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Contesa Edelsheim Gyulai Ilona

The Memoirs of Countess Ilona Edelsheim Gyulai – Ilona Bowden – Horthy Istvánné gróf Edelsheim Gyulai Ilona – Contesa Edelsheim Gyulai Ilona

Edelsheim-Gyulai Ilona Mária Andrea Gabriella

Ilona Bowden, s-a nascut in Budapesta in 14 ianuarie 1918 numele de porecla era Gabriela, o vreme din copilaria a petrecut in Slovacia, a avut trei surori (Éva, Maritta, Alexia) dupa Tratatul de la Trianon era despartita de famile distanta de Budapesta era doar 160 de km. Vizita Budapesta prin ascundere de frica autoritatilor cehe. Pe 27 aprilie 1940 la varsta de 22 de ani s-a casatorit cu István Horthy vice-regent. 9 luni mai tarziu l-a nascut pe Junior István Horthy. Dupa doi ani de casatorie a ramas vaduva István Horthy a murit intr-un accident de avion de vanatoare ca pilot pe 20 august 1942. Ilona a ramas in familia Horthy.
In 1944, la varsta de 26 de ani impreuna cu familia horthy au fosti exilati de nemti in Austria .
Incercarea nereusita a lui Horthy de a iesi din razboi in octombrie 1944 l-a facut pe Hitler sa se razbune pe familia Horthy, au fosti rapiti de Gestapo apoi trimisi in exil .
S-a casatorit a doua oara cu Guy Bowden casatoria nu era fericita deoarece barbatul ei era bolnav
Si-a scris memoriile in 2001 a aparut prima si a doua carte editie – „Becsület és kötelesség 1. 1918-1944” . „Becsület és kötelesség 2. 1944-1998”.

In 2003, contesa Edelsheim Gyulai Ilona, nora lui Horthy Miklós, si-a publicat memoriile.

Contesa scrie: „A fost o zi memorabila cand ne-a vizitat dr. Ruben Hecht, sionistul elvetian care traia in Israel. El sosise cu treburi in Germania in vederea organizarii emigratiei evreiesti. A venit si pe la noi ca sa multumeasca socrului meu pentru tot ce-a facut pentru evreimea maghiara, si in special pentru emigrarea evreilor-maghiari (in anii Holocaustului – n.a.). Dr. Ruben Hecht a spus atunci ca esecul planului nu s-a datorat lui Horthy. De mai multe ori ne-a vizitat, totdeauna am sa-i fiu recunoscator pentru ajutorul oferit…” Asadar, un oficial israelian il vizita pe Horthy, l-a ajutat chiar si financiar, cel putin asa povesteste nora lui Horthy, sotia lui Horthy Istvan, fost guvernator-adjunct al regentului. (Grof Edelsheim Gyulai Ilona, „Onoare si datorie”, vol I: 1918-1944, vol. II: 1945-1998, (memorii, in limba maghiara), 2 vol.Editura Europa, 2003)
Rahmaniyah Bowden

The Memoirs of Countess Ilona Edelsheim Gyulai
HONOUR AND DUTY is the autobiography of Rahmaniyah Bowden (Sharif Horthy’s mother.) Set against the backdrop of World War II and the invasion of Hungary, Rahmaniyah’s early life is an enthralling tale of love, tragedy, abduction, conspiracy, imprisonment and eventual sanctuary. Born Countess Ilona Edelsheim Gyulai, at the age of 21 she marries Stephen Horthy the vice-regent of Hungary. Her husband, an outspoken critic of the Nazis, dies in an extremely suspicious plane crash; and when the Nazis invade Hungary, Ilona, her small son, her father-inlaw the Regent and his wife are arrested and imprisoned in Germany. After the war, Rahmaniyah’s life moves between Portugal, England and Iraq. In 1958, through her son, she joins Subud, and later acts as an international helper for ten years.
HONOUR AND DUTY is a fascinating story, not only for the romance and danger of Rahmaniyah’s youth, but also for her description of the deep effect Subud has had on her life, her commitment to the latihan and her insights into Christianity and Islam.

When the book came out in Hungary in 2001 it was an immediate best seller, and many young Hungarians joined Subud after reading it.


