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Why is Trump's adviser wearing a medal of Nazi collaborators?

Donald Trump’s deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group that collaborated with the Nazis.

By Eli Clifton

Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka seen wearing a medal from the Vitzei Rend, a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. (Fox News screenshot)

Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka seen wearing a medal from the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. (Fox News screenshot)

The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but the Trump administration’s combative defense was perhaps the most surprising move by a presidency facing record low approval numbers. Last Monday, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka refused to admit that that it may have been poor judgment not to specifically acknowledge the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

Gorka was an odd choice of proxies for the White House to put forward in defense of its Holocaust Remembrance day statement.

He has appeared in multiple photographs wearing the medal of a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

When asked on Monday whether the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement was “questionable in being the first such statement in many years that didn’t recognize that Jewish extermination was the chief goal of the Holocaust,” Gorka told conservative talk show host Michael Medved:

No, I’m not going to admit it. Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.

That statement is particularly noteworthy when viewed in the context of Gorka’s apparent affinity for a Hungarian group with a checkered past.

Gorka, who worked in the UK and Hungary before immigrating to the U.S., was photographed at an inaugural ball wearing a medal from the Hungarian Order of Heroes, Vitezi Rend, a group listed by the State Department as taking direction from Germany’s Nazi government during World War II.

Gorka did not respond to a request for comment but appeared to be wearing the medal on his chest during the Trump inauguration ball and in an undated photo posted on his Facebook page.

Sebastian Gorka seen wearing a medal from the Vitzei Rend, a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

Sebastian Gorka seen wearing a medal from the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

Eva Balogh, founder of the news analysis blog Hungarian Spectrum and former professor of Eastern European History at Yale University, confirmed to LobeLog the identity of the medal worn by Gorka. She said:

Yes, the medal is of the ‘vitézi rend’ established by Miklós Horthy in 1920. He, as a mere governor, didn’t have the privilege to ennoble his subjects as the king could do before 1918, and therefore the ‘knightly order’ he established was a kind of compensation for him. Officers and even enlisted men of exceptional valor could become knights. Between 1920 and 1944 there were 23,000 such knights. The title was inheritable by the oldest son. I found information that makes it clear that Gorka’s father, Pál Gorka, used the title. However, since he was born in 1930 he couldn’t himself be the one ‘knighted.’ So, most likely, it was Gorka’s grandfather who was the original recipient.

Gorka’s PhD dissertation lists his name as “Sebestyén L. v. Gorka,” which suggests that he is carrying on his father’s title, albeit in an abbreviated format, according to Balogh. After this story first broke on LobeLog, Gorka addressed his public display of a Vitezi Rend medal in a video published by Breitbart, noting that he wears it to honor the experience of his parents under both Nazism and Soviet Communism.

Miklós Horthy, regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1920 to 1944, established Vitezi Rend for both civilian and military supporters of Horthy’s government. The group was initially open to non-Jews who served in distinction during World War I.

Although Horthy’s personal views about Jews are still debated, he was explicit in endorsing anti-Semitism even while showing some unease with the pace of the Holocaust. In an October 1940 letter to Prime Minister Pál Teleki, Horthy said:

As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life. I have never had contact with Jews. I have considered it intolerable that here in Hungary everything, every factory, bank, large fortune, business, theatre, press, commerce, etc. should be in Jewish hands, and that the Jew should be the image reflected of Hungary, especially abroad. Since, however, one of the most important tasks of the government is to raise the standard of living, i.e., we have to acquire wealth, it is impossible, in a year or two, to replace the Jews, who have everything in their hands, and to replace them with incompetent, unworthy, mostly big-mouthed elements, for we should become bankrupt. This requires a generation at least.

In April 1941, Hungary became a de facto member of the Axis and permitted German troops to cross Hungary for the invasion of Yugoslavia. The first massacres of Jews took place in August when SS troops murdered between 18,000 and 20,000 Jews without Hungarian citizenship after they’d been deported from Hungary to Ukraine.

By 1944, Horthy may have sought to distance Hungary from Nazi Germany but agreed to deport around 100,000 Jews. The German army removed Horthy from office after it occupied Hungary. Horthy’s actual awareness of the fate of Hungarian Jews remains unclear. But reports by journalists and the State Department in 1942 are explicit about the role played and benefits enjoyed by Vitezi Rend’s members.

A Jewish Telegraphic Agency report from October 1942, describes how:

Confiscated Jewish real estate in Hungary will be distributed by the government among members of the “Hungarian Order of Heroes” it was announced today over the Budapest radio. The order consists of soldiers who distinguished themselves in the last World War or in the present war.

“In 1942 there was a so-called ‘land reform,’” said Balogh. “It actually meant the expropriation of agricultural lands owned by Jewish citizens. According to government propaganda this move was necessary to ease social tensions in the countryside but as a recent study (2015) shows, most of the land went to “loyal, middle-class supporters of the regime, among them members of the ‘vitézi rend.’”

