Estoril – Horthy villa

About ten kilometres west of Lisbon in the fashionable Estoril, the Hungarian former regent Miklos Horthy lived in a nice villa between 1950 til his death in 1957. Horthy had served in the first world war in the austro-hungarian fleet. After the first world war, he became politically engaged and in 1920 was appointed Hungarian head of state. Already in 1920 and as the first country in Europe, anti-Semitic laws were introduced that limited Jewish opportunities for study at Hungarian universities.

Hungary’s form of government was nationalist with a large element of conservatism and therefore fitted well into the wave of nationalist parties and currents that washed over Europe during the thirties in particular. Hungary therefore came to ally itself with Germany and Italy in 1938 and introduced additional anti-Semitic laws. But when the Holocaust shifted up in 1941 and 1942, Hungary refused to follow Germany’s path of even more extreme anti-Semitic measures. The Jews could therefore, albeit with elements of anti-Semitism, live a limited life without having to risk being deported or put into ghettos.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Hungary declared war a few days later. Under pressure, they sent troops to the Soviet Union under German command, but kept the majority of the troops in Hungary. When the war happiness began to turn in 1943, Horthy tried to find a way out of the alliance with Hitler. This was strongly dismissed by Hitler, who therefore occupied Hungary in mid-March 1944 and installed a pronazi government. This was followed by an escalation of the persecution of the Jews and about 400,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz between March and july 1944.

Horthy could not but accept this, but under pressure from the Western countries, which threatened to hold him to account after the war, Horthy stopped the deportations in August 1944. He installed a new prime minister who resumed diplomacy by ending the war for Hungary. Hitler then came to imprison Horthy and even take his son hostage because he would not invent anything more. A new German-friendly government, the Pilkors Party, led by Ferenc Szalazi, took power and remained until the end of the war. During the arrow crosses, the Jewish persecutions escalated properly.

After the war, Horthy was imprisoned for a short period but was released in December 1945 and was reunited with his family. He also testified in the Nuremberg trials. But he could not return to Hungary because the country was now a communist state. The family therefore continued to live in Bavaria, Germany, until 1950 when they moved to a nice villa in Estoril outside Lisbon. When Horthy died in 1957, he was buried in Lisbon, only in 1993 after Hungary freed himself from the communists, he was returned to Hungary, based on his own demands not to be returned until Hungary was free.

Current status: Preserved with tablet (2023).

Address: 1937 R. Dom Afonso Henriques, 2765-573 Estoril.

Get there: Walk.

My comment:

There is a small information board on the facade facing the street. Until a few years ago a Guest House was run in the villa but it seems now closed. The villa is also surrounded by a high fence that obstructs transparency and the impression is that those who lives there, or own the villa, seems shady.

Follow up in books: Levine Paul A: Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest: Myth, History and Holocaust (2010).