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Tamás Kovács, PhD
National Public Service University, Faculty of Law Enforcement, Department of Law Enforcement Theory and History

Budapest, Hungary

 

POLICE OFFICERS AT A CROSSROADS: LIFE-STORIES OF HUNGARIAN POLICE OFFICERS AFTER THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF HUNGARY

Vol. XLII, 1/2024, pp. 123-142
https://doi.org/10.29362/ist20veka.2024.1.tam.123-142

 

ABSTRACT/RESUME:

The Political Police Department of the Hungarian Law Enforcement, which operated within the framework of the Hungarian police at the time, performed a wide range of tasks. However, counterintelligence in today’s sense was also one of the tasks of the Department. The heads of the Department were trusted by the Hungarian Minister of the Interior at the time. It is a fact that in the first period the Hungarian communist movement was the main target of the Department. However, this changed from the beginning of the 1930s and the Hungarian far-right movements were now in the crosshairs. These parties had high social support. At the same time, it was felt that Nazi Germany was increasingly interested in Hungary. In practice, this also meant that many Hungarian military officers and police officers were employed as agents by the German law enforcement and security agencies. After 1939, a peculiar struggle unfolded in the Hungarian interior and national defense leadership between pro-Germans and anti-Germans. A decisive turn occurred during the German occupation of Hungary. The Ger-man law enforcement and security agencies knew exactly who they could and could not count on. Untrustworthy police officers were arrested and deported. Moreover, a special police unit called the State Security Police was created from the reliable policemen, which was already called the “Hungarian Gestapo” in the vernacular of the time. The activities of this organization were characterized by abuses and the unscrupulous service of the German authorities. Due to the change in the war situation, the leadership of the State Security Police moved further and further west, which believed in the German victory until almost the last moment. The main goal of the deported policemen was to survive. After the war, they joined the CIC to track down and capture Hungarian war criminals, including their former colleagues. The officers who collaborated with the Germans were eventually executed. However, the fate of the former anti-German police officers did not prove to be easy either. Those who re-turned home were not looked upon kindly by the communist government, and their fate after 1948 was persecution. And those who did not return home found it difficult to find their place, even if the USA eventually accepted them.

 

KEYWORDS: German Occupation, Counter-intelligence, Law enforcement, Resistance, War Crimes, World War II

 

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