László Bárdossy

László Bárdossy de Bárdos (December 10, 1890 - January 10, 1946) was Prime Minister of Hungary from 1941 to 1942.

Born in Szombathely to a bourgeois family, Bárdossy began his career in the Hungarian government as a young man when he found employ in the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Bárdossy transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1920, and served as head of its press department from 1924 to 1931. Bárdossy quickly rose through the foreign ministry, serving as a member of the Hungarian legation to London from 1931 to 1934. In 1934, he was appointed to the important position of Ambassador to Romania. In February of 1941, Bárdossy was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in Prime Minister Pál Teleki’s cabinet. When Teleki committed suicide on April 3, 1941, Bárdossy was immediately appointed prime minister by Regent Miklós Horthy. As prime minister, Bárdossy (who also retained the portfolio of foreign minister) pursued a strong pro-German foreign policy, reasoning that an alliance with the Nazis would allow Hungary to retrieve land that had been taken from it as a result of the Treaty of Trianon. Shortly after Bárdossy became prime minister, Germany invaded Yugoslavia. Bárdossy and Horthy sent the Hungarian Army to assist the Germans, and in return Hungarian troops were allowed to occupy territory in Yugoslavia that had formerly belonged to Hungary. Hungary was eventually allowed to annex pieces of Vojvodina, Croatia, and Slovenia as well.

On matters of domestic policy, Bárdossy proved to be an advocate of radical right wing politics. An Anti-Communist, Bárdossy enacted the Third Jewish Law in August 1941, which severely limited Jewish economic and employment opportunities and prohibited Jews from marrying or having sexual intercourse with non-Jews. Bárdossy also approved the policy of deporting non-Hungarians from the territory seized from Yugoslavia, and authorized the slaughter of thousands of Jews in Novi Sad. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Bárdossy was restrained by Horthy from declaring war on the Soviet Union. On June 26, however, the Hungarian city of Kassa was bombed and the Soviets were identified as the attackers. After learning of the attack and meeting with his cabinet and Horthy, Bárdossy declared war on the Soviet Union. In so doing, he violated Hungary’s constitution, which required the prime minister to receive the consent of Parliament before declaring war (Bárdossy declared war without Parliament’s permission). After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bárdossy was reluctant to declare war on the United States. He eventually relented to pressure from Germany (which reminded him of Hungary’s signing of the Tripartite Pact), however, and declared war on the United States on December 13, 1941 (once again not gaining permission from Parliament before declaring war).

On March 7, 1942, Bárdossy was forced to resign as prime minister by Regent Horthy. Exactly why Horthy decided to remove Bárdossy is unclear, but some possible reasons include Bárdossy’s unwillingness to stand up to Germany, his compliancy to Hungary’s Far-right, increasing Hungarian troop levels and casualties in the Soviet Union. Perhaps the primary reason that Horthy dismissed Bárdossy, however, was that Bárdossy successfully opposed a plan by Horthy that would have elevated his son, Nicholas Horthy, to the regency after Miklós Horthy’s death. After resigning as prime minister, Bárdossy became chairman of the Fascist United Christian National League in 1943. After the German occupation of Hungary in 1944, Bárdossy and his followers collaborated with Prime Minister Döme Sztójay and Ferenc Szálasi’s Arrow Cross Party. After World War II ended, Bárdossy was arrested and tried by a People’s Court in November of 1945. He was found guilty of war crimes and collaboration with the Nazis, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad in Budapest in 1946.


In English

*Clementis-Záhony Botond: Bárdossy Reconsiderd: Hungary's Entrance into World War II. In: Triumph in Adversity. New York, 1988.
*Nandor F. Dreisziger: "A Dove? A Hawk? Perhaps a Sparrow: Bárdossy Defends his Wartime Record before the Americans, July 1945," in Hungary Fifty Years Ago, N.F. Dreisziger ed. (Toronto and Budapest: special issue of the Hungarian Studies Review, Vol. XXII, Nos. 1-2, 1995), pp. 71-90.
*Nandor F. Dreisziger: "Prime Minister László Bárdossy was Executed 50 Years Age as a 'War Criminal'," in Tárogató: the Journal of the Hungarian Cultural Society of Vancouver, Vol. XXIII, no. 11 (November 1996), pp. 56-57.
*Nandor F. Dreisziger: Was László Bárdossy a War Criminal? Further Reflections, In: Hungary in the Age of Total War 1938-1948 (Bradenton: East European Monographs, distr. through Columbia University Press, 1998) pp. 311-320.

In Hungarian

*Bárdossy László: Magyar politika a mohácsi vész után. Budapest, 1943.
*A Bárdossy-per / a Magyar Országos Tudósitó és a Magyar Távirati Iroda hivatalos kiadásaiból szerk. Ábrahám Ferenc, Kussinszky Endre, Budapest, 1945.
*Bárdossy László a Népbíróság elõtt, [szerk: Pritz Pál] Bp. : Maecenas, 1991. (dokumentumok)
*Bûnös volt-e Bárdossy László [ed.Jaszovszky László] Budapest, Püski, 1996. (az elsőfokú tárgyalás jegyzőkönyve)
*Czettler Antal: A mi kis élethalál kérdéseink. A magyar külpolitika a hadbalépéstől a német megszállásig. Bp., 2000, Magvető.
*PERJÉS Géza: Bárdossy László és pere. Hadtörténelmi közlemények. 113. 2000. 4. 771-840.
*Pritz Pál: A Bárdossy-per, Bp. : Kossuth, [2001] .
*JASZOVSZKY László: Észrevételek Perjés Géza "Bárdossy László és pere" című tanulmányához. Hadtörténelmi közlemények. 114. 2001. 4. 711-725.
*CLEMENTIS-ZÁHONY Botond: Hozzászólás Perjés Géza Bárdossy-tanulmányához. = Hadtörténelmi közlemények. 114. 2001. 4. 726-734.
*PRITZ Pál: Válasz Perjés Gézának. Hadtörténelmi közlemények. 114. 2001. 4.
*PERJÉS Géza: Viszontválasz Pritz Pálnak. Hadtörténelmi közlemények. 114. 2001. 4.
*Bokor Imre: Gróf Teleki Pálról és Bárdossy Lászlóról, Budapest, Szenci M. Társ., 2002.
*Szerencsés Károly: "Az ítélet: halál" magyar miniszterelnökök a bíróság elõtt : Batthyány Lajos, Bárdossy László, Imrédy Béla, Szálasi Ferenc, Sztójay Döme, Nagy Imre, Bp. : Kairosz, [2002]

See also

*History of Hungary

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