Recollections by Ilona Bowden

Widow of Stephen Horthy, Deputy-Regent of Hungary

I have been asked many times to give interviews by the Hungarian Radio, Television and newspapers about my father-in-law, Admiral Horthy, but never once by the American media. I am also aware of the misinformation about Admiral Horthy in the United States.This is due to the lies and distortions that have been spread by Nazi and Communist propaganda. Even by American films, like the one that was made about the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, which was a defamatory fiction as it referred to the Regent.
I sometimes read comments on the Regent by people who have not known him personally, and who seem to be able to know what he thought about things and why he made decisions in his life. I myself have lived with my parents-in-law since the day I married their eldest son Stephen Horthy in 1940. We lived in my husband’s small flat in the Royal Palace in Budapest.It was connected by a small staircase from his parents apartment. I stayed there with them after my husband was killed in 1942. We were all arrested together by the Gestapo and taken to Germany in 1944, with my son who then was only three years old.
After our liberation by the American troops, we went on living together in Germany for four years. Then, with the generous help of John Flournoy Montgomery, who in the United States collected funds for us, we moved to Portugal and settled there. John Montgomery was American Ambassador to Hungary between 1933 and 1941. In 1947 he wrote a book entitled: Hungary, the Unwilling Satellite, (New York, The Devin-Adair Company(1), 1947). He knew Admiral Horthy personally and had become a personal friend. Later he brought together a small group of people in the United States, who committed themselves to provide us with enough means to be able to live in exile. This group consisted of four people: Montgomery himself, Francis Chorin, who had been one of the most important Jewish personalities in banking and trade in Hungary, Dr. László Páthy, lawyer and counsellor at law, also Jewish, and the American born Countess Madeleine Apponyi.
Our gratitude to these friends has no bounds. Without them we could never have left Germany, where my mother-in-law’s health suffered much from the cold climate and we were seriously worried about her.
I have intentionally mentioned the Jewish origin of our friends because there were many false rumors about the Jewish question in connection with the Regent. I suppose that not many remember that when due to German pressure the anti-Semitic laws started to be introduced in Hungary, the Regent always resisted and tried to prevent them. Usually he was silenced by being
told that as a constitutional head of state he must accept parliamentary majority.
Very few people have knows, that after the war, when we still were in Bavaria, we were visited by Dr. Ruben Hecht, a passionate Zionist politician, who had been the personal adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Begin. Hecht came to see us, to thank Regent Horthy for what he had done for the Jews in Hungary and for his support of the plan to re-settle all the Jews from Hungary to Israel. He knew that the failure of this plan was not the fault of the Regent. When Ruben Hecht saw how we lived in Bavaria, he went to Switzerland to facilitate our passage to Portugal. We always remained in touch with him. Only recently did I receive the sad news that this many sided, incredibly capable friend had a heart attack and passed away. I keep many letters of his as souvenirs.
Having lived for sixteen years with Admiral and Mrs. Horthy, I am certain that I know them both better than anyone else. It is only during our captivity by the Gestapo and in our life in exile, when we had to depend on each other, that I really and truly learned to know the Regent.
After having been head of state for a quarter of a century, here, with very little means to live, he never complained, always tried to help, even by helping to do the beds while we lived in Germany. He never said bad things about other people and did not change in any way with the changed circumstances. He had the strong hope that he will live to see his country free again. After the war he received letters from Hungarians from all over the world and answered them all. I helped him with his correspondence and with the publishing of his memoirs. Jokingly he called me his minister of interior, exterior, and finance..
For all the members of the Horthy family whom I have known, working, serving your country and doing your duty was the outstanding feature of their character. The Admiral loved his country perhaps above everything else. During his regency he never tried to enrich himself. When all ministers salaries were raised, he did not allow his salary to be improved. His private property in the County of Szolnok was, in 1919, 723 hectares (about 1,700 acres) and remained unchanged till the end of the Second World War. His marriage was a very happy one, we celebrated their golden wedding here in Portugal which was a very joyous occasion.
There was this persisting rumor of him wanting to create a dynasty. I can testify that it is untrue. It is certainly misleading to hear that his son was elected Deputy Regent, but knowing the precise circumstances, one gets a different picture. The Deputy Regent had no right of succession. If the Regent had died he would only be Deputy Regent until a new Regent was chosen. Stephen had been elected by Parliament because of his personal merits, his outspoken anti-Nazi feelings, and his personal achievements. He was a mechanical engineer. On his own initiative, he had gone to the Ford Motor Works in Detroit for a year and a half. There he worked his way up from simple workman to engineer. After he returned home he became the manager in charge of the largest steel factory in Hungary and later the head of the Hungarian Railways. He also was an outstanding pilot. After his death there were some people, although not many, who brought up the idea of proclaiming his two year old son as king of Hungary. It was an absurd idea. My
father-in-law flatly rejected it. As the mother of this child, I was worried and went to see him myself, to ask his sincere opinion. He then told me quite clearly that he would never ever reach for the crown of Hungary, whether for himself or anyone of his family. He told me with his own words: „if I would ever do that, I think that my own brother would regard me as unworthy and refuse to shake my hand”.
Here in exile, in Portugal, my father-in-law asked me that if I am still alive when his country becomes free, that is, when the last Russian soldier has left Hungary, then I take his remains home to the family crypt in his home town in Kenderes. It seems to me like a miracle that I have lived to see my country free again and so I tried to fulfill my promise to my father-in-law and take both their remains home to the family crypt. In Hungary all private property was taken over by the Communist state, and our home is no longer ours, but by some strange coincidence the family crypt has never been nationalized, it was just forgotten. It is the only place that we, the Horthy family still own. This is also where their beloved children are buried.
The re-burial of the Regent and Madame Horthy took place on the 4th of September, 1993. We considered it a family affair. We have not asked for any help, but the response has been enormous. The Hungarian Seamen, the Maltese and St. John’s Orders, the local authorities in Kenderes, and many others have given me a helping hand. I have received hundreds of letters from all over Hungary, and from Hungarians abroad, even as far as Australia, who wanted to come to the re-burial, to pay their respect and show their affection. The Hungarian Radio and Television have come to Portugal to interview me and my son, and to take pictures of the British Cemetery where they have been buried in exile. It is very touching and a lovely homage for a head of state, who died in exile after having served his country all his life. He had not even received a pension in consideration of past services. Only defamatory rumors were spread about him in the past 40 odd years(2). I trust that in spite of all, the truth is known and will be revealed.

