Donald Trump aide Sebastian Gorka denies claims he was sworn member of Hungarian group with Nazi past

Deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka participates in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference 

Deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka participates in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference  CREDIT:  ALEX WONG

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A British aide to Donald Trump has denied accusations that his ties to a Hungarian group linked to the Nazis are evidence of anti-Semitic views, as calls mount for his resignation.

Sebastian Gorka, who serves as deputy assistant to the president, is under increasing pressure after he was pictured wearing a medal presented by the Vitezi Rend.

The US government designated the order as an organisation “under Nazi control” during the Second World War, when Hungary’s nationalist leader Miklos Horthy allied with Adolf Hitler and collaborated in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Mr Gorka said he wore the medal in memory of his father, who was honoured for his fight against the Communist regime in Hungary.

Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President
Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President CREDIT: MARTIN H. SIMON/REDUX

“My father was nine years old when the Second World War started,” he said in an interview with the Telegraph. “I was born in 1970. Neither of us could be guilty of what they’re stating.” Mr Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington’s political elite when he took power.

But his administration of outsiders has brought its own problems.

Now his adviser on extremist terrorism is battling negative headlines ahead of a major summit this week when the 68 countries of the global coalition fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) will convene in Washington.

Mr Gorka, who grew up in west London, was already a controversial figure for arguing that the Obama administration undermined the fight against Isil by playing down any link between terrorism and Islamic teaching.

At times he has been the face of the Trump White House, publicly defending the first travel ban and clashing with Evan Davis on the BBC’s NewsNight programme.

Now, the Anne Frank Centre is calling for his resignation and Democratic senators have written to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice demanding to know whether Mr Gorka misled immigration officials over membership of the controversial order when he became an American citizen in 2012.

The controversy first surfaced when he was seen at an inaugural ball wearing the medal in January.

Questions have intensified during the past week with The Forward, a Jewish newspaper in New York, accusing him of being a sworn member of the organisation.

Mr Gorka said he was the victim of a politically motivated campaign that has smeared his dead Hungarian parents.

“It’s not about reality, it’s a blood sport, it’s about taking down individuals,” he said.

Critics have seized on the fact that his mother translated Hungarian documents for David Irving’s book on the 1956 uprising – several years before he publicly denied the Holocaust.

Controversial British historian David Irving 
Controversial British historian David Irving 

But Mr Gorka denied any anti-Semitism in his family.

He said his father had protected Jewish boys wearing yellow stars on the way to school as a child. When Communists took power, he supplied information to MI6 before being arrested, tortured and imprisoned (possibly betrayed by Kim Philby). He arrived in the UK after escaping during the 1956 uprising.

“I am proud of what my father did,” said Mr Gorka. “I am proud of his resistance to all forms of totalitarianism.”

He insisted that he was not a full member of the Order of Vitez.

“By the bye laws I inherited the title of Vitez through the merits of my father, but I never swore allegiance formally,” he said.

Historians say the legacy of the Vitezi Rend, established in 1920 by Horthy as a symbol of national pride, is complicated.

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House
President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

It was banned under Communist rule but revived in different parts of the world at different times.

Today far Right groups celebrate it as a reminder of a white, Christian pre-war nationalism – which excluded Jews – while for others it is a symbol of the counter-revolution that toppled a short-lived Communist regime in 1919.

Leslie Waters, prof of European History at Randolph-Macon College, said: “It definitely is a symbol that a lot of Hungarians would associate with racist ideology and anti-Semitism but plenty of Hungarians also associate it with some sort of generic patriotism and anti-communism.” The controversy has reignited questions about the team around Mr Trump.

Todd Gitlin, an American political commentator, said whatever the truth about the medal, Mr Gorka’s ideas on Islam and terrorism deserved scrutiny.

“They are views that ought to have been problematic in the first place, regardless of who his father was or what the medal stood for,” he said.

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One Response to “Donald Trump aide Sebastian Gorka denies claims he was sworn member of Hungarian group with Nazi past”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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