A checkered legacy

The State Department lists the Order of Heroes as an organization that was “under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany.” Membership in such groups during World War II could make individuals ineligible for U.S. visas. The State Department’s website warns that membership in groups under this designation:

[R]enders ineligible for a visa any alien who participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion during the period from March 23, 1933, to May 8, 1945, under the direction of or in association with the Nazi Government of Germany or an allied or occupied government.

Vitezi Rend was banned during the Soviet occupation of Hungary but reestablished in exile. The order was awarded to members of the Hungarian diaspora and individuals in Hungary since 1983. Although appearing to largely promote Hungarian culture and the diaspora, it sought foreign donors to help fund the construction of a statue of Horthy in 2011. A fundraising document read, “We have decided after almost seven decades to erect a statue in honor of our beloved Regent and to remember him, therefore we ask for your support!”

Miklós Horthy and Adolf Hitler in 1938.

Miklós Horthy and Adolf Hitler in 1938.

“In post-World War II Hungary, no noble titles of any sort can be officially used,” said Balogh. “The ‘knightly order’ no longer officially exists. However, right-wing émigrés kept the order going abroad.”

She later added, “Many supporters of the Horthy regime were enamored by the Nazis and Hitler and the ‘knights’ were especially so. Put it that way, after 1948 one wouldn’t have bragged about his father being a ‘vitéz.’ Lately, however, especially since 2010, it has become fashionable again to boast about such ‘illustrious’ ancestors.”

Horthy, under Hungary’s center-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has undergone a controversial rehabilitation, with squares renamed in his honor and statues erected.

Gorka’s decision to publicly identify with Vitezi Rend raises questions about Trump’s adviser and the administration’s flirtations with anti-Semitism and the alt-right. It’s even more awkward that he’s the person defending the administration’s explicit omission of Jewish victim of the Holocaust from the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and U.S. foreign policy. Eli previously reported for the American Independent New Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service. This article is reprinted, with permission, Lobelog.com.

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    1. Ben

      The picture of him yukking it up with Hannity is perfect. The deafening silence from the usual anti-Semitism monitors is interesting too. On this and on the Trump administration’s flirtations with anti-Semitism and the alt-right. How do you say “rank hypocrisy” in Hungarian? Anyone know?

      Reply to Comment
      • ANew

        Deafening silence? I heard the man himself when I visited America recently. I liked him. I liked what he said too. He seemed to be an ardent supporter of Israel. No antisemitic person would support Israel.

        Aaaaand, we Zionists won’t be taking our cue from people like you to determine who is or isn’t an antisemite.

        I mean it would be foolish, wouldn’t it? To listen to an antisemite to tell us who is or isn’t antisemitic?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “No antisemitic person would support Israel.”

          This is simple minded and false, and shows how confused you are. I’m not surprised by your flirtation with this man. (This crude, simple minded man–I’ve heard him speak too.) In regards to your crude anti-Semitizing, that is no surprise either. We’ve come to have very low expectations for your behavior. But on this page of all pages you should have thought twice before resorting to such shamelessness. Why would you need “a cue”? You have a formula: “Agree with +972 Magazine writer’s opinion ==> antisemite. And vice versa.”

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “This is simple minded and false”

            Only in an upside down world is a person who supports a Jewish state where 6 million Jews live is an antisemite, while those who knock the same Jewish state and people, day in and day out, are the ones to decide who is an antisemite.

            Have some self respect Benny. You are fooling no one.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Only in an upside down world…”

            Your formulas are naive, simplistic and false. And much of your self righteousness derives from it. The human world and the crooked timber of humanity is often “upside down” and crooked and knotted and contradictory. A person might equally hate, fear and loathe Muslims and Jews, or Arabs and Jews; or dislike Arabs and Jews and Mexicans and Asians. And therefore tactically support right wing Israel in its role as a perceived Muslim/Arab basher, or in its role as the perceived fulfiller of fundamentalist right wing Christian eschatology, but turn on Jews once these other projects are completed. With zero respect for universal human rights. In this regard you’re deeply kidding yourself about Gorka and his ancestors whose repellent medals he lovingly wears in bizarrely inappropriate circumstances.
            Other obvious and tiresome layers of falseness and simple mindedness in the same key: that being “pro-Israel” means supporting the current Israeli right wing project, equating Israel with its right wing. And that Jews = the Israeli state and the Israeli state = Jews. And that being against the occupation means being against Jews. Or that +972 “knocks Israel day after day” as some kind of perverse hateful thing rather than a loving and patriotic thing done with impeccable good sense and integrity.
            Take for example the snidely upside down troll statement below of Tony Riley: that a Nazi collaborator medal wearer would make a great “employee of” +972. That Tony the troll can make a twisted, cheap upside down anti-Semitizing statement like that shows you how upside down and inside out things can get.
            Or take your obnoxious and confused upside down and spun around statement on the other page that “You are not a Jew, Bruce…Bruce the pretend Jew…”
            Your trite simplistic formulas do not cover reality. +972 Magazine is far more realistic about Israel that you are.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “The human world and the crooked timber of humanity is often “upside down”

            Yes. Like you and your kind for instance. Let me remind you of some of the Benny-isms that you uttered in the past.

