Operation Margarethe

German Bf 110s flying over Budapest, January 1944.

Operation Margarethe was the occupation of Hungary by Nazi German forces during World War II,[1][2] as it was ordered by Hitler on 12 March 1944. A plan for the occupation of Romania was devised under the name Operation Margarethe II but was never carried out.

Course of eventsEdit

Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Kállay (in office from 1942), with the knowledge and approval of Regent Miklós Horthy, secretly sought to negotiate a separate peace with the Allies in early 1944. German dictator Adolf Hitler wanted to prevent the Hungarians from turning against Germany, as Hungary's oil was desperately needed for the war effort. On 12 March 1944, German troops were ordered by Hitler to capture critical Hungarian facilities.

Hitler invited Horthy to the Palace of Klessheim, outside of Salzburg, Austria, on 15 March. As the two heads of state conducted their negotiations, German forces quietly marched from German-occupied Austria into Hungary. The meeting served merely as a German ruse to keep Horthy out of the country and to leave the Hungarian Army without orders. Negotiations between Horthy and Hitler lasted until the 18th, when Horthy boarded a train to return home.

When Horthy arrived in Budapest, German soldiers were waiting for him at the station. Horthy was told[by whom?] that Hungary could only remain sovereign if he removed Kállay in favor of a government that would cooperate fully with the Germans. Otherwise, Hungary would be subject to undisguised occupation. As such, Horthy appointed Döme Sztójay as prime minister to appease German concerns. Being a complete surprise, the occupation was quick and bloodless. The initial plan was to immobilize the Hungarian army, but with Soviet forces advancing from the north and east, and with the prospect of British and American forces invading the Balkans,[3] the German military decided to retain Hungarian forces in the field, sending a portion to defend the passes through the Carpathian Mountains against possible invasion.

As a consequence of the Nazi occupation, Adolf Eichmann arranged the transportation of 550,000 Hungarian Jews from wartime Hungary (including Jews from territories annexed from Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia) to the Nazi death camps, with the collaboration of Hungarian authorities.[4][need quotation to verify]

Operation Margarethe II (TB +Mareile)Edit

Operation Margarethe II was the name for a planned Nazi German invasion of Romania by German forces in conjunction with those of Hungary[5] should the Romanian government decide to surrender to the Soviet Union and switch sides.[6][7][8] Romania did in fact surrender and switched sides in August 1944 (after King Michael's Coup), however this operation was never implemented.[6][7][8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Andreas Hillgruber, Helmuth Greinert, Percy Ernst Schramm, Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Wehrmachtführungsstab) 1940-1945, Band IV: 1. Januar 1944 – 22. Mai 1945 (Bernard & Graefe, 1961)
  2. ^ Carlile Aylmer Macartney, October Fifteenth: A History of Modern Hungary, 1929–1945, 2 vols. (Edinburgh University Press, 1956–57), II, 226.
  3. ^ Earl F. Ziemke, Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1968. "In November [1943] the transfer to the Eastern Front of the divisions allocated for Margarethe and intelligence reports that the Rumanians and Hungarians had secretly ironed out their difficulties and might try to desert the Axis in conjunction with an American-British invasion of the Balkans, complicated the problem."
  4. ^ Cesarani, David (2005). Eichmann: His Life and Crimes. London: Vintage. pp. 159–195. ISBN 978-0-099-44844-0.
  5. ^ (see note 1)
  6. ^ a b Jean W. Sedlar (2007). The Axis Empire in Southeast Europe, 1939-1945. BookLocker.com. ISBN 978-1-60145-297-9.
  7. ^ a b John Erickson (1999). Stalin's War with Germany: The road to Berlin. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-07813-8.
  8. ^ a b [1][dead link]