László Karsai

Searchlight into Darkness:
The Diary of Ferenc Szálasi, September 15, 1943–July 18, 1944


The recently (re)discovered personal Diary of Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szálasi (1897–1946) throws a brilliant light into the dark cave of his thought. Szálasi, this impossible man, was nothing, if not consistently sincere. There is no contradiction between his public speeches, published writings, and the Diary, which he wrote in 1943–1944. He often declared at that time that Germany and his allies would win the war, despite the fact that he was a well-trained officer, a staff major in the Hungarian army, until his resignation in 1935. He hated the Jews, and his Diary revealed that he had firsthand information about the destruction of the European Jews. His political analyses are as unintelligent as a semi-illiterate high school student’s. After reading his anti-Jewish invectives, his complaints about Regent Horthy’s behavior, and his derision for Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church in this Diary, the most fundamental question remains unanswered: how was he able to organize in three years (1935–1938) the most powerful right-wing mass movement in the history of Hungary?