            “Judaism is a tribal exclusionist religion”

            “You can’t embarrass an Israeli”

            “Israelis are racists…”

            I won’t go on. But you expect me to listen to the likes of you to tell me who IS and who ISN’T an antisemite?

            I’d be laughing if I would not be so outraged at your HUTZPAH!!! Yes, the word for you is Hutzpah, a good Hebrew word which very very aptly describes you and your kind.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Gustav it’s amazing. What a spectacle. You go around exiling Jews such as Bruce for politically incorrect non-tribal thinking– he simply must, must, must be a fake Jew outside the tribe if he thinks non-right wing thoughts — which is at the same time both primitively tribal and exclusionary of you — but castigate Noam Scheizaf and me for using much wiser and more nuanced words to describe what you in degenerate form practice!! And then along comes Joshua and lets you have it and your panicked response is “I know though your numbers are very small.” You say Joshua “fools” people–and this maneuver against Joshua is just another version of the brazen “pallywood” form of denial. Someone recently coined the useful word, “anti-Semitizing.” Add to that “pallywoodizing.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “Jew outside the tribe if he thinks non-right wing thoughts”

            Correction: my criticism of those alleged Jews is not about their ‘NON RIGHT WING’ sentiments. I have no problems with genuine left wingers who disagree with me. Hey that’s what makes us stronger. That’s democracy. It forces us to look for new options and not be stuck in a groove.

            What I do have broblems with though is the single minded hatefulness that the mentioned alleged Jews on this thread exhibit towards the nation state of the Jewish people and it’s 6 million Jewish inhabitants. A bit like you Benny except that at least you did not pretend to be Jewish. That’s at least a plus for you.

            Take Amos Oz for instance. I disagree with him about many things. He is without a question a leftist icon. A talented author for whom at least I have respect because he clearly does not hate his own people and he is not an apologist for the Arabs. He respects both peoples and he wants to resolve the conflict for the benefit of both sides. At least I can respect his intentions if not his proposed methods.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            And what is actually “crooked” is your incessant twisting of my words. The actual words were “it does not remove the point as regards practices on the ground . . . Judaism is tribal and exclusive not inclusive. That’s OK, and it would be just what it is and of little consequence except that the same exclusivist zealotry [of Benzti Gopstein and the radical right] fuels a ruthless, race-based, supremacist occupation regime….” And was said in the context of a long and involved discussion I am quite happy to link to:

            Yes indeed, Gustav, you illustrate Kant’s famous words: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity not a straight thing was ever made.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            You know what Benny? I won’t argue with your exact words. Your claim of what you said is just as bad because:

            1. You made an untrue statement about Judaism.

            2. Your comment about Judaism, Judaism in general, was derogatory.

            3. Moreover, in the same tread you compared Judaism with Islam and you clearly tried to imply that Islam is superior to Judaism. In other words you were being a supremacist in favor of Islam.

            Keep digging Benny. Keep digging a bigger hole for yourself. Suffice it to say that I won’t be taking my cue from the likes of you to decide who IS or who ISN’T an antisemite.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh, and the line about “you can’t embarrass an Israeli”? I was quoting a highly placed American intelligence official. Go on, read it:

            Did an Israeli Spy Hide in Al Gore’s Bathroom?

            But “you can’t embarrass an Israeli,” another official was quoted as saying. “It’s just impossible to embarrass them. You catch them red-handed, and they shrug and say, ‘Okay now, anything else?’”

            And why this funny story is important is that it is about “why [Israel] gets kid-glove treatment…Israel’s espionage activities in America are “unrivaled and unseemly,” going far beyond the activities of other close allies.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “I was quoting a highly placed American intelligence official. Go on, read it”

            Correction: you were quoting him GLEEFULLY. You fully agreed with his racist sentiment.

            And don’t even try to pull your usual stunt about “being anti Israeli is not racist because Israeli is a nationality, not a race”. Because you know that I will immediately point you to the formal UN definition of racism. It includes making derogatory statements about an an entire nation (generalising) as racist! Hey, don’t argue with me about it. Don’t blame me. It’s your UN, not mine.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            As usual, you miss the point spectacularly. And to say that the American official who said this in this context is “racist” shows how blame-externalizing, tetchy, grievance collecting, easily slighted and angered you are, imagining racism and maliciousness absolutely everywhere, and avoiding responsibility. It’s impenetrable. But at the same time Israeli racism and condescension towards Arabs is no biggie and so “understandable.”

