Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Szalasi is given the last rites before being hanged as a collaborator

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Szalasi is given the last rites before being hanged as a collaborator in Budapest, 1946

Ferenc Szálasi was the leader and all-powerful head of the fascist Arrow Cross movement, the regime that came to power in Hungary with the armed assistance of the Germans on October 15-16, 1944. After that date, the fate of hundreds of thousands of Jews was in his hands. Szálasi’s hatred of the Jews was a pillar of his Weltanschauung. He seriously believed in the theory of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. In June 1943, he declared that the Jews, de facto and de jure, ruled the word: “Plutocracy, freemasonry, the liberal democracy, parliamentarism, and the Marxism are all but instruments in the hands of Jews so that they can hang onto their power and control over the world.” Firmly believing himself to be a good Christian and a Catholic, Szálasi argued that anti-Semitism was taught in the Bible itself. Unlike Hitler or Alfred Reosenberg, Szalasi was merely an anti-Semite. He knew in inferior and superior races; he merely hated the Jews.

He was head of the state during the final three months of Hungary’s participation in World War II, after Germany occupied Hungary and removed Miklós Horthy by force. During his brief rule, Szálasi’s men murdered 10,000–15,000 Jews. On 19 November 1944, Szálasi was in the Hungarian capital when Soviet and Romanian forces began encircling it. By the time the city was encircled he was gone. The “Leader of the Nation” (Nemzetvezető) fled to Szombathely on 9 December. By March 1945, Szálasi was in Vienna. Later, he fled to Munich.

When the war ended, Szálasi was captured by American troops and returned to Hungary. He was tried by the People’s Tribunal in Budapest in open sessions and sentenced to death for war crimes and high treason. Szálasi was hanged on March 12, 1946, in Budapest.

Interesting stuff:

  • The hanging method being used in this photo is called short drop. The vast majority of hangings in history have been this method. It’s slow, brutal, painful, and humiliating, and doesn’t do much damage to the corpse.
  • The short drop is performed by placing the condemned prisoner on the back of a cart, horse, or other vehicle, with the noose around the neck. The object is then moved away, leaving the person dangling from the rope. Another method involves using a stool, which the condemned is required to stand on, being kicked away. As with suspension hanging, the condemned prisoner slowly dies of strangulation, which typically takes between ten and twenty minutes, resulting in a considerably more protracted, grisly and painful death as compared to the standard or long drop hanging, which is intended to kill by using the shock of the initial drop to fracture the spinal column at the neck.
  • The last photo is after the execution, and the person with his hand over the Szálasi’s face is closing his eyes.
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