SZÁLASI, FERENC ° (1897–1946), leader of the antisemitic *Arrow Cross Party, chief of state of Hungary (October 1944–March 1945). Upon retirement from the army (1935) he founded the National Socialist "Party of National Will" and later the Hungarist movement. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment for these activities in 1938 but was released in 1940, whereupon he became the leader of the Arrow Cross Party.
Szálasi pressed for anti-Jewish measures, including extermination. He maintained close relations with the German Nazi party and Hitler made him the "Nation's Leader" and head of the government in Oct. 1944 some time after the Germans had occupied Hungary. His government immediately stepped up persecution of the Jews, and all over the country pogroms broke out, in which he sanctioned the atrocities of his Arrow Cross men. Szálasi aimed to remove all the Jews from the country; to this end he collaborated closely with *Eichmann and Veesenmayer on the "Final Solution." He installed additional ghettos in *Budapest and refused to recognize safe conduct passes or to exempt baptized Jews from living in these ghettos. He also stepped up the deportations and expropriated Jewish property. Seized by Americans on German territory, he was handed over to the Hungarian government, tried, sentenced, and hanged in 1946.
R.L. Braham, The Hungarian Jewish Catastrophe: a selected and annotated bibliography (1962), index; J. Lévai, Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (1948), passim; A. Geyer, A magyarországi fasizmus zsidóüldözésének bibliográfiája, 1945–1958 (1958), index.
[Jozeph Michman (Melkman)]