Wartime fascist denies targeting Jews

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A FORMER high-ranking official in Hungary's wartime fascist government who fled to Australia under an assumed name in 1949 yesterday denied his party had been responsible for the deportation or murder of Jews.

Lajos Polgar, who has lived in Melbourne for more than 50 years since fleeing war crimes prosecutors, admitted yesterday he had been a youth leader in the anti-Semitic Arrow Cross party and worked as secretary to Josef Gera, a senior leader in the Arrow Cross government that ruled under German occupation from October 1944 to January 1945.

Mr Polgar, 89, is facing fresh investigations into his background after his connections to the Arrow Cross regime were revealed by federal Labor MP Michael Danby at the weekend.

In a lengthy interview at his home in the Melbourne suburb of Ferntree Gully, Mr Polgar denied the Arrow Cross party was anti-Semitic, claiming "everybody in Hungary was anti-Jewish" during the war.

"After the war all the leaders were hanged, but there was not one among them who was guilty, really," Mr Polgar told The Australian. "At that time, you could not do anything because everybody was in the hands of the Jews. They just hanged them. Completely, completely innocent people."

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