasi prime minister. The Germans forced Horthy to resign as regent in 1944 and appoint Szálasi prime minister and head of state, thus making Szálasi the sole leader of Hungary.

Upon becoming ruler of Hungary, Szálasi clashed with the Germans on the treatment of Hungarian Jews. Although an Anti-Semite, Szálasi was against the mass extermination of Jews and initially refused to deport Hungary's Jews to Germany. Szálasi's government was still brutally Anti-Semitic, however, and tens of thousands of Jews were murdered by Arrow Cross men while many thousands more were put into forced labor programs and ghettos. Szálasi's reign was ultimately short lived, however, as the Soviet and Romanian armies had been advancing through Hungary since before Szálasi had taken office. On December 24, 1944, the Soviets, in alliance with the Romanians<ref>The Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front (army group) included the 1st and 4th Romanian Armies.
Source: p. 178, The Times Atlas of the Second World War, ed. John Keegan, pub. 1989</ref>, reached Budapest and less than two months later completely defeated the German and Hungarian soldiers defending it. Szálasi and his followers continued to operate in Hungary until it was completely seized in April 1945, after which time Szálasi fled to Austria. After the war, he was captured by U.S. troops in Germany and returned to Hungary, where he was tried by the People's Tribunal in Budapest and sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was executed in 1946 in Budapest.


Preceded by:
Miklós Horthy
(as regent)
Leader of the Hungarian Nation
Succeeded by:
High National Council
Preceded by:
Géza Lakatos
Prime Minister of Hungary
(de facto)
Succeeded by:
Béla Miklós
de:Ferenc Szálasi

eo:Ferenc Szálasi fr:Ferenc Szálasi he:פרנץ סלשי hu:Szálasi Ferenc nl:Ferenc Szálasi no:Ferenc Szálasi ro:Ferenc Szálasi ru:Салаши, Ференц fi:Ferenc Szálasi sv:Ferenc Szálasi

Ferenc Szálasi

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