Ilona Bowden

Cascais, Portugal, 1993
To the question of „when and in what matter did the Regent found out the truth about the Nazi concentration camps?” Mrs. István Horthy answered as follows:
„After the German occupation, that is, after March 19th, when the deportations commenced, a small ‘conspiratory, news gathering’ group has formed, of which I was a member too. Often we met in my apartment in the Palace. This group brought to me the writer Sándor Török, who was the vice-president of the Association of Christian Jews of Hungary. Later, he used to visit me on his own through a side entrance, taking off his yellow star. His alias was ‘Bardócz the bookbinder’, he used this name on the phone also. He brought all kinds of news with the purpose of informing the Regent.
Fortunately, I wrote a diary, in which the memorable day is marked: on July 3rd, 1944, he delivered the „Auswitz Notebook” to me. I read this tremendously shocking description of the gas chamber-equipped extermination camp in his presence. One could feel that every word of it is true, as something like this could not be fabricated. I immediately brought this to my father-in-law’s chambers. – Three days later, on July 6th, the Hungarian Government halted the deportation of the Jews. Prime-Minister Sztójay advised the German plenipotentiary that under the instructions of the Regent, the Government forbids the deportation of more Jews. Unfortunately, by this time the deportations from the outlying areas have been completed. The details of these we learned only long after the war.
Some people assert that the Regent knew about the extermination camp, but in my opinion this is impossible because after reading the the „Notebook” he would have said that he knows about this already. He would have had no reason to keep this a secret and play a theatre in front of his wife and me.” (Personal letter, dated July 31, 1966, to the Editor.)
1. Republished in 1993 by Vista Books, P.O. Box 1766, Morristown, NJ 07962.
2. Worldwide public reaction to Horthy’s re-burial is characterized by a few letters to editors enclosed in the Append
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