World War II
The country became allied with Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The Hungarians allied themselves with the Germans in the hope that the territorial loss by the Treaty of Trianon could be reversed. Initially the alliance with Germany paid off. Some lost territories were returned to Hungary in the two Vienna Awards. In 1941, Hungary belatedly assisted the Germans with the invasion of Yugoslavia. Hungary then occupied the Backa. On 22 June 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). The Hungarians soon followed the Germans and entered World War II as a member of the Axis. In late 1941, the Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front experienced success at the Battle of Uman. By 1943, after the Hungarian Second Army suffered extremely heavy losses at the Battle of Stalingrad, the Hungarian government sought to negotiate a surrender with the Allies. On 19 March 1944, as a result of this duplicity, German troops quietly occupied Hungary in what was known as Operation Margarethe. But, by now it was clear that the Hungarians were Germany's "unwilling satellite". On 15 October 1944, the pro-West Horthy again ran afoul of the Germans. This time the Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust and Horthy was replaced by a puppet government under the pro-German Prime Minister Ferenc Szálasi. Szálasi and his pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party remained loyal to the Germans until the end of the war. In late 1944, Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front again experienced success at the Battle of Debrecen. But this was followed immediately by the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the Battle of Budapest. On 28 December 1944, a "provisional government" was formed in Hungary under acting Prime Minister Béla Miklós. While the Miklós government immediately ousted Prime Minister Ferenc Szálasi's government, the Germans and pro-German Hungarians loyal to Szálasi fought on in Hungary. On 20 January 1945, representatives of the Hungarian "provisional government" went to Moscow and agreed to complete Hungarian capitulation. Again, the Germans and pro-German Hungarians loyal to Szálasi fought on in Hungary. On 13 February 1945, the Hungarian capital city surrendered unconditionally. On 8 May 1945, World War II in Europe officially ended.
Hungary was the first modern nation to pass distinctly anti-Semitic laws. The "numerus clausus" laws of the early 1920s restricted Jewish access to higher education. In the late 1930s, more specifically anti-Semitic laws followed. Though massacres of Jews by Hungarian forces took place during the early part of the Second World War, Hungary initially resisted large scale deportation of its Jewish population. Ultimately, however, during the German occupation in May-June 1944, the Arrow Cross Party and Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews, mostly to Auschwitz. Over 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as tens of thousands of Roma people. Hundreds of Hungarian people were also executed by the Arrow Cross Party for sheltering Jews, among them Sister Sára Salkaházi. Foreign heads of states and diplomats who helped save many lives included Cardinal Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, Raoul Wallenberg, and Carl Lutz. Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca posed as a Spanish diplomat in order to issue forged visas and establish safe houses, including one for Jewish children. When Soviet forces liberated Budapest in February 1945, more than 100,000 Jews remained.