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Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya

(1868—1957)


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(1868–1957)

Hungarian naval officer who became head of state after World War I.

Descended from a long line of Protestant aristocrats, Horthy entered the Imperial Naval Academy at Fiume (now Rijeka, in Croatia) at the age of fourteen. He joined the Austro-Hungarian navy in 1886, rising to lieutenant by 1900. While he was commanding the Taurus, stationed off Constantinople (now Istanbul), his diplomatic activities found favour with Emperor Franz-Joseph, who made Horthy his aide-de-camp in 1909. During World War I, Horthy commanded the battleship Hapsburg and the cruiser Norvara. In 1917 he became a national hero after breaking through the Allied blockade across the Straits of Otranto and returning safely to his Adriatic port. The following year he was promoted to rear-admiral and later supervised the transfer of the Austro-Hungarian fleet to Yugoslavia.

1919 saw a communist revolution in Hungary led by Béla Kun (1886–?1939). Horthy organized an army to crush the communists, entering Budapest in November. He then presided over the White Terror, in which any suspected communist sympathizers, including many Jews, were either interned or shot. The Hungarian parliament appointed Horthy regent to the monarch, but when the exiled Charles I returned in 1921, Horthy prevented him from reclaiming the throne. In the 1930s, Horthy played an active role in his country's attempts to accommodate Hitler, who ceded parts of Czechoslovakia and Romania to Hungary, which, in November 1940, joined the Axis powers. But Horthy soon became an obstacle to the Germans and they abducted him to a concentration camp in 1944. The Allies held him in Nuremberg prison but he was released without trial in 1946 to spend his remaining years in Portugal.

Subjects: contemporary history (post 1945).


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