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            No Benny, it is precisely the other way around. I have admitted many time that we have our racists too. But if I do that, why would you expect me not to mention YOUR own, yes your very own racism, Benny, when you make racist comments? Why would you expect me to give you a free pass and not point out your own racism, Benny-leh?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            If somebody caught Americans with their pants down flagrantly like this and our State Department shrugged and said “Okay now, anything else?”–and the other country’s official said “You can’t embarrass an American, it’s just impossible to embarrass them. You catch them red-handed, and they shrug and say, ‘Okay now, anything else?’”–I wouldn’t get aaaalllll hot and bothered and on my high horse and call the official “racist”! Good grief! I would say they are overgeneralizing but that there’s a kernel of truth and a point made. And I’d find it funny. I thought you Israelis prided yourself on your bluntness and hutzpah and toughness. But you’re really fragile, tender sensitive souls? Quick to be offended? Who knew? I mean lot’s of you expect president Obama to just laugh off jokes about weak black coffee and Kerry to shrug off public snideness about Nobel prizes and messianism.
            And by the way, you still miss the important point about the kid glove treatment. Everybody is soooooo “racist” towards you but give you kid glove treatment. Hmmmmmm.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “I wouldn’t get aaaalllll hot and bothered and on my high horse and call the official “racist”!”

            Yes you would. Judging by how readily you call others racists on this site. Judging how ready you are of accusing us Israelis to be racists. Yes, ALL of us. And that in itself is racism.

            Again, read the UN’s own definition of racism. Calling an entire nation names, vilifying them and ridiculing them (Israelis in this case) based on what SOME of us do or don’t do. Generalising based on that, is RAAACIST!!!!

            Moreover, as I mentioned. You have told untruths about Judaism. Derogatory untruths and you arrogantly clearly implied, in fact you actually said it, that Islam is superior to Judaism.

            But you want me to just ignore all of that and dismiss it as nothing? Then you have the Hutzpah to try to point at others and call them racists and criticise us for not taking your word for it becsuse of your own racist sentiments? I call that HUTZPAH, Benny. Hutzpah with a capital H!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            All of this is, as usual, either a crafted distortion or an obtuseness about important distinctions that is impenetrable.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            All of this is about Benny floundering and running out of excuses.

            Reply to Comment
        • Joshua Fisher

          “No antisemitic person would support Israel.”
          Are you really that naive? I don’T think so. Youmust know that every european nazi, fascist, racist with a simple strategic thought knows that you can’t be openly anti-semitic and you better show solidarity with the Israeli fra-right landgrabbers. But be asured in private rooms they all will tell you about westcoast, rothschild and baby-blood drinking parasites bullshit. These are your allies in your war against muslims and decency. You just don’t care if you walk hand in hand with people who slaughtered millions. You and your allies let me vomit all day.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            And you and YOUR allies make ME vomit all day.

            Fortunately I know though that your numbers are very small. And even amongst the ones that you manage to fool, many are good people who will wake up to your disgusting ideology and will eventually ditch you with disgust.

            Reply to Comment
    2. carmen

      Just an observation. When jews defend the rights of non-jews and call out their fellow jews for their racism/xenophobia, etc., those jews are oftentimes labeled by their fellow travelers as self-hating jews or worse, kapos (thank you david friedman and others). When a member of the tRUMP administration has expressed ‘antisemitic’ views, has provided a platform for the neonazi white supremacist ‘alt-right’, when ‘jews’ are omittted from holocaust remembrance day and when tRUMP’s deputy assistant wears the medal given to hungarian nazi collaborators there isn’t even a blip on the radar of the GoI. And when this is brought to the zionist leader’s attention, he’s down with it so everybody chill…thre’s nothing to see here.

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        So “tRUMP” as you call him, Carmen, is an antisemite, huh?

        You must really think that people are stupid, don’t you?

        How can Trump be an antisemite? His daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism so he has Jewish grandchildren! Do you know something the rest of us don’t know? Did he disown his own daughter and grandchildren because of that? Clearly he did not. Clearly he still loves them. Is that the profile of an antisemite?! Of course not!

        You don’t fool anyone with your inane accusation ‘m dear. The only thing that you manage to do is to confirm my accusation against you as to who you are not. Oh and you also confirm my assessment about your low IQ.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Jay

      Listening to this ‘advisor’ defend Mr Trump through distortion, disinformation & outright false statements qualifies him as not-to-be taken seriously about anything. He sounds like a dangerous element….especially to sit at Mr Trump’s ‘right’ hand.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Tony Riley

      Sounds like he’d make a great employee for +972

      Reply to